Environmental Information Exchange Network Grant Program and Related Assistance

EPA and its State, territorial, and tribal partners are building a nationwide Environmental Information Exchange Network.

The Exchange Network is an Internet and standards-based information network that facilitates electronic reporting and the exchange and integration of environmental data and
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information from many different sources.

The Exchange Network makes it easier for EPA and its partners to obtain the timely and accurate information needed when making decisions concerning the natural environment and related human health issues.

The Exchange Network Grant Program provides financial assistance to states, territories, federally recognized Indian tribes, and intertribal consortia of federally recognized tribes to support the development of information technology and information management (IT/IM) infrastructure and capabilities needed to participate in the Exchange Network; the development of dataflows using the Exchange Network, including geospatial dataflows; planning, mentoring, and training activities; and a challenge group of activities that advance the development and use of the Exchange Network.

Exchange Network Grants also provide strategic program support for the Exchange Network through non-competitive awards to State- and tribal-supporting co-regulator/co-implementor organizations.

Funding Priority - Fiscal Year 2008: Projects supported by the FY 2008 Exchange Network grant program and funded through EPA's STAG appropriation must address one or more of the following priorities: developing or upgrading IT/IM capabilities and tools to participate in the Exchange Network; developing the capabilities to exchange environmental, human health, or related data flows using the Exchange Network, and developing related data analysis and integration tools; planning and implementing collaborative, innovative projects that use the Exchange Network to help address the business needs of government agencies at all levels; providing mentoring and training to other Exchange Network partners; providing outreach, communications, technical assistance, and other support to states that are participating in, or may wish to participate in, the Exchange Network; and providing support for state participation in the Network Operations Board and related workgroups.

FY 2008 Exchange Network-related awards that focus on expanding tribal participation in the Exchange Network and are funded through EPA's EPM account must address the following priorities: providing programmatic support to federally recognized Indian tribes and intertribal consortia of federally recognized tribes that are participating in or may wish to participate in the Exchange Network; providing outreach, communications, training/mentoring, and technical assistance to tribes to increase their knowledge about the Exchange Network, enhance their IM/IT capabilities, and encourage their development of Exchange Network nodes and dataflows; providing support for tribal participation in the Exchange Network governance structure; and providing periodic reports to the Exchange Network management organization on the status of tribal participation in the Exchange Network.

FY 2008 Exchange Network-related awards that focus on enhancing state participation in the state/EPA information management governance structure and are funded through EPA's EPM account must address the following priorities: providing support for state participation in the state/EPA Information Management Work Group, which addresses overarching information management issues; and providing support for state participation in the Exchange Network Leadership Council, which is responsible for developing the strategic direction and overall policies for the Exchange Network.

Funding Priority - Fiscal Year 2008: Projects supported by the FY 2008 Exchange Network Grant Program, which are funded through EPA's STAG account, must address at least one of the following priorities: developing or upgradingIM/ITcapabilities and tools to participate in the Exchange Network; developing the capabilities to exchange environmental, human health, or related data flows using the Exchange Network, and developing related data analysis and integration tools; planning and implementing collaborative, innovative projects that use the Exchange Network to help address the business needs of government agencies at all levels; providing mentoring and training to other Exchange Network partners; providing outreach, communications, technical assistance, and other support to states that are participating in, or may wish to participate in, the Exchange Network; and providing support for state participation in the Network Operations Board and related workgroups.

Other FY 2008 Exchange Network-related awards that focus on providing support to all tribes - not just those that are currently participating in the Exchange Network - and that are funded through EPA's EPM account must address the following priorities: providing programmatic support to federally recognized Indian tribes and intertribal consortia of federally recognized tribes that are participating in or may wish to participate in the Exchange Network; providing outreach, communications, training/mentoring, and technical assistance to tribes to increase their knowledge about the Exchange Network, enhance their IM/IT capabilities, and encourage their development of Exchange Network nodes and dataflows; providing support for tribal participation in the Exchange Network governance structure; and providing periodic reports to the Exchange Network management organization on the status of tribal participation in the Exchange Network.

Other FY 2008 Exchange Network-related awards that focus on enhancing state participation in the state/EPA information management governance structure and that are funded through EPA's EPM account must address the following priorities: providing support for State participation in the State/EPA Information Management Work Group, which addresses overarching information management issues; and providing support for State participation in the Exchange Network Leadership Council, which is responsible for developing the strategic direction and overall policies for the Exchange Network.

Related Programs

Examples of Funded Projects

Examples of some projects funded by the Exchange Network Grant Program are described below: A State environmental agency is using grant funds to advance the use of the State's Exchange Network node and to promote the efficient and effective use of data to improve environmental conditions across the state.

In particular, the state EPA is using the Exchange Network to exchange data associated with the Facility Registry System (FRS), the National Emissions Inventory (NEI), and the Integrated Compliance Information System - National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (ICIS-NPDES).

A State's Office of Technology is using federal assistance to enhance the use of watershed modeling in the state's environmental decision-making.

In addition to the Office of Technology, project partners include the State's Department for Environmental Protection, the Office of Geographic Information, the Open GIS Consortium, and the Geological Survey.

The project involves developing a web-based watershed modeling information portal to provide timely watershed modeling data to support state environmental decision-making.

Project partners will also work toward making the watershed modeling data available to other Exchange Network partners through the state's Exchange Network node, which is currently under development.

A state's Department of the Environment is continuing to develop an Exchange Network node to facilitate the exchange of information from the state's Enterprise Environmental Management System (EEMS) with EPA and other Exchange Network partners.

The primary purpose of the project is to advance the electronic exchange of data with EPA.

The project focuses on submitting data associated with the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act Information System (RCRAInfo) and ICIS-NPDES from MDE's node to EPA's node on the Central Data Exchange.

A State Department of Environmental Protection is working in partnership with other regional state and watershed partners to use the Exchange Network to share data on Best Management Practices (BMP) for addressing non-point source pollution.

This effort involves developing and registering XML schema for exchanging BMP data.

The watershed office receives BMP data from jurisdictions that participate in the program and then enters the data in a regional watershed module and various presentation tools for regional use.

Four State environmental agencies collaborated to develop an application that would provide a range of critical information to field personnel responding to emergencies such as flooding at facilities that store toxic chemicals or an explosion at a chemical plant.

By using the Exchange Network technology, the project team created the Heartland Emergency Response Exchange which can reach across organizational lines to retrieve integrated environmental and natural resource data from agencies in partner states.

Emergency planners can quickly identify potential dangers posed by chemical inventories or hazardous waste storage.

In minutes, response teams can assess threats to drinking water infrastructure or other environmental interests.

One of the key features of this system is its ability to visualize the data using popular web-based mapping applications such as Google Earth or Microsoft Virtual Earth.

In short, better information will offer opportunities for more comprehensive planning and more informed responses.


Agency - Environmental Protection Agency

The mission of the Environmental Protection Agency is to protect human health and the environment. Since 1970, EPA has been working for a cleaner, healthier environment for the American people.

Website Address

http://www.epa.gov/oei


Relevant Nonprofit Program Categories




Program Accomplishments

FY 2009 will be the eighth year of the Exchange Network Grant program. As of 2008 EPA provided an estimated total of $135,000,000 for State/territorial/tribal awards and associated program support awards through the Exchange Network Grant program. EPA's FY 2009 appropriations requests include an additional $11.0 million for the Exchange Network Grant program. In previous fiscal years, EPA received applications and made awards to state/territorial/tribal entities and associated program support awards as follows: FY 2007,77 applications, 57 awards. FY 2008, 70 applications, 55 awards (estimated). As of early November 2007, all states, the District of Columbia, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and more than 50 tribes have received awards and been involved in the development of the Exchange Network. As of April 2008, the Exchange Network Grant Program had contributed to the development of 50 State, one territorial and 8 Tribal Exchange Network nodes. A number of additional nodes are currently under development. EPA and its partners are currently using or planning to use the Exchange Network to exchange data that relate to the following: Beaches (beaches water quality and closure data), Air Facility System (AFS), Air Quality System (AQS), Arsenic and Radon, Asbestos, Biodiversity Data Exchange, Drinking Water Laboratory Results, electronic Discharge Monitoring Reports (e-DMR), Facility Registry System (FRS), Geospatial, Institutional Controls Tracking System (ICTS), Integrated Compliance Information System/National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (ICIS-NPDES), Methamphetamine, National Emissions Inventory (NEI), National Pollution Prevention (P2) Results System, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act Information System (RCRA Info), Safe Drinking Water Information System (SDWIS),Source Water Protection (SWP), Toxics Release Inventory System (TRIS), Underground Injection Control (UIC), and Water Quality Monitoring.

Uses and Use Restrictions

Funding is available for direct costs associated with carrying out grant-supported projects and for allocations of allowable indirect costs, in accordance with established EPA policies.

Assistance agreement awards under this program may involve or relate to geospatial information.

Further information regarding geospatial information may be obtained by viewing the following website: http://geodata.epa.gov.



Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

Eligible applicants for the Exchange Network Grant Program include states, the District of Columbia, U.S.

territories (American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S.

Virgin Islands), federally recognized Indian tribes, and intertribal consortia of federally recognized tribes.

Intertribal consortium are eligible to apply for assistance from the Exchange Network Grant Program by meeting the following criteria: (a) the majority of the consortium members are federally recognized Indian tribes; (b) all consortium federally recognized tribal members have authorized the consortium to apply for and receive assistance (if awarded) from the Exchange Network Grant Program; and (c) the intertribal consortium has adequate accounting controls to manage awarded funds while ensuring that only federally recognized tribal members will benefit directly from the award.Regional air pollution control districts may apply for assistance if they are legally considered to be agencies or instrumentalities of the state under applicable State laws.

The following entities are not eligible to apply for funding from the competitive Exchange Network Grant Program: state/territorial/tribal universities; city, town, county, or regional governments; nonprofit organizations, including organizations that represent the interests of co-regulators/co-implementors in executing environmental programs.

For certain competitive funding opportunities under this CFDA description, the Agency may limit eligibility to compete to a number or subset of eligible applicants consistent with the Agency's Assistance Agreement Competition Policy.

In addition to issuing competitive awards to states/territories/tribes and intertribal consortia, EPA may use a portion of the Exchange Network Grant Program funds to issue one or more non-competitive awards for associated program support to a co-regulator/co-implementor organization.

A co-regulator/co-implementor organization is one that represents the interests of governmental units (for example, state or regional governments) in executing a national or regional environmental program.

The membership of such a national or regional organization is composed of officials of the co-regulator or co-implementor entities (for example, state environmental commissioners).

Eligible applicants for non-competitive awards that relate to the Exchange Network and are funded through EPA's EPM account include non-profit organizations that are co-regulator/co-implementor organizations.

Beneficiary Eligibility

Federal, state, territory, city, town, county, and regional governments; federally recognized Indian tribes and intertribal consortia of federally recognized tribes; public institutions and industries subject to EPA regulatory reporting requirements; and the public.

Credentials/Documentation

Costs will be evaluated in accordance with OMB Circular No. A-87, "Cost Principles for State, Local, and Indian Tribal Governments," or OMB Circular No. A-122, "Cost Principles for Non-Profit Organizations," as appropriate.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

This program is excluded from coverage under E.O.

12372.

Please contact Marla Sheppard ((202) 564-5954) for questions involving Intergovernmental Review.

Regarding pre-application/pre-proposal assistance with respect to competitive funding opportunities under this program description, EPA will generally specify the nature of the pre-application/pre-proposal assistance, if any, that will be available to applicants in the competitive announcement.

For additional information, contact the individual(s) listed as "Information Contacts" or see Appendix IV of the Catalog.

Application Procedures

Applicants for the FY 2009 Exchange Network Grant Program must submit application packages to EPA by November 19, 2008. Applicants have the option to submit application packages in hard copy through the Postal Service or an overnight mail or courier delivery service. Applicants may be able to use http://www.grants.gov to electronically apply for certain grant opportunities under this CFDA. Electronic applications submitted through Grants.gov have to be received no later than 11:59 pm Eastern Time on November 19, 2008. EPA will not review or fund any applications that are postmarked or received by Grants.gov after (November 19, 2008, or any applications that are received from ineligible applicants. The application package included the following materials: Overview of Application Package 1. Cover letter that outlines the following information: A. Contact information for the Project Lead B. Number of copies of the application (one original plus two copies) C. One sentence description of the project's goal D. Data exchanges (and data standards) for which the applicant is requesting funding E. Any additional partner on the grant F. The amount of funds requested G. Coordination efforts between the IM/IT and Environmental/Health Programs H. Signature of executive level official; 2. A list of no more than five (5) Federally or non-Federally funded assistance agreements performed in the last three (3) years of similar size and scope to the current proposal; 3. Project Narrative - Work Plan, including a Quality Assurance Narrative Statement (Work Plans must address the Evaluation Results (Section I-1) and Evaluation Criteria (Section V) in the work plan; 4. Budget Narrative and Detailed Itemized Budget; 5. Copy of applicant organization's Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate Agreement, if indirect costs are included in the budget or a copy of the submitted application to the cognizant fiduciary agency; and 6. Resume(s) of the Project Manager(s) or Project Lead(s).Inter-tribal consortia applying for the Exchange Network Grant Program must include written documentation in the application package that demonstrates the following: A formal partnership exists among the Indian tribal governments that are members of the inter-tribal consortium, and the majority of the members and federally recognized Indian tribes; and the consortium's Federally recognized tribal members have authorized the consortium to apply for and receive assistance (if awarded) from the Exchange Network Grant Program. Please note that after a potential grantee is notified of their selection for a recommendation for an award, additional documents will be needed to complete the funding package. Annual solicitation notices outline the format and page limitations for the work plan and provide more detailed application instructions. EPA will not review work plan pages in excess of the stipulated page limitation. If the proposal is funded, the recipients would be required to submit a separate, tailored Quality Assurance Project Plan based on guidance in the applicable solicitation notice. EPA plans to post the solicitation notice for the FY 2009 Exchange Network Grant Program on the Web site in September 2008 (http://www.epa.gov/exchangenetwork/grants). Please see the solicitation notice for complete application instructions.

Award Procedures

For competitive awards, EPA will review and evaluate applications, proposals, and/or submissions in accordance with the terms, conditions, and criteria stated in the competitive announcement. Competitions will be conducted in accordance with EPA policies/regulations for competing assistance agreements. EPA will evaluate the project proposal based on how well and clearly the applicant has articulated project outputs, outcomes and environmental results, and whether they are tied to the intermediate outcomes as defined in Section I of this Solicitation Notice (i.e., burden reduction, cost savings, improved quality of data, etc.). EPA will also evaluate the applicant's work plan for tracking and measuring their progress towards achieving the expected outputs, outcomes, and environmental results of the project proposal.

Deadlines

Applications for the FY 2009 Exchange Network Grant must be postmarked on or before November 19, 2008, or received electronically within Grants.gov at or before 11:59 PM Eastern Standard Time on November 19, 2008.

Authorization

Authorization for program implementation cooperative agreements with states and tribes, under the Exchange Network Grant Program, is provided in the State and Tribal Assistance Grant (STAG) appropriation, contained in EPA's annual appropriation Acts. Authorization for multi-media assistance agreements for training, studies, research, demonstrations and similar activities that facilitate state and tribal participation in the Exchange Network and are funded by EPA's Environmental Programs and Management (EPM) account (not the STAG account) is provided by the following statutes: Clean Water Act, Section 104(b)(3); Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, Section 20; Clean Air Act, Section 103; Solid Waste Disposal Act, Section 8001; Comprehensive Enviornmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, Section 104, as amended; Safe Drinking Water Act, Section 1442; Toxic Substances Control Act, Section 10; Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act, Section 203; and National Environmental Policy Act, Section 102(2)(F) for international awards.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

Applicants whose applications are denied for funding will be notified approximately five months after the application deadline. Applicants whose applications are recommended for funding will be notified, initially to request additional documentation to finalize the application, and, later, when the assistance agreements are issued and mailed by EPA's Grants and Interagency Agreements Management Division, which is expected to be approximately eight to nine months after the application deadline.

Appeals

Assistance agreement competition-related disputes will be resolved in accordance with the dispute resolution procedures published in 70 FR (Federal Register) 3629, 3630 (January 26, 2005). Copies of these procedures may also be requested by contacting the individual(s) listed as "Information Contacts." Disputes relating to matters other than the competitive selection of recipients will be resolved under 40 CFR 30.63 or 40 CFR 31.70, as applicable.

Renewals

Not applicable.

Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

Not applicable.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Assistance will be provided through grants and cooperative agreements. EPA may provide support in the form of direct funding and/or in-kind assistance, in lieu of direct funding. EPA plans to issue awards for applications that are recommended for funding approximately seven months after the application deadline. The standard period of performance for projects funded by the Exchange Network Grant Program is two years. EPA may consider requests from award recipients for project/budget period extensions; and if deemed appropriate by EPA, the Grants and Interagency Agreements Management Division may issue amendments extending the project/budget periods.

Post Assistance Requirements

Reports

Award recipients must submit semi-annual progress reports and a final project report that covers the entire project period.

The semi-annual progress reports must be submitted within one month of the end of each semi-annual reporting period.

The reporting periods are from October through March and April through September of each fiscal year.

Award recipients must submit the final project report and a final Financial Status Report (Standard Form 269) to EPA within 90 days after the end of the project/budget period.

Audits

Grants and cooperative agreements are subject to inspections and audits by the Comptroller General of the United States, the EPA Office of Inspector General, other EPA staff, or any authorized representative of the Federal government. Reviews by the EPA Project Officer and the Grants Specialist may occur each year. In accordance with the provisions of OMB Circular No. A-133 (Revised, June 27, 2003), "Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-Profit Organizations," non-federal entities that expend $500,000 or more in a year in Federal awards shall have a single or a program-specific audit conducted for that year. Non-federal entities that expend less than $500,000 a year in Federal awards are exempt from Federal audit requirements for that year, except as noted in OMB Circular No. A-133.

Records

Financial records, including all accounting records that substantiate the charges to each grant, must be maintained and accessible to personnel authorized to examine EPA grant accounts. If certain financial records are part of an audit investigation, then they must be retained until the matter under investigation has been completely resolved. Award recipients must retain complete records documenting their projects for a period of seven years after the close-out of the agreement. Such records include, but are not limited to, financial records, technical reports, periodic performance progress reports, project management files, correspondence with other project partners, and correspondence with EPA. Final products and deliverables that result from the project are considered to be permanent records and should be retained indefinitely.

Financial Information

Account Identification

STAG Account: 68-0103-0-1-304; EPM
Account: 68-0108-0-1-304.

Obigations

STAG Account: FY 07 $14,708,146; FY 08 $14,700,000; and FY 09 est $11,000,000. EPM Account: FY 07 $597,000; FY 08 $520,000; and FY 09 est $500,000. EPA will set aside approximately ten percent of appropriated funding for tribal assistance agreements to further facilitate expanded tribal participation in the Exchange Network.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

STAG Account: Award amounts will range from $75,000 to $500,000 for the entire two-year project period. The average award amount will be $300,000 for the entire two-year project period. EPM Account: The average award amount will be $250,000 for the entire two-year project period.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

The Exchange Network Grant Program assistance agreements issued to state, territorial, and tribal governments are governed by EPA's regulations at 40 CFR Part 31, "Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Cooperative Agreements to State and Local Governments." The assistance agreements issued to nonprofit organizations (i.e., co-regulator/co-implementor organizations) for associated program support for the Exchange Network Grant Program or other Exchange Network activities are governed by EPA's regulations at 40 CFR Part 30, "Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and Other Non-Profit Organizations." General information and guidance documents regarding the Exchange Network are available at http://www.epa.gov/exchangenetwork. Information about the Exchange Network Grant Program and previously funded activities is available at http://www.epa.gov/exchangenetwork/grants.

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office

Not applicable.

Headquarters Office

Jonathan Jacobson, Chief, Information Exchange Partnership Branch, Office of Information Collection, Office of Environmental Information, Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Mail Code (2823-T), Washington, DC 20460; Telephone: (202) 566-1984; Fax: (202) 566-1684; E-mail: Jacobson.jonathan@epa.gov. Edward Mixon, Exchange Network Project Manager, Office of Information Collection, Office of Environmental Information, Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Mail Code (2823-T), Washington, DC 20460; Telephone: (202) 566-2142; Fax: (202) 566-1624; E-mail: Mixon.Edward@epa.gov.

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

The evaluation criteria for the FY 2008 Exchange Network Grant program was described in the FY 2008 solicitation notice. The quantitative evaluation criteria included such factors as expected project outputs/outcomes, the feasibility and approach of the work plan, the relevance and significance of the proposed project to the Exchange Network, the adequacy of resources and key personnel, and past performance. EPA may also consider various qualitative criteria when determining which applications to recommend for funding. Examples of such qualitative criteria may include, but are not limited to, factors such as achieving a balance among projects, distributing funds among different states/territories/ tribes, and having EPA programmatic support for the project. Applications for non-competitive awards to co-regulator/co-implementor organizations, funded by the Exchange Network Grant program through EPA's STAG appropriation, will be evaluated based on the ability of the applicant to provide the following: outreach, communications, technical assistance, and other support to states/tribes that are participating in, or may wish to participate in, the Exchange Network; and support for state/territorial/tribal participation in the Network Operations Board and related workgroups. Applications for non-competitive awards to a co-regulator/co-implementor organization, funded through EPA's EPM appropriation, will be evaluated based on the applicant's ability to implement the types of activities described in the Objectives section of this description.



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