Fiscal Year 2020 Competitive Funding Opportunity; Helping Obtain Prosperity for Everyone (HOPE), 12648-12653 [2020-04250]

Download as PDF lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with NOTICES 12648 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 42 / Tuesday, March 3, 2020 / Notices competition among rail carriers (49 U.S.C. 10101(4)) and foster sound economic conditions in transportation and ensure effective competition (49 U.S.C. 10101(5)). Further, an exemption from the application process would expedite regulatory action (49 U.S.C. 10101(2)), reduce regulatory barriers (49 U.S.C. 10101(7)), and provide for the expeditious handling and resolution of this proceeding (49 U.S.C. 10101(15)). Other aspects of the rail transportation policy would not be adversely affected. Regulation of this transaction is not needed to protect shippers from the abuse of market power. There would be no loss of rail competition and no adverse change in the competitive balance in the transportation market, as WCL would continue operations at the Dock that are currently provided by Hallett. Nor would there be a change in the level of service to any shippers because WCL does not intend to implement significant changes to operations and intends to fulfill Hallett’s existing contractual arrangements for Dock services and to make services available to any interested parties as capacity allows.3 (See WCL Exemption Pet. at 5.) Moreover, WCL’s ownership and operation of the Dock will be subject to WCL’s obligations as a common carrier. No shippers have objected to the transaction, and two have stated their support. Under 49 U.S.C. 10502(g), the Board may not use its exemption authority to relieve a rail carrier of its statutory obligation to protect the interests of its employees. However, labor protective conditions may not be imposed on transactions under 49 U.S.C. 10901. See 49 U.S.C. 10901(c). WCL states that the proposed transaction will not result in changes in existing rail carrier operations or existing operations at the Dock that would exceed the applicable thresholds of 49 CFR 1105.7(e)(4) or (5). Therefore, under 49 CFR 1105.6(c), this transaction is categorically excluded from environmental review. Similarly, under 49 CFR 1105.8(b)(1), no historic report is required because the subject transaction is for continued rail service, WCL has indicated no plans to alter railroad properties 50 years old or older, and any abandonment of service would be subject to Board jurisdiction. As noted above, WCL seeks expedited consideration so that it can commence operation of the Dock in advance of the 3 Because the Board concludes that regulation is not needed to protect shippers from the abuse of market power, it is unnecessary to determine whether the proposed transaction is limited in scope. See 49 U.S.C. 10502(a). VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:19 Mar 02, 2020 Jkt 250001 Lake Superior shipping season. For that reason, the exemption will be effective March 27, 2020, petitions to stay will be due by March 9, 2020, and petitions for reconsideration and petitions to reopen will be due by March 17, 2020. It is ordered: 1. Under 49 U.S.C. 10502, the Board exempts WCL’s operation of Hallett Dock No. 5 from the prior approval requirements of 49 U.S.C. 10901. 2. Notice of the exemption will be published in the Federal Register. 3. The exemption will be effective on March 27, 2020. 4. Petitions to stay must be filed by March 9, 2020. Petitions for reconsideration and petitions to reopen must be filed by March 17, 2020. Decided: February 26, 2020. By the Board, Board Members Begeman, Fuchs, and Oberman. Brendetta Jones, Clearance Clerk. [FR Doc. 2020–04275 Filed 3–2–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4915–01–P [Docket No. EP 558 (Sub-No. 23)] Railroad Cost of Capital—2019 Surface Transportation Board. Notice of decision instituting a proceeding to determine the railroad industry’s 2019 cost of capital. AGENCY: ACTION: The Board is instituting a proceeding to determine the railroad industry’s cost of capital for 2019. The decision solicits comments on the following issues: The railroads’ 2019 current cost of debt capital; the railroads’ 2019 current cost of preferred equity capital (if any); the railroads’ 2019 cost of common equity capital; and the 2019 capital structure mix of the railroad industry on a market value basis. SUMMARY: Notices of intent to participate are due by March 30, 2020. Statements of the railroads are due by April 20, 2020. Statements of other interested persons are due by May 11, 2020. Rebuttal statements by the railroads are due by June 1, 2020. ADDRESSES: Comments may be filed with the Board either via e-filing or in writing addressed to: Surface Transportation Board, 395 E Street SW, Washington, DC 20423–0001. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Pedro Ramirez at (202) 245–0333. Assistance for the hearing impaired is available through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877–8339. DATES: Frm 00155 Fmt 4703 Authority: 49 U.S.C. 10704(a). Decided: February 26, 2020. By the Board, Board Members Begeman, Fuchs, and Oberman. Jeffrey Herzig, Clearance Clerk. [FR Doc. 2020–04360 Filed 3–2–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4915–01–P DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Transit Administration Fiscal Year 2020 Competitive Funding Opportunity; Helping Obtain Prosperity for Everyone (HOPE) Federal Transit Administration (FTA), DOT. ACTION: Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO). AGENCY: The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announces the opportunity to apply for approximately $8.5 million in fiscal year (FY) 2020 funds under the Helping Obtain Prosperity for Everyone (HOPE) Program (CFDA#20.505). Funds will be awarded competitively for planning, engineering, or development of technical or financing plans for projects eligible that assist areas of persistent poverty. FTA may award additional funds if they are made available to the program prior to the announcement of project selections. DATES: Complete proposals must be submitted electronically through the GRANTS.GOV ‘‘APPLY’’ function by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on May 4, 2020. Prospective applicants should initiate the process by promptly registering on the GRANTS.GOV website to ensure completion of the application process before the submission deadline. Instructions for applying can be found on FTA’s website at http://transit.dot.gov/howtoapply and in the ‘‘FIND’’ module of GRANTS.GOV. The GRANTS.GOV funding opportunity ID is FTA–2020–011–TPE– HOPE. Mail and fax submissions will not be accepted. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Charles Goodman, FTA Office of Planning and Environment, 202–366– 1944, or Charles.goodman@dot.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: SUMMARY: SURFACE TRANSPORTATION BOARD PO 00000 The decision in this proceeding is posted at www.stb.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Sfmt 4703 Table of Contents A. Program Description B. Federal Award Information C. Eligibility Information E:\FR\FM\03MRN1.SGM 03MRN1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 42 / Tuesday, March 3, 2020 / Notices lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with NOTICES D. Application and Submission Information E. Application Review Information F. Review and Selection Process Information G. Federal Award Administration Information H. Technical Assistance and Other Program Information I. Federal Awarding Agency Contacts A. Program Description The HOPE Program provides funds to eligible entities defined as eligible recipients or subrecipients under 49 U.S.C. 5307, 49 U.S.C. 5310 or 49 U.S.C. 5311 and are in areas of persistent poverty. Funds were appropriated pursuant to Division H of the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 (Pub. L. 116–94) and will be awarded through a competitive process, as described in this notice. FTA will award grants to eligible applicants for planning, engineering, or development of technical, or financing plans for projects eligible under Chapter 53 of Title 49 U.S.C. Applicants are encouraged to work with non-profits or other entities of their choosing to develop an eligible project. An eligible project for this Notice of Funding Opportunity is defined as either a planning study, including a planning and environmental linkages study that advances the environmental analysis and review process as part of the metropolitan planning process, engineering study, technical study, or financial plan. FTA encourages applicants to propose projects that may introduce innovative technologies or practices in support of FTA’s Accelerating Innovative Mobility (AIM) initiative. FTA is focused on the introduction of new technology not commonly found within U.S. transit systems such as integrated fare payment systems that permit complete trips or advancements to propulsion systems. Resulting innovation activities may also include practices such as new public transportation operational models, financial or procurement arrangements, or value capture. Rural transportation networks play a vital role in supporting our national economic vitality. Addressing the deteriorating conditions and disproportionately high fatality rates on our rural transportation infrastructure is of critical interest to the Department, as rural transportation networks face unique challenges in safety, infrastructure condition, and passenger and freight usage. Consistent with the R.O.U.T.E.S. Initiative (https:// www.transportation.gov/rural), FTA encourages applicants to consider how the project will address the challenges faced by rural areas of persistent poverty. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:19 Mar 02, 2020 Jkt 250001 B. Federal Award Information The Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 appropriated $8.5 million for the HOPE Program. The FTA is announcing the availability of these funds through this notice. The FTA will grant pre-award authority to incur costs for selected projects beginning on the date that project selections are announced. Funds are only available for projects that have not incurred costs prior to the selection of projects. Funds will remain available for obligation for three Federal fiscal years, not including the year in which the funds are allocated to projects. FTA anticipates the maximum grant awards will not exceed $850,000. C. Eligibility Information 1. Eligible Applicants Eligible applicants for awards are States, tribes, and designated or direct recipients under 49 U.S.C. 5307, 49 U.S.C. 5310 or 49 U.S.C. 5311. Eligible sub-recipients include all otherwise eligible applicants. State departments of transportation may apply on behalf of eligible applicants within their States. Applicants are encouraged to work with nonprofit organizations engaged in public transportation in areas of persistent poverty. To be considered eligible, proposed projects must be in a county with 20 percent or more of the population living in poverty over the 30 years preceding the date of enactment of the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 (December 20, 2019), as measured by the 1990 and 2000 decennial census and the most recent Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates, or from any census tract with a poverty rate of at least 20 percent as measured by the 2013–2017, 5-year data series available from the American Community Survey of the Census Bureau. The FTA has posted a table and maps of the Areas of Persistent Poverty that meet these criteria at www.transit.dot.gov. Eligible applicants must be able to demonstrate the requisite legal, financial, and technical capabilities to receive and administer Federal funds under this program. As permitted by the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020, applicants to the HOPE Program may submit applications that include partnerships with non-profits that can assist with making projects low or no emissions. If an application that involves such a partnership is selected for funding, the competitive selection process will be deemed to satisfy the requirement for a competitive procurement under 49 U.S.C. 5325(a) for PO 00000 Frm 00156 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 12649 the named entities. Applicants are advised that any changes to the proposed partnership will require written FTA approval, must be consistent with the scope of the approved project, and may necessitate a competitive procurement. 2. Cost Sharing or Matching The minimum federal share for projects selected under the HOPE Program is not less than 90 percent of the total project cost (i.e., the local share will be no more than 10 percent of the total project cost, not 10 percent of the requested grant amount). Eligible sources of local match include the following: Cash from nonGovernment sources other than revenues from providing public transportation services; revenues derived from the sale of advertising and concessions; amounts received under a service agreement with a State or local social service agency or private social service organization; revenues generated from value capture financing mechanisms; or funds from an undistributed cash surplus; replacement or depreciation cash fund or reserve; or new capital. In addition, transportation development credits or documentation of in-kind match may substitute for local match if identified in the application. 3. Eligible Projects Under the HOPE Program, eligible projects are planning, engineering, or development of technical, or financing plans for projects eligible under Chapter 53 of title 49 U.S.C. For example, these activities may include planning, engineering, or development of technical, or financing plans for improved transit services, new transit routes, engineering for transit facilities and improvements to existing facilities, innovative technologies, low or no emission buses, or a new bus facility or intermodal center that supports transit services, integrated fare collections systems, or coordinated public transit human service transportation plans to improve transit service in an area of persistent poverty or to provide new service such as transportation for services to address the opioid epidemic. An eligible project also may be a planning and environmental linkages study that advances the environmental analysis and review process as part of the metropolitan planning process. E:\FR\FM\03MRN1.SGM 03MRN1 12650 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 42 / Tuesday, March 3, 2020 / Notices D. Application and Submission Information lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with NOTICES 1. Address Applications must be submitted electronically through GRANTS.GOV. General information for submitting applications through GRANTS.GOV can be found at https://www.transit.dot.gov/ funding/grants/applying/applying-ftafunding along with specific instructions for the forms and attachments required for submission. Mail and fax submissions will not be accepted. A complete proposal submission consists of two forms: The SF–424 Application for Federal Assistance (downloaded from GRANTS.GOV) and the supplemental form for the FY 2020 HOPE Program (downloaded from GRANTS.GOV or the FTA website at www.transit.dot.gov). Applicants also may attach additional supporting information. Failure to submit the information as required can delay or prevent review of the application. 2. Content and Form of Application Submission A strong transportation network is critical to the functioning and growth of the American economy. The nation’s industry depends on the transportation network to move the goods that it produces, and facilitate the movements of the workers who are responsible for that production. When the nation’s transit systems, highways, railways, and ports function well, that infrastructure connects people to jobs, increases the efficiency of delivering goods and thereby cuts the costs of doing business, reduces the burden of commuting, and improves overall well-being. A complete proposal submission consists of two forms: The SF–424 Application for Federal Assistance and the FY 2020 HOPE Program supplemental form. The supplemental form and any supporting documents must be attached to the ‘‘Attachments’’ section of the SF–424. A complete application must include responses to all sections of the SF–424 Application for Federal Assistance and the supplemental form, unless indicated as optional. The information on the supplemental form will be used to determine applicant and project eligibility for the program, and to evaluate the proposal against the selection criteria described in part E of this notice. The FTA will accept only one supplemental form per SF–424 submission. FTA encourages States and other applicants to consider submitting a single supplemental form that includes multiple activities to be VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:19 Mar 02, 2020 Jkt 250001 evaluated as a consolidated proposal. If a State or other applicant chooses to submit separate proposals for individual consideration by FTA, each proposal must be submitted using a separate SF– 424 and supplemental form. Applicants may attach additional supporting information to the SF–424 submission, including but not limited to letters of support, project budgets, fleet status reports or excerpts from relevant planning documents. Supporting documentation must be described and referenced by file name in the appropriate response section of the supplemental form, or it may not be reviewed. Information such as applicant name, Federal amount requested, local match amount, description of areas served, etc. may be requested in varying degrees of detail on both the SF–424 and Supplemental Form. Applicants must fill in all fields unless stated otherwise on the forms. Applicants should not place N/A or ‘‘refer to attachment’’ in lieu of typing in responses in the field sections. If information is copied into the supplemental form from another source, applicants should verify that pasted text is fully captured on the supplemental form and has not been truncated by the character limits built into the form. Applicants should use both the ‘‘Check Package for Errors’’ and the ‘‘Validate Form’’ validation buttons on both forms to check all required fields on the forms, and ensure that the federal and local amounts specified are consistent. The SF–424 Mandatory Form and the Supplemental Form will prompt applicants for the required information, including: a. Applicant name. b. Dun and Bradstreet (D&B) Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number. c. Key contact information (including contact name, address, email address, and phone). d. Congressional district(s) where project will take place. e. Project information (including title, an executive summary, and type). f. A detailed description of the need for the planning, engineering, or development of technical, or financial planning activities. g. A detailed description of how the project will support the HOPE Program objectives. h. Provide a line-item budget for the project, with enough detail to indicate the various key components of the comprehensive planning project. i. Identify the Federal amount requested. PO 00000 Frm 00157 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 j. Document the matching funds, including amount and source of the match (may include local or private sector financial participation in the project). Describe whether the matching funds are committed or planned, and include documentation of the commitments. k. A description of the technical, legal and financial capacity of the applicant. l. An explanation of the scalability of the project. m. Identify whether the project would be in a qualified opportunity zone designated pursuant to 26 U.S.C. 1400Z–1. n. Provide a schedule and process for the project that includes anticipated dates for incorporating the project into the region’s unified planning work program, completing major tasks and substantial deliverables, and completing the project. o. Describe how the proposed project advances the metropolitan transportation plan of the metropolitan planning organization or the statewide long range plan by the State department of transportation. p. Propose performance criteria for the development and implementation of the HOPE planning activities. q. Identify potential State, local or other impediments to the products of the HOPE work and its implementation, and how the work will address them. r. Identify proposed actions that reduce regulatory barriers that unnecessarily raise the costs of housing development or impede the development of affordable housing. The FTA will not consider any additional materials submitted by applicants in its evaluation of proposals. The total length of the completed supplemental form and documentation of partnerships and funding commitments should be no more than 15 pages. 3. Unique Entity Identifier and System for Award Management (SAM) Each applicant is required to: (1) Be registered in SAM before submitting an application; (2) provide a valid unique entity identifier in its application; and (3) continue to maintain an active SAM registration with current information at all times during which the applicant has an active Federal award or an application or plan under consideration by FTA. These requirements do not apply if the applicant has an exemption approved by FTA under Federal grants and agreements law (2 CFR 25.110(d)). The FTA may not make an award until the applicant has complied with all applicable unique entity identifier and SAM requirements. If an applicant has E:\FR\FM\03MRN1.SGM 03MRN1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 42 / Tuesday, March 3, 2020 / Notices lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with NOTICES not fully complied with the requirements by the time FTA is ready to make an award, FTA may determine that the applicant is not qualified to receive an award and use that determination as a basis for making a Federal award to another applicant. All applicants must provide a unique entity identifier provided by SAM. SAM registration takes approximately 3–5 business days, but FTA recommends allowing ample time, up to several weeks, for completion of all steps. For additional information on obtaining a unique entity identifier, please visit www.sam.gov. 4. Submission Dates and Times Project proposals must be submitted electronically through http:// www.GRANTS.GOV by 11:59 p.m. May 4, 2020. GRANTS.GOV attaches a time stamp to each application at the time of submission. Proposals submitted after the deadline will only be considered under extraordinary circumstances not under the applicant’s control. Mail and fax submissions will not be accepted. Within 48 hours after submitting an electronic application, the applicant should receive two email messages from GRANTS.GOV: (1) Confirmation of successful transmission to GRANTS.GOV; and (2) confirmation of successful validation by GRANTS.GOV. FTA will then validate the application and will attempt to notify any applicants whose applications could not be validated. If the applicant does not receive confirmation of successful validation or a notice of failed validation or incomplete materials, the applicant must address the reason for the failed validation, as described in the email notice, and resubmit before the submission deadline. If making a resubmission for any reason, include all original attachments regardless of which attachments were updated and check the box on the supplemental form indicating this is a resubmission. An application that is submitted at the deadline and cannot be validated will be marked as incomplete, and such applicants will not receive additional time to re-submit. Any addenda that FTA releases on the application process will be posted at https://www.transit.dot.gov. Important: FTA urges applicants to submit their applications at least 96 hours prior to the due date to allow time to receive the validation messages and to correct any problems that may have caused a rejection notification. GRANTS.GOV scheduled maintenance and outage times are announced on the GRANTS.GOV website at http:// www.GRANTS.GOV. Deadlines will not VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:19 Mar 02, 2020 Jkt 250001 be extended due to scheduled maintenance or outages. Applicants are encouraged to begin the registration process on the GRANTS.GOV site well in advance of the submission deadline. Registration is a multi-step process, which may take several weeks to complete before an application can be submitted. Registered applicants may still be required to take steps to keep their registration up to date before submissions can be made successfully: (1) Registration in the System for Award Management (SAM) is renewed annually and (2) persons making submissions on behalf of the Authorized Organization Representative (AOR) must be authorized in GRANTS.GOV by the AOR to make submissions. Instructions on the GRANTS.GOV registration process are listed in Appendix A. 5. Funding Restrictions Funds under this NOFO cannot be used to reimburse applicants for otherwise eligible expenses incurred prior to FTA award of a grant agreement until FTA has issued pre-award authority for selected projects. 6. Other Submission Requirements Applicants are encouraged to identify scaled funding options in case insufficient funding is available to fund a project at the full requested amount. If an applicant indicates that a project is scalable, the applicant must provide an appropriate minimum funding amount that will fund an eligible project that achieves the objectives of the program and meets all relevant program requirements. The applicant must provide a clear explanation of how the project budget would be affected by a reduced award. The FTA may award a lesser amount whether a scalable option is provided. E. Application Review Information 1. Criteria The FTA will evaluate project proposals for the HOPE Program based on the criteria described in this notice. Projects will be evaluated primarily on the responses provided in the supplemental form. Additional information may be provided to support the responses; however, any additional documentation must be directly referenced on the supplemental form, including the file name where the additional information can be found. Consistent with the Department’s R.O.U.T.E.S. Initiative (https:// www.transportation.gov/rural), the Department recognizes that rural transportation networks face unique PO 00000 Frm 00158 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 12651 challenges. To the extent that those challenges are reflected in the merit criteria listed in this section, FTA will consider how the activities proposed in the application will address those challenges, regardless of the geographic location of those activities. a. Demonstration of Need Applications will be evaluated based on the quality and extent to which they demonstrate how the proposed activities will support planning, engineering, or development of technical, or financing plans that would result in a project eligible for funding under Chapter 53 of Title 49 U.S.C. b. Demonstration of Benefits Applications will be evaluated based on how well they describe how the proposed planning, engineering, or development of technical, or financing plans that address the existing condition of the transit system, improve the reliability of transit service for its riders, enhance access and mobility within the service area, or accelerate innovation in areas of persistent poverty. System Condition: The FTA will evaluate the potential for the planning, engineering, or development of technical, or financing plans to lead to an improvement in the condition of the transit system in areas of persistent poverty. Service Reliability: The FTA will evaluate the potential for the planning, engineering, or development of technical, or financing plans to lead to a reduction in the frequency of breakdowns or other service interruptions caused by the age and condition of the agency’s bus fleet, and improve system reliability. Enhanced Access and Mobility: The FTA will evaluate the potential for the planning, engineering, or development of technical, or financing plans to lead to improved access and mobility for the transit riding public, such as through increased reliability, improved headways, creation of new transportation choices or eliminating gaps in the current route network. Accelerating Innovation: The FTA will evaluate the potential for the planning, engineering, or development of technical, or financing plans to accelerate the introduction of innovative technologies or practices such as integrated fare payment systems permitting complete trips or advancements to propulsion systems. Innovation can also include practices such as new public transportation operational models, financial or procurement arrangements, or value capture strategies. E:\FR\FM\03MRN1.SGM 03MRN1 12652 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 42 / Tuesday, March 3, 2020 / Notices Emissions Reductions: The FTA will evaluate the potential for the planning study, engineering study, or development of technical, or financing plans with a project partner to lead to reduced vehicle emissions as a potential outcome. Barriers to Low Income Housing: FTA will evaluate the degree to which the planning study, engineering study, or technical or financial plans identify proposed actions that reduce regulatory barriers that unnecessarily raise the costs of housing development or impede the development of affordable housing. Regional Support: Applicants should provide evidence of regional or local support for the proposed project. Documentation may include support letters from local and regional planning organizations, local governmental officials, public agencies and/or nonprofit or private sector partners attesting to the need for the project. Improving Rural Transportation: Consistent with the Department’s R.O.U.T.E.S. Initiative (https:// www.transportation.gov/rural), the Department recognizes that rural transportation networks face unique challenges. To the extent that those challenges are reflected in the merit criteria listed in this section, FTA will consider how the activities proposed in the application will address those challenges, regardless of the geographic location of those activities. c. Local Financial Commitment lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with NOTICES Applicants must identify the source of the local cost share and describe whether such funds are currently available for the project or will need to be secured if the project is selected for funding. The FTA will consider the availability of the local cost share as evidence of local financial commitment to the project. Additional consideration will be given to those projects for which local funds have already been made available or reserved. Applicants should submit evidence of the availability of funds for the project, for example by including a board resolution, letter of support from the State or other documentation of the source of local funds such as a budget document highlighting the line item or section committing funds to the proposed project. d. Project Implementation Strategy The FTA will evaluate the strength of the work plan, schedule and process included in an application based on the following factors: a. Extent to which the schedule contains sufficient detail, identifies all VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:19 Mar 02, 2020 Jkt 250001 steps needed to implement the work proposed, and is achievable; b. Extent of partnerships, including with non-public sector entities; and c. The partnerships’ technical capability to develop, adopt and implement the plans, based on FTA’s assessment of the applicant’s description of the policy formation, implementation, and financial roles of the partners, and the roles and responsibilities of proposed staff. e. Technical, Legal and Financial Capacity Applicants must demonstrate that they have the technical, legal and financial capacity to undertake the project. FTA will review relevant oversight assessments and records to determine whether there are any outstanding legal, technical or financial issues with the applicant that would affect the outcome of the proposed project. Applicants with outstanding legal, technical or financial compliance issues from an FTA compliance review or Federal Transit grant-related Single Audit finding must explain how corrective actions taken will mitigate negative impacts on the proposed project. 2. Review and Selection Process In addition to other FTA staff that may review the proposals, a technical evaluation committee will evaluate proposals based on the published evaluation criteria. After applying the above criteria, the FTA Administrator will consider the following key Departmental objectives: (A) Supporting economic vitality at the national and regional level; (B) Utilizing alternative funding sources and innovative financing models to attract non-Federal sources of infrastructure investment; (C) Identifying proposed actions that reduce regulatory barriers that unnecessarily raise the costs of housing development or impede the development of affordable housing; (D) Undertake planning, engineering, technical studies, or financing plans for transit facilities or services in a qualified opportunity zone designated pursuant to 26 U.S.C. 1400Z–1 (E) Using innovative approaches to improve safety and expedite project delivery; and (F) Holding grant recipients accountable for their performance and achieving specific, measurable outcomes identified by grant applicants. Prior to making an award, FTA is required to review and consider any information about the applicant that is in the Federal Awardee Performance PO 00000 Frm 00159 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 and Integrity Information Systems (FAPIIS) accessible through SAM. An applicant may review and comment on information about itself that a Federal awarding agency previously entered. FTA will consider any comments by the applicant, in addition to the other information in the designated integrity and performance system, in making a judgment about the applicant’s integrity, business ethics, and record of performance under Federal awards when completing the review of risk posed by applicants as described in § 200.205 Federal awarding agency review of risk posed by applicants. The FTA Administrator will determine the final selection of projects for program funding. In determining the allocation of program funds, FTA may consider geographic diversity, diversity in the size of the transit systems receiving funding, the applicant’s receipt of other competitive awards, projects located in or that support public transportation service in a qualified opportunity zone designated pursuant to 26 U.S.C. 1400Z–1, the percentage of local share provided, and whether the project includes an innovative technology or practice. F. Federal Award Administration Information 1. Federal Award Notice Final project selections will be posted on the FTA website. Selected recipients should contact their FTA regional offices for additional information regarding allocations for projects under the HOPE Program. At the time the project selections are announced, FTA will extend pre-award authority for the selected projects. There is no blanket pre-award authority for these projects before announcement. 2. Award Administration The FTA anticipates that the maximum grant award will not exceed $850,000 which will enable FTA to fund as many meritorious projects as possible. Only proposals from eligible recipients for eligible activities will be considered for funding. Due to funding limitations, proposals that are selected for funding may receive less than the amount originally requested. In those cases, applicants must be able to demonstrate that the proposed projects are still viable stand-alone projects that can be completed with the amount awarded. 3. Administrative Requirements a. Pre-Award Authority The FTA will issue specific guidance to recipients regarding pre-award E:\FR\FM\03MRN1.SGM 03MRN1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 42 / Tuesday, March 3, 2020 / Notices authority at the time of selection. The FTA does not provide pre-award authority for competitive funds until projects are selected and even then, there are Federal requirements that must be met before costs are incurred. For more information about FTA’s policy on pre-award authority, please see the FY 2019 Apportionment Notice published on July 3, 2019 which can be accessed at https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/ FR-2019-07-03/pdf/2019-14248.pdf. b. Grant Requirements If selected, awardees will apply for a grant through FTA’s Transit Award Management System (TrAMS). Recipients of HOPE Program funding in urban areas are subject to the grant requirements of the Urbanized Area Formula Grant program (49 U.S.C. 5307), including those described in FTA Circular ‘‘Urbanized Area Formula Program: Program Guidance and Application Instructions’’ (FTA.C.9030.1E). Recipients of funding in rural areas are subject to the grant requirements described in the Formula Grants for Rural Areas Program (49 U.S.C. 5311), including those described in FTA Circular ‘‘Formula Grants for Rural Areas: Program Guidance and Application Instructions’’ (FTA.C.9040.1G). All recipients (urban and rural) must follow the Award Management Requirements as described in (FTA.C.5010.1E). Technical assistance regarding these requirements is available from each FTA regional office. lotter on DSKBCFDHB2PROD with NOTICES c. Disadvantaged Business Enterprise The FTA requires that its recipients receiving planning, capital and/or operating assistance that will award prime contracts exceeding $250,000 in FTA funds comply with the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program regulations (49 CFR part 26). For more information on DBE requirements, please contact Scheryl Portee, the Office of the Chief Counsel, at 202–366–0840, email: scheryl.portee@ dot.gov. d. Standard Assurances By submitting a grant application, the applicant assures that it will comply with all applicable federal statutes, regulations, executive orders, directives, FTA circulars and other federal administrative requirements in carrying out any project supported by the FTA grant. Further, the applicant acknowledges that it is under a continuing obligation to comply with the terms and conditions of the grant agreement issued for its project with VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:19 Mar 02, 2020 Jkt 250001 FTA. The applicant understands that Federal laws, regulations, policies and administrative practices might be modified from time to time and may affect the implementation of the project. The applicant agrees that the most recent Federal requirements will apply to the project, unless FTA issues a written determination otherwise. The applicant must submit the Certifications and Assurances before receiving a grant, if it does not have current certifications on file. 4. Reporting Post-award reporting requirements include the electronic submission of Federal Financial Reports and Milestone Progress Reports in FTA’s electronic grants management system. Recipients of funds made available through this NOFO are also required to regularly submit data to the National Transit Database. G. Federal Awarding Agency Contacts For further information concerning this notice, please contact Mr. Charles Goodman via email at Charles.goodman@dot.gov; or by phone at 202–366–1944. A TDD is available for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing at 800–877–8339. In addition, FTA will post answers to questions and requests for clarifications on FTA’s website at http://transit.dot.gov. The FTA staff will also conduct a webinar for potential applicants to learn more about the program and submittal process To ensure the receipt of accurate information about eligibility or the program, applicants with questions are encouraged to contact FTA directly, rather than through intermediaries or third parties. H. Technical Assistance and Other Program Information This program is not subject to Executive Order 12372, ‘‘Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs.’’ The FTA will consider applications for funding only from eligible recipients for eligible projects listed in Section C. Complete applications must be submitted through GRANTS.GOV by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on May 4, 2020. For assistance with GRANTS.GOV please contact GRANTS.GOV by phone at 1–800–518– 4726 or by email at support@grants.gov. Contact information for FTA’s regional offices can be found on FTA’s website PO 00000 Frm 00160 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 12653 at https://www.transit.dot.gov/about/ regional-offices/regional-offices. K. Jane Williams, Acting Administrator. [FR Doc. 2020–04250 Filed 3–2–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Maritime Administration [Docket No. MARAD–2020–0020] Request for Comments of a Previously Approved Information Collection: United States Merchant Marine Academy Alumni Survey Maritime Administration, DOT. Notice and request for comments. AGENCY: ACTION: In compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, this notice announces that the Information Collection Request (ICR) abstracted below is being forwarded to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and comments. A Federal Register Notice with a 60-day comment period soliciting comments on the following information collection was published on November 4, 2019. DATES: Comments must be submitted on or before April 2, 2020. ADDRESSES: Send comments regarding the burden estimate, including suggestions for reducing the burden, to the Office of Management and Budget, Attention: Desk Officer for the Office of the Secretary of Transportation, 725 17th Street NW, Washington, DC 20503. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. John R. Ballard, (516) 726–5833, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point, NY 11024. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Title: U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Alumni Survey. OMB Control Number: 2133–0542. Type of Request: Renewal of a Previously Approved Information Collection. Background: The United States Merchant Marine Academy is an accredited federal service academy that confers BS and MS degrees. The Academy is expected to assess its educational outcomes and report those findings to its Regional Accreditation authority in order to maintain the institution’s degree granting status. Periodic survey of alumni cohorts and analysis of the data gathered is a routine higher education assessment practice in the United States. Respondents: Graduates of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\03MRN1.SGM 03MRN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 42 (Tuesday, March 3, 2020)]
[Notices]
[Pages 12648-12653]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-04250]


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

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Transit Administration


Fiscal Year 2020 Competitive Funding Opportunity; Helping Obtain 
Prosperity for Everyone (HOPE)

AGENCY: Federal Transit Administration (FTA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO).

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

SUMMARY: The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announces the 
opportunity to apply for approximately $8.5 million in fiscal year (FY) 
2020 funds under the Helping Obtain Prosperity for Everyone (HOPE) 
Program (CFDA#20.505). Funds will be awarded competitively for 
planning, engineering, or development of technical or financing plans 
for projects eligible that assist areas of persistent poverty. FTA may 
award additional funds if they are made available to the program prior 
to the announcement of project selections.

DATES: Complete proposals must be submitted electronically through the 
GRANTS.GOV ``APPLY'' function by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on May 4, 
2020. Prospective applicants should initiate the process by promptly 
registering on the GRANTS.GOV website to ensure completion of the 
application process before the submission deadline. Instructions for 
applying can be found on FTA's website at http://transit.dot.gov/howtoapply and in the ``FIND'' module of GRANTS.GOV.
    The GRANTS.GOV funding opportunity ID is FTA-2020-011-TPE-HOPE. 
Mail and fax submissions will not be accepted.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Charles Goodman, FTA Office of 
Planning and Environment, 202-366-1944, or [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Table of Contents

A. Program Description
B. Federal Award Information
C. Eligibility Information

[[Page 12649]]

D. Application and Submission Information
E. Application Review Information
F. Review and Selection Process Information
G. Federal Award Administration Information
H. Technical Assistance and Other Program Information
I. Federal Awarding Agency Contacts

A. Program Description

    The HOPE Program provides funds to eligible entities defined as 
eligible recipients or subrecipients under 49 U.S.C. 5307, 49 U.S.C. 
5310 or 49 U.S.C. 5311 and are in areas of persistent poverty. Funds 
were appropriated pursuant to Division H of the Further Consolidated 
Appropriations Act, 2020 (Pub. L. 116-94) and will be awarded through a 
competitive process, as described in this notice. FTA will award grants 
to eligible applicants for planning, engineering, or development of 
technical, or financing plans for projects eligible under Chapter 53 of 
Title 49 U.S.C. Applicants are encouraged to work with non-profits or 
other entities of their choosing to develop an eligible project. An 
eligible project for this Notice of Funding Opportunity is defined as 
either a planning study, including a planning and environmental 
linkages study that advances the environmental analysis and review 
process as part of the metropolitan planning process, engineering 
study, technical study, or financial plan.
    FTA encourages applicants to propose projects that may introduce 
innovative technologies or practices in support of FTA's Accelerating 
Innovative Mobility (AIM) initiative. FTA is focused on the 
introduction of new technology not commonly found within U.S. transit 
systems such as integrated fare payment systems that permit complete 
trips or advancements to propulsion systems. Resulting innovation 
activities may also include practices such as new public transportation 
operational models, financial or procurement arrangements, or value 
capture.
    Rural transportation networks play a vital role in supporting our 
national economic vitality. Addressing the deteriorating conditions and 
disproportionately high fatality rates on our rural transportation 
infrastructure is of critical interest to the Department, as rural 
transportation networks face unique challenges in safety, 
infrastructure condition, and passenger and freight usage. Consistent 
with the R.O.U.T.E.S. Initiative (https://www.transportation.gov/rural), FTA encourages applicants to consider how the project will 
address the challenges faced by rural areas of persistent poverty.

B. Federal Award Information

    The Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 appropriated $8.5 
million for the HOPE Program. The FTA is announcing the availability of 
these funds through this notice.
    The FTA will grant pre-award authority to incur costs for selected 
projects beginning on the date that project selections are announced. 
Funds are only available for projects that have not incurred costs 
prior to the selection of projects. Funds will remain available for 
obligation for three Federal fiscal years, not including the year in 
which the funds are allocated to projects. FTA anticipates the maximum 
grant awards will not exceed $850,000.

C. Eligibility Information

1. Eligible Applicants

    Eligible applicants for awards are States, tribes, and designated 
or direct recipients under 49 U.S.C. 5307, 49 U.S.C. 5310 or 49 U.S.C. 
5311. Eligible sub-recipients include all otherwise eligible 
applicants.
    State departments of transportation may apply on behalf of eligible 
applicants within their States. Applicants are encouraged to work with 
nonprofit organizations engaged in public transportation in areas of 
persistent poverty.
    To be considered eligible, proposed projects must be in a county 
with 20 percent or more of the population living in poverty over the 30 
years preceding the date of enactment of the Further Consolidated 
Appropriations Act, 2020 (December 20, 2019), as measured by the 1990 
and 2000 decennial census and the most recent Small Area Income and 
Poverty Estimates, or from any census tract with a poverty rate of at 
least 20 percent as measured by the 2013-2017, 5-year data series 
available from the American Community Survey of the Census Bureau. The 
FTA has posted a table and maps of the Areas of Persistent Poverty that 
meet these criteria at www.transit.dot.gov. Eligible applicants must be 
able to demonstrate the requisite legal, financial, and technical 
capabilities to receive and administer Federal funds under this 
program.
    As permitted by the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020, 
applicants to the HOPE Program may submit applications that include 
partnerships with non-profits that can assist with making projects low 
or no emissions. If an application that involves such a partnership is 
selected for funding, the competitive selection process will be deemed 
to satisfy the requirement for a competitive procurement under 49 
U.S.C. 5325(a) for the named entities. Applicants are advised that any 
changes to the proposed partnership will require written FTA approval, 
must be consistent with the scope of the approved project, and may 
necessitate a competitive procurement.

2. Cost Sharing or Matching

    The minimum federal share for projects selected under the HOPE 
Program is not less than 90 percent of the total project cost (i.e., 
the local share will be no more than 10 percent of the total project 
cost, not 10 percent of the requested grant amount).
    Eligible sources of local match include the following: Cash from 
non-Government sources other than revenues from providing public 
transportation services; revenues derived from the sale of advertising 
and concessions; amounts received under a service agreement with a 
State or local social service agency or private social service 
organization; revenues generated from value capture financing 
mechanisms; or funds from an undistributed cash surplus; replacement or 
depreciation cash fund or reserve; or new capital. In addition, 
transportation development credits or documentation of in-kind match 
may substitute for local match if identified in the application.

3. Eligible Projects

    Under the HOPE Program, eligible projects are planning, 
engineering, or development of technical, or financing plans for 
projects eligible under Chapter 53 of title 49 U.S.C. For example, 
these activities may include planning, engineering, or development of 
technical, or financing plans for improved transit services, new 
transit routes, engineering for transit facilities and improvements to 
existing facilities, innovative technologies, low or no emission buses, 
or a new bus facility or intermodal center that supports transit 
services, integrated fare collections systems, or coordinated public 
transit human service transportation plans to improve transit service 
in an area of persistent poverty or to provide new service such as 
transportation for services to address the opioid epidemic. An eligible 
project also may be a planning and environmental linkages study that 
advances the environmental analysis and review process as part of the 
metropolitan planning process.

[[Page 12650]]

D. Application and Submission Information

1. Address

    Applications must be submitted electronically through GRANTS.GOV. 
General information for submitting applications through GRANTS.GOV can 
be found at https://www.transit.dot.gov/funding/grants/applying/applying-fta-funding along with specific instructions for the forms and 
attachments required for submission. Mail and fax submissions will not 
be accepted. A complete proposal submission consists of two forms: The 
SF-424 Application for Federal Assistance (downloaded from GRANTS.GOV) 
and the supplemental form for the FY 2020 HOPE Program (downloaded from 
GRANTS.GOV or the FTA website at www.transit.dot.gov). Applicants also 
may attach additional supporting information. Failure to submit the 
information as required can delay or prevent review of the application.

2. Content and Form of Application Submission

    A strong transportation network is critical to the functioning and 
growth of the American economy. The nation's industry depends on the 
transportation network to move the goods that it produces, and 
facilitate the movements of the workers who are responsible for that 
production. When the nation's transit systems, highways, railways, and 
ports function well, that infrastructure connects people to jobs, 
increases the efficiency of delivering goods and thereby cuts the costs 
of doing business, reduces the burden of commuting, and improves 
overall well-being.
    A complete proposal submission consists of two forms: The SF-424 
Application for Federal Assistance and the FY 2020 HOPE Program 
supplemental form. The supplemental form and any supporting documents 
must be attached to the ``Attachments'' section of the SF-424. A 
complete application must include responses to all sections of the SF-
424 Application for Federal Assistance and the supplemental form, 
unless indicated as optional. The information on the supplemental form 
will be used to determine applicant and project eligibility for the 
program, and to evaluate the proposal against the selection criteria 
described in part E of this notice.
    The FTA will accept only one supplemental form per SF-424 
submission. FTA encourages States and other applicants to consider 
submitting a single supplemental form that includes multiple activities 
to be evaluated as a consolidated proposal. If a State or other 
applicant chooses to submit separate proposals for individual 
consideration by FTA, each proposal must be submitted using a separate 
SF-424 and supplemental form.
    Applicants may attach additional supporting information to the SF-
424 submission, including but not limited to letters of support, 
project budgets, fleet status reports or excerpts from relevant 
planning documents. Supporting documentation must be described and 
referenced by file name in the appropriate response section of the 
supplemental form, or it may not be reviewed.
    Information such as applicant name, Federal amount requested, local 
match amount, description of areas served, etc. may be requested in 
varying degrees of detail on both the SF-424 and Supplemental Form. 
Applicants must fill in all fields unless stated otherwise on the 
forms. Applicants should not place N/A or ``refer to attachment'' in 
lieu of typing in responses in the field sections. If information is 
copied into the supplemental form from another source, applicants 
should verify that pasted text is fully captured on the supplemental 
form and has not been truncated by the character limits built into the 
form. Applicants should use both the ``Check Package for Errors'' and 
the ``Validate Form'' validation buttons on both forms to check all 
required fields on the forms, and ensure that the federal and local 
amounts specified are consistent.
    The SF-424 Mandatory Form and the Supplemental Form will prompt 
applicants for the required information, including:
    a. Applicant name.
    b. Dun and Bradstreet (D&B) Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) 
number.
    c. Key contact information (including contact name, address, email 
address, and phone).
    d. Congressional district(s) where project will take place.
    e. Project information (including title, an executive summary, and 
type).
    f. A detailed description of the need for the planning, 
engineering, or development of technical, or financial planning 
activities.
    g. A detailed description of how the project will support the HOPE 
Program objectives.
    h. Provide a line-item budget for the project, with enough detail 
to indicate the various key components of the comprehensive planning 
project.
    i. Identify the Federal amount requested.
    j. Document the matching funds, including amount and source of the 
match (may include local or private sector financial participation in 
the project). Describe whether the matching funds are committed or 
planned, and include documentation of the commitments.
    k. A description of the technical, legal and financial capacity of 
the applicant.
    l. An explanation of the scalability of the project.
    m. Identify whether the project would be in a qualified opportunity 
zone designated pursuant to 26 U.S.C. 1400Z-1.
    n. Provide a schedule and process for the project that includes 
anticipated dates for incorporating the project into the region's 
unified planning work program, completing major tasks and substantial 
deliverables, and completing the project.
    o. Describe how the proposed project advances the metropolitan 
transportation plan of the metropolitan planning organization or the 
statewide long range plan by the State department of transportation.
    p. Propose performance criteria for the development and 
implementation of the HOPE planning activities.
    q. Identify potential State, local or other impediments to the 
products of the HOPE work and its implementation, and how the work will 
address them.
    r. Identify proposed actions that reduce regulatory barriers that 
unnecessarily raise the costs of housing development or impede the 
development of affordable housing.
    The FTA will not consider any additional materials submitted by 
applicants in its evaluation of proposals. The total length of the 
completed supplemental form and documentation of partnerships and 
funding commitments should be no more than 15 pages.

3. Unique Entity Identifier and System for Award Management (SAM)

    Each applicant is required to: (1) Be registered in SAM before 
submitting an application; (2) provide a valid unique entity identifier 
in its application; and (3) continue to maintain an active SAM 
registration with current information at all times during which the 
applicant has an active Federal award or an application or plan under 
consideration by FTA. These requirements do not apply if the applicant 
has an exemption approved by FTA under Federal grants and agreements 
law (2 CFR 25.110(d)). The FTA may not make an award until the 
applicant has complied with all applicable unique entity identifier and 
SAM requirements. If an applicant has

[[Page 12651]]

not fully complied with the requirements by the time FTA is ready to 
make an award, FTA may determine that the applicant is not qualified to 
receive an award and use that determination as a basis for making a 
Federal award to another applicant. All applicants must provide a 
unique entity identifier provided by SAM. SAM registration takes 
approximately 3-5 business days, but FTA recommends allowing ample 
time, up to several weeks, for completion of all steps. For additional 
information on obtaining a unique entity identifier, please visit 
www.sam.gov.

4. Submission Dates and Times

    Project proposals must be submitted electronically through http://www.GRANTS.GOV by 11:59 p.m. May 4, 2020. GRANTS.GOV attaches a time 
stamp to each application at the time of submission. Proposals 
submitted after the deadline will only be considered under 
extraordinary circumstances not under the applicant's control. Mail and 
fax submissions will not be accepted.
    Within 48 hours after submitting an electronic application, the 
applicant should receive two email messages from GRANTS.GOV: (1) 
Confirmation of successful transmission to GRANTS.GOV; and (2) 
confirmation of successful validation by GRANTS.GOV. FTA will then 
validate the application and will attempt to notify any applicants 
whose applications could not be validated. If the applicant does not 
receive confirmation of successful validation or a notice of failed 
validation or incomplete materials, the applicant must address the 
reason for the failed validation, as described in the email notice, and 
resubmit before the submission deadline. If making a resubmission for 
any reason, include all original attachments regardless of which 
attachments were updated and check the box on the supplemental form 
indicating this is a resubmission. An application that is submitted at 
the deadline and cannot be validated will be marked as incomplete, and 
such applicants will not receive additional time to re-submit.
    Any addenda that FTA releases on the application process will be 
posted at https://www.transit.dot.gov. Important: FTA urges applicants 
to submit their applications at least 96 hours prior to the due date to 
allow time to receive the validation messages and to correct any 
problems that may have caused a rejection notification. GRANTS.GOV 
scheduled maintenance and outage times are announced on the GRANTS.GOV 
website at http://www.GRANTS.GOV. Deadlines will not be extended due to 
scheduled maintenance or outages.
    Applicants are encouraged to begin the registration process on the 
GRANTS.GOV site well in advance of the submission deadline. 
Registration is a multi-step process, which may take several weeks to 
complete before an application can be submitted. Registered applicants 
may still be required to take steps to keep their registration up to 
date before submissions can be made successfully: (1) Registration in 
the System for Award Management (SAM) is renewed annually and (2) 
persons making submissions on behalf of the Authorized Organization 
Representative (AOR) must be authorized in GRANTS.GOV by the AOR to 
make submissions. Instructions on the GRANTS.GOV registration process 
are listed in Appendix A.

5. Funding Restrictions

    Funds under this NOFO cannot be used to reimburse applicants for 
otherwise eligible expenses incurred prior to FTA award of a grant 
agreement until FTA has issued pre-award authority for selected 
projects.

6. Other Submission Requirements

    Applicants are encouraged to identify scaled funding options in 
case insufficient funding is available to fund a project at the full 
requested amount. If an applicant indicates that a project is scalable, 
the applicant must provide an appropriate minimum funding amount that 
will fund an eligible project that achieves the objectives of the 
program and meets all relevant program requirements. The applicant must 
provide a clear explanation of how the project budget would be affected 
by a reduced award. The FTA may award a lesser amount whether a 
scalable option is provided.

E. Application Review Information

1. Criteria

    The FTA will evaluate project proposals for the HOPE Program based 
on the criteria described in this notice. Projects will be evaluated 
primarily on the responses provided in the supplemental form. 
Additional information may be provided to support the responses; 
however, any additional documentation must be directly referenced on 
the supplemental form, including the file name where the additional 
information can be found.
    Consistent with the Department's R.O.U.T.E.S. Initiative (https://www.transportation.gov/rural), the Department recognizes that rural 
transportation networks face unique challenges. To the extent that 
those challenges are reflected in the merit criteria listed in this 
section, FTA will consider how the activities proposed in the 
application will address those challenges, regardless of the geographic 
location of those activities.
a. Demonstration of Need
    Applications will be evaluated based on the quality and extent to 
which they demonstrate how the proposed activities will support 
planning, engineering, or development of technical, or financing plans 
that would result in a project eligible for funding under Chapter 53 of 
Title 49 U.S.C.
b. Demonstration of Benefits
    Applications will be evaluated based on how well they describe how 
the proposed planning, engineering, or development of technical, or 
financing plans that address the existing condition of the transit 
system, improve the reliability of transit service for its riders, 
enhance access and mobility within the service area, or accelerate 
innovation in areas of persistent poverty.
    System Condition: The FTA will evaluate the potential for the 
planning, engineering, or development of technical, or financing plans 
to lead to an improvement in the condition of the transit system in 
areas of persistent poverty.
    Service Reliability: The FTA will evaluate the potential for the 
planning, engineering, or development of technical, or financing plans 
to lead to a reduction in the frequency of breakdowns or other service 
interruptions caused by the age and condition of the agency's bus 
fleet, and improve system reliability.
    Enhanced Access and Mobility: The FTA will evaluate the potential 
for the planning, engineering, or development of technical, or 
financing plans to lead to improved access and mobility for the transit 
riding public, such as through increased reliability, improved 
headways, creation of new transportation choices or eliminating gaps in 
the current route network.
    Accelerating Innovation: The FTA will evaluate the potential for 
the planning, engineering, or development of technical, or financing 
plans to accelerate the introduction of innovative technologies or 
practices such as integrated fare payment systems permitting complete 
trips or advancements to propulsion systems. Innovation can also 
include practices such as new public transportation operational models, 
financial or procurement arrangements, or value capture strategies.

[[Page 12652]]

    Emissions Reductions: The FTA will evaluate the potential for the 
planning study, engineering study, or development of technical, or 
financing plans with a project partner to lead to reduced vehicle 
emissions as a potential outcome.
    Barriers to Low Income Housing: FTA will evaluate the degree to 
which the planning study, engineering study, or technical or financial 
plans identify proposed actions that reduce regulatory barriers that 
unnecessarily raise the costs of housing development or impede the 
development of affordable housing.
    Regional Support: Applicants should provide evidence of regional or 
local support for the proposed project. Documentation may include 
support letters from local and regional planning organizations, local 
governmental officials, public agencies and/or non-profit or private 
sector partners attesting to the need for the project.
    Improving Rural Transportation: Consistent with the Department's 
R.O.U.T.E.S. Initiative (https://www.transportation.gov/rural), the 
Department recognizes that rural transportation networks face unique 
challenges. To the extent that those challenges are reflected in the 
merit criteria listed in this section, FTA will consider how the 
activities proposed in the application will address those challenges, 
regardless of the geographic location of those activities.
c. Local Financial Commitment
    Applicants must identify the source of the local cost share and 
describe whether such funds are currently available for the project or 
will need to be secured if the project is selected for funding. The FTA 
will consider the availability of the local cost share as evidence of 
local financial commitment to the project. Additional consideration 
will be given to those projects for which local funds have already been 
made available or reserved. Applicants should submit evidence of the 
availability of funds for the project, for example by including a board 
resolution, letter of support from the State or other documentation of 
the source of local funds such as a budget document highlighting the 
line item or section committing funds to the proposed project.
d. Project Implementation Strategy
    The FTA will evaluate the strength of the work plan, schedule and 
process included in an application based on the following factors:
    a. Extent to which the schedule contains sufficient detail, 
identifies all steps needed to implement the work proposed, and is 
achievable;
    b. Extent of partnerships, including with non-public sector 
entities; and
    c. The partnerships' technical capability to develop, adopt and 
implement the plans, based on FTA's assessment of the applicant's 
description of the policy formation, implementation, and financial 
roles of the partners, and the roles and responsibilities of proposed 
staff.
e. Technical, Legal and Financial Capacity
    Applicants must demonstrate that they have the technical, legal and 
financial capacity to undertake the project. FTA will review relevant 
oversight assessments and records to determine whether there are any 
outstanding legal, technical or financial issues with the applicant 
that would affect the outcome of the proposed project. Applicants with 
outstanding legal, technical or financial compliance issues from an FTA 
compliance review or Federal Transit grant-related Single Audit finding 
must explain how corrective actions taken will mitigate negative 
impacts on the proposed project.

2. Review and Selection Process

    In addition to other FTA staff that may review the proposals, a 
technical evaluation committee will evaluate proposals based on the 
published evaluation criteria. After applying the above criteria, the 
FTA Administrator will consider the following key Departmental 
objectives:
    (A) Supporting economic vitality at the national and regional 
level;
    (B) Utilizing alternative funding sources and innovative financing 
models to attract non-Federal sources of infrastructure investment;
    (C) Identifying proposed actions that reduce regulatory barriers 
that unnecessarily raise the costs of housing development or impede the 
development of affordable housing;
    (D) Undertake planning, engineering, technical studies, or 
financing plans for transit facilities or services in a qualified 
opportunity zone designated pursuant to 26 U.S.C. 1400Z-1
    (E) Using innovative approaches to improve safety and expedite 
project delivery; and
    (F) Holding grant recipients accountable for their performance and 
achieving specific, measurable outcomes identified by grant applicants.
    Prior to making an award, FTA is required to review and consider 
any information about the applicant that is in the Federal Awardee 
Performance and Integrity Information Systems (FAPIIS) accessible 
through SAM. An applicant may review and comment on information about 
itself that a Federal awarding agency previously entered. FTA will 
consider any comments by the applicant, in addition to the other 
information in the designated integrity and performance system, in 
making a judgment about the applicant's integrity, business ethics, and 
record of performance under Federal awards when completing the review 
of risk posed by applicants as described in Sec.  200.205 Federal 
awarding agency review of risk posed by applicants.
    The FTA Administrator will determine the final selection of 
projects for program funding. In determining the allocation of program 
funds, FTA may consider geographic diversity, diversity in the size of 
the transit systems receiving funding, the applicant's receipt of other 
competitive awards, projects located in or that support public 
transportation service in a qualified opportunity zone designated 
pursuant to 26 U.S.C. 1400Z-1, the percentage of local share provided, 
and whether the project includes an innovative technology or practice.

F. Federal Award Administration Information

1. Federal Award Notice

    Final project selections will be posted on the FTA website. 
Selected recipients should contact their FTA regional offices for 
additional information regarding allocations for projects under the 
HOPE Program.
    At the time the project selections are announced, FTA will extend 
pre-award authority for the selected projects. There is no blanket pre-
award authority for these projects before announcement.

2. Award Administration

    The FTA anticipates that the maximum grant award will not exceed 
$850,000 which will enable FTA to fund as many meritorious projects as 
possible. Only proposals from eligible recipients for eligible 
activities will be considered for funding. Due to funding limitations, 
proposals that are selected for funding may receive less than the 
amount originally requested. In those cases, applicants must be able to 
demonstrate that the proposed projects are still viable stand-alone 
projects that can be completed with the amount awarded.

3. Administrative Requirements

a. Pre-Award Authority
    The FTA will issue specific guidance to recipients regarding pre-
award

[[Page 12653]]

authority at the time of selection. The FTA does not provide pre-award 
authority for competitive funds until projects are selected and even 
then, there are Federal requirements that must be met before costs are 
incurred. For more information about FTA's policy on pre-award 
authority, please see the FY 2019 Apportionment Notice published on 
July 3, 2019 which can be accessed at https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2019-07-03/pdf/2019-14248.pdf.
b. Grant Requirements
    If selected, awardees will apply for a grant through FTA's Transit 
Award Management System (TrAMS). Recipients of HOPE Program funding in 
urban areas are subject to the grant requirements of the Urbanized Area 
Formula Grant program (49 U.S.C. 5307), including those described in 
FTA Circular ``Urbanized Area Formula Program: Program Guidance and 
Application Instructions'' (FTA.C.9030.1E). Recipients of funding in 
rural areas are subject to the grant requirements described in the 
Formula Grants for Rural Areas Program (49 U.S.C. 5311), including 
those described in FTA Circular ``Formula Grants for Rural Areas: 
Program Guidance and Application Instructions'' (FTA.C.9040.1G). All 
recipients (urban and rural) must follow the Award Management 
Requirements as described in (FTA.C.5010.1E). Technical assistance 
regarding these requirements is available from each FTA regional 
office.
c. Disadvantaged Business Enterprise
    The FTA requires that its recipients receiving planning, capital 
and/or operating assistance that will award prime contracts exceeding 
$250,000 in FTA funds comply with the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise 
(DBE) program regulations (49 CFR part 26).
    For more information on DBE requirements, please contact Scheryl 
Portee, the Office of the Chief Counsel, at 202-366-0840, email: 
[email protected].
d. Standard Assurances
    By submitting a grant application, the applicant assures that it 
will comply with all applicable federal statutes, regulations, 
executive orders, directives, FTA circulars and other federal 
administrative requirements in carrying out any project supported by 
the FTA grant. Further, the applicant acknowledges that it is under a 
continuing obligation to comply with the terms and conditions of the 
grant agreement issued for its project with FTA. The applicant 
understands that Federal laws, regulations, policies and administrative 
practices might be modified from time to time and may affect the 
implementation of the project. The applicant agrees that the most 
recent Federal requirements will apply to the project, unless FTA 
issues a written determination otherwise. The applicant must submit the 
Certifications and Assurances before receiving a grant, if it does not 
have current certifications on file.
4. Reporting
    Post-award reporting requirements include the electronic submission 
of Federal Financial Reports and Milestone Progress Reports in FTA's 
electronic grants management system. Recipients of funds made available 
through this NOFO are also required to regularly submit data to the 
National Transit Database.

G. Federal Awarding Agency Contacts

    For further information concerning this notice, please contact Mr. 
Charles Goodman via email at [email protected]; or by phone at 
202-366-1944. A TDD is available for individuals who are deaf or hard 
of hearing at 800-877-8339. In addition, FTA will post answers to 
questions and requests for clarifications on FTA's website at http://transit.dot.gov. The FTA staff will also conduct a webinar for 
potential applicants to learn more about the program and submittal 
process
    To ensure the receipt of accurate information about eligibility or 
the program, applicants with questions are encouraged to contact FTA 
directly, rather than through intermediaries or third parties.

H. Technical Assistance and Other Program Information

    This program is not subject to Executive Order 12372, 
``Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs.'' The FTA will consider 
applications for funding only from eligible recipients for eligible 
projects listed in Section C. Complete applications must be submitted 
through GRANTS.GOV by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on May 4, 2020. For 
assistance with GRANTS.GOV please contact GRANTS.GOV by phone at 1-800-
518-4726 or by email at [email protected]. Contact information for 
FTA's regional offices can be found on FTA's website at https://www.transit.dot.gov/about/regional-offices/regional-offices.

K. Jane Williams,
Acting Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2020-04250 Filed 3-2-20; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE P