Announcement of Grant Application Deadlines and Funding Levels, 75120-75124 [2014-29600]

Download as PDF 75120 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 242 / Wednesday, December 17, 2014 / Notices seen by, and hear other participants, and to see written documents and screens, as well as, or better than, if all of the participants were together in person. These general principles should guide agencies’ consideration in creating the best hearing room conditions: (a) Lighting should be placed in a way to create well-dispersed, horizontal, ambient light throughout all rooms used in the proceeding; (b) Noise transference should be kept to a minimum by: (i) Locating hearing rooms in the inner area of the office and away from any noise or vibration-producing elements (e.g., elevator shafts, mechanical rooms, plumbing, and high-traffic corridors); and (ii) Installing solid doors with door sweeps, walls that run from floor to ceiling, and sound absorption panels on the walls. ´ (c) Room decor, including colors and finishes of walls and furniture, should allow for the camera(s) to easily capture the image(s). 3. Agencies should retain technical staff to support VTC operators and maintain equipment. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Training 4. Agencies should provide training for agency staff, especially judges, who will operate the VTC equipment during the hearing. Agencies should also provide a reference chart or ‘‘cheat sheet’’ to keep with each VTC system that provides basic system operation directions that operators can easily reference, as well as a phone number (or other rapid contact information) for reaching technical staff. 5. Agencies should provide advanced training for technical support staff to ensure they are equipped to maintain the VTC equipment and provide support to operators, including during a proceeding if a problem arises. Financial Considerations 6. The capabilities and costs of VTC systems vary widely. Before purchasing or updating their VTC systems, agencies should first consider their hearing needs (e.g., the needs of hearings conducted by judges at their desks with a single party will be different than the needs of hearings conducted in full-sized federal courtrooms with multiple participants and attendees present at several locations) both now and in the future (e.g., the bandwidth needed today may be different than the bandwidth needed tomorrow). 7. Once agencies have identified their hearing needs, they should consider the costs and benefits of implementing, maintaining, and updating their VTC systems to suit those needs. (a) Costs to be considered include those associated with purchasing, installing, and maintaining the VTC system; creating and maintaining the conditions necessary to allow participants to see and hear each other clearly; and providing training to staff. (b) Benefits to be considered include better access to justice by increased accessibility to hearings, more efficient use of time for judges and staff, reduced travel costs and delays, and backlog reductions. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:49 Dec 16, 2014 Jkt 235001 Procedural Practices 8. Judges should consider how to establish and maintain control of the hearing room, such as by wearing robes as a symbol of authority, appearing on the screen before the other participants enter the room(s), requiring parties and representatives to use hand signals to indicate that they would like to speak, and reminding representatives that they are officers of the court. 9. Agencies should install VTC equipment so that judges can control the camera at the other location(s), if possible. 10. Agency staff should ensure that the hearing will run as smoothly as possible by removing any obstacles blocking lines-ofsight between the camera and participants and testing the audio on a regular basis. Fairness and Satisfaction 11. Agencies should periodically assess their VTC hearings program to ensure that the use of VTC produces outcomes that are comparable to those achieved during inperson hearings. 12. Agencies should maintain open lines of communication with representatives in order to receive feedback about the use of VTC. Post-hearing surveys or other appropriate methods should be used to collect information about the experience and satisfaction of participants. Collaboration Among Agencies 13. Agencies should consider sharing VTC facilities and expertise with each other in order to reduce costs and increase efficiency, while maintaining a fair and satisfying hearing experience. 14. Agencies that conduct hearings should work with the General Services Administration (GSA) in procuring and planning facilities that will best accommodate the needs of VTC hearings. Development of a Video Teleconferencing Hearings Handbook 15. The Office of the Chairman of the Administrative Conference of the United States should create a handbook on the use of VTC in hearings and related proceedings that will be updated from time to time as technology changes. The handbook should reflect consultation with GSA and other agencies with VTC hearings expertise. It should be made publicly accessible online to agencies, and include specific guidance regarding equipment, conditions, training that meets industry standards, and methods for collecting feedback from participants. [FR Doc. 2014–29546 Filed 12–17–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6110–01–P DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Rural Utilities Service Announcement of Grant Application Deadlines and Funding Levels Rural Utilities Service, USDA. Notice of solicitation of applications (NOSA). AGENCY: ACTION: PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 The Rural Utilities Service, a Rural Development agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), herein referred to as RUS or the Agency, announces its Community Connect Grant Program application window for Fiscal Year (FY) 2015. This notice is being issued prior to passage of a final appropriations act to allow potential applicants time to submit proposals and give the Agency time to process applications within the current fiscal year. RUS will publish on its Web site the amount of funding received in any continuing resolution or the final appropriations act, if any. Expenses incurred in developing applications will be at the applicant’s risk. In addition to announcing the application window, RUS announces the minimum and maximum amounts for Community Connect grants applicable for the fiscal year. The Community Connect Grant Program regulations can be found at 7 CFR 1739, subpart A. DATES: You may submit completed applications for grants on paper or electronically according to the following deadlines: • Paper copies must carry proof of shipping no later than February 17, 2015 to be eligible for FY 2015 grant funding. Late applications are not eligible for FY 2015 grant funding. • Electronic copies must be received by February 17, 2015 to be eligible for FY 2015 grant funding. Late applications are not eligible for FY 2015 grant funding. ADDRESSES: You may obtain application guides and materials for the Community Connect Grant Program via the Internet at the following Web site: http:// www.rurdev.usda.gov/utp_ commconnect.html. You may also request application guides and materials from RUS by contacting the appropriate individual listed in section VII of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this notice. Submit completed paper applications for grants to the Rural Utilities Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Ave. SW., Room 2808, STOP 1597, Washington, DC 20250– 1597. Applications should be marked ‘‘Attention: Deputy Assistant Administrator, Loan Origination and Approval Division, Rural Utilities Service.’’ Submit electronic grant applications at http://www.grants.gov (Grants.gov), following the instructions you find on that Web site. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Shawn Arner, Deputy Assistant Administrator, Loan Origination and SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\17DEN1.SGM 17DEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 242 / Wednesday, December 17, 2014 / Notices Approval Division, Rural Utilities Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, telephone: (202) 720–0800, fax: (202) 205–2921. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Overview Federal Agency: Rural Utilities Service (RUS). Funding Opportunity Title: Community Connect Grant Program. Announcement Type: Initial announcement. Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 10.863. Dates: You may submit completed applications for grants on paper or electronically according to the following deadlines: • Paper copies must carry proof of shipping no later than February 17, 2015, to be eligible for FY 2015 grant funding. Late applications are not eligible for FY 2015 grant funding. • Electronic copies must be received by February 17, 2015, to be eligible for FY 2015 grant funding. Late applications are not eligible for FY 2015 grant funding. Items in Supplementary Information mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES I. Funding Opportunity: Brief introduction to the Community Connect Grant Program. II. Award Information: Minimum and maximum amounts. III. Eligibility Information: Who is eligible, what kinds of projects are eligible, what criteria determine basic eligibility. IV. Application and Submission Information: Where to get application materials, what constitutes a completed application, how and where to submit applications, deadlines, items that are eligible. V. Application Review Information: Considerations and preferences, scoring criteria, review standards, selection information. VI. Award Administration Information: Award notice information, award recipient reporting requirements. VII. Agency Contacts: Web, phone, fax, email, contact name. I. Funding Opportunity RUS improves the quality of life in rural America by providing investment capital, in the form of loans and grants, for the deployment of rural telecommunications infrastructure. Financial assistance is provided to rural utilities; municipalities; commercial corporations; limited liability companies; public utility districts; Indian tribes; and cooperative, nonprofit, limited-dividend, or mutual associations. In order to achieve the goal of increasing economic opportunity in rural America, the Agency finances infrastructure that enables access to a seamless, nation-wide VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:49 Dec 16, 2014 Jkt 235001 telecommunications network. With access to the same advanced telecommunications networks of its urban counterparts, especially broadband networks designed to accommodate distance learning, telework and telemedicine, rural America will see improving educational opportunities, health care, economies, safety and security, and ultimately higher employment. Of particular concern to the Agency are communities where broadband service is not available and where population densities are such that the cost of deployment to them is high and buildout of infrastructure is unlikely. The provision of broadband service is vital to the economic development, education, health, and safety of rural Americans. The purpose of the Community Connect Grant Program is to provide financial assistance in the form of grants to eligible applicants that will provide currently unserved areas, on a ‘‘community-oriented connectivity’’ basis, with broadband service that fosters economic growth and delivers enhanced educational, health care, and public safety services. RUS will give priority to rural areas that have the greatest need for broadband services, based on the criteria contained herein. Grant authority will be used for the deployment of broadband service to extremely rural, lower-income communities on a ‘‘community-oriented connectivity’’ basis. The ‘‘communityoriented connectivity’’ concept will stimulate practical, everyday uses and applications of broadband facilities by cultivating the deployment of new broadband services that improve economic development and provide enhanced educational and health care opportunities in rural areas. Such an approach will also give rural communities the opportunity to benefit from the advanced technologies that are necessary to achieve these goals. Please see 7 CFR part 1739, subpart A, for specifics. This notice has been formatted to conform to a policy directive issued by the Office of Federal Financial Management (OFFM) of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), published in the Federal Register on June 23, 2003. This Notice does not change the Community Connect Grant Program regulation (7 CFR 1739, subpart A). The definitions applicable to this Notice are published at 7 CFR 1739.3. The Agency will review, evaluate, and score applications received in response to this Notice based on the provisions found in 7 CFR 1739, subpart A, and as indicated in this notice. PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 75121 II. Award Information A. Available Funds 1. General. Under 7 CFR 1739.2, the Administrator has established a minimum grant amount of $100,000 and a maximum grant amount of $3,000,000 for FY 2015. 2. Assistance instrument. RUS will execute grant documents appropriate to the project prior to any advance of funds with successful applicants. B. Community Connect grants cannot be renewed. Award documents specify the term of each award. III. Eligibility Information A. Who is eligible for a Community Connect grant? (See 7 CFR 1739.10.) 1. Only entities legally organized as one of the following are eligible for Community Connect Grant Program financial assistance: a. An incorporated organization, b. An Indian tribe or tribal organization, as defined in 25 U.S.C. 450b (e), c. A state or local unit of government, or d. A cooperative, private corporation or limited liability company organized on a for-profit or not-for-profit basis. 2. An applicant must have the legal capacity and authority to own and operate the broadband facilities as proposed in their application, to enter into contracts and to otherwise comply with applicable federal statutes and regulations. 3. An applicant must have an active registration with current information in the System for Award Management (SAM) (previously the Central Contractor Registry (CCR)) at https:// www.sam.gov and have a Dun and Bradstreet (D&B) Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number. B. Who is not eligible for Community Connect grants? Individuals are not eligible for Community Connect Grant Program financial assistance directly. C. What are the basic eligibility requirements for a project? 1. General. The regulation for the Community Connect Grant Program requires that certain definitions affecting eligibility be revised and published from time–to-time by the Agency in the Federal Register. For the purpose of this regulation, the Agency shall use the following definitions: ‘‘Broadband service’’ and ‘‘Broadband Grant Speed.’’ Until otherwise revised in the Federal Register, for applications E:\FR\FM\17DEN1.SGM 17DEN1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 75122 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 242 / Wednesday, December 17, 2014 / Notices in FY 2015, to qualify as Broadband Service, the minimum rate of data transmission shall be three megabits per second (download plus upload speeds)for both fixed and mobile service and the Broadband Grant Speed will be a minimum bandwidth of five megabits per second (download plus upload speeds) for both fixed and mobile service to the customer. 2. Required matching contributions. Please see 7 CFR 1739.14 for the requirement. Grant applicants must demonstrate a matching contribution, in cash, of at least fifteen (15) percent of the total amount of financial assistance requested. Matching contributions must be used to support the broadband operations funded under the Community Connect Grant Program. 3. To be eligible for a grant, the Project must (see 7 CFR 1739.11): a. Serve a Proposed Funded Service Area where Broadband Service does not currently exist, to be verified by RUS prior to the award of the grant; b. Offer service at the Broadband Grant Speed, free of all charges for at least 2 years, to all Critical Community Facilities located within the proposed Service Area; c. Offer service at the Broadband Grant Speed to all residential and business customers within the Proposed Funded Service Area; and d. Provide a Community Center with at least two (2) Computer Access Points and wireless access at the Broadband Grant Speed available, free of charge, to all users for at least 2 years. e. Not overlap with the Service area of current RUS borrowers and grantees. 4. Other requirements: a. DUNS numbers and SAM registration: Applicants must have a Dun and Bradstreet DUNS number and be registered in System Awards Management (SAM) at https:// www.sam.gov prior to submitting an electronic or paper application. The DUNS number and SAM requirements are contained in 2 CFR part 25. SAM is the repository for standard information about applicants and recipients. b. DUNS Number: As required by the OMB, all applicants for grants must supply a Dun and Bradstreet DUNS number when applying. The Standard Form 424 (SF–424) contains a field for you to use when supplying your DUNS number. Obtaining a DUNS number costs nothing and requires a short telephone call to Dun and Bradstreet. Please see http://www.grants.gov/ applicants/org_step1.jsp for more information on how to obtain a DUNS number or how to verify your organization’s number. VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:49 Dec 16, 2014 Jkt 235001 c. System for Award Management (SAM): In accordance with 2 CFR part 25, applicants, whether applying electronically or by paper, must be registered in SAM prior to submitting an application. Applicants may register for the SAM at https://www.sam.gov. The SAM registration must remain active, with current information, at all times during which an entity has an application under consideration by an agency or has an active Federal Award. To remain registered in the SAM database after the initial registration, the applicant is required to review and update on an annual basis from the date of initial registration or subsequent updates of its information in the SAM database to ensure it is current, accurate and complete. C. Discussion of completed application items See paragraph IV.B of this notice for a discussion of the items that make up a completed application. Refer to 7 CFR 1739.15 for completed grant application items. IV. Application and Submission Information A. Where To Get Application Information The application guide, copies of necessary forms and samples, and the Community Connect Grant Program regulation are available from these sources: 1. The Internet: http:// www.rurdev.usda.gov/utp_ commconnect.html. 2. The Rural Utilities Service, Loan Origination and Approval Division, for paper copies of these materials: (202) 720–0800. B. What constitutes a completed application? 1. Detailed information on each item required can be found in the Community Connect Grant Program regulation and the Community Connect Grant Program application guide. Applicants are strongly encouraged to read and apply both the regulation and the application guide. This Notice does not change the requirements for a completed application for any form of Community Connect Grant Program financial assistance specified in the Community Connect Grant Program regulation. The Community Connect Grant Program regulation and the application guide provide specific guidance on each of the items listed and the Community Connect Grant Program application guide provides all necessary forms and sample worksheets. PO 00000 Frm 00009 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 2. Applications should be prepared in conformance with the provisions in 7 CFR 1739, subpart A, and applicable USDA regulations including 7 CFR parts 3015, 3016, and 3019. Applicants must use the RUS Application Guide for this program containing instructions and all necessary forms, as well as other important information, in preparing their application. Completed applications must include the following: a. An Application for Federal Assistance. A completed Standard Form (SF) 424. b. An executive summary of the Project. The applicant must provide RUS with a general project overview. c. Scoring criteria documentation. Each grant applicant must address and provide documentation on how it meets each of the scoring criteria detailed in 7 CFR 1739.17. d. System design. The applicant must submit a system design, including, narrative specifics of the proposal, associated costs, maps, engineering design studies, technical specifications and system capabilities, etc. e. Service area demographics. The applicant must provide a map of the Proposed Funded Service Area using the RUS Mapping Tool. f. Scope of work. The scope of work must include specific activities and services to be performed under the proposal, who will carry out the activities and services, specific timeframes for completion, and a budget for all capital and administrative expenditures reflecting the line item costs for all grant purposes, the matching contribution, and other sources of funds necessary to complete the project. g. Community-Oriented Connectivity Plan. The applicant must provide a detailed Community-Oriented Connectivity Plan. h. Financial information and sustainability. The applicant must provide financial statements and information and a narrative description demonstrating the sustainability of the Project. i. A statement of experience. The applicant must provide a written narrative describing its demonstrated capability and experience, if any, in operating a broadband telecommunications system. j. Evidence of legal authority and existence. The applicant must provide evidence of its legal existence and authority to enter into a grant agreement with RUS and to perform the activities proposed under the grant application. k. Additional Funding. If the Project requires additional funding from other sources in addition to the RUS grant, the E:\FR\FM\17DEN1.SGM 17DEN1 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 242 / Wednesday, December 17, 2014 / Notices applicant must provide evidence that funding agreements have been obtained to ensure completion of the Project. l. Federal Compliance. The applicant must provide evidence of compliance with other federal statutes and regulations, including, but not limited to the following: (i) 7 CFR part 15, subpart A— Nondiscrimination in Federally Assisted Programs of the Department of Agriculture—Effectuation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. (ii) 7 CFR part 3015—Uniform Federal Assistance Regulations. (iii) 2 CFR part 180—OMB Guidelines to Agencies on Government-wide Debarment and Suspension (Nonprocurement) (iv) 2 CFR part 417—Nonprocurement Debarment and Suspension. (v) 7 CFR part 3018—New Restrictions on Lobbying. (vi) 2 CFR part 421—Governmentwide Requirements for Drug-Free Workplace (Financial Assistance). (vii) Certification regarding Architectural Barriers. (viii) Certification regarding Flood Hazard Precautions. (ix) An environmental report/ questionnaire, in accordance with 7 CFR 1794. (x) A certification that grant funds will not be used to duplicate lines, facilities, or systems providing Broadband Service. (xi) Federal Obligation Certification on Delinquent Debt. C. How many copies of an application are required? 1. Applications submitted on paper: Submit the original paper application and a copy in electronic format to RUS. 2. Applications submitted through Grants.gov: The additional paper copies are not necessary if you submit the application electronically through Grants.gov. mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES D. How and Where To Submit an Application Grant applications may be submitted on paper or through Grants.gov. 1. Submitting applications on paper. a. Address paper applications for grants to the Rural Utilities Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Ave. SW., Room 2808, STOP 1597, Washington, DC 20250– 1597. Applications should be marked ‘‘Attention: Deputy Assistant Administrator, Loan Origination and Approval Division, Rural Utilities Service.’’ b. Paper applications must show proof of mailing or shipping consisting of one of the following: VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:49 Dec 16, 2014 Jkt 235001 (i) A legibly dated U.S. Postal Service (USPS) postmark; (ii) A legible mail receipt with the date of mailing stamped by the USPS; or (iii) A dated shipping label, invoice, or receipt from a commercial carrier. c. Due to screening procedures at the Department of Agriculture, packages arriving via the USPS are irradiated, which can damage the contents. RUS encourages applicants to consider the impact of this procedure in selecting their application delivery method. 2. Applications submitted through Grants.gov. (a) Applicants may file an electronic application at http://www.grants.gov. Applications will not be accepted via facsimile machine transmission or electronic mail. Grants.gov contains full instructions on all required passwords, credentialing, and software. Follow the instructions at Grants.gov for registering and submitting an electronic application. If a system problem or technical difficulty occurs with an electronic application, please use the customer support resources available at the Grants.gov Web site. (b) First time Grants.gov users should go to the ‘‘Get Started’’ tab on the Grants.gov site and carefully read and follow the steps listed. These steps need to be initiated early in the application process to avoid delays in submitting your application online. E. Deadlines 1. Paper applications must be postmarked and mailed, shipped, or sent overnight no later than February 17, 2015 to be eligible for FY 2015 grant funding. Late applications are not eligible for FY 2015 grant funding. 2. Grant applications submitted through Grants.gov must be received by February 17, 2015 to be eligible for FY 2015 funding. Late applications are not eligible for FY 2015 grant funding. F. Funding Purposes 1. Eligible grant purposes. Grant funds may be used to finance: a. The construction, acquisition, or leasing of facilities, including spectrum, land or buildings to deploy service at the Broadband Grant Speed to all participating Critical Community Facilities and all required facilities needed to offer such service to all residential and business customers located within the Proposed Funded Service Area; b. The improvement, expansion, construction, or acquisition of a Community Center that furnishes free internet access at the Broadband Grant Speed and provision of Computer Access Points. Grant funds provided for PO 00000 Frm 00010 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 75123 such costs shall not exceed the lesser of ten percent (10%) of the grant amount requested or $150,000; and c. The cost of bandwidth to provide service free of charge at the Broadband Grant Speed to Critical Community Facilities for the first 2 years of operation. 2. Ineligible grant purposes. a. Grant funds may not be used to finance the duplication of any existing Broadband Service provided by another entity. b. Operating expenses other than the cost of bandwidth for 2 years to provide service at the Broadband Grant Speed to Critical Community Facilities. 3. Please see 7 CFR 1739.3 for definitions, 7 CFR 1739.12 for eligible grant purposes, and 7 CFR 1739.13 for ineligible grant purposes. V. Application Review Information A. Criteria 1. Grant applications are scored competitively and subject to the criteria listed below. 2. Grant application scoring criteria (total possible points: 100). See 7 CFR 1739.17 for the items that will be reviewed during scoring and for scoring criteria. a. An analysis of the challenges of the following criteria, laid out on a community-wide basis, and how the project proposes to address these issues (up to 50 points): 1. The economic characteristics; 2. Educational Challenges; 3. Health care needs; 4. Public safety issues; and 5. Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (applications that according to the 2010 census show that at least 20 percent of the population of the counties included in core coverage areas is living in poverty) will receive the maximum score in this category. This emphasis will support Rural Development’s mission of improving the quality of life for Rural Americans and commitment to directing resources to those who most need them. b. The extent of the Project’s planning, development, and support by local residents, institutions, and Critical Community Facilities (up to 40 points); c. The level of experience and past success of operating broadband systems for the management team (up to 10 points); and d. In making a final selection among and between applications with comparable rankings and geographic distribution, the Administrator may take into consideration the characteristics of the Proposed Funded Service Area (PFSA). E:\FR\FM\17DEN1.SGM 17DEN1 75124 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 242 / Wednesday, December 17, 2014 / Notices B. Special consideration areas RUS will offer special consideration to applications that propose to provide broadband service within a trust area or a tribal jurisdictional area. Such applications will be awarded 15 points. The applicant will need to submit evidence indicating that the proposed service area is located in a trust area or a tribal jurisdictional area. RUS will use one or more of the following resources in determining whether a proposed service area is located in a trust area or tribal jurisdictional area: (a) Official maps of Federal Indian Reservations based on information compiled by the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and made available to the public; (b) Title Status Reports issued by the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, showing that title to such land is held in trust or is subject to restrictions imposed by the United States; (c) Trust Asset and Accounting Management System data, maintained by the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs; (d) Official maps of the Department of Hawaiian Homelands of the State of Hawaii identifying land that has been given the status of Hawaiian home lands under the provisions of section 204 of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, 1920; (e) Official records of the U.S. Department of the Interior, the State of Alaska, or such other documentation of ownership as the RUS may determine to be satisfactory, showing that title is owned by a Regional Corporation or a Village Corporation as such terms are defined in the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (43 U.S.C. 1451 et seq.); and (f) Any other evidence submitted by the applicant that is satisfactory to RUS to establish that area where the end-user site is located is a trust area or a tribal jurisdictional area within the meaning of 38 U.S.C. 3765(1). mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES C. Review Standards 1. All applications for grants must be delivered to RUS at the address and by the date specified in this notice or electronically submitted by the deadline (see also 7 CFR 1739.2) to be eligible for funding. The Agency will review each application for conformance with the provisions of this part. RUS may contact the applicant for additional information or clarification. 2. Incomplete applications as of the deadline for submission will not be considered. If an application is VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:49 Dec 16, 2014 Jkt 235001 determined to be incomplete, the applicant will be notified in writing and the application will be returned with no further action. 3. Applications conforming with this part will then be evaluated competitively by a panel of Rural Utilities Service employees selected by the Administrator of Rural Utilities Service, and will be awarded points as described in the scoring criteria in 7 CFR 1739.17. Applications will be ranked and grants awarded in rank order until all grant funds are expended. D. Selection Process Grant applications are ranked by final score. The Rural Utilities Service selects applications based on those rankings, subject to the availability of funds and consistent with 7 CFR 1739.17. VI. Award Administration Information A. Award Notices The Rural Utilities Service recognizes that each funded project is unique, and therefore may attach conditions to different projects’ award documents. RUS generally notifies applicants whose projects are selected for awards by emailing a scanned copy of an award letter. RUS follows the award letter with a grant agreement that contains all the terms and conditions for the grant. An applicant must execute and return the grant agreement, accompanied by any additional items required by the grant agreement. B. Administrative and National Policy Requirements The items listed in paragraph IV.B.2.l. of this notice, and the Community Connect Grant Program regulation, application guide and accompanying materials implement the appropriate administrative and national policy requirements. C. Reporting 1. Performance reporting. All recipients of Community Connect Grant Program financial assistance must provide annual performance activity reports to RUS until the project is complete and the funds are expended. A final performance report is also required; the final report may serve as the last annual report. The final report must include an evaluation of the success of the project. See 7 CFR 1739.19. 2. Financial reporting. All recipients of Community Connect Grant Program financial assistance must provide an annual audit, beginning with the first year a portion of the financial assistance is expended. Audits are governed by PO 00000 Frm 00011 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 9990 United States Department of Agriculture audit regulations. See 7 CFR 1739.20. 3. Recipient and Subrecipient Reporting. The applicant must have the necessary processes and systems in place to comply with the reporting requirements for first-tier sub-awards and executive compensation under the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 in the event the applicant receives funding unless such applicant is exempt from such reporting requirements pursuant to 2 CFR 170.110(b). The reporting requirements under the Transparency Act pursuant to 2 CFR part 170 are as follows: a. First Tier Sub-Awards of $25,000 or more (unless they are exempt under 2 CFR part 170) must be reported by the Recipient to http://www.fsrs.gov no later than the end of the month following the month the obligation was made. b. The Total Compensation of the Recipient’s Executives (5 most highly compensated executives) must be reported by the Recipient (if the Recipient meets the criteria under 2 CFR part 170) to http://www.sam.gov by the end of the month following the month in which the award was made. c. The Total Compensation of the Subrecipient’s Executives (5 most highly compensated executives) must be reported by the Subrecipient (if the Subrecipient meets the criteria under 2 CFR part 170) to the Recipient by the end of the month following the month in which the subaward was made. VII. Agency Contacts A. Web site: http://www.rurdev.usda. gov/utp_commconnect.html. This Web site maintains up-to-date resources and contact information for the Community Connect Grant Program. B. Phone: (202) 720–0800 C. Fax: (202) 205–2921 D. Main point of contact: Shawn Arner, Deputy Assistant Administrator, Loan Origination and Approval Division, Rural Utilities Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dated: December 11, 2014. Jasper Schneider, Acting Administrator, Rural Utilities Service. [FR Doc. 2014–29600 Filed 12–16–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P E:\FR\FM\17DEN1.SGM 17DEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 242 (Wednesday, December 17, 2014)]
[Notices]
[Pages 75120-75124]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-29600]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Rural Utilities Service


Announcement of Grant Application Deadlines and Funding Levels

AGENCY: Rural Utilities Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of solicitation of applications (NOSA).

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The Rural Utilities Service, a Rural Development agency of the 
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), herein referred to as 
RUS or the Agency, announces its Community Connect Grant Program 
application window for Fiscal Year (FY) 2015. This notice is being 
issued prior to passage of a final appropriations act to allow 
potential applicants time to submit proposals and give the Agency time 
to process applications within the current fiscal year. RUS will 
publish on its Web site the amount of funding received in any 
continuing resolution or the final appropriations act, if any. Expenses 
incurred in developing applications will be at the applicant's risk.
    In addition to announcing the application window, RUS announces the 
minimum and maximum amounts for Community Connect grants applicable for 
the fiscal year. The Community Connect Grant Program regulations can be 
found at 7 CFR 1739, subpart A.

DATES: You may submit completed applications for grants on paper or 
electronically according to the following deadlines:
     Paper copies must carry proof of shipping no later than 
February 17, 2015 to be eligible for FY 2015 grant funding. Late 
applications are not eligible for FY 2015 grant funding.
     Electronic copies must be received by February 17, 2015 to 
be eligible for FY 2015 grant funding. Late applications are not 
eligible for FY 2015 grant funding.

ADDRESSES: You may obtain application guides and materials for the 
Community Connect Grant Program via the Internet at the following Web 
site: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/utp_commconnect.html. You may also 
request application guides and materials from RUS by contacting the 
appropriate individual listed in section VII of the SUPPLEMENTARY 
INFORMATION section of this notice.
    Submit completed paper applications for grants to the Rural 
Utilities Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence 
Ave. SW., Room 2808, STOP 1597, Washington, DC 20250-1597. Applications 
should be marked ``Attention: Deputy Assistant Administrator, Loan 
Origination and Approval Division, Rural Utilities Service.''
    Submit electronic grant applications at http://www.grants.gov 
(Grants.gov), following the instructions you find on that Web site.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Shawn Arner, Deputy Assistant 
Administrator, Loan Origination and

[[Page 75121]]

Approval Division, Rural Utilities Service, U.S. Department of 
Agriculture, telephone: (202) 720-0800, fax: (202) 205-2921.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Overview

    Federal Agency: Rural Utilities Service (RUS).
    Funding Opportunity Title: Community Connect Grant Program.
    Announcement Type: Initial announcement.
    Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 10.863.
    Dates: You may submit completed applications for grants on paper or 
electronically according to the following deadlines:
     Paper copies must carry proof of shipping no later than 
February 17, 2015, to be eligible for FY 2015 grant funding. Late 
applications are not eligible for FY 2015 grant funding.
     Electronic copies must be received by February 17, 2015, 
to be eligible for FY 2015 grant funding. Late applications are not 
eligible for FY 2015 grant funding.

Items in Supplementary Information

    I. Funding Opportunity: Brief introduction to the Community 
Connect Grant Program.
    II. Award Information: Minimum and maximum amounts.
    III. Eligibility Information: Who is eligible, what kinds of 
projects are eligible, what criteria determine basic eligibility.
    IV. Application and Submission Information: Where to get 
application materials, what constitutes a completed application, how 
and where to submit applications, deadlines, items that are 
eligible.
    V. Application Review Information: Considerations and 
preferences, scoring criteria, review standards, selection 
information.
    VI. Award Administration Information: Award notice information, 
award recipient reporting requirements.
    VII. Agency Contacts: Web, phone, fax, email, contact name.

I. Funding Opportunity

    RUS improves the quality of life in rural America by providing 
investment capital, in the form of loans and grants, for the deployment 
of rural telecommunications infrastructure. Financial assistance is 
provided to rural utilities; municipalities; commercial corporations; 
limited liability companies; public utility districts; Indian tribes; 
and cooperative, nonprofit, limited-dividend, or mutual associations. 
In order to achieve the goal of increasing economic opportunity in 
rural America, the Agency finances infrastructure that enables access 
to a seamless, nation-wide telecommunications network. With access to 
the same advanced telecommunications networks of its urban 
counterparts, especially broadband networks designed to accommodate 
distance learning, telework and telemedicine, rural America will see 
improving educational opportunities, health care, economies, safety and 
security, and ultimately higher employment. Of particular concern to 
the Agency are communities where broadband service is not available and 
where population densities are such that the cost of deployment to them 
is high and buildout of infrastructure is unlikely.
    The provision of broadband service is vital to the economic 
development, education, health, and safety of rural Americans. The 
purpose of the Community Connect Grant Program is to provide financial 
assistance in the form of grants to eligible applicants that will 
provide currently unserved areas, on a ``community-oriented 
connectivity'' basis, with broadband service that fosters economic 
growth and delivers enhanced educational, health care, and public 
safety services. RUS will give priority to rural areas that have the 
greatest need for broadband services, based on the criteria contained 
herein.
    Grant authority will be used for the deployment of broadband 
service to extremely rural, lower-income communities on a ``community-
oriented connectivity'' basis. The ``community-oriented connectivity'' 
concept will stimulate practical, everyday uses and applications of 
broadband facilities by cultivating the deployment of new broadband 
services that improve economic development and provide enhanced 
educational and health care opportunities in rural areas. Such an 
approach will also give rural communities the opportunity to benefit 
from the advanced technologies that are necessary to achieve these 
goals. Please see 7 CFR part 1739, subpart A, for specifics.
    This notice has been formatted to conform to a policy directive 
issued by the Office of Federal Financial Management (OFFM) of the 
Office of Management and Budget (OMB), published in the Federal 
Register on June 23, 2003. This Notice does not change the Community 
Connect Grant Program regulation (7 CFR 1739, subpart A).
    The definitions applicable to this Notice are published at 7 CFR 
1739.3.
    The Agency will review, evaluate, and score applications received 
in response to this Notice based on the provisions found in 7 CFR 1739, 
subpart A, and as indicated in this notice.

II. Award Information

A. Available Funds

    1. General. Under 7 CFR 1739.2, the Administrator has established a 
minimum grant amount of $100,000 and a maximum grant amount of 
$3,000,000 for FY 2015.
    2. Assistance instrument. RUS will execute grant documents 
appropriate to the project prior to any advance of funds with 
successful applicants.

B. Community Connect grants cannot be renewed.

    Award documents specify the term of each award.

III. Eligibility Information

A. Who is eligible for a Community Connect grant? (See 7 CFR 1739.10.)

    1. Only entities legally organized as one of the following are 
eligible for Community Connect Grant Program financial assistance:
    a. An incorporated organization,
    b. An Indian tribe or tribal organization, as defined in 25 U.S.C. 
450b (e),
    c. A state or local unit of government, or
    d. A cooperative, private corporation or limited liability company 
organized on a for-profit or not-for-profit basis.
    2. An applicant must have the legal capacity and authority to own 
and operate the broadband facilities as proposed in their application, 
to enter into contracts and to otherwise comply with applicable federal 
statutes and regulations.
    3. An applicant must have an active registration with current 
information in the System for Award Management (SAM) (previously the 
Central Contractor Registry (CCR)) at https://www.sam.gov and have a 
Dun and Bradstreet (D&B) Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number.

B. Who is not eligible for Community Connect grants?

    Individuals are not eligible for Community Connect Grant Program 
financial assistance directly.

C. What are the basic eligibility requirements for a project?

    1. General. The regulation for the Community Connect Grant Program 
requires that certain definitions affecting eligibility be revised and 
published from time-to-time by the Agency in the Federal Register. For 
the purpose of this regulation, the Agency shall use the following 
definitions: ``Broadband service'' and ``Broadband Grant Speed.'' Until 
otherwise revised in the Federal Register, for applications

[[Page 75122]]

in FY 2015, to qualify as Broadband Service, the minimum rate of data 
transmission shall be three megabits per second (download plus upload 
speeds)for both fixed and mobile service and the Broadband Grant Speed 
will be a minimum bandwidth of five megabits per second (download plus 
upload speeds) for both fixed and mobile service to the customer.
    2. Required matching contributions. Please see 7 CFR 1739.14 for 
the requirement. Grant applicants must demonstrate a matching 
contribution, in cash, of at least fifteen (15) percent of the total 
amount of financial assistance requested. Matching contributions must 
be used to support the broadband operations funded under the Community 
Connect Grant Program.
    3. To be eligible for a grant, the Project must (see 7 CFR 
1739.11):
    a. Serve a Proposed Funded Service Area where Broadband Service 
does not currently exist, to be verified by RUS prior to the award of 
the grant;
    b. Offer service at the Broadband Grant Speed, free of all charges 
for at least 2 years, to all Critical Community Facilities located 
within the proposed Service Area;
    c. Offer service at the Broadband Grant Speed to all residential 
and business customers within the Proposed Funded Service Area; and
    d. Provide a Community Center with at least two (2) Computer Access 
Points and wireless access at the Broadband Grant Speed available, free 
of charge, to all users for at least 2 years.
    e. Not overlap with the Service area of current RUS borrowers and 
grantees.
    4. Other requirements:
    a. DUNS numbers and SAM registration: Applicants must have a Dun 
and Bradstreet DUNS number and be registered in System Awards 
Management (SAM) at https://www.sam.gov prior to submitting an 
electronic or paper application. The DUNS number and SAM requirements 
are contained in 2 CFR part 25. SAM is the repository for standard 
information about applicants and recipients.
    b. DUNS Number: As required by the OMB, all applicants for grants 
must supply a Dun and Bradstreet DUNS number when applying. The 
Standard Form 424 (SF-424) contains a field for you to use when 
supplying your DUNS number. Obtaining a DUNS number costs nothing and 
requires a short telephone call to Dun and Bradstreet. Please see 
http://www.grants.gov/applicants/org_step1.jsp for more information on 
how to obtain a DUNS number or how to verify your organization's 
number.
    c. System for Award Management (SAM): In accordance with 2 CFR part 
25, applicants, whether applying electronically or by paper, must be 
registered in SAM prior to submitting an application. Applicants may 
register for the SAM at https://www.sam.gov. The SAM registration must 
remain active, with current information, at all times during which an 
entity has an application under consideration by an agency or has an 
active Federal Award. To remain registered in the SAM database after 
the initial registration, the applicant is required to review and 
update on an annual basis from the date of initial registration or 
subsequent updates of its information in the SAM database to ensure it 
is current, accurate and complete.

C. Discussion of completed application items

    See paragraph IV.B of this notice for a discussion of the items 
that make up a completed application. Refer to 7 CFR 1739.15 for 
completed grant application items.

IV. Application and Submission Information

A. Where To Get Application Information

    The application guide, copies of necessary forms and samples, and 
the Community Connect Grant Program regulation are available from these 
sources:
    1. The Internet: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/utp_commconnect.html.
    2. The Rural Utilities Service, Loan Origination and Approval 
Division, for paper copies of these materials: (202) 720-0800.

B. What constitutes a completed application?

    1. Detailed information on each item required can be found in the 
Community Connect Grant Program regulation and the Community Connect 
Grant Program application guide. Applicants are strongly encouraged to 
read and apply both the regulation and the application guide. This 
Notice does not change the requirements for a completed application for 
any form of Community Connect Grant Program financial assistance 
specified in the Community Connect Grant Program regulation. The 
Community Connect Grant Program regulation and the application guide 
provide specific guidance on each of the items listed and the Community 
Connect Grant Program application guide provides all necessary forms 
and sample worksheets.
    2. Applications should be prepared in conformance with the 
provisions in 7 CFR 1739, subpart A, and applicable USDA regulations 
including 7 CFR parts 3015, 3016, and 3019. Applicants must use the RUS 
Application Guide for this program containing instructions and all 
necessary forms, as well as other important information, in preparing 
their application. Completed applications must include the following:
    a. An Application for Federal Assistance. A completed Standard Form 
(SF) 424.
    b. An executive summary of the Project. The applicant must provide 
RUS with a general project overview.
    c. Scoring criteria documentation. Each grant applicant must 
address and provide documentation on how it meets each of the scoring 
criteria detailed in 7 CFR 1739.17.
    d. System design. The applicant must submit a system design, 
including, narrative specifics of the proposal, associated costs, maps, 
engineering design studies, technical specifications and system 
capabilities, etc.
    e. Service area demographics. The applicant must provide a map of 
the Proposed Funded Service Area using the RUS Mapping Tool.
    f. Scope of work. The scope of work must include specific 
activities and services to be performed under the proposal, who will 
carry out the activities and services, specific time-frames for 
completion, and a budget for all capital and administrative 
expenditures reflecting the line item costs for all grant purposes, the 
matching contribution, and other sources of funds necessary to complete 
the project.
    g. Community-Oriented Connectivity Plan. The applicant must provide 
a detailed Community-Oriented Connectivity Plan.
    h. Financial information and sustainability. The applicant must 
provide financial statements and information and a narrative 
description demonstrating the sustainability of the Project.
    i. A statement of experience. The applicant must provide a written 
narrative describing its demonstrated capability and experience, if 
any, in operating a broadband telecommunications system.
    j. Evidence of legal authority and existence. The applicant must 
provide evidence of its legal existence and authority to enter into a 
grant agreement with RUS and to perform the activities proposed under 
the grant application.
    k. Additional Funding. If the Project requires additional funding 
from other sources in addition to the RUS grant, the

[[Page 75123]]

applicant must provide evidence that funding agreements have been 
obtained to ensure completion of the Project.
    l. Federal Compliance. The applicant must provide evidence of 
compliance with other federal statutes and regulations, including, but 
not limited to the following:
    (i) 7 CFR part 15, subpart A--Nondiscrimination in Federally 
Assisted Programs of the Department of Agriculture--Effectuation of 
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
    (ii) 7 CFR part 3015--Uniform Federal Assistance Regulations.
    (iii) 2 CFR part 180--OMB Guidelines to Agencies on Government-wide 
Debarment and Suspension (Nonprocurement)
    (iv) 2 CFR part 417--Nonprocurement Debarment and Suspension.
    (v) 7 CFR part 3018--New Restrictions on Lobbying.
    (vi) 2 CFR part 421--Government-wide Requirements for Drug-Free 
Workplace (Financial Assistance).
    (vii) Certification regarding Architectural Barriers.
    (viii) Certification regarding Flood Hazard Precautions.
    (ix) An environmental report/questionnaire, in accordance with 7 
CFR 1794.
    (x) A certification that grant funds will not be used to duplicate 
lines, facilities, or systems providing Broadband Service.
    (xi) Federal Obligation Certification on Delinquent Debt.

C. How many copies of an application are required?

    1. Applications submitted on paper: Submit the original paper 
application and a copy in electronic format to RUS.
    2. Applications submitted through Grants.gov: The additional paper 
copies are not necessary if you submit the application electronically 
through Grants.gov.

D. How and Where To Submit an Application

    Grant applications may be submitted on paper or through Grants.gov.
    1. Submitting applications on paper.
    a. Address paper applications for grants to the Rural Utilities 
Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Ave. SW., 
Room 2808, STOP 1597, Washington, DC 20250-1597. Applications should be 
marked ``Attention: Deputy Assistant Administrator, Loan Origination 
and Approval Division, Rural Utilities Service.''
    b. Paper applications must show proof of mailing or shipping 
consisting of one of the following:
    (i) A legibly dated U.S. Postal Service (USPS) postmark;
    (ii) A legible mail receipt with the date of mailing stamped by the 
USPS; or
    (iii) A dated shipping label, invoice, or receipt from a commercial 
carrier.
    c. Due to screening procedures at the Department of Agriculture, 
packages arriving via the USPS are irradiated, which can damage the 
contents. RUS encourages applicants to consider the impact of this 
procedure in selecting their application delivery method.
    2. Applications submitted through Grants.gov.
    (a) Applicants may file an electronic application at http://www.grants.gov. Applications will not be accepted via facsimile machine 
transmission or electronic mail. Grants.gov contains full instructions 
on all required passwords, credentialing, and software. Follow the 
instructions at Grants.gov for registering and submitting an electronic 
application. If a system problem or technical difficulty occurs with an 
electronic application, please use the customer support resources 
available at the Grants.gov Web site.
    (b) First time Grants.gov users should go to the ``Get Started'' 
tab on the Grants.gov site and carefully read and follow the steps 
listed. These steps need to be initiated early in the application 
process to avoid delays in submitting your application online.

E. Deadlines

    1. Paper applications must be postmarked and mailed, shipped, or 
sent overnight no later than February 17, 2015 to be eligible for FY 
2015 grant funding. Late applications are not eligible for FY 2015 
grant funding.
    2. Grant applications submitted through Grants.gov must be received 
by February 17, 2015 to be eligible for FY 2015 funding. Late 
applications are not eligible for FY 2015 grant funding.

F. Funding Purposes

    1. Eligible grant purposes. Grant funds may be used to finance:
    a. The construction, acquisition, or leasing of facilities, 
including spectrum, land or buildings to deploy service at the 
Broadband Grant Speed to all participating Critical Community 
Facilities and all required facilities needed to offer such service to 
all residential and business customers located within the Proposed 
Funded Service Area;
    b. The improvement, expansion, construction, or acquisition of a 
Community Center that furnishes free internet access at the Broadband 
Grant Speed and provision of Computer Access Points. Grant funds 
provided for such costs shall not exceed the lesser of ten percent 
(10%) of the grant amount requested or $150,000; and
    c. The cost of bandwidth to provide service free of charge at the 
Broadband Grant Speed to Critical Community Facilities for the first 2 
years of operation.
    2. Ineligible grant purposes.
    a. Grant funds may not be used to finance the duplication of any 
existing Broadband Service provided by another entity.
    b. Operating expenses other than the cost of bandwidth for 2 years 
to provide service at the Broadband Grant Speed to Critical Community 
Facilities.
    3. Please see 7 CFR 1739.3 for definitions, 7 CFR 1739.12 for 
eligible grant purposes, and 7 CFR 1739.13 for ineligible grant 
purposes.

V. Application Review Information

A. Criteria

    1. Grant applications are scored competitively and subject to the 
criteria listed below.
    2. Grant application scoring criteria (total possible points: 100). 
See 7 CFR 1739.17 for the items that will be reviewed during scoring 
and for scoring criteria.
    a. An analysis of the challenges of the following criteria, laid 
out on a community-wide basis, and how the project proposes to address 
these issues (up to 50 points): 1. The economic characteristics; 2. 
Educational Challenges; 3. Health care needs; 4. Public safety issues; 
and 5. Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (applications that 
according to the 2010 census show that at least 20 percent of the 
population of the counties included in core coverage areas is living in 
poverty) will receive the maximum score in this category. This emphasis 
will support Rural Development's mission of improving the quality of 
life for Rural Americans and commitment to directing resources to those 
who most need them.
    b. The extent of the Project's planning, development, and support 
by local residents, institutions, and Critical Community Facilities (up 
to 40 points);
    c. The level of experience and past success of operating broadband 
systems for the management team (up to 10 points); and
    d. In making a final selection among and between applications with 
comparable rankings and geographic distribution, the Administrator may 
take into consideration the characteristics of the Proposed Funded 
Service Area (PFSA).

[[Page 75124]]

B. Special consideration areas

    RUS will offer special consideration to applications that propose 
to provide broadband service within a trust area or a tribal 
jurisdictional area. Such applications will be awarded 15 points. The 
applicant will need to submit evidence indicating that the proposed 
service area is located in a trust area or a tribal jurisdictional 
area.
    RUS will use one or more of the following resources in determining 
whether a proposed service area is located in a trust area or tribal 
jurisdictional area:
    (a) Official maps of Federal Indian Reservations based on 
information compiled by the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of 
Indian Affairs, and made available to the public;
    (b) Title Status Reports issued by the U.S. Department of the 
Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, showing that title to such land is 
held in trust or is subject to restrictions imposed by the United 
States;
    (c) Trust Asset and Accounting Management System data, maintained 
by the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs;
    (d) Official maps of the Department of Hawaiian Homelands of the 
State of Hawaii identifying land that has been given the status of 
Hawaiian home lands under the provisions of section 204 of the Hawaiian 
Homes Commission Act, 1920;
    (e) Official records of the U.S. Department of the Interior, the 
State of Alaska, or such other documentation of ownership as the RUS 
may determine to be satisfactory, showing that title is owned by a 
Regional Corporation or a Village Corporation as such terms are defined 
in the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (43 U.S.C. 1451 et seq.); 
and
    (f) Any other evidence submitted by the applicant that is 
satisfactory to RUS to establish that area where the end-user site is 
located is a trust area or a tribal jurisdictional area within the 
meaning of 38 U.S.C. 3765(1).

C. Review Standards

    1. All applications for grants must be delivered to RUS at the 
address and by the date specified in this notice or electronically 
submitted by the deadline (see also 7 CFR 1739.2) to be eligible for 
funding. The Agency will review each application for conformance with 
the provisions of this part. RUS may contact the applicant for 
additional information or clarification.
    2. Incomplete applications as of the deadline for submission will 
not be considered. If an application is determined to be incomplete, 
the applicant will be notified in writing and the application will be 
returned with no further action.
    3. Applications conforming with this part will then be evaluated 
competitively by a panel of Rural Utilities Service employees selected 
by the Administrator of Rural Utilities Service, and will be awarded 
points as described in the scoring criteria in 7 CFR 1739.17. 
Applications will be ranked and grants awarded in rank order until all 
grant funds are expended.

D. Selection Process

    Grant applications are ranked by final score. The Rural Utilities 
Service selects applications based on those rankings, subject to the 
availability of funds and consistent with 7 CFR 1739.17.

VI. Award Administration Information

A. Award Notices

    The Rural Utilities Service recognizes that each funded project is 
unique, and therefore may attach conditions to different projects' 
award documents. RUS generally notifies applicants whose projects are 
selected for awards by emailing a scanned copy of an award letter. RUS 
follows the award letter with a grant agreement that contains all the 
terms and conditions for the grant. An applicant must execute and 
return the grant agreement, accompanied by any additional items 
required by the grant agreement.

B. Administrative and National Policy Requirements

    The items listed in paragraph IV.B.2.l. of this notice, and the 
Community Connect Grant Program regulation, application guide and 
accompanying materials implement the appropriate administrative and 
national policy requirements.

C. Reporting

    1. Performance reporting. All recipients of Community Connect Grant 
Program financial assistance must provide annual performance activity 
reports to RUS until the project is complete and the funds are 
expended. A final performance report is also required; the final report 
may serve as the last annual report. The final report must include an 
evaluation of the success of the project. See 7 CFR 1739.19.
    2. Financial reporting. All recipients of Community Connect Grant 
Program financial assistance must provide an annual audit, beginning 
with the first year a portion of the financial assistance is expended. 
Audits are governed by United States Department of Agriculture audit 
regulations. See 7 CFR 1739.20.
    3. Recipient and Subrecipient Reporting. The applicant must have 
the necessary processes and systems in place to comply with the 
reporting requirements for first-tier sub-awards and executive 
compensation under the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency 
Act of 2006 in the event the applicant receives funding unless such 
applicant is exempt from such reporting requirements pursuant to 2 CFR 
170.110(b). The reporting requirements under the Transparency Act 
pursuant to 2 CFR part 170 are as follows:
    a. First Tier Sub-Awards of $25,000 or more (unless they are exempt 
under 2 CFR part 170) must be reported by the Recipient to http://www.fsrs.gov no later than the end of the month following the month the 
obligation was made.
    b. The Total Compensation of the Recipient's Executives (5 most 
highly compensated executives) must be reported by the Recipient (if 
the Recipient meets the criteria under 2 CFR part 170) to http://www.sam.gov by the end of the month following the month in which the 
award was made.
    c. The Total Compensation of the Subrecipient's Executives (5 most 
highly compensated executives) must be reported by the Subrecipient (if 
the Subrecipient meets the criteria under 2 CFR part 170) to the 
Recipient by the end of the month following the month in which the 
subaward was made.

VII. Agency Contacts

    A. Web site: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/utp_commconnect.html. This 
Web site maintains up-to-date resources and contact information for the 
Community Connect Grant Program.
    B. Phone: (202) 720-0800
    C. Fax: (202) 205-2921
    D. Main point of contact: Shawn Arner, Deputy Assistant 
Administrator, Loan Origination and Approval Division, Rural Utilities 
Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    Dated: December 11, 2014.
Jasper Schneider,
Acting Administrator, Rural Utilities Service.
[FR Doc. 2014-29600 Filed 12-16-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE P