Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology; University Transportation Centers Program Competition, 5516-5518 [2016-01838]
[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 21 (Tuesday, February 2, 2016)]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-01838]
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology;
University Transportation Centers Program Competition
AGENCY: Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology
SUMMARY: The United States Department of Transportation (the
Department) is publishing this notice to give eligible nonprofit
institutions of higher learning advance notice that they will have an
opportunity to submit grant applications for the University
Transportation Centers (UTCs) program (Catalog of Federal Domestic
Assistance number 20.701).
Funds for this grant program are authorized beginning on October 1,
2015. In the near future, the Department, via the Office of the
Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology, will release a grant
solicitation through Grants.gov, also posted on the UTC Program's Web
site, http://utc.dot.gov, describing the competition and deadlines for
applications. Proposals will be evaluated through a competitive process
on the basis of demonstrated ability, research, technology transfer and
education resources, leadership, multimodal research capability,
commitment to transportation workforce development programs,
dissemination of results, the use of peer review, cost effectiveness
and partnerships to advance diversity.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. Kevin Womack, Director, Office of
Research, Development and Technology, mail code RDT-10, Office of the
Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology (OST-R), 1200 New
Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590. Telephone Number (405) 954-
7312 or Email Kevin.Womack@dot.gov.
Table of Contents
III. Matching Requirements
IV. Application Process
V. Program Funding and Award
VI. Use of Grant Funds
The Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act; Pub. L.
114-94, Sec. 6002(a)(5); December 4, 2015) authorizes $72.5 million for
Federal fiscal year 2016 (FY 2016), $75 million for fiscal years 2017
(FY 2017) and 2018 (FY 2018), and $77.5 million for fiscal years 2019
(FY 2019) and 2020 (FY 2020) for up to 35 competitive grants for UTCs.
The FY 2016 through FY 2020 funds are subject to appropriations and to
an annual obligation limitation. The amount of budget authority
available in a given year may be less than the amount authorized for
that fiscal year.
The FAST Act authorizes the Secretary of Transportation to make
grants to eligible nonprofit institutions of higher education to
establish and operate UTCs. Nonprofit institutions of higher education
may include qualifying two-year institutions (20 U.S.C. 1001(a)). OST-R
will manage the UTC Program for the Department. The Department will
solicit competitive grant applications for National University
Transportation Centers, Regional University Transportation Centers and
Tier 1 University Transportation Centers as set forth in the FAST Act.
UTCs will be selected by the Secretary, in consultation as appropriate
with the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology, and the
Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration and other modal
administrators as appropriate. (49 U.S.C. 5505(b)(4)(B) as amended by
Pub. L 114-94, Sec. 6016).
The Department plans to competitively select five National UTCs
with annual awards for five years of between $2 and $4 million each,
ten Regional UTCs with annual awards of between $1.5 and $3 million
each, and up to 20 Tier 1 UTCs with annual awards of between $1 and $2
The role of each UTC is to advance transportation expertise and
technology in the varied disciplines that comprise the field of
transportation through education, research, and technology transfer
activities; to provide for a critical transportation knowledge base
outside of the Department of Transportation; and to address critical
workforce needs and educate the next generation of transportation
A UTC must be located in the United States or territories. A change
in the UTC Program from prior authorizations is that each UTC must be a
consortium of two or more nonprofit institutions of higher learning (49
U.S.C. 5505(b)(1) as amended by Pub. L. 114-94, Sec. 6016).
A Regional UTC must be located in the region for which the grant is
sought. (49 U.S.C. 5505(c)(3)(B)(ii) as amended by Pub. L. 114-94,
Sec. 6016). All members of a Regional UTC consortium must be located
in the region for which the grant is sought.
Institutions may collaborate with state and local departments of
transportation, Metropolitan Planning Organizations, the private
sector, and non-governmental organizations; however, these
organizations or others that are not U.S. nonprofit institutions of
higher learning may not be considered members of a consortium. A change
from previous UTC Program competitions is that two-year institutions
may be members of a consortium if they meet the definition of
``institution of higher learning'' in 20 U.S.C. 1001(a). The grantee
institution (lead institution of a consortium of institutions) will be
the direct and primary recipient of UTC program
funds. The grantee institution must perform a substantive role in
carrying out UTC activities, and not serve merely as a conduit for
awards to other parties.
Applicants may apply for more than one type of grant, but the FAST
Act limits the circumstances in which an institution may receive more
than one grant. (49 U.S.C. 5505(b)(2)(A) as amended by Pub. L. 114-94,
Sec. 6016). The restriction is:
A lead institution of a consortium of nonprofit
institutions of higher education may only receive one grant per fiscal
year for each type of Center. Thus, a lead institution may receive
grants as a National Center, a Regional Center, and a Tier 1 Center,
but not more than one grant in each category.
III. Matching Requirements
Each UTC is required to obtain matching funds from non-federal
sources. The amount of matching funds required for a National or
Regional UTC is 100 percent of the Federal award. The amount of
matching funds required for a Tier 1 UTC is 50 percent of the Federal
award. The matching amounts may include the amounts made available to a
grant recipient under 23 U.S.C. 504(b) or 505.
IV. Application Process
Full and Open Competition. The Department will conduct the UTC
program selection based on principles of full and open competition.
Five National Centers, ten Regional Centers and up to 20 Tier 1 Centers
will be selected from the pool of applicants for each type of UTC.
Subject Matter Focus. A change to the UTC Program in this
competition is that applicants for a UTC must address research
priorities identified in section 6503, Subtitle III of title 49 as
amended by Public Law 114-94, Sec. 6016:
A. Improving mobility of people and goods;
B. Reducing congestion;
C. Promoting safety;
D. Improving the durability and extending the life of
E. Preserving the environment; and
F. Preserving the existing transportation system.
The Secretary will select nonexclusive candidate topic areas that
will fall within these six priority areas. Each UTC will be awarded a
grant based on its ability to address one of these six priorities and
the topic areas that fall within the priority area selected.
National UTCs: The Department intends to select National UTCs to
lead research in five of these priority areas.
Regional UTCs: One UTC will be selected in each of ten Standard
Federal Regions. Regional UTCs are required to focus on transportation
research and education (49 U.S.C. 5505(c)(3)(B) as amended by Public
Law 114-94, Sec. 6016). Regional UTCs must be able to conduct research
in an area of focus from among nonexclusive candidate topic areas
established by the Secretary that address the research priorities
identified in section 6503, Subtitle III of title 49 as amended by
Public Law 114-94, Sec. 6016. One of the Regional Centers must focus
on ``comprehensive transportation safety, safety, congestion, connected
vehicles, connected infrastructure, and autonomous vehicles'' as its
main research effort (49 U.S.C. 5505(c)(3)(E) as amended by Public Law
114-94, Sec. 6016). An applicant for a Regional UTC must designate the
region in which it is applying.
Tier 1 UTCs: Based on the statute's general selection criteria, the
Tier 1 UTCs (no more than 20 UTCs) must focus on nonexclusive candidate
topic areas that address the research priorities identified in section
6503, Subtitle III of title 49 as amended by Public Law 114-94, 6016.
In making awards to Tier 1 UTCs, consideration will be given to
minority institutions, as defined by section 365 of the Higher
Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1067k), or consortia that include such
institutions that have demonstrated an ability in transportation-
The Department seeks a balanced portfolio of UTCs across the 35 to
be selected through this competition that supports the Department's
Strategic Goals, contains different types and/or sizes of nonprofit
institutions of higher education, and focuses on improving overall
system performance using multiple transportation resources that address
Letter of Intent. The solicitation will require that each applicant
submit a non-binding letter of intent approximately one month after the
solicitation is announced on Grants.gov, also posted on the UTC Program
Web site http://utc.dot.gov. The letter of intent must identify the
The category of grant for which the applicant will apply
(National, Regional, Tier I); and
The chosen priority area in which to focus research, based
on section 6503, Subtitle III of title 49 as amended by Public Law 114-
94, Sec. 6016.
Letters of intent will be required so that the Department's review
panels, comprising relevant subject-matter experts drawn from inside
and outside the Department, may be organized in advance of receipt of
final proposals. If an institution intends to apply for more than one
UTC grant, a separate letter of intent must be submitted for each
Selection criteria. The Department will evaluate and select UTC
applicants based on the nine selection criteria outlined in the FAST
``(i) the demonstrated ability of the recipient to address each
specific topic area described in the research and strategic plans of
``(ii) the demonstrated research, technology transfer, and
education resources available to the recipient to carry out this
``(iii) the ability of the recipient to provide leadership in
solving immediate and long-range national and regional transportation
``(iv) the ability of the recipient to carry out research,
education, and technology transfer activities that are multimodal and
multidisciplinary in scope;
``(v) the demonstrated commitment of the recipient to carry out
transportation workforce development programs through--
``(I) degree-granting programs or programs that provide other
industry-recognized credentials; and
``(II) outreach activities to attract new entrants into the
transportation field including women and underrepresented populations;
``(vi) the demonstrated ability of the recipient to disseminate
results and spur the implementation of transportation research and
education programs through national or statewide continuing education
``(vii) the demonstrated commitment of the recipient to the use of
peer review principles and other research best practices in the
selection, management, and dissemination of research projects;
``(viii) the strategic plan submitted by the recipient describing
the proposed research to be carried out by the recipient and the
performance metrics to be used in assessing the performance of the
recipient in meeting the stated research, technology transfer,
education, and outreach goals; and
``(ix) the ability of the recipient to implement the proposed
program in a cost-efficient manner, such as through cost sharing and
overall reduced overhead, facilities, and administrative costs.''
(49 U.S.C. 5505(b)(4)(B) as amended by Pub. L. 114-94, Sec. 6016).
These criteria apply to the evaluation and selection of all three
categories of UTCs. The following additional selection criteria apply
to Regional UTCs and Tier I UTCs:
Regional UTCs. The lead institution in a Regional consortium must
well-established, nationally recognized program in research and
education, as shown by:
(i) recent expenditures by the institution in highway or public
(ii) a historical track record of awarding graduate degrees in
professional fields closely related to highways and public
(iii) an experienced faculty who specialize in professional fields
closely related to highways and public transportation.
(49 U.S.C. 5505(c)(3)(B) (iii) as amended by Pub. L. 114-94, Sec.
Tier 1 UTCs. Consideration will be given to minority institutions,
as defined by section 365 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20
U.S.C. 1067k), or consortia that include such institutions that have
demonstrated an ability in transportation-related research.
Past Performance. The Department is required by 2 CFR 200, Uniform
Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements
for Federal Awards, Section 205, to review risk posed by applicants.
This may be done through such publicly available information
collections as the System for Award Management (SAM.gov) and/or through
specifically collected information about the applicant's record in
managing Federal awards.
External Stakeholders. The Department will consult with external
stakeholders (including the Transportation Research Board of the
National Academy of Sciences, among others), to the maximum extent
practicable, to evaluate and review all proposals. (49 U.S.C.
5505(b)(6) as amended by Public Law 114-94, 6016).
V. Program Funding and Award
UTCs will be selected by the Secretary, in consultation as
appropriate with the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology,
the Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration and other modal
administrators as appropriate. Awards will be made no later than
December 4, 2016, with Federal FY16 funds awarded at that time.
Subsequent Federal FY17-FY20 funding will be awarded approximately
annually after that date, subject to availability of funds and grantee
compliance with grant terms and conditions.
VI. Use of Grant Funds
Grantees will have until September 30, 2022 to expend all funds,
assuming availability of annual appropriations.
Issued in Washington, DC, on January 27, 2016.
Gregory D. Winfree,
[FR Doc. 2016-01838 Filed 2-1-16; 8:45 am]
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