Announcement of Grant Application Deadlines and Funding Levels, 11494-11499 [2018-05200]

Download as PDF sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES 11494 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 51 / Thursday, March 15, 2018 / Notices (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1–800–877–8339 between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The purpose of the meeting is to: 1. Report out from Committee work groups; 2. Provide updates on the 2018 grant proposal review and 2019 Call for Proposals; 3. Provide Forest Service updates on budget, projects, partnerships and nominations; 4. Listen to constituents with urban forestry concerns; 5. Perform administrative tasks; 6. Annual accomplishments/ recommendations report to the Secretary—Status; 7. Next Meeting, Action items for the week of July 16, 2018. The teleconference is open to the public. However, the public is strongly encouraged to RSVP prior to the teleconference to ensure all related documents are shared with public meeting participants. The agenda will include time for people to make oral statements of three minutes or less. Individuals wishing to make an oral statement should submit a request in writing by March 13, 2018, to be scheduled on the agenda. Council discussion is limited to Forest Service staff and Council members, however anyone who would like to bring urban and community forestry matters to the attention of the Council may file written statements with the Council’s staff before or after the meeting. Written comments and time requests for oral comments must be sent to Nancy Stemple, Executive Staff, National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council, Sidney Yates Building, Room 3SC–01C, 201 14th Street SW, Washington, DC 20024, or by email at nstremple@fs.fed.us. Meeting Accommodations: If you are a person requiring reasonable accommodation, please make requests in advance for sign language interpreting, assistive listening devices or other reasonable accommodation for access to the facility or proceedings by contacting the person listed in the section titled FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. All reasonable accommodation requests are managed on a case by case basis. Dated: February 14, 2018. Patti Hirami, Associate Deputy Chief, State & Private Forestry. [FR Doc. 2018–05269 Filed 3–14–18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3411–15–P VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:34 Mar 14, 2018 Jkt 244001 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) 2018. 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. This notice is being issued prior to passage of a final appropriations act to allow potential applicants time to submit proposals and give the Agency time to process applications within the current fiscal year. The Agency will publish the amount of funding received in any continuing resolution or the final appropriations act on its website at https://www.rd.usda.gov/newsroom/ notices-solicitation-applications-nosas. Expenses incurred in developing applications will be at the applicant’s risk. 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 May 14, 2018 to be eligible for FY 2018 grant funding. Late or incomplete applications will not be eligible for FY 2018 grant funding. • Electronic submissions: Electronic submissions must be received no later than May 14, 2018 to be eligible for FY 2018 grant funding. Late or incomplete applications will not be eligible for FY 2018 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 2018 Application Guide and materials for the Community Connect Grant Program may be obtained through: (1) The Community Connect website at https://www.rd.usda.gov/programsservices/community-connect-grants; and (2) The RUS Office of Loan Origination and Approval at 202–720– 0800. SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00007 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 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 website at https:// 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–2018. 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 ‘‘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 E:\FR\FM\15MRN1.SGM 15MRN1 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 51 / Thursday, March 15, 2018 / Notices 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 2018 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 2018 Application Guide and sample materials. Expenses incurred in developing applications will be at the applicant’s own risk. 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 2018. The standard grant agreement, which specifies the term of each award, is available at https://www.rd.usda.gov/ files/CCGrantAgreement.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 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES 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. 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. 17:34 Mar 14, 2018 Jkt 244001 4. Funding Restrictions 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.’’ 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 B. Federal Award Information VerDate Sep<11>2014 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. 11495 5. Other The Community Connect Grant Program requires matching contributions for grants. See 7 CFR 1739.14 and the FY 2018 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. 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 ten (10) 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 10 Mbps downstream plus 1 Mbps upstream. b. Minimum Broadband Grant Speed. The minimum bandwidth that an applicant must propose to deliver to 2. Ineligible Applicants PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 E:\FR\FM\15MRN1.SGM 15MRN1 11496 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 51 / Thursday, March 15, 2018 / Notices 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 twenty-five (25) megabits downstream and three (3) megabits 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 2018 Application Guide provides specific detailed instructions 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 2018 Application Guide. Prior to official submission of applications, applicants may request technical assistance or other application guidance from the Agency, as long as such requests are made prior to April 30, 2018. Agency contact information can be found in Section G of this NOSA. The Agency will not solicit or consider scoring or eligibility information that is submitted after the application deadline. The Agency reserves the right to contact applicants to seek clarification information on materials contained in the submitted application. See the FY 2018 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 2018 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 https://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 2018 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. sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES Application item Regulation A. Application for Federal Assistance Form .................... SF–424 Standard Form: A–2 SAM Registration Information .................... A–3 State Director Notification .......................... A–4 Equal Opportunity Survey .......................... B. Executive Summary of the Project .............................. C. Scoring Criteria Documentation .................................. D. System Design ............................................................ Network Diagram ...................................................... Environmental Questionnaire ................................... E. Service Area Map ........................................................ Service Area Demographics ..................................... F. Scope of Work ............................................................. Construction Build-out and Project Milestones ........ Project Budget .......................................................... G. Community-oriented Connectivity Plan ....................... H. Financial Information and Sustainability ..................... I. Statement of Experience .............................................. J. Evidence of Legal Authority and Existence ................. K. Additional Funding ....................................................... L. 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. .............................................. Form provided in FY 2018 Application Guide. .............................................. .............................................. .............................................. .............................................. .............................................. .............................................. .............................................. 7 CFR part 1970 ................. .............................................. .............................................. .............................................. .............................................. .............................................. .............................................. .............................................. .............................................. .............................................. .............................................. .............................................. 7 CFR part 15 (Subpart A) 49 CFR part 24 and 7 CFR part 21. 7 CFR part 3017 ................. Form provided in FY 2018 Application Guide. Form provided in FY 2018 Application Guide. Form provided in FY 2018 Application Guide. Narrative. Narrative & Documentation. Narrative & Documentation. Documentation. Narrative & Documentation. Provided in RUS web-based Mapping Tool. Documentation. Narrative & Documentation. Form provided in FY 2018 Application Guide. Form provided in FY 2018 Application Guide. Narrative. Narrative & Documentation. Narrative. Documentation. Narrative & Documentation. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:34 Mar 14, 2018 Jkt 244001 PO 00000 Frm 00009 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Comments Form provided in FY 2018 Application Guide. Form provided in FY 2018 Application Guide. Form provided in FY 2018 Application Guide. E:\FR\FM\15MRN1.SGM 15MRN1 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 51 / Thursday, March 15, 2018 / Notices Application item Regulation 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 ..... Assurance Regarding Felony Conviction or Tax Delinquent Status for Corporate 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 2018 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 https:// 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/SAM/#1. 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. sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES 5. Submission Dates and Times a. Paper applications must be postmarked and mailed, shipped, or sent overnight no later than May 14, 2018 to be eligible for FY 2018 grant funding. Late applications, applications which do not include proof of mailing or shipping, and incomplete applications are not eligible for FY 2018 VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:34 Mar 14, 2018 Jkt 244001 Comments 7 CFR part 3018 ................. Form provided in FY 2018 Application Guide. 7 CFR part 3017 ................. .............................................. 7 CFR 1970 ......................... .............................................. .............................................. .............................................. Form provided in FY 2018 Application Guide. Form provided in FY 2018 Application Guide. Form provided in FY 2018 Application Guide. Form provided in FY 2018 Application Guide. Form provided in FY 2018 Application Guide. Form provided in FY 2018 Application Guide (corporate applicants-only). 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 May 14, 2018 to be eligible for FY 2018 funding. Late or incomplete applications will not be eligible for FY 2018 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 https://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. PO 00000 11497 Frm 00010 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 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 website. E. Application Review Information 1. Criteria Grant applications are evaluated for financial and technical feasibility, in accordance with 7 CFR 1739.16. An application that contains flaws that would prevent the successful implementation, operation, or sustainability of the project will not be approved for an award. In addition, grant applications are scored competitively and are subject to the criteria listed below. The maximum number of points possible is 100. See 7 CFR 1739.17 and the FY 2018 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 E:\FR\FM\15MRN1.SGM 15MRN1 11498 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 51 / Thursday, March 15, 2018 / Notices experience and past success of broadband systems operation (up to 10 points). d. In making a final selection among and between applications with comparable rankings and geographic distribution, the Administrator may take into consideration the characteristics of the Proposed Funded Service Area (PFSA), as identified in 7 CFR 1739.17(d). 2. Review and Selection Process a. 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. 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). b. 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 sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD 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 website at https:// 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 2018 Application VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:34 Mar 14, 2018 Jkt 244001 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 https://www.LEP.gov. i. Accountability and Compliance With Civil Rights Laws 7 CFR 1901–E 1901.201 Purpose. This subpart contains policies and procedures for implementing the regulations of the Department of Agriculture issued pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, Title IX, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Executive Order 13166, Executive Order 11246, and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974, as they relate to the Rural Development (Rural Development). Nothing herein shall be interpreted to prohibit preference to American Indians on Indian Reservations. PO 00000 Frm 00011 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 The policies contained in subpart E of part 1901 apply to recipients. As recipients of Federal financial assistance, borrowers are required to comply with the applicable Federal, State and local laws. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act prohibits discrimination by recipients of Federal financial assistance. Recipients are required to adhere to specific outreach activities. These outreach activities include, contacting community organizations and leaders that include minority leaders, advertising in local newspapers and other media throughout the entire service area, and including the nondiscrimination slogan, ‘‘This is an Equal Opportunity Program. Discrimination is prohibited by Federal Law,’’ in methods that may include, but not be limited to, advertisements, public broadcasts, and printed materials, such as, brochures and pamphlets. All recipients must submit and have on file a valid Form RD 400–1, ‘‘Equal Opportunity Agreement,’’ and RUS Form 266 or RD Form 400–4, ‘‘Assurance Agreement.’’ By signing Form 400–4 or 266, Assurance Agreement recipients affirm that they will operate the program free from discrimination. The recipient will maintain the race and ethnic data on the board members and beneficiaries of the program. The Recipient will provide alternative forms of communication to persons with limited English proficiency. The Agency will conduct Civil Rights Compliance Reviews on recipients to identify the collection of racial and ethnic data on Program beneficiaries. In addition, the Compliance review will ensure that equal access to the Program benefits and activities are provided for persons with disabilities and language barriers. 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 E:\FR\FM\15MRN1.SGM 15MRN1 Federal Register / Vol. 83, No. 51 / Thursday, March 15, 2018 / Notices 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 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. sradovich on DSK3GMQ082PROD with NOTICES G. Federal Awarding Agency Contacts 1. Website: https://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 VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:34 Mar 14, 2018 Jkt 244001 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 In accordance with Federal civil rights law and USDA civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, marital status, sex, gender identity (including gender expression), sexual orientation, familial status, disability, limited English proficiency, or because all or a part of an individual’s income is derived from a public assistance program, political beliefs, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity, in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA (not all bases apply to all programs). Remedies and complaint filing deadlines vary by program or incident. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.) should contact the responsible Agency or USDA’s TARGET Center at 202–720–2600 (voice and TDD) or contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877–8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English. To file a program discrimination complaint, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, AD–3027, found online at https://www.ascr.usda.gov/ad3027-usda-program-discriminationcomplaint-form and at any USDA office or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632–9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by: a. Mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20250–9410; b. Facsimile: (202) 690–7442; or c. Email: at program.intake@usda.gov. d. USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender. Dated: February 14, 2018. Christopher A. McLean, Acting Administrator, Rural Utilities Service. [FR Doc. 2018–05200 Filed 3–14–18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P PO 00000 Frm 00012 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 11499 ARCTIC RESEARCH COMMISSION Notice of 109th Commission Meeting A notice by the U.S. Arctic Research Commission on 03/09/2018. Notice is hereby given that the U.S. Arctic Research Commission will hold its 109th meeting in Seattle, WA, on April 21, 2018. The business sessions, open to the public, will convene at 8:30 a.m. at The Edgewater Hotel, 2411 Alaskan Way, Seattle, WA 98121. The Agenda items include: (1) Call to order and approval of the agenda (2) Approval of the minutes from the 108th meeting (3) Commissioners and staff reports (4) Discussion and presentations concerning Arctic research activities The meeting will focus on reports and updates relating to programs and research projects affecting Alaska and the greater Arctic. The Arctic Research and Policy Act of 1984 (Title I Pub. L. 98–373) and the Presidential Executive Order on Arctic Research (Executive Order 12501) dated January 28, 1985, established the United States Arctic Research Commission. If you plan to attend this meeting, please notify us via the contact information below. Any person planning to attend who requires special accessibility features and/or auxiliary aids, such as sign language interpreters, must inform the Commission of those needs in advance of the meeting. Contact person for further information: Kathy Farrow, Communications Specialist, U.S. Arctic Research Commission, 703–525–0111 or TDD 703–306–0090. Kathy Farrow, Communications Specialist. [FR Doc. 2018–05213 Filed 3–14–18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 7555–01–P COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS Notice of Public Meeting of the Alaska Advisory Committee U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. ACTION: Announcement of meeting. AGENCY: Notice is hereby given, pursuant to the provisions of the rules and regulations of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (Commission) and the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) that a meeting of the Alaska Advisory Committee (Committee) to the Commission will be held at 12:00 p.m. SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\15MRN1.SGM 15MRN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 51 (Thursday, March 15, 2018)]
[Notices]
[Pages 11494-11499]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-05200]


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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).

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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) 2018. 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.
    This notice is being issued prior to passage of a final 
appropriations act to allow potential applicants time to submit 
proposals and give the Agency time to process applications within the 
current fiscal year. The Agency will publish the amount of funding 
received in any continuing resolution or the final appropriations act 
on its website at https://www.rd.usda.gov/newsroom/notices-solicitation-applications-nosas. Expenses incurred in developing 
applications will be at the applicant's risk.

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 May 14, 2018 to be 
eligible for FY 2018 grant funding. Late or incomplete applications 
will not be eligible for FY 2018 grant funding.
     Electronic submissions: Electronic submissions must be 
received no later than May 14, 2018 to be eligible for FY 2018 grant 
funding. Late or incomplete applications will not be eligible for FY 
2018 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 2018 Application Guide and materials for 
the Community Connect Grant Program may be obtained through:
    (1) The Community Connect website at https://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 website at https://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-2018.
    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

[[Page 11495]]

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 2018 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 2018 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 2018.
    The standard grant agreement, which specifies the term of each 
award, is available at https://www.rd.usda.gov/files/CCGrantAgreement.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.
    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 2018 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 ten 
(10) 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 10 Mbps downstream plus 1 
Mbps upstream.
    b. Minimum Broadband Grant Speed. The minimum bandwidth that an 
applicant must propose to deliver to

[[Page 11496]]

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 twenty-five (25) 
megabits downstream and three (3) megabits 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 2018 Application Guide provides specific detailed 
instructions 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 2018 Application Guide. Prior to 
official submission of applications, applicants may request technical 
assistance or other application guidance from the Agency, as long as 
such requests are made prior to April 30, 2018. Agency contact 
information can be found in Section G of this NOSA. The Agency will not 
solicit or consider scoring or eligibility information that is 
submitted after the application deadline. The Agency reserves the right 
to contact applicants to seek clarification information on materials 
contained in the submitted application. See the FY 2018 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 2018 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 https://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 2018 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 Federal Assistance  ...........................................  Form provided in FY 2018
 Form.                                                                               Application Guide.
    SF-424 Standard Form:
        A-2 SAM Registration           ...........................................  Form provided in FY 2018
         Information.                                                                Application Guide.
        A-3 State Director             ...........................................  Form provided in FY 2018
         Notification.                                                               Application Guide.
        A-4 Equal Opportunity Survey.  ...........................................  Form provided in FY 2018
                                                                                     Application Guide.
B. Executive Summary of the Project..  ...........................................  Narrative.
C. Scoring Criteria Documentation....  ...........................................  Narrative & Documentation.
D. System Design.....................  ...........................................  Narrative & Documentation.
    Network Diagram..................  ...........................................  Documentation.
    Environmental Questionnaire......  7 CFR part 1970............................  Narrative & Documentation.
E. Service Area Map..................  ...........................................  Provided in RUS web-based
                                                                                     Mapping Tool.
    Service Area Demographics........  ...........................................  Documentation.
F. Scope of Work.....................  ...........................................  Narrative & Documentation.
    Construction Build-out and         ...........................................  Form provided in FY 2018
     Project Milestones.                                                             Application Guide.
    Project Budget...................  ...........................................  Form provided in FY 2018
                                                                                     Application Guide.
G. Community-oriented Connectivity     ...........................................  Narrative.
 Plan.
H. Financial Information and           ...........................................  Narrative & Documentation.
 Sustainability.
I. Statement of Experience...........  ...........................................  Narrative.
J. Evidence of Legal Authority and     ...........................................  Documentation.
 Existence.
K. Additional Funding................  ...........................................  Narrative & Documentation.
L. Compliance with Other Statutes and  ...........................................  ............................
 Regulations:.
    Equal Opportunity and              7 CFR part 15 (Subpart A)..................  Form provided in FY 2018
     Nondiscrimination.                                                              Application Guide.
    Uniform Relocation Assistance and  49 CFR part 24 and 7 CFR part 21...........  Form provided in FY 2018
     Real Property Acquisition                                                       Application Guide.
     Policies Act of 1970.
    Debarment, Suspension, and Other   7 CFR part 3017............................  Form provided in FY 2018
     Responsibility Matters.                                                         Application Guide.

[[Page 11497]]

 
    Lobbying for Contracts, Grants,    7 CFR part 3018............................  Form provided in FY 2018
     Loans, and Cooperative                                                          Application Guide.
     Agreements.
    Drug-Free Workplace..............  7 CFR part 3017............................  Form provided in FY 2018
                                                                                     Application Guide.
    Architectural Barriers...........  ...........................................  Form provided in FY 2018
                                                                                     Application Guide.
    Flood Hazard Area Precautions....  7 CFR 1970.................................  Form provided in FY 2018
                                                                                     Application Guide.
    Non-Duplication of Services......  ...........................................  Form provided in FY 2018
                                                                                     Application Guide.
    Federal Collection Policies for    ...........................................  Form provided in FY 2018
     Commercial Debt.                                                                Application Guide.
    Assurance Regarding Felony         ...........................................  Form provided in FY 2018
     Conviction or Tax Delinquent                                                    Application Guide
     Status for Corporate Applicants.                                                (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 2018 
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 https://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/SAM/#1. 
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 May 14, 2018 to be eligible for FY 2018 
grant funding. Late applications, applications which do not include 
proof of mailing or shipping, and incomplete applications are not 
eligible for FY 2018 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 May 14, 2018 to be eligible for FY 2018 
funding. Late or incomplete applications will not be eligible for FY 
2018 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 https://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 website.

E. Application Review Information

1. Criteria
    Grant applications are evaluated for financial and technical 
feasibility, in accordance with 7 CFR 1739.16. An application that 
contains flaws that would prevent the successful implementation, 
operation, or sustainability of the project will not be approved for an 
award. In addition, grant applications are scored competitively and are 
subject to the criteria listed below. The maximum number of points 
possible is 100. See 7 CFR 1739.17 and the FY 2018 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

[[Page 11498]]

experience and past success of broadband systems operation (up to 10 
points).
    d. In making a final selection among and between applications with 
comparable rankings and geographic distribution, the Administrator may 
take into consideration the characteristics of the Proposed Funded 
Service Area (PFSA), as identified in 7 CFR 1739.17(d).
2. Review and Selection Process
    a. 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. 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).
    b. 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 website at https://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 2018 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 https://www.LEP.gov.
i. Accountability and Compliance With Civil Rights Laws
7 CFR 1901-E
    1901.201 Purpose. This subpart contains policies and procedures for 
implementing the regulations of the Department of Agriculture issued 
pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VIII of the 
Civil Rights Act of 1968, Title IX, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation 
Act of 1973, Executive Order 13166, Executive Order 11246, and the 
Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974, as they relate to the Rural 
Development (Rural Development). Nothing herein shall be interpreted to 
prohibit preference to American Indians on Indian Reservations.
    The policies contained in subpart E of part 1901 apply to 
recipients. As recipients of Federal financial assistance, borrowers 
are required to comply with the applicable Federal, State and local 
laws. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Section 504 of the 
Rehabilitation Act prohibits discrimination by recipients of Federal 
financial assistance. Recipients are required to adhere to specific 
outreach activities. These outreach activities include, contacting 
community organizations and leaders that include minority leaders, 
advertising in local newspapers and other media throughout the entire 
service area, and including the nondiscrimination slogan, ``This is an 
Equal Opportunity Program. Discrimination is prohibited by Federal 
Law,'' in methods that may include, but not be limited to, 
advertisements, public broadcasts, and printed materials, such as, 
brochures and pamphlets. All recipients must submit and have on file a 
valid Form RD 400-1, ``Equal Opportunity Agreement,'' and RUS Form 266 
or RD Form 400-4, ``Assurance Agreement.''
    By signing Form 400-4 or 266, Assurance Agreement recipients affirm 
that they will operate the program free from discrimination. The 
recipient will maintain the race and ethnic data on the board members 
and beneficiaries of the program. The Recipient will provide 
alternative forms of communication to persons with limited English 
proficiency. The Agency will conduct Civil Rights Compliance Reviews on 
recipients to identify the collection of racial and ethnic data on 
Program beneficiaries. In addition, the Compliance review will ensure 
that equal access to the Program benefits and activities are provided 
for persons with disabilities and language barriers.
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

[[Page 11499]]

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 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. Website: https://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: [email protected]; 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
    In accordance with Federal civil rights law and USDA civil rights 
regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and 
employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA 
programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, 
religion, sex, age, national origin, marital status, sex, gender 
identity (including gender expression), sexual orientation, familial 
status, disability, limited English proficiency, or because all or a 
part of an individual's income is derived from a public assistance 
program, political beliefs, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil 
rights activity, in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA 
(not all bases apply to all programs). Remedies and complaint filing 
deadlines vary by program or incident.
    Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of 
communication for program information (e.g., Braille, large print, 
audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.) should contact the responsible 
Agency or USDA's TARGET Center at 202-720-2600 (voice and TDD) or 
contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. 
Additionally, program information may be made available in languages 
other than English. To file a program discrimination complaint, 
complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, AD-3027, found 
online at https://www.ascr.usda.gov/ad-3027-usda-program-discrimination-complaint-form and at any USDA office or write a letter 
addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information 
requested in the form.
    To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. 
Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:
    a. Mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the Assistant 
Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 
20250-9410;
    b. Facsimile: (202) 690-7442; or
    c. Email: at [email protected].
    d. USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

    Dated: February 14, 2018.
Christopher A. McLean,
Acting Administrator, Rural Utilities Service.
[FR Doc. 2018-05200 Filed 3-14-18; 8:45 am]
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