Announcement of Grant Application Deadlines and Funding Levels, 2940-2945 [2017-00194]

Download as PDF 2940 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 6 / Tuesday, January 10, 2017 / Notices Southwest official agency. In the designation process, we are particularly interested in receiving comments citing reasons and pertinent data supporting or objecting to the designation of the applicant. Submit all comments to Jacob Thein at the above address or at http:// www.regulations.gov. We consider applications, comments, and other available information when determining which applicants will be designated. Authority: 7 U.S.C. 71–87k. Larry Mitchell, Administrator, Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration. [FR Doc. 2017–00205 Filed 1–9–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–KD–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: The Rural Utilities Service (RUS), an 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) 2017. In addition, this NOSA announces the minimum and maximum Community Connect grant amounts, the funding priority, the application submission dates, the agency contact information, and the procedures for submission of paper and electronic applications. RUS will publish the amount of funding received in the final appropriations act on its Web site at http://www.rd.usda.gov/newsroom/ notices-solicitation-applications-nosas. Applicants can review the Community Connect Grant Program regulation at 7 CFR part 1739 (Subpart A). DATES: Submit completed paper or electronic grant applications by the following deadlines: • Paper submissions: Paper submissions must be postmarked and mailed, shipped, or sent overnight no later than March 13, 2017 to be eligible for FY 2017 grant funding. Late or incomplete applications will not be eligible for FY 2017 grant funding. • Electronic submissions: Electronic submissions must be received no later than March 13, 2017 to be eligible for FY 2017 grant funding. Late or incomplete applications will not be eligible for FY 2017 grant funding. pmangrum on DSK3GDR082PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:59 Jan 09, 2017 Jkt 241001 • If the submission deadline falls on Saturday, Sunday, or a Federal holiday, the application is due the next business day. ADDRESSES: Copies of the FY 2017 Application Guide and materials for the Community Connect Grant Program may be obtained through: (1) The Community Connect Web site at http://www.rd.usda.gov/programsservices/community-connect-grants; and (2) The RUS Office of Loan Origination and Approval at 202–720– 0800. Completed applications may be submitted the following ways: (1) Paper: Mail paper applications to the Rural Utilities Service, Telecommunications Program, 1400 Independence Ave. SW., Room 2844, STOP 1597, Washington, DC 20250– 1597. Mark address with ‘‘Attention: Deputy Assistant Administrator, Office of Loan Origination and Approval, Rural Utilities Service.’’ (2) Electronic: Submit electronic applications through Grants.gov. Prospective applicants can access information on submitting electronic applications at any time, regardless of registration status, through the Grants.gov Web site at http:// www.grants.gov. However, in order to use the electronic submission option, applicants must register with Grants.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Shawn Arner, Deputy Assistant Administrator, Office of Loan Origination and Approval, Rural Utilities Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, telephone: (202) 720–0800. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Overview Federal Agency: Rural Utilities Service (RUS). Funding Opportunity Title: Community Connect Grant Program. Announcement Type: Initial announcement. Funding Opportunity Number: RDRUS–CC–2017. Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 10.863. Dates: Applicants must submit the paper or electronic grant applications by the deadlines found in this section and Section D(5). A. Program Description The purpose of the Community Connect Grant Program is to provide financial assistance in the form of grants to eligible applicants that will provide service at the Broadband Grant Speed to all premises in currently unserved, lower-income, and extremely rural PO 00000 Frm 00002 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 areas. RUS will give priority to rural areas that demonstrate the greatest need for broadband services, based on the criteria contained herein. In addition to providing service to all premises, the program’s ‘‘communityoriented connectivity’’ concept will stimulate practical, everyday uses and applications of broadband 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. The regulation for the Community Connect Program can be found at 7 CFR part 1739. As in years past, the FY 2017 Community Connect Grant Application Guide has been updated based on program experience. All applicants should carefully review and prepare their applications according to instructions in the FY 2017 Application Guide and sample materials. Expenses incurred in developing applications will be at the applicant’s own risk. B. Federal Award Information In accordance with 7 CFR 1739.2, the Administrator has established a minimum grant request amount of $100,000 and a maximum grant request amount of $3,000,000 per application for FY 2017. The standard grant agreement, which specifies the term of each award, is available at http://www.rd.usda.gov/ files/UTP_Comm_ ConnectGrantAgreement.pdf. The Agency will make awards, and successful applicants will be required to execute documents appropriate to the project before the Agency will advance funding. While prior Community Connect grants cannot be renewed, existing Community Connect awardees may submit applications for new projects. The Agency will evaluate project proposals from existing awardees as new applications. All grant applications must be submitted during the application window. C. Eligibility Information 1. Eligible Applicants (See 7 CFR 1739.10) a. Only entities legally organized as one of the following are eligible for Community Connect Grant Program financial assistance: i. An incorporated organization. E:\FR\FM\10JAN1.SGM 10JAN1 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 6 / Tuesday, January 10, 2017 / Notices ii. An Indian tribe or tribal organization, as defined in 25 U.S.C. 450b. iii. A state or local unit of government. iv. Other legal entity, including a cooperative, private corporation, or limited liability company organized on a for-profit or not-for-profit basis. b. Applicants must have the legal capacity and authority to enter into contracts, to comply with applicable federal statutes and regulations, and to own and operate the broadband facilities as proposed in their application. c. Applicants must have an active registration with current information in the System for Award Management (SAM) at https://www.sam.gov and have a Dun and Bradstreet (D&B) Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number. Further information regarding SAM registration and DUNS number acquisition can be found in Sections D(3) and D(4) of this NOSA. a. The following entities are not eligible for Community Connect Grant Program financial assistance: i. Individuals and partnerships. ii. Corporations that have been convicted of a Federal felony within the past 24 months. Any corporation that has been assessed to have any unpaid federal tax liability, for which all judicial and administrative remedies have been exhausted or have lapsed and is not being paid in a timely manner pursuant to an agreement with the authority responsible for collecting the tax liability, is not eligible for financial assistance. b. In accordance with the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016, Sections 743–4, no funds may be available ‘‘for a contract, grant, or cooperative agreement with an entity that requires employees or contractors of such entity seeking to report fraud, waste, or abuse to sign internal confidentiality agreements or statements prohibiting or otherwise restricting such employees or contractors from lawfully reporting such waste, fraud, or abuse to a designated investigative or law enforcement representative of a Federal department or agency authorized to receive such information.’’ 4. Funding Restrictions a. Eligible grant purposes. Grant funds may be used to finance: i. 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; ii. The improvement, expansion, construction, or acquisition of a Community Center that furnishes free internet access at the Broadband Grant Speed and provides 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 iii. The cost of bandwidth to provide service free of charge at the Broadband Grant Speed to Critical Community Facilities for the first two (2) years of operation. b. Ineligible grant purposes. Grant funds may not be used to finance: i. The duplication of any existing Broadband Service provided by another entity. ii. Operating expenses other than the cost of providing bandwidth at the Broadband Grant Speed to the Critical Community Facilities for two (2) years. iii. Any other operating expenses not specifically permitted in 7 CFR 1739.12. c. Other. For more information, see 7 CFR 1739.3 for definitions, 7 CFR 1739.12 for eligible grant purposes, and 7 CFR 1739.13 for ineligible grant purposes. 3. Cost Sharing or Matching 5. Other The Community Connect Grant Program requires matching contributions for grants. See 7 CFR 1739.14 and the FY 2017 Application Guide for information on required matching contributions. Eligible projects must propose to fulfill the following requirements (see 7 CFR 1739.11 for more information): a. Minimum Broadband Service. RUS uses this measurement to determine whether a proposed funded service area 2. Ineligible Applicants pmangrum on DSK3GDR082PROD with NOTICES a. Grant applicants must demonstrate matching contributions in cash of at least fifteen percent (15%) of the requested grant amount. Matching contributions must be used solely for the Project and shall not include any financial assistance from federal sources unless there is a federal statutory exception specifically authorizing the federal financial assistance to be considered as such as discussed in 7 CFR 1739.14. b. Applications that do not provide sufficient documentation of the required fifteen percent match will be declared ineligible. VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:59 Jan 09, 2017 Jkt 241001 PO 00000 Frm 00003 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 2941 is served or unserved. Until otherwise revised in the Federal Register, the minimum rate-of-data transmission that qualifies as Minimum Broadband Service is four (4) megabits per second downstream and one (1) megabit per second upstream for both fixed and mobile broadband service. RUS will determine that Broadband Service does not exist for areas with no broadband access or whose access is less than 4 Mbps downstream plus 1 Mbps upstream. b. Minimum Broadband Grant Speed. The minimum bandwidth that an applicant must propose to deliver to every customer in the proposed funded service area. Until otherwise revised in the Federal Register, the minimum rateof-data transmission that qualifies as Minimum Broadband Grant Speed is ten (10) megabits downstream and one (1) megabit upstream for both fixed and mobile service to the customer. c. Rural Area. A Rural Area refers to any area, as confirmed by the most recent decennial Census of the United States, which is not located within: i. A city, town, or incorporated area that has a population of greater than 20,000 inhabitants; or ii. An urbanized area contiguous and adjacent to a city or town that has a population of greater than 50,000 inhabitants. For purposes of the definition of Rural Area, an urbanized area means a densely populated territory as defined in the most recent decennial Census. d. Proposed Funded Service Area (PFSA). Applicants must define a contiguous geographic area within an eligible Rural Area, in which Broadband Service does not currently exist, and where the applicant proposes to offer service at the Broadband Grant Speed to all residential and business customers. A PFSA must not overlap with Service Areas of current RUS borrowers and grantees. e. Critical Community Facilities. Applicants must propose to offer service, free of charge to users, at the Broadband Grant Speed to all Critical Community Facilities located within the Proposed Funded Service Area for at least two (2) years. f. Community Center. Applicants must propose to provide a Community Center, within the PFSA, with at least two (2) Computer Access Points and wireless access at the Broadband Grant Speed free of charge to users for at least two (2) years. D. Application and Submission Information The FY 2017 Application Guide provides specific detailed instructions E:\FR\FM\10JAN1.SGM 10JAN1 2942 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 6 / Tuesday, January 10, 2017 / Notices for each item in a complete application. The Agency emphasizes the importance of including every required item and strongly encourages applicants to follow the instructions carefully, using the examples and illustrations in the FY 2017 Application Guide. Applications submitted by the application deadline, but have critical missing items will be returned as ineligible. The Agency will not solicit or consider scoring or eligibility information that is submitted after the application deadline. However, depending on the specific scoring criteria, applications that do not include all items necessary for scoring may still be eligible applications, but may not receive full or any credit if the information cannot be verified. See the FY 2017 Application Guide for a full discussion of each required item. For a comprehensive list of all information required in a grant application, refer to 7 CFR 1739.15. 1. Address To Request Application Package The FY 2017 Application Guide, copies of necessary forms and samples, and the Community Connect Grant Program Regulation are available in the following locations: a. Community Connect Grant Program Web page at http://www.rd.usda.gov/ programs-services/community-connectgrants. b. The Office of Loan Origination and Approval in RUS; call 202–720–0800. 2. Content and Form of Application Submission a. Carefully review the Community Connect Application Guide and the 7 CFR part 1739, which detail all necessary forms and worksheets. A table summarizing the necessary components of a complete application can be found in Section D(2)(d). b. Submission of Application Items. Given the high volume of program interest, applicants should submit the required application items in the order indicated in the FY 2017 Application Guide. Applications that are not assembled and tabbed in the specified order impede timely determination of eligibility. For applications with inconsistencies among submitted copies, the Agency will base its evaluation on the original signed application received. c. Additional Information. The Agency may ask for additional or clarifying information for applications submitted by the deadline which appear to meet the eligibility requirements, but require further review. d. Table of Required Information in a Complete Grant Application. This table summarizes and categorizes the items required in a grant application. Application item A ........... B ........... C ........... D ........... E ........... F ........... G .......... H ........... I ............ J ........... pmangrum on DSK3GDR082PROD with NOTICES K ........... L ........... Regulation Application for Federal Assistance Form. SF–424 Standard Form. A–2 SAM Registration Information ... A–3 State Director Notification ......... A–4 Equal Opportunity Survey ......... Executive Summary of the Project ... Scoring Criteria Documentation ....... Special Considerations ..................... System Design ................................. Network Diagram .............................. Environmental Questionnaire ........... Service Area Map ............................. Service Area Demographics ............. Scope of Work .................................. Construction Build-out and Project Milestones. Project Budget .................................. Community-oriented Connectivity Plan. Financial Information and Sustainability. Statement of Experience .................. Evidence of Legal Authority and Existence. Additional Funding ............................ Compliance with Other Statutes and Regulations. Equal Opportunity and Nondiscrimination. Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970. Debarment, Suspension, and Other Responsibility Matters. Lobbying for Contracts, Grants, Loans, and Cooperative Agreements. Drug-Free Workplace ....................... Architectural Barriers ........................ Flood Hazard Area Precautions ....... Non-Duplication of Services ............. Federal Collection Policies for Commercial Debt. ............................. Form provided in FY 2017 Application Guide. ............................. ............................. ............................. ............................. ............................. ............................. ............................. ............................. 7 CFR part 1970 ............................. ............................. ............................. ............................. Form provided in FY 2017 Application Guide. Form provided in FY 2017 Application Guide. Form provided in FY 2017 Application Guide. Narrative. Narrative & Documentation. Documentation. Narrative & Documentation. Documentation. Narrative & Documentation. Provided in RUS web-based Mapping Tool. Documentation. Narrative & Documentation. Form provided in FY 2017 Application Guide. ............................. ............................. Form provided in FY 2017 Application Guide. Narrative. ............................. Narrative & Documentation. ............................. ............................. Narrative. Documentation. ............................. Narrative & Documentation. 7 CFR part 15 (Subpart A). 49 CFR Part 24 and 7 CFR Part 21. 7 CFR Part 3017 Form provided in FY 2017 Application Guide. 7 CFR Part 3018 Form provided in FY 2017 Application Guide. 7 CFR Part 3017 ............................. 7 CFR 1970 ........ ............................. ............................. Form Form Form Form Form VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:59 Jan 09, 2017 Jkt 241001 PO 00000 Frm 00004 Comments Form provided in FY 2017 Application Guide. Form provided in FY 2017 Application Guide. Fmt 4703 provided provided provided provided provided Sfmt 4703 in in in in in FY FY FY FY FY 2017 2017 2017 2017 2017 Application Application Application Application Application E:\FR\FM\10JAN1.SGM Guide. Guide. Guide. Guide. Guide. 10JAN1 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 6 / Tuesday, January 10, 2017 / Notices 2943 Application item Regulation Comments Assurance Regarding Felony Conviction or Tax Delinquent Status for Corporate Applicants. ............................. Form provided in FY 2017 Application Guide (corporate applicants-only). e. Number of copies of submitted applications. i. Applications submitted on paper. Submit the original application and two (2) copies to RUS. ii. Applications submitted electronically through Grants.gov. Submit the electronic application once. Carefully read the FY 2017 Application Guide for guidance on submitting an electronic application. Applicants should identify and number each page in the same manner as the paper application. 3. Dun and Bradstreet Universal Numbering System (DUNS) Number The grant applicant must supply a DUNS number as part of the application. The Standard Form 424 (SF–424) contains a field for the DUNS number. The applicant can obtain the DUNS number free of charge by calling Dun and Bradstreet. Go to http:// fedgov.dnb.com/webform for more information on DUNS number acquisition or confirmation. pmangrum on DSK3GDR082PROD with NOTICES 4. System for Award Management (SAM) Prior to submitting a paper or an electronic application, the applicant must register in SAM at https:// www.sam.gov/portal/public/SAM/. SAM registration must be active with current data at all times, from the application review throughout the active Federal grant funding period. To maintain active SAM registration, the applicant must review and update the information in the SAM database annually from the date of initial registration or from the date of the last update. The applicant must ensure that the information in the database is current, accurate, and complete. 5. Submission Dates and Times a. Paper applications must be postmarked and mailed, shipped, or sent overnight no later than March 13, 2017 to be eligible for FY 2017 grant funding. Late applications, applications which do not include proof of mailing or shipping, and incomplete applications are not eligible for FY 2017 grant funding. If the submission deadline falls on Saturday, Sunday, or a Federal holiday, the application is due the next business day. In the event of an incomplete application, the Agency will notify the applicant in writing, return VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:59 Jan 09, 2017 Jkt 241001 the application, and terminate all further action. i. Address paper applications to the Telecommunications Program, RUS, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Ave. SW., Room 2844, STOP 1597, Washington, DC 20250– 1597. Applications should be marked, ‘‘Attention: Deputy Assistant Administrator, Office of Loan Origination and Approval.’’ ii. Paper applications must show proof of mailing or shipping by the deadline with one of the following: A. A legibly dated U.S. Postal Service (USPS) postmark. B. A legible mail receipt with the date of mailing stamped by the USPS. C. A dated shipping label, invoice, or receipt from a commercial carrier. iii. Due to screening procedures at the USDA, packages arriving via regular mail through the USPS are irradiated, which can damage the contents and delay delivery to the office. RUS encourages applicants to consider the impact of this procedure when selecting their application delivery method. b. Electronic grant applications submitted through Grants.gov must be received no later than March 13, 2017 to be eligible for FY 2017 funding. Late or incomplete applications will not be eligible for FY 2017 grant funding. i. Applications will not be accepted via fax or electronic mail. ii. Electronic applications for grants must be submitted through the federal government’s Grants.gov initiative at http://www.grants.gov/. Grants.gov contains full instructions on all required passwords, credentialing, and software. iii. Grants.gov requires some credentialing and online authentication procedures. These procedures may take several business days to complete. Therefore, the applicant should complete the registration, credentialing, and authorization procedures at Grants.gov before submitting an application. iv. Dun and Bradstreet Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS). The grant applicant must supply a DUNS number as part of the application. See Section D(3) of this NOSA for more information. v. System for Award Management (SAM). Grants.gov requires that the applicant’s organization is registered in SAM. Be sure to obtain the organization’s SAM listing well in advance of the application deadline. See PO 00000 Frm 00005 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Section D(4) of this NOSA for more information. vi. RUS encourages applicants who wish to apply through Grants.gov to submit their applications in advance of the deadline. vii. If system errors or technical difficulties occur, use the customer support resources available at the Grants.gov Web site. E. Application Review Information 1. Criteria Grant applications are scored competitively and are subject to the criteria listed below. The maximum number of points possible is 115. See 7 CFR 1739.17 and the FY 2017 Application Guide for more information on the scoring criteria. a. Needs Category. The Agency analyzes the challenges related to the following criteria and the ways in which the project proposes to address these issues (up to 50 points): i. Economic characteristics. ii. Educational challenges. iii. Health care needs. iv. Public safety issues. b. Stakeholder Involvement Category. The Agency analyzes the extent of the project planning, development, and support from local residents, institutions, and Critical Community Facilities (up to 40 points). c. Experience Category. The Agency analyzes the management team’s level of experience and past success of broadband systems operation (up to 10 points). d. Special Consideration Areas Category. In accordance with 7 CFR 1739.1(a), applicants may receive special consideration if they submit documentation demonstrating that they will provide service at the Broadband Grant Speed within the following areas (15 points): i. Tribal jurisdiction or trust areas. ii. Promise Zone (for further information, see the Promise Zone Web site at http://www.hud.gov/ promisezones/). iii. Strike Force area (for further information, see the Strikeforce Web site at http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/ usda/usda?navid=STRIKE_FORCE). e. In making a final selection among and between applications with comparable rankings and geographic distribution, the Administrator may take E:\FR\FM\10JAN1.SGM 10JAN1 2944 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 6 / Tuesday, January 10, 2017 / Notices into consideration the characteristics of the Proposed Funded Service Area (PFSA), as identified in 7 CFR 1739.17(d). 2. Review and Selection Process Grant applications are ranked according to their final scores. RUS selects applications based on those rankings, subject to the availability of funds and consistent with 7 CFR 1739.17. In addition, it should be noted that an application receiving fewer points can be selected over an application receiving more points in the event that there are insufficient funds available to cover the costs of the higher scoring application, as stated in 7 CFR 1739.16(f). a. In addition to the scoring criteria that rank applications against each other, the Agency evaluates grant applications on the following items, in accordance with 7 CFR 1739.16: i. Financial feasibility. A proposal that does not indicate financial feasibility or that is not sustainable will not be approved for an award. ii. Technical considerations. An application that contains flaws that would prevent the successful implementation, operation, or sustainability of the project will not be approved for an award. b. Applications conforming with this part will then be evaluated competitively and ranked by a panel of RUS employees that the Administrator of RUS selects, and will be awarded points as described in the scoring criteria in 7 CFR 1739.17. Applications will be ranked and grants awarded in order until all grant funds are expended. c. The Agency reserves the right to offer the applicant a lower amount than the amount proposed in the application, as stated in 7 CFR 1739.16(g). F. Federal Award Administration Information pmangrum on DSK3GDR082PROD with NOTICES 1. Federal Award Notices a. Successful applications. RUS notifies applicants whose projects are selected for awards by mailing or emailing a copy of the award letter. The receipt of an award letter does not authorize the applicant to commence performance under the award. b. After sending the award letter, the Agency will send an agreement that contains all the terms and conditions, as referenced in 7 CFR 1739.18 and Section B of this NOSA. A copy of the standard agreement is posted on the RUS Web site at http:// www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/ community-connect-grants. RUS recognizes that each funded project is VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:59 Jan 09, 2017 Jkt 241001 unique, and therefore may attach additional conditions to individual award documents. An applicant must execute and return the grant agreement with any additional items required by the agreement within the number of days specified in the selection notice letter. 2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements The items listed in this NOSA, the Community Connect Grant Program regulation, the FY 2017 Application Guide, and accompanying materials implement the appropriate administrative and national policy requirements, which include, but are not limited to: a. Executing a Community Connect Grant Agreement. b. Using Form SF 270, ‘‘Request for Advance or Reimbursement,’’ to request reimbursements (along with the submission of receipts for expenditures, timesheets, and any other documentation to support the request for reimbursement). c. Providing annual project performance activity reports until the expiration of the award. d. Ensuring that records are maintained to document all activities and expenditures utilizing Community Connect grant funds and matching funds (receipts for expenditures are to be included in this documentation). e. Providing a final project performance report. f. Complying with policies, guidance, and requirements as described in the following applicable Code of Federal Regulations, and any successor regulations: i. 2 CFR parts 200 and 400 (Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards). ii. 2 CFR part 417 (Nonprocurement Debarment and Suspension). iii. 2 CFR part 180 (Government-wide Debarment and Suspension). g. Signing Form AD–3031 (‘‘Assurance Regarding Felony Conviction or Tax Delinquent Status for Corporate Applicants’’) (for corporate applicants only). h. Complying with Executive Order 13166, ‘‘Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency.’’ For information on limited English proficiency and agency-specific guidance, go to http://www.LEP.gov. 3. Reporting a. Performance reporting. All recipients of Community Connect Grant Program financial assistance must provide annual performance activity PO 00000 Frm 00006 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 reports to RUS until the project is complete and the funds are expended. A final performance report is also required. This report may serve as the last annual report. The final report must include an evaluation of the success of the project in meeting the Community Connect Grant Program objectives. See 7 CFR 1739.19 and 2 CFR 200.328 for additional information on these reporting requirements. b. Financial reporting. All recipients of Community Connect Grant Program financial assistance must provide an annual audit, beginning with the first year in which a portion of the financial assistance is expended. Audits are governed by USDA audit regulations. See 7 CFR 1739.20 and 2 CFR part 200 (Subpart F) for a description of the financial reporting requirements. c. Recipient and Sub-recipient 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 170 are as follows: i. 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 https://www.fsrs.gov no later than the end of the month following the month the obligation was made. Please note that currently underway is a consolidation of eight federal procurement systems, including the Federal Sub-award Reporting System (FSRS), into one system, the System for Award Management (SAM). As a result, the FSRS will soon be consolidated into and accessed through https://www.sam.gov/portal/public/ SAM/. ii. The Total Compensation of the Recipient’s Executives (the five most highly compensated executives) must be reported by the Recipient (if the Recipient meets the criteria under 2 CFR part 170) to https://www.sam.gov/ portal/public/SAM/ by the end of the month following the month in which the award was made. iii. The Total Compensation of the Sub-recipient’s Executives (the five most highly compensated executives) must be reported by the Sub-recipient (if the Sub-recipient meets the criteria under 2 CFR part 170) to the Recipient by the end of the month following the E:\FR\FM\10JAN1.SGM 10JAN1 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 6 / Tuesday, January 10, 2017 / Notices Washington, DC 20250–9410, or email at program.intake@usda.gov. month in which the sub-award was made. d. Record Keeping and Accounting. The contract will contain provisions related to record keeping and accounting requirements. G. Federal Awarding Agency Contacts 1. Web site: http://www.rd.usda.gov/ programs-services/community-connectgrants. This site maintains up-to-date resources and contact information for the Community Connect Grant Program; 2. Telephone: 202–720–0800; 3. Email: community.connect@ wdc.usda.gov; and 4. Main Point of Contact: Shawn Arner, Deputy Assistant Administrator, Office of Loan Origination and Approval, Rural Utilities Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. H. Other Information 1. USDA Non-Discrimination Statement USDA prohibits discrimination against its customers, employees, and applicants for employment on the bases of race, color, national origin, age, disability, sex, gender identity, religion, reprisal, and where applicable, political beliefs, marital status, familial or parental status, sexual orientation, or all or part of an individual’s income is derived from any public assistance program, or protected genetic information in employment or in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA. (Not all prohibited bases will apply to all programs and/or employment activities.) pmangrum on DSK3GDR082PROD with NOTICES 2. How To File a Complaint a. Equal Employment Opportunity Complaint. Individuals who wish to file an employment complaint must contact their Agency’s EEO Counselor within 45 days of the date of the alleged discriminatory act, event, or in the case of a personnel action. Additional information can be found online at http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_ filing_file.html. b. Program Discrimination Complaint. Individuals who wish to file a Program Discrimination Complaint must complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form (PDF), found online at http:// www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_ cust.html or at any USDA office, or call (866) 632–9992 to request the form. A letter may also be written containing all of the information requested in the form. Send the completed complaint form or letter by mail to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:59 Jan 09, 2017 Jkt 241001 3. Persons With Disabilities Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have speech disabilities and wish to file either an EEO or program complaint may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877– 8339 (English) or (800) 845–6136 (Spanish). Persons with disabilities who wish to file a program complaint, please see information above on how to contact USDA by mail or email. Individuals who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) may contact USDA’s TARGET Center at 202–720–2600 (voice and TDD). Dated: December 6, 2016. Brandon McBride, Administrator, Rural Utilities Service. [FR Doc. 2017–00194 Filed 1–9–17; 8:45 am] 2945 The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating accidents and hazards that result, or may result, in the catastrophic release of extremely hazardous substances. The agency’s Board Members are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical accidents and hazards, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems. Public Comment The time provided for public statements will depend upon the number of people who wish to speak. Speakers should assume that their presentations will be limited to three minutes or less, but commenters may submit written statements for the record. BILLING CODE P CONTACT PERSON FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Hillary Cohen, CHEMICAL SAFETY AND HAZARD INVESTIGATION BOARD Communications Manager, at public@ csb.gov or (202) 446–8094. Further information about this public meeting can be found on the CSB Web site at: www.csb.gov. Sunshine Act Meeting TIME AND DATE: January 25, 2017, 1:00 p.m. EST U.S. Chemical Safety Board, 1750 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Suite 910, Washington, DC 20006. STATUS: Open to the public. MATTERS TO BE CONSIDERED: The Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) will convene a public meeting on January 25, 2017, starting at 1:00 p.m. EST in Washington, DC, at the CSB offices located at 1750 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Suite 910. The Board will discuss open investigations, the status of audits from the Office of the Inspector General, financial and organizational updates, and review the agency’s action plan. The Board will also review safety video animation related to the CSB Williams Olefins investigation. An opportunity for public comment will be provided. PLACE: Additional Information The meeting is free and open to the public. If you require a translator or interpreter, please notify the individual listed below as the ‘‘Contact Person for Further Information,’’ at least three business days prior to the meeting. A conference call line will be provided for those who cannot attend in person. Please use the following dial-in number to join the conference: (888) 466–9863 Confirmation Number 5690151#. PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Dated: January 5, 2017. Kara A. Wenzel, Acting General Counsel, Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board. [FR Doc. 2017–00403 Filed 1–6–17; 11:15 am] BILLING CODE 6350–01–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request The Department of Commerce will submit to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for clearance the following proposal for collection of information under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. chapter 35). Agency: U.S. Census Bureau. Title: 2018 End-to-End Census Test— Address Canvassing Operation. OMB Control Number: 0607–xxxx. Form Number(s): DH–31(E/S) Confidentiality Notice. Listing and Mapping Application Screenshots—screenshots are taken from the legacy tool, LiMA. Screens for the new, in-development tool (ECaSE– ALM) will be comparable. Type of Request: New Collection. Number of Respondents: 43,965. Average Hours Per Response: 5 minutes. Burden Hours: 3,664 hours. Needs and Uses: E:\FR\FM\10JAN1.SGM 10JAN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 6 (Tuesday, January 10, 2017)]
[Notices]
[Pages 2940-2945]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-00194]


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

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 (RUS), an 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) 2017. In addition, this NOSA announces the 
minimum and maximum Community Connect grant amounts, the funding 
priority, the application submission dates, the agency contact 
information, and the procedures for submission of paper and electronic 
applications.
    RUS will publish the amount of funding received in the final 
appropriations act on its Web site at http://www.rd.usda.gov/newsroom/notices-solicitation-applications-nosas. Applicants can review the 
Community Connect Grant Program regulation at 7 CFR part 1739 (Subpart 
A).

DATES: Submit completed paper or electronic grant applications by the 
following deadlines:
     Paper submissions: Paper submissions must be postmarked 
and mailed, shipped, or sent overnight no later than March 13, 2017 to 
be eligible for FY 2017 grant funding. Late or incomplete applications 
will not be eligible for FY 2017 grant funding.
     Electronic submissions: Electronic submissions must be 
received no later than March 13, 2017 to be eligible for FY 2017 grant 
funding. Late or incomplete applications will not be eligible for FY 
2017 grant funding.
     If the submission deadline falls on Saturday, Sunday, or a 
Federal holiday, the application is due the next business day.

ADDRESSES: Copies of the FY 2017 Application Guide and materials for 
the Community Connect Grant Program may be obtained through:
    (1) The Community Connect Web site at http://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/community-connect-grants; and
    (2) The RUS Office of Loan Origination and Approval at 202-720-
0800.
    Completed applications may be submitted the following ways:
    (1) Paper: Mail paper applications to the Rural Utilities Service, 
Telecommunications Program, 1400 Independence Ave. SW., Room 2844, STOP 
1597, Washington, DC 20250-1597. Mark address with ``Attention: Deputy 
Assistant Administrator, Office of Loan Origination and Approval, Rural 
Utilities Service.''
    (2) Electronic: Submit electronic applications through Grants.gov. 
Prospective applicants can access information on submitting electronic 
applications at any time, regardless of registration status, through 
the Grants.gov Web site at http://www.grants.gov. However, in order to 
use the electronic submission option, applicants must register with 
Grants.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Shawn Arner, Deputy Assistant 
Administrator, Office of Loan Origination and Approval, Rural Utilities 
Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, telephone: (202) 720-0800.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Overview

    Federal Agency: Rural Utilities Service (RUS).
    Funding Opportunity Title: Community Connect Grant Program.
    Announcement Type: Initial announcement.
    Funding Opportunity Number: RDRUS-CC-2017.
    Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 10.863.
    Dates: Applicants must submit the paper or electronic grant 
applications by the deadlines found in this section and Section D(5).

A. Program Description

    The purpose of the Community Connect Grant Program is to provide 
financial assistance in the form of grants to eligible applicants that 
will provide service at the Broadband Grant Speed to all premises in 
currently unserved, lower-income, and extremely rural areas. RUS will 
give priority to rural areas that demonstrate the greatest need for 
broadband services, based on the criteria contained herein.
    In addition to providing service to all premises, the program's 
``community-oriented connectivity'' concept will stimulate practical, 
everyday uses and applications of broadband 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. The regulation for the Community 
Connect Program can be found at 7 CFR part 1739.
    As in years past, the FY 2017 Community Connect Grant Application 
Guide has been updated based on program experience. All applicants 
should carefully review and prepare their applications according to 
instructions in the FY 2017 Application Guide and sample materials. 
Expenses incurred in developing applications will be at the applicant's 
own risk.

B. Federal Award Information

    In accordance with 7 CFR 1739.2, the Administrator has established 
a minimum grant request amount of $100,000 and a maximum grant request 
amount of $3,000,000 per application for FY 2017.
    The standard grant agreement, which specifies the term of each 
award, is available at http://www.rd.usda.gov/files/UTP_Comm_ConnectGrantAgreement.pdf. The Agency will make awards, and 
successful applicants will be required to execute documents appropriate 
to the project before the Agency will advance funding.
    While prior Community Connect grants cannot be renewed, existing 
Community Connect awardees may submit applications for new projects. 
The Agency will evaluate project proposals from existing awardees as 
new applications. All grant applications must be submitted during the 
application window.

C. Eligibility Information

1. Eligible Applicants (See 7 CFR 1739.10)
    a. Only entities legally organized as one of the following are 
eligible for Community Connect Grant Program financial assistance:
    i. An incorporated organization.

[[Page 2941]]

    ii. An Indian tribe or tribal organization, as defined in 25 U.S.C. 
450b.
    iii. A state or local unit of government.
    iv. Other legal entity, including a cooperative, private 
corporation, or limited liability company organized on a for-profit or 
not-for-profit basis.
    b. Applicants must have the legal capacity and authority to enter 
into contracts, to comply with applicable federal statutes and 
regulations, and to own and operate the broadband facilities as 
proposed in their application.
    c. Applicants must have an active registration with current 
information in the System for Award Management (SAM) at https://www.sam.gov and have a Dun and Bradstreet (D&B) Data Universal 
Numbering System (DUNS) number. Further information regarding SAM 
registration and DUNS number acquisition can be found in Sections D(3) 
and D(4) of this NOSA.
2. Ineligible Applicants
    a. The following entities are not eligible for Community Connect 
Grant Program financial assistance:
    i. Individuals and partnerships.
    ii. Corporations that have been convicted of a Federal felony 
within the past 24 months. Any corporation that has been assessed to 
have any unpaid federal tax liability, for which all judicial and 
administrative remedies have been exhausted or have lapsed and is not 
being paid in a timely manner pursuant to an agreement with the 
authority responsible for collecting the tax liability, is not eligible 
for financial assistance.
    b. In accordance with the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016, 
Sections 743-4, no funds may be available ``for a contract, grant, or 
cooperative agreement with an entity that requires employees or 
contractors of such entity seeking to report fraud, waste, or abuse to 
sign internal confidentiality agreements or statements prohibiting or 
otherwise restricting such employees or contractors from lawfully 
reporting such waste, fraud, or abuse to a designated investigative or 
law enforcement representative of a Federal department or agency 
authorized to receive such information.''
3. Cost Sharing or Matching
    The Community Connect Grant Program requires matching contributions 
for grants. See 7 CFR 1739.14 and the FY 2017 Application Guide for 
information on required matching contributions.
    a. Grant applicants must demonstrate matching contributions in cash 
of at least fifteen percent (15%) of the requested grant amount. 
Matching contributions must be used solely for the Project and shall 
not include any financial assistance from federal sources unless there 
is a federal statutory exception specifically authorizing the federal 
financial assistance to be considered as such as discussed in 7 CFR 
1739.14.
    b. Applications that do not provide sufficient documentation of the 
required fifteen percent match will be declared ineligible.
4. Funding Restrictions
    a. Eligible grant purposes.
    Grant funds may be used to finance:
    i. 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;
    ii. The improvement, expansion, construction, or acquisition of a 
Community Center that furnishes free internet access at the Broadband 
Grant Speed and provides 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
    iii. The cost of bandwidth to provide service free of charge at the 
Broadband Grant Speed to Critical Community Facilities for the first 
two (2) years of operation.
    b. Ineligible grant purposes.
    Grant funds may not be used to finance:
    i. The duplication of any existing Broadband Service provided by 
another entity.
    ii. Operating expenses other than the cost of providing bandwidth 
at the Broadband Grant Speed to the Critical Community Facilities for 
two (2) years.
    iii. Any other operating expenses not specifically permitted in 7 
CFR 1739.12.
    c. Other. For more information, see 7 CFR 1739.3 for definitions, 7 
CFR 1739.12 for eligible grant purposes, and 7 CFR 1739.13 for 
ineligible grant purposes.
5. Other
    Eligible projects must propose to fulfill the following 
requirements (see 7 CFR 1739.11 for more information):
    a. Minimum Broadband Service. RUS uses this measurement to 
determine whether a proposed funded service area is served or unserved. 
Until otherwise revised in the Federal Register, the minimum rate-of-
data transmission that qualifies as Minimum Broadband Service is four 
(4) megabits per second downstream and one (1) megabit per second 
upstream for both fixed and mobile broadband service. RUS will 
determine that Broadband Service does not exist for areas with no 
broadband access or whose access is less than 4 Mbps downstream plus 1 
Mbps upstream.
    b. Minimum Broadband Grant Speed. The minimum bandwidth that an 
applicant must propose to deliver to every customer in the proposed 
funded service area. Until otherwise revised in the Federal Register, 
the minimum rate-of-data transmission that qualifies as Minimum 
Broadband Grant Speed is ten (10) megabits downstream and one (1) 
megabit upstream for both fixed and mobile service to the customer.
    c. Rural Area. A Rural Area refers to any area, as confirmed by the 
most recent decennial Census of the United States, which is not located 
within:
    i. A city, town, or incorporated area that has a population of 
greater than 20,000 inhabitants; or
    ii. An urbanized area contiguous and adjacent to a city or town 
that has a population of greater than 50,000 inhabitants. For purposes 
of the definition of Rural Area, an urbanized area means a densely 
populated territory as defined in the most recent decennial Census.
    d. Proposed Funded Service Area (PFSA). Applicants must define a 
contiguous geographic area within an eligible Rural Area, in which 
Broadband Service does not currently exist, and where the applicant 
proposes to offer service at the Broadband Grant Speed to all 
residential and business customers. A PFSA must not overlap with 
Service Areas of current RUS borrowers and grantees.
    e. Critical Community Facilities. Applicants must propose to offer 
service, free of charge to users, at the Broadband Grant Speed to all 
Critical Community Facilities located within the Proposed Funded 
Service Area for at least two (2) years.
    f. Community Center. Applicants must propose to provide a Community 
Center, within the PFSA, with at least two (2) Computer Access Points 
and wireless access at the Broadband Grant Speed free of charge to 
users for at least two (2) years.

D. Application and Submission Information

    The FY 2017 Application Guide provides specific detailed 
instructions

[[Page 2942]]

for each item in a complete application. The Agency emphasizes the 
importance of including every required item and strongly encourages 
applicants to follow the instructions carefully, using the examples and 
illustrations in the FY 2017 Application Guide. Applications submitted 
by the application deadline, but have critical missing items will be 
returned as ineligible. The Agency will not solicit or consider scoring 
or eligibility information that is submitted after the application 
deadline. However, depending on the specific scoring criteria, 
applications that do not include all items necessary for scoring may 
still be eligible applications, but may not receive full or any credit 
if the information cannot be verified. See the FY 2017 Application 
Guide for a full discussion of each required item. For a comprehensive 
list of all information required in a grant application, refer to 7 CFR 
1739.15.
1. Address To Request Application Package
    The FY 2017 Application Guide, copies of necessary forms and 
samples, and the Community Connect Grant Program Regulation are 
available in the following locations:
    a. Community Connect Grant Program Web page at http://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/community-connect-grants.
    b. The Office of Loan Origination and Approval in RUS; call 202-
720-0800.
2. Content and Form of Application Submission
    a. Carefully review the Community Connect Application Guide and the 
7 CFR part 1739, which detail all necessary forms and worksheets. A 
table summarizing the necessary components of a complete application 
can be found in Section D(2)(d).
    b. Submission of Application Items. Given the high volume of 
program interest, applicants should submit the required application 
items in the order indicated in the FY 2017 Application Guide. 
Applications that are not assembled and tabbed in the specified order 
impede timely determination of eligibility. For applications with 
inconsistencies among submitted copies, the Agency will base its 
evaluation on the original signed application received.
    c. Additional Information. The Agency may ask for additional or 
clarifying information for applications submitted by the deadline which 
appear to meet the eligibility requirements, but require further 
review.
    d. Table of Required Information in a Complete Grant Application. 
This table summarizes and categorizes the items required in a grant 
application.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                        Application item           Regulation                  Comments
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A..................................  Application for         ......................  Form provided in FY 2017
                                      Federal Assistance                              Application Guide.
                                      Form.
                                     SF-424 Standard Form..
                                     A-2 SAM Registration    ......................  Form provided in FY 2017
                                      Information.                                    Application Guide.
                                     A-3 State Director      ......................  Form provided in FY 2017
                                      Notification.                                   Application Guide.
                                     A-4 Equal Opportunity   ......................  Form provided in FY 2017
                                      Survey.                                         Application Guide.
B..................................  Executive Summary of    ......................  Narrative.
                                      the Project.
C..................................  Scoring Criteria        ......................  Narrative & Documentation.
                                      Documentation.
                                     Special Considerations  ......................  Documentation.
D..................................  System Design.........  ......................  Narrative & Documentation.
                                     Network Diagram.......  ......................  Documentation.
                                     Environmental           7 CFR part 1970.......  Narrative & Documentation.
                                      Questionnaire.
E..................................  Service Area Map......  ......................  Provided in RUS web-based
                                                                                      Mapping Tool.
                                     Service Area            ......................  Documentation.
                                      Demographics.
F..................................  Scope of Work.........  ......................  Narrative & Documentation.
                                     Construction Build-out  ......................  Form provided in FY 2017
                                      and Project                                     Application Guide.
                                      Milestones.
                                     Project Budget........  ......................  Form provided in FY 2017
                                                                                      Application Guide.
G..................................  Community-oriented      ......................  Narrative.
                                      Connectivity Plan.
H..................................  Financial Information   ......................  Narrative & Documentation.
                                      and Sustainability.
I..................................  Statement of            ......................  Narrative.
                                      Experience.
J..................................  Evidence of Legal       ......................  Documentation.
                                      Authority and
                                      Existence.
K..................................  Additional Funding....  ......................  Narrative & Documentation.
L..................................  Compliance with Other
                                      Statutes and
                                      Regulations.
                                     Equal Opportunity and   7 CFR part 15 (Subpart  Form provided in FY 2017
                                      Nondiscrimination.      A).                     Application Guide.
                                     Uniform Relocation      49 CFR Part 24 and 7    Form provided in FY 2017
                                      Assistance and Real     CFR Part 21.            Application Guide.
                                      Property Acquisition
                                      Policies Act of 1970.
                                     Debarment, Suspension,  7 CFR Part 3017.......  Form provided in FY 2017
                                      and Other                                       Application Guide.
                                      Responsibility
                                      Matters.
                                     Lobbying for            7 CFR Part 3018.......  Form provided in FY 2017
                                      Contracts, Grants,                              Application Guide.
                                      Loans, and
                                      Cooperative
                                      Agreements.
                                     Drug-Free Workplace...  7 CFR Part 3017.......  Form provided in FY 2017
                                                                                      Application Guide.
                                     Architectural Barriers  ......................  Form provided in FY 2017
                                                                                      Application Guide.
                                     Flood Hazard Area       7 CFR 1970............  Form provided in FY 2017
                                      Precautions.                                    Application Guide.
                                     Non-Duplication of      ......................  Form provided in FY 2017
                                      Services.                                       Application Guide.
                                     Federal Collection      ......................  Form provided in FY 2017
                                      Policies for                                    Application Guide.
                                      Commercial Debt.

[[Page 2943]]

 
                                     Assurance Regarding     ......................  Form provided in FY 2017
                                      Felony Conviction or                            Application Guide
                                      Tax Delinquent Status                           (corporate applicants-
                                      for Corporate                                   only).
                                      Applicants.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    e. Number of copies of submitted applications.
    i. Applications submitted on paper. Submit the original application 
and two (2) copies to RUS.
    ii. Applications submitted electronically through Grants.gov. 
Submit the electronic application once. Carefully read the FY 2017 
Application Guide for guidance on submitting an electronic application. 
Applicants should identify and number each page in the same manner as 
the paper application.
3. Dun and Bradstreet Universal Numbering System (DUNS) Number
    The grant applicant must supply a DUNS number as part of the 
application. The Standard Form 424 (SF-424) contains a field for the 
DUNS number. The applicant can obtain the DUNS number free of charge by 
calling Dun and Bradstreet. Go to http://fedgov.dnb.com/webform for 
more information on DUNS number acquisition or confirmation.
4. System for Award Management (SAM)
    Prior to submitting a paper or an electronic application, the 
applicant must register in SAM at https://www.sam.gov/portal/public/SAM/. SAM registration must be active with current data at all times, 
from the application review throughout the active Federal grant funding 
period. To maintain active SAM registration, the applicant must review 
and update the information in the SAM database annually from the date 
of initial registration or from the date of the last update. The 
applicant must ensure that the information in the database is current, 
accurate, and complete.
5. Submission Dates and Times
    a. Paper applications must be postmarked and mailed, shipped, or 
sent overnight no later than March 13, 2017 to be eligible for FY 2017 
grant funding. Late applications, applications which do not include 
proof of mailing or shipping, and incomplete applications are not 
eligible for FY 2017 grant funding. If the submission deadline falls on 
Saturday, Sunday, or a Federal holiday, the application is due the next 
business day. In the event of an incomplete application, the Agency 
will notify the applicant in writing, return the application, and 
terminate all further action.
    i. Address paper applications to the Telecommunications Program, 
RUS, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Ave. SW., Room 
2844, STOP 1597, Washington, DC 20250-1597. Applications should be 
marked, ``Attention: Deputy Assistant Administrator, Office of Loan 
Origination and Approval.''
    ii. Paper applications must show proof of mailing or shipping by 
the deadline with one of the following:
    A. A legibly dated U.S. Postal Service (USPS) postmark.
    B. A legible mail receipt with the date of mailing stamped by the 
USPS.
    C. A dated shipping label, invoice, or receipt from a commercial 
carrier.
    iii. Due to screening procedures at the USDA, packages arriving via 
regular mail through the USPS are irradiated, which can damage the 
contents and delay delivery to the office. RUS encourages applicants to 
consider the impact of this procedure when selecting their application 
delivery method.
    b. Electronic grant applications submitted through Grants.gov must 
be received no later than March 13, 2017 to be eligible for FY 2017 
funding. Late or incomplete applications will not be eligible for FY 
2017 grant funding.
    i. Applications will not be accepted via fax or electronic mail.
    ii. Electronic applications for grants must be submitted through 
the federal government's Grants.gov initiative at http://www.grants.gov/. Grants.gov contains full instructions on all required 
passwords, credentialing, and software.
    iii. Grants.gov requires some credentialing and online 
authentication procedures. These procedures may take several business 
days to complete. Therefore, the applicant should complete the 
registration, credentialing, and authorization procedures at Grants.gov 
before submitting an application.
    iv. Dun and Bradstreet Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS). The 
grant applicant must supply a DUNS number as part of the application. 
See Section D(3) of this NOSA for more information.
    v. System for Award Management (SAM). Grants.gov requires that the 
applicant's organization is registered in SAM. Be sure to obtain the 
organization's SAM listing well in advance of the application deadline. 
See Section D(4) of this NOSA for more information.
    vi. RUS encourages applicants who wish to apply through Grants.gov 
to submit their applications in advance of the deadline.
    vii. If system errors or technical difficulties occur, use the 
customer support resources available at the Grants.gov Web site.

E. Application Review Information

1. Criteria
    Grant applications are scored competitively and are subject to the 
criteria listed below. The maximum number of points possible is 115. 
See 7 CFR 1739.17 and the FY 2017 Application Guide for more 
information on the scoring criteria.
    a. Needs Category. The Agency analyzes the challenges related to 
the following criteria and the ways in which the project proposes to 
address these issues (up to 50 points):
    i. Economic characteristics.
    ii. Educational challenges.
    iii. Health care needs.
    iv. Public safety issues.
    b. Stakeholder Involvement Category. The Agency analyzes the extent 
of the project planning, development, and support from local residents, 
institutions, and Critical Community Facilities (up to 40 points).
    c. Experience Category. The Agency analyzes the management team's 
level of experience and past success of broadband systems operation (up 
to 10 points).
    d. Special Consideration Areas Category. In accordance with 7 CFR 
1739.1(a), applicants may receive special consideration if they submit 
documentation demonstrating that they will provide service at the 
Broadband Grant Speed within the following areas (15 points):
    i. Tribal jurisdiction or trust areas.
    ii. Promise Zone (for further information, see the Promise Zone Web 
site at http://www.hud.gov/promisezones/).
    iii. Strike Force area (for further information, see the 
Strikeforce Web site at http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usda?navid=STRIKE_FORCE).
    e. In making a final selection among and between applications with 
comparable rankings and geographic distribution, the Administrator may 
take

[[Page 2944]]

into consideration the characteristics of the Proposed Funded Service 
Area (PFSA), as identified in 7 CFR 1739.17(d).
2. Review and Selection Process
    Grant applications are ranked according to their final scores. RUS 
selects applications based on those rankings, subject to the 
availability of funds and consistent with 7 CFR 1739.17. In addition, 
it should be noted that an application receiving fewer points can be 
selected over an application receiving more points in the event that 
there are insufficient funds available to cover the costs of the higher 
scoring application, as stated in 7 CFR 1739.16(f).
    a. In addition to the scoring criteria that rank applications 
against each other, the Agency evaluates grant applications on the 
following items, in accordance with 7 CFR 1739.16:
    i. Financial feasibility. A proposal that does not indicate 
financial feasibility or that is not sustainable will not be approved 
for an award.
    ii. Technical considerations. An application that contains flaws 
that would prevent the successful implementation, operation, or 
sustainability of the project will not be approved for an award.
    b. Applications conforming with this part will then be evaluated 
competitively and ranked by a panel of RUS employees that the 
Administrator of RUS selects, and will be awarded points as described 
in the scoring criteria in 7 CFR 1739.17. Applications will be ranked 
and grants awarded in order until all grant funds are expended.
    c. The Agency reserves the right to offer the applicant a lower 
amount than the amount proposed in the application, as stated in 7 CFR 
1739.16(g).

F. Federal Award Administration Information

1. Federal Award Notices
    a. Successful applications. RUS notifies applicants whose projects 
are selected for awards by mailing or emailing a copy of the award 
letter. The receipt of an award letter does not authorize the applicant 
to commence performance under the award.
    b. After sending the award letter, the Agency will send an 
agreement that contains all the terms and conditions, as referenced in 
7 CFR 1739.18 and Section B of this NOSA. A copy of the standard 
agreement is posted on the RUS Web site at http://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/community-connect-grants. RUS recognizes that each 
funded project is unique, and therefore may attach additional 
conditions to individual award documents. An applicant must execute and 
return the grant agreement with any additional items required by the 
agreement within the number of days specified in the selection notice 
letter.
2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements
    The items listed in this NOSA, the Community Connect Grant Program 
regulation, the FY 2017 Application Guide, and accompanying materials 
implement the appropriate administrative and national policy 
requirements, which include, but are not limited to:
    a. Executing a Community Connect Grant Agreement.
    b. Using Form SF 270, ``Request for Advance or Reimbursement,'' to 
request reimbursements (along with the submission of receipts for 
expenditures, timesheets, and any other documentation to support the 
request for reimbursement).
    c. Providing annual project performance activity reports until the 
expiration of the award.
    d. Ensuring that records are maintained to document all activities 
and expenditures utilizing Community Connect grant funds and matching 
funds (receipts for expenditures are to be included in this 
documentation).
    e. Providing a final project performance report.
    f. Complying with policies, guidance, and requirements as described 
in the following applicable Code of Federal Regulations, and any 
successor regulations:
    i. 2 CFR parts 200 and 400 (Uniform Administrative Requirements, 
Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards).
    ii. 2 CFR part 417 (Nonprocurement Debarment and Suspension).
    iii. 2 CFR part 180 (Government-wide Debarment and Suspension).
    g. Signing Form AD-3031 (``Assurance Regarding Felony Conviction or 
Tax Delinquent Status for Corporate Applicants'') (for corporate 
applicants only).
    h. Complying with Executive Order 13166, ``Improving Access to 
Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency.'' For 
information on limited English proficiency and agency-specific 
guidance, go to http://www.LEP.gov.
3. Reporting
    a. 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. This report may 
serve as the last annual report. The final report must include an 
evaluation of the success of the project in meeting the Community 
Connect Grant Program objectives. See 7 CFR 1739.19 and 2 CFR 200.328 
for additional information on these reporting requirements.
    b. Financial reporting. All recipients of Community Connect Grant 
Program financial assistance must provide an annual audit, beginning 
with the first year in which a portion of the financial assistance is 
expended. Audits are governed by USDA audit regulations. See 7 CFR 
1739.20 and 2 CFR part 200 (Subpart F) for a description of the 
financial reporting requirements.
    c. Recipient and Sub-recipient 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 170 are as follows:
    i. 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 https://www.fsrs.gov no later than the end of the month following the month the 
obligation was made. Please note that currently underway is a 
consolidation of eight federal procurement systems, including the 
Federal Sub-award Reporting System (FSRS), into one system, the System 
for Award Management (SAM). As a result, the FSRS will soon be 
consolidated into and accessed through https://www.sam.gov/portal/public/SAM/.
    ii. The Total Compensation of the Recipient's Executives (the five 
most highly compensated executives) must be reported by the Recipient 
(if the Recipient meets the criteria under 2 CFR part 170) to https://www.sam.gov/portal/public/SAM/ by the end of the month following the 
month in which the award was made.
    iii. The Total Compensation of the Sub-recipient's Executives (the 
five most highly compensated executives) must be reported by the Sub-
recipient (if the Sub-recipient meets the criteria under 2 CFR part 
170) to the Recipient by the end of the month following the

[[Page 2945]]

month in which the sub-award was made.
    d. Record Keeping and Accounting. The contract will contain 
provisions related to record keeping and accounting requirements.

G. Federal Awarding Agency Contacts

    1. Web site: http://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/community-connect-grants. This site maintains up-to-date resources and contact 
information for the Community Connect Grant Program;
    2. Telephone: 202-720-0800;
    3. Email: community.connect@wdc.usda.gov; and
    4. Main Point of Contact: Shawn Arner, Deputy Assistant 
Administrator, Office of Loan Origination and Approval, Rural Utilities 
Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

H. Other Information

1. USDA Non-Discrimination Statement
    USDA prohibits discrimination against its customers, employees, and 
applicants for employment on the bases of race, color, national origin, 
age, disability, sex, gender identity, religion, reprisal, and where 
applicable, political beliefs, marital status, familial or parental 
status, sexual orientation, or all or part of an individual's income is 
derived from any public assistance program, or protected genetic 
information in employment or in any program or activity conducted or 
funded by USDA. (Not all prohibited bases will apply to all programs 
and/or employment activities.)
2. How To File a Complaint
    a. Equal Employment Opportunity Complaint. Individuals who wish to 
file an employment complaint must contact their Agency's EEO Counselor 
within 45 days of the date of the alleged discriminatory act, event, or 
in the case of a personnel action. Additional information can be found 
online at http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_file.html.
    b. Program Discrimination Complaint. Individuals who wish to file a 
Program Discrimination Complaint must complete the USDA Program 
Discrimination Complaint Form (PDF), found online at http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html or at any USDA office, or 
call (866) 632-9992 to request the form. A letter may also be written 
containing all of the information requested in the form. Send the 
completed complaint form or letter by mail to the U.S. Department of 
Agriculture, Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue 
SW., Washington, DC 20250-9410, or email at program.intake@usda.gov.
3. Persons With Disabilities
    Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have speech 
disabilities and wish to file either an EEO or program complaint may 
contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339 
(English) or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish).
    Persons with disabilities who wish to file a program complaint, 
please see information above on how to contact USDA by mail or email. 
Individuals who require alternative means of communication for program 
information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) may contact 
USDA's TARGET Center at 202-720-2600 (voice and TDD).

    Dated: December 6, 2016.
Brandon McBride,
Administrator, Rural Utilities Service.
[FR Doc. 2017-00194 Filed 1-9-17; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE P