[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 109 (Tuesday, June 7, 2011)]
[Notices]
[Pages 32943-32949]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-13927]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Rural Business-Cooperative Service


Announcement of Rural Cooperative Development Grant Application 
Deadlines

AGENCY: Rural Business-Cooperative Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of funds availability.

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SUMMARY: USDA Rural Development is seeking applications for the Rural 
Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG) Program pursuant to section 
310B(e) of the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act (7 U.S.C. 
1932) (Act). As provided in the Department of Defense and Full-Year 
Continuing Appropriations Act of 2011 (H.R. 1473), approximately $7.4 
million in competitive grant funds is available. The intended effect of 
this notice is to solicit applications for Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 and 
award grants on or before September 15, 2011. The maximum award per 
grant is $225,000 and matching funds are required. In accordance with 
section 310B(e)(6)(B) of the Act, the Secretary has determined that a 
grant period of one year is in the best interest of the program at this 
time.

DATES: Completed applications for grants must be submitted on paper or 
electronically according to the following deadlines:
    Paper copies must be postmarked and mailed, shipped, or sent 
overnight no later than July 22, 2011, to be eligible for FY 2011 grant 
funding. Late applications are not eligible for FY 2011 grant funding.
    Electronic copies must be received by July 22, 2011, to be eligible 
for FY 2011 grant funding. Late applications are not eligible for FY 
2011 grant funding.

ADDRESSES: Application materials for a RCDG may be obtained at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP-RCDG_Grants.html or by contacting the 
applicant's USDA Rural Development State Office at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/recd_map.html.
    Submit completed paper applications for a grant to Cooperative 
Programs, Attn: RCDG Program, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Mail Stop 
3250, Room 4016-South, Washington, DC 20250-3250. The phone number that 
should be used for courier delivery is (202) 720-8460.
    Submit electronic grant applications at http://www.grants.gov, 
following the instructions found on this Web site.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Visit the program Web site at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP-RCDG_Grants.html for application assistance or 
contact your USDA Rural Development State Office at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/recd_map.html. Applicants are encouraged to 
contact their State Offices well in advance of the deadline to discuss 
their projects and ask any questions about the application process.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Overview

    Federal Agency: Rural Business-Cooperative Service.
    Funding Opportunity Title: Rural Cooperative Development Grant.
    Announcement Type: Initial announcement.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number: 10.771.


DATES: Application Deadline: Completed applications for grants may be 
submitted on paper or electronically according to the following 
deadlines:
    Paper copies must be postmarked and mailed, shipped, or sent 
overnight no later than July 22, 2011, to be eligible for FY 2011 grant 
funding. Electronic copies must be received by July 22, 2011, to be 
eligible for FY 2011 grant funding.
    Late applications are not eligible for FY 2011 grant funding.

I. Funding Opportunity Description

    RCDGs are authorized by section 310B(e) of the Act. Regulations 
implementing this authority are in 7 CFR part 4284, subparts A and F. 
The primary objective of the RCDG program is to improve the economic 
condition of rural areas through cooperative development. Grant funds 
are provided for the establishment and operation of Centers that have 
the expertise, or who can contract out for the expertise, to assist 
individuals or entities in the startup, expansion or operational 
improvement of rural businesses, especially cooperative or mutually-
owned businesses (Section 310B(e)(5)). The program is administered 
through USDA Rural Development State Offices.

Definitions

    The definitions published at 7 CFR 4284.3 and 7 CFR 4284.504 are 
incorporated by reference. The definition of ``rural'' and ``rural 
area,'' at section 343(a)(13) of (7 U.S.C. 1991(a)), are also 
incorporated by reference. In addition, since there has been some 
confusion on the Agency's meaning of the terms ``conflict of 
interest,'' and ``mutually-owned business,'' the Agency is providing 
clarification.
    Conflict of Interest--A situation in which the ability of a person 
or entity to act impartially would be questionable due to competing 
professional or personal interests. An example of conflict of interest 
occurs when the grantee's employees, board of directors, or the 
immediate family of either, have the appearance of a professional or 
personal financial interest in the recipients receiving the benefits or 
services of the grant.

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    Mutually-Owned Business--An organization owned and governed by 
members who either are its consumers, producers, employees, or 
suppliers.

II. Award Information

    Type of Award: Grant.
    Fiscal Year Funds: FY 2011.
    Approximate Total Funding: $7.4 million.
    Approximate Number of Awards: 35.
    Approximate Average Award: $225,000.
    Floor of Award Range: None.
    Ceiling of Award Range: $225,000.
    Anticipated Award Date: September 15, 2011.
    Budget Period Length: 12 months.
    Project Period Length: 12 months.

III. Eligibility Information

A. Eligible Applicants

    Grants may be made to nonprofit corporations and accredited 
institutions of higher education. Grants may not be made to public 
bodies or to individuals.

B. Cost Sharing or Matching

    The cost share or matching fund requirement is 25 percent of the 
total project cost (5 percent in the case of 1994 Institutions). 
Calculation of cost share or matching fund level is as follows:

Grant amount requested = .75 x Total Project Cost.
Total project cost = Grant amount requested/.75.
Total project cost--Grant amount requested = Matching requirement.

    For example:

Grant amount requested $225,000 = .75 x Total project cost; 
$225,000/.75 = Total project cost $300,000.
$300,000-$225,000 = $75,000 matching requirement.

    Applicants must verify in their applications that all matching 
funds are available during the grant period. If an applicant is awarded 
a grant, additional verification documentation regarding the 
availability of matching funds may be required. All of the matching 
funds must be spent on eligible expenses during the grant period, and 
must be from eligible sources. Unless provided by other authorizing 
legislation, other Federal grant funds cannot be used as matching 
funds. However, matching funds may include loan proceeds from Federal 
sources. Matching funds must be spent in advance or as a pro-rata 
portion of grant funds being expended. All of the matching funds must 
be provided by either the applicant or a third party in the form of 
cash or in-kind contributions. The Cooperative Development Center must 
be able to document and verify the number of hours worked and the value 
associated with the in-kind contribution. Due to the difficulty in 
distinguishing the responsibilities normally associated with board/
advisory council membership versus those directly associated with 
specific Center projects, the Agency will no longer accept board/
advisory council members' time as an eligible in-kind matching 
contribution from the applicant. In-kind contributions from board/
advisory council members in the form of their travel, incidentals, etc. 
are acceptable only if the Center has established written policies 
explaining how these costs are normally reimbursed, including rates, 
and an explanation of this policy is included in the application. In-
kind contributions provided by individuals, businesses, or cooperatives 
which are being assisted by the Center cannot be provided for the 
direct benefit of their own projects as USDA Rural Development 
considers this to be a conflict of interest or the appearance of a 
conflict of interest.

C. Other Eligibility Requirements

    Grant Period Eligibility: Applications should have a timeframe of 
no more than 365 consecutive days with the time period beginning no 
earlier than the date the grant is awarded, and no later than December 
31, 2011. However, applicants should note that the anticipated award 
date is September 15 and proposed start dates should not fall prior to 
this date. Projects must be completed within the one-year timeframe. 
The Agency may approve requests to extend the grant period for up to 12 
months at the discretion of the Agency. However, should the grantee 
compete successfully for an RCDG grant during the subsequent grant 
cycle, the first grant must be closed before funds can be obligated for 
the subsequent grant.
    Completeness Eligibility: Applications without sufficient 
information to determine eligibility and scoring will be considered 
ineligible. Applications that are non-responsive to this notice will be 
considered ineligible.
    Activity Eligibility: Applications must propose the development or 
continuation of a cooperative development center concept or they will 
not be considered for funding. In addition, the following applications 
will not be considered for funding. Applications that:
    i. Focus assistance on only one cooperative or mutually-owned 
business.
    ii. Request more than the maximum grant amount.
    iii. Propose ineligible costs that equal more than 10 percent of 
the total project costs (Applications with ineligible costs of 10 
percent or less of total project costs that are selected for funding 
must remove all ineligible costs from the budget and replace them with 
eligible activities or reduce the amount of the grant award 
accordingly).

IV. Application and Submission Information

A. Address To Request Application Package

    The application package for applying on paper for this funding 
opportunity can be obtained at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP-RCDG_Grants.html.
    For electronic applications, applicants must visit http://www.grants.gov and follow the instructions.

B. Submission Dates and Times

    Applicants may submit their applications to their State Rural 
Development Office for a preliminary review by 30 days prior to the 
final application deadline published in this notice. The preliminary 
review will assess applicant and project eligibility, as well as 
completeness of the application in terms of presence of the required 
elements. Should the Agency identify missing or incomplete elements, 
the applicant will be notified and given an opportunity to submit the 
missing elements before the final deadline published in the Federal 
Register. Missing elements will not be accepted after the final 
application deadline. This preliminary review is an informal assessment 
of the application and not a final evaluation of the application. 
Findings of the preliminary review are courtesy only and are not 
binding on the Agency nor are they appealable. Applications must be 
submitted on paper or electronically.
    Final paper applications must be postmarked and mailed, shipped, or 
sent overnight no later than July 22, 2011, to be eligible for FY 2011 
grant funding. Applications postmarked, mailed, or shipped after July 
22, 2011 will not be processed. Final electronic applications must be 
received by July 22, 2011, to be eligible for FY 2011 grant funding. If 
the application is submitted electronically, the applicant must follow 
the instructions given at http://www.grants.gov. Applicants are advised 
to visit the site well in advance of the application deadline if they 
plan to apply electronically to ensure they have obtained the proper 
authentication and have sufficient computer resources to complete the 
application.

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C. Content and Form of Submission

    An application guide may be viewed at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP-RCDG_Grants.html.
    It is recommended that applicants use the template provided on the 
Web site. The template can be filled out electronically and printed out 
for submission with the required forms for paper submission or it can 
be filled out electronically and submitted as an attachment through 
http://www.grants.gov.
    The submission must include all pages of the application. It is 
recommended that the application be in black and white, not color. 
Those evaluating the application will only receive black and white 
images.
    The Agency will then screen all applications for eligibility to 
determine whether the application is sufficiently responsive to the 
requirements set forth in this notice to allow for an informed review. 
Information submitted as part of the application will be protected to 
the extent permitted by law. An application guide and forms are 
available online at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP-RCDG_Grants.html.
    Applicants must complete and submit the following elements as part 
of the application package.
    1. Form SF-424, ``Application for Federal Assistance,'' must be 
completed, signed, and must include a Dunn and Bradstreet Data 
Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number and maintain registration in 
the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) database in accordance with 2 
CFR part 25. The DUNS number is a nine-digit identification number 
which uniquely identifies business entities. There is no charge. To 
obtain a DUNS number, access http://www.dnb.com/us/ or call 866-705-
5711. Similarly, applicants may register for the CCR at http://www.ccr.gov. Assistance with CCR registration is available by calling 
1-866-606-8220. The CCR CAGE Code and expiration date may be 
handwritten on the SF-424. For more information, see the RCDG Web site 
at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP-RCDG_Grants.html or contact the USDA 
Rural Development State Office at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/recd_map.html.
    2. Form SF-424A, ``Budget Information--Non-Construction Programs,'' 
must be completed and signed.
    3. Form SF-424B, ``Assurances--Non-Construction Programs,'' must be 
completed and signed.
    4. Survey on Ensuring Equal Opportunity for Applicants. The Agency 
is required to make this survey available to all nonprofit applicants. 
Submission of this form is voluntary.
    5. Title Page. To include the title of the project as well as any 
other relevant identifying information.
    6. Table of Contents. To facilitate review, include page numbers 
for each component of the application.
    7. Executive Summary. A summary of the proposal, not to exceed two 
pages, must briefly describe the Center, including project goals and 
tasks to be accomplished, the amount requested, how the work will be 
performed (e.g., Center staff, consultants, or contractors) and the 
percentage of work that will be performed among the parties.
    8. Eligibility Discussion. The applicant must describe, not to 
exceed two pages, how it meets the applicant, matching, grant period 
and activity eligibility requirements.
    9. Proposal Narrative. The proposal narrative is limited to a total 
of 40 pages.
    i. Project Title. The title of the proposed project must be brief, 
not to exceed 75 characters, yet describe the essentials of the 
project. If a title page was included under number 5 above, it is not 
necessary to include an additional title page under this section.
    ii. Information Sheet. A separate one-page information sheet 
listing each of the evaluation criteria referenced in this funding 
announcement, followed by the page numbers of all relevant material and 
documentation contained in the proposal that address or support the 
criteria. If the evaluation criteria are listed on the Table of 
Contents and specifically and individually addressed in narrative form, 
then it is not necessary to include an information sheet under this 
section.
    iii. Goals of the Project. The applicant must include the following 
statements in this section of the narrative to demonstrate that the 
Center is following these statutory requirements:
    a. A statement that substantiates that the Center will effectively 
serve rural areas in the United States;
    b. A statement that the primary objective of the Center will be to 
improve the economic condition of rural areas through cooperative 
development;
    c. A description of the contributions that the proposed activities 
are likely to make to the improvement of the economic conditions of the 
rural areas for which the Center will provide services. Expected 
economic impacts should be tied to tasks included in the work plan and 
budget; and
    d. A statement that the Center, in carrying out its activities, 
will seek, where appropriate, the advice, participation, expertise, and 
assistance of representatives of business, industry, educational 
institutions, the Federal government, and State and local governments.
    iv. Performance Measures. The Agency has established annual 
performance evaluation measures to evaluate the RCDG program. 
Applicants must provide estimates on the following performance 
evaluation measures.
     Number of groups who are not legal entities assisted.
     Number of businesses that are not cooperatives assisted.
     Number of cooperatives assisted.
     Number of businesses incorporated that are not 
cooperatives.
     Number of cooperatives incorporated.
     Total number of jobs created as a result of assistance

    Note:  where not relevant--housing, for example--the applicant 
should suggest a more relevant performance measure.

    ). Total number of jobs saved as a result of assistance.

    Note:  where not appropriate--housing, for example--the 
applicant should suggest a more appropriate performance measure.

     Number of jobs created for the Center as a result of RCDG 
funding.
     Number of jobs saved for the Center as a result of RCDG 
funding.
    If selected for funding, the applicant will be required to report 
actual numbers for these performance elements on a semi-annual basis 
and in the final performance report. Additional information on post-
award requirements can be found in Section VI. Applicants must also 
suggest additional performance elements in the event the proposal 
receives grant funding. These additional criteria should be specific, 
measurable performance elements, but are not binding on USDA.
    v. Undertakings. The applicant must describe in the application how 
it will undertake to do each of the following:
    (a). Take all practicable steps to develop continuing sources of 
financial support for the Center, particularly from sources in the 
private sectors; (should be presented under proposal evaluation 
criterion number 9, utilizing the specific requirements of section 
V.A.9);
    (b). Make arrangements for the Center's activities to be monitored 
and evaluated; (should be addressed under proposal evaluation criterion 
number 6 utilizing the specific requirements of section V.A.6); and
    (c). Provide an accounting for the money received by the grantee in 
accordance with 7 CFR part 4284, subpart F. This should be addressed 
under proposal evaluation criterion

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number 1, utilizing the specific requirements of section V.A.1.
    vi. Work Plan and Budget (should be presented under proposal 
evaluation criterion number 6, utilizing the specific requirements in 
section V.A.6).
    vii. Delivery of Technical Assistance and Other Services in rural 
areas to promote and assist the development of cooperatively and 
mutually-owned businesses (should be described under proposal 
evaluation criterion number 2, utilizing the specific requirements 
under section V.A.2).
    viii. Qualifications of Personnel (should be presented under 
proposal evaluation criterion number 7, utilizing the specific 
requirements under section V.A.7).
    ix. Local Support (should be described under proposal evaluation 
criterion number 8, utilizing the requirements in section V.A.8).
    x. Future Support (should be described under proposal evaluation 
criterion number 9, utilizing the specific requirements under V.A.9).
    xi. Proposal Evaluation Criteria. Each of the evaluation criteria 
referenced in this funding announcement must be specifically and 
individually addressed in narrative form. Applications that do not 
address all of the proposal evaluation criteria will be considered 
ineligible. See Section V.A. for a description of the Proposal 
Evaluation Criteria.
    10. Certification of Judgment Owed to the United States. Applicants 
must certify that there are no current outstanding Federal judgments 
against their property. No grant funds shall be used to pay a judgment 
obtained by the United States. It is suggested that applicants use the 
following language for the certification. ``[INSERT NAME OF APPLICANT] 
certifies that the United States has not obtained an unsatisfied 
judgment against its property and will not use grant funds to pay any 
judgments obtained by the United States.'' A separate signature is not 
required.
    11. Certification of Matching Funds. Applicants must certify that 
matching funds will be available at the same time grant funds are 
anticipated to be spent and that expenditures of matching funds are 
pro-rated, such that for every dollar of the total project cost, not 
less than the required amount of matching funds will have been expended 
prior to submitting the request for reimbursement. Please note that 
this certification is a separate requirement from the Verification of 
Matching Funds requirement. To satisfy the Certification requirement, 
applicants should include this statement for this section: ``[INSERT 
NAME OF APPLICANT] certifies that matching funds will be available at 
the same time grant funds are anticipated to be spent and that 
expenditures of matching funds shall be pro-rated, such that * * * and 
that matching funds will be spent in advance of grant funding, such 
that for every dollar of the total project cost, at least 25 cents (5 
cents for 1994 Institutions) of matching funds will have been expended 
prior to submitting the request for reimbursement.'' A separate 
signature is not required. In the case of fund advances, the applicant 
will certify that for every dollar of funds advanced, at least 25 cents 
(5 cents for 1994 Institutions) of matching funds will be expended.
    12. Verification of Matching Funds. Applicants must provide 
documentation of all proposed matching funds, both cash and in-kind. 
Matching funds must be used for eligible purposes and expenditures for 
this grant program. The documentation must be included in Appendix A of 
the application and will not count towards the 40-page limitation. 
Template letters for each type of matching funds are available at 
http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP-RCDG_Grants.html.
    If matching funds are to be provided in cash, the following 
requirements must be met at the time of application. Additional 
documentation may be required if a grant is awarded.
    Applicant: The application must include a statement verifying (1) 
The amount of the cash, and (2) the source of the cash. If the 
applicant is paying for goods and/or services as part of the matching 
funds contribution, the expenditure is considered a cash match, and 
should be verified as such.
    Third-party: The application must include a signed letter from the 
third party verifying (1) How much cash will be donated, and (2) that 
it will be available corresponding to the proposed grant period or 
donated on a specific date within the grant period. Cash matching 
contributions from third-parties are to be used for Center operations 
and cannot be used to provide services which directly benefit the 
third-party contributor. Contributors of cash matching contributions 
may not limit or direct how or where the Center may use the 
contributions.
    If matching funds are to be provided by an in-kind donation, the 
following requirements must be met.
    Applicant: The application must include a signed letter from the 
applicant or its authorized representative verifying (1) The nature of 
the goods and/or services to be donated and how they will be used, (2) 
when the goods and/or services will be donated (i.e., corresponding to 
the proposed grant period or to specific dates within the grant 
period), and (3) the value of the goods and/or services.
    Third-Party: The application must include a signed letter from the 
third party verifying (1) The nature of the goods and/or services to be 
donated and how they will be used, (2) when the goods and/or services 
will be donated (i.e., corresponding to the proposed grant period or to 
specific dates within the grant period when matching contributions will 
be made available), and (3) the value of the goods and/or services. It 
should be noted that non-profit or other organizations contributing the 
services of affiliated volunteers must follow the third-party 
verification requirement above, for each individual volunteer.
    Applicants should note the following:
     Only goods or services for which no expenditure is made 
can be considered in-kind.
     In-kind contributions that are over-valued will not be 
accepted. The valuation process for in-kind funds does not need to be 
included in the application, but the applicant must be able to 
demonstrate how the valuation was derived at the time of notification 
of tentative selection for the grant award, or the grant award may be 
withdrawn or the amount of the grant may be reduced. Matching funds 
donated outside the proposed time period of the grant will not be 
accepted.
     Examples of unacceptable matching funds are in-kind 
contributions from individuals, businesses, or cooperatives being 
assisted by the Center to benefit their own project; donations of fixed 
equipment and buildings; and costs related to the preparation of the 
RCDG application package.
    Expected program income may not be used to fulfill the matching 
funds requirement at the time of application. However, if there are 
contracts to provide services in place at the time of application, they 
may be treated as cash match. If program income is earned during the 
time period of the grant, it is subject to applicable requirements of 7 
CFR part 3015, subpart F and 7 CFR 3019.24, and any applicable 
provisions in the Grant Agreement.

D. Submission Dates and Times

    Application Deadline Date: July 22, 2011.
    Explanation of Deadlines: Paper applications must be postmarked by 
the deadline date (see Section IV.G for the address). Electronic 
applications must be received by http://www.grants.gov by the deadline 
date. If the application does not meet the deadline above, it will

[[Page 32947]]

not be considered for funding. The applicant will be notified if the 
application does not meet the submission requirements. The applicant 
will also be notified by mail or by e-mail if the application is 
received on time.

E. Intergovernmental Review of Applications

    Executive Order (EO) 12372, Intergovernmental review of Federal 
programs, applies to this program. This EO requires that Federal 
agencies provide opportunities for consultation on proposed assistance 
with State and local governments. Many states have established a Single 
Point of Contact (SPOC) to facilitate this consultation. For a list of 
states that maintain an SPOC, please see the White House Web site: 
http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/grants_spoc. If an applicant's state has 
an SPOC, the applicant may submit a copy of the application directly 
for review. Any comments obtained through the SPOC must be provided to 
USDA Rural Development for consideration as part of the application. If 
the applicant's state has not established an SPOC, or the applicant 
does not want to submit a copy of the application, USDA Rural 
Development will submit the application to the SPOC or other 
appropriate agency or agencies.
    Applicants are also encouraged to contact the USDA Rural 
Development State Office for assistance and questions on this process. 
Contact information for USDA Rural Development State Offices can be 
viewed at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/recd_map.html.

F. Funding Restrictions

    Funding restrictions apply to both grant funds and matching funds. 
Grant funds may be used to pay up to 75 percent (95 percent where the 
grantee is a 1994 Institution) of the total project cost.
    1. Grant funds and matching funds may be used for, but are not 
limited to, providing the following to individuals, small businesses, 
cooperative and mutually-owned businesses and other similar entities in 
rural areas served by the Center (7 U.S.C 1932(e)(4)(c) and 7 U.S.C 
1932(e)(5):
    i. Applied research, feasibility, environmental and other studies 
that may be useful for the purpose of cooperative development.
    ii. Collection, interpretation and dissemination of principles, 
facts, technical knowledge, or other information for the purpose of 
cooperative development.
    iii. Training and instruction for the purpose of cooperative 
development.
    iv. Loans and grants for the purpose of cooperative development in 
accordance with this notice and applicable regulations.
    v. Technical assistance, research services and advisory services 
for the purpose of cooperative development.
    vi. Programs providing for the coordination of services and sharing 
of information among the Centers (7 U.S.C 1932(e)(4)(C)(vi)).
    2. No funds made available under this solicitation shall be used 
for any of the following activities:
    i. To duplicate current services or replace or substitute support 
previously provided. If the current service is inadequate, however, 
grant funds may be used to expand the level of effort or services 
beyond that which is currently being provided;
    ii. To pay costs of preparing the application package for funding 
under this program;
    iii. To pay costs of the project incurred prior to the date of 
grant approval;
    iv. To fund political or lobbying activities;
    v. To pay any judgment or debt owed to the United States;
    vi. To plan, repair, rehabilitate, acquire, or construct a building 
or facility, including a processing facility;
    vii. To purchase, rent, or install fixed equipment, including 
laboratory equipment or processing machinery;
    viii. To pay for the repair of privately owned vehicles;
    ix. To pay for the operating costs of any entity receiving 
assistance from the Center.
    x. To fund research and development;
    xi. To pay costs of the project where a conflict of interest 
exists; or
    xii. To fund any activities prohibited by 7 CFR parts 3015 or 3019.

G. Other Submission Requirements

    A paper application for a grant must be submitted to Cooperative 
Programs, Attn: RCDG Program, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Mail Stop 
3250, Room 4016-South, Washington, DC 20250-3250. The phone number that 
should be used for courier delivery is (202) 720-8460. Electronically 
submitted applications must apply using http://www.grants.gov. 
Applications may not be submitted by electronic mail, facsimile, or by 
hand-delivery. Each application submission must contain all required 
documents.

V. Application Review Information

A. Proposal Evaluation Criteria

    All eligible and complete applications will be evaluated based on 
the following criteria. Applicants must also include information as 
directed in Section IV.C.9.v.(a), (b), and (c). Evaluators will base 
scores only on the information provided or cross-referenced by page 
number in each individual evaluation criterion. The maximum amount of 
points available is 100. Note: Newly established or proposed Centers 
that do not yet have a track record on which to evaluate the following 
criteria should refer to the expertise and track records of staff or 
consultants expected to perform tasks related to the respective 
criteria. Proposed or newly established Centers must be organized well-
enough at time of application to address its capabilities for meeting 
these criteria.
    1. Administrative capabilities in support of Center activities. 
(maximum score of 10 points) The Agency will evaluate the application 
to determine whether the applicant demonstrates a proven track record 
in carrying out activities in support of development assistance to 
cooperatively and mutually owned businesses. At a minimum, applicants 
must discuss the following capabilities:
    i. Financial systems and audit controls;
    ii. Personnel and program administration performance measures;
    iii. Clear written rules of governance; and
    iv. Experience administering Federal grant funding, including but 
not limited to past RCDG's.
    Applicants that discuss the Center's administrative capabilities 
and track record, versus those of umbrella or supporting institutions, 
such as universities or parent organizations, will score higher.
    2. Technical assistance and other services. (maximum score of 15 
points) The Agency will evaluate the applicant's demonstrated expertise 
in providing technical assistance and accomplishing effective outcomes 
in rural areas to promote and assist the development of cooperatively 
and mutually-owned businesses. The applicant must discuss:
    i. Their potential for delivering effective technical assistance;
    ii. The types of assistance provided;
    iii. The expected effects of that assistance;
    iv. The sustainability of organizations receiving the assistance; 
and
    v. The transferability of its cooperative development strategies 
and focus to other areas of the U.S.
    Applicants that evidence effective delivery systems for cooperative 
development will score higher. Applicants that discuss the demonstrated 
expertise specific to the

[[Page 32948]]

Center (as opposed to umbrella or supporting institutions such as 
universities or parent organizations) will score higher.
    3. Economic development. (maximum score of 15 points) The Agency 
will evaluate the applicant's demonstrated ability to facilitate:
    i. Establishment of cooperatives or mutually-owned businesses;
    ii. New cooperative approaches, and
    iii. Retention of businesses, generation of employment 
opportunities or other factors, as applicable, that will otherwise 
improve the economic conditions of rural areas.
    Applicants that provide statistics for historical and potential 
development and identify their role in economic development outcomes 
will score higher.
    4. Networking and regional focus. (maximum score of 10 points) The 
Agency will evaluate the applicant's demonstrated commitment to:
    i. Networking with other cooperative development centers, and other 
organizations involved in rural economic development efforts, as well 
as,
    ii. Developing multi-organization and multi-state approaches to 
addressing the economic development and cooperative needs of rural 
areas.
    New or proposed Centers are expected to be developed enough to 
address this criteria.
    5. Commitment. (maximum score of 10 points) The Agency will 
evaluate the applicant's commitment to providing technical assistance 
and other services to under-served and economically distressed areas in 
rural areas of the United States. Applicants that define and describe 
the underserved and economically distressed areas within their service 
area, provide statistics, and identify projects within or affecting 
these areas, as appropriate, will score higher.
    6. Work Plan/Budget. (maximum score of 10 points) The work plan 
will be reviewed for detailed actions and an accompanying timetable for 
implementing the proposal. Clear, logical, realistic and efficient 
plans will result in a higher score. Budgets will be reviewed for 
completeness and the quality of non-Federal funding commitments. 
Applicants must discuss:
    i. Specific tasks (whether it be by type of service or specific 
project) to be completed using grant and matching funds;
    ii. How customers will be identified;
    iii. Key personnel; and
    iv. The evaluation methods to be used to determine the success of 
specific tasks and overall objectives of Center operations.
    The budget must present a breakdown of the estimated costs 
associated with cooperative development activities as well as the 
operation of the Center and allocate these costs to each of the tasks 
to be undertaken. Matching funds as well as grant funds must be 
accounted for in the budget.
    7. Qualifications of those Performing the Tasks. (maximum score of 
10 points) The Agency will evaluate the application to determine if the 
personnel expected to perform key tasks have a track record of:
    i. Positive solutions for complex cooperative development and/or 
marketing problems; or
    ii. A successful record of conducting accurate feasibility studies, 
business plans, marketing analysis, or other activities relevant to 
applicant's success as determined by the tasks identified in the 
applicants work plan; and
    iii. Whether the personnel expected to perform the tasks are full/
part-time employees of the applicant or are contract personnel. 
Applicants that evidence commitment/availability of qualified personnel 
expected to perform the tasks will score higher.
    8. Local support. (maximum score of 10 points) The Agency will 
evaluate applications for previous and/or expected local support for 
the applicant and plans for coordinating with other developmental 
organizations in the proposed service area or with state and local 
government institutions. Applicants that evidence strong support from 
potential beneficiaries and formal evidence of intent to coordinate 
with other developmental organizations will score higher. Support 
should be discussed directly within the response to this criterion. The 
applicant may also submit a maximum of 10 letters of support or intent 
to coordinate with the application. These letters should be included in 
Appendix B of the application and will not count against the 40-page 
limit for the narrative.
    9. Future support. (maximum score of 10 points) The Agency will 
evaluate the applicant's vision for funding its operations in future 
years. Applicants should document:
    i. New and existing funding sources that support its goals;
    ii. Alternative funding sources that reduce reliance on Federal, 
State, and local grants; and
    iii. The use of in-house personnel for providing services versus 
contracting out for that expertise.
    Applications that evidence vision and likelihood of long-term 
sustainability with diversification of funding sources and building in-
house technical assistance capacity will score higher.

B. Review and Selection Process

    The Agency will screen all of the proposals to determine whether 
the application is eligible and sufficiently responsive to the 
requirements set forth in this notice to allow for an informed review.
    The Agency will evaluate applications using a panel of qualified 
reviewers who will score the applications in accordance with the point 
allocation specified in this notice. Applications will be submitted to 
the Administrator in rank order, together with funding level 
recommendations.

C. Anticipated Announcement and Award Dates

    Award Date: The announcement of award selections is expected to 
occur on or about September 15, 2011.

VI. Award Administration Information

A. Award Notices

    Successful applicants will receive a notification of tentative 
selection for funding from USDA Rural Development. Applicants must 
comply with all applicable statutes, regulations, and notice 
requirements before the grant award will be approved. Unsuccessful 
applicants will receive notification by mail, including appeal rights, 
as appropriate. Consolidated comments for reviewed applications will be 
made available.

B. Administrative and National Policy Requirements

    7 CFR parts 3015, 3019, and 4284 are applicable to this program. To 
view these regulations, please see the following internet address: 
http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/cfr-table-search.html.
    The following additional requirements apply to grantees selected 
for this program:
     Grant Agreement.
     Letter of Conditions.
     Form RD 1940-1, ``Request for Obligation of Funds.''
     Form RD 1942-46, ``Letter of Intent to Meet Conditions.''
     Form AD-1047, ``Certification Regarding Debarment, 
Suspension, and Other Responsibility Matters-Primary Covered 
Transactions.''
     Form AD-1048, ``Certification Regarding Debarment, 
Suspension, Ineligibility and Voluntary Exclusion-Lower Tier Covered 
Transactions.''
     Form AD-1049, ``Certification Regarding Drug-Free 
Workplace Requirements (Grants).''

[[Page 32949]]

     Form RD 400-4, ``Assurance Agreement.''
     RD Instruction 1940-Q, Exhibit A-1, ``Certification for 
Contracts, Grants and Loans,'' including Standard Form (SF) LLL, 
``Disclosure of Lobbying Activities.''
    Compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act. Rural 
Development has determined that an Environmental Impact Statement is 
not required because the issuance of regulations and instructions, as 
well as amendments to them, describing administrative and financial 
procedures for processing, approving, and implementing the Agency's 
financial programs is categorically excluded in the Agency's NEPA 
regulation found at 7 CFR 1940.310(e) of Subpart G, Environmental 
Program. Thus, in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act 
(NEPA) of 1969 (42 U.S.C 4321-4347), Rural Development has determined 
that this Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) does not constitute a 
major federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human 
environment. Furthermore, individual awards under this NOFA are hereby 
classified as Categorical Exclusions according to 1940.310(e), the 
award of financial assistance for planning purposes, management and 
feasibility studies, or environmental impact analyses, which do not 
require any additional documentation.
    Additional information on these requirements can be found at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP-RCDG_Grants.html.
    Reporting Requirements: Grantees must provide USDA Rural 
Development with an original or electronic copy that includes all 
required signatures of the following reports. The reports should be 
submitted to the Agency contact listed on the Grant Agreement and 
Letter of Conditions. Failure to submit satisfactory reports on time 
may result in suspension or termination of the grant.
    Compliance with the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency 
Act of 2006. All recipients of federal financial assistance are 
required to report information about first-tier sub-awards and 
executive compensation in accordance with 2 CFR part 170. Similarly, 
all recipients of federal financial assistance must comply with the 
DUNS and CCR requirements found at 2 CFR part 25.
    1. Form SF-425, a ``Federal Financial Report,'' listing 
expenditures according to agreed upon budget categories, on a semi-
annual basis. Reporting periods end each March 31 and September 30. 
Reports are due 30 days after the reporting period ends.
    2. Semi-annual performance reports that compare accomplishments to 
the objectives stated in the proposal. Identify all tasks completed to 
date and provide documentation supporting the reported results. If the 
original schedule provided in the work plan is not being met, the 
report should discuss the problems or delays that may affect completion 
of the project. Objectives for the next reporting period should be 
listed. Compliance with any special conditions on the use of award 
funds should be discussed. The report should also include a summary at 
the end of the report with the following elements to assist in 
documenting the annual performance goals of the RCDG program for 
Congress.
     Number of groups who are not legal entities assisted.
     Number of businesses that are not cooperatives assisted.
     Number of cooperatives assisted.
     Number of businesses incorporated that are not 
cooperatives.
     Number of cooperatives incorporated.
     Total number of jobs created as a result of assistance

    Note:  where not relevant--housing, for example--the applicant 
should suggest a more relevant performance measure.

     Total number of jobs saved as a result of assistance

    Note:  where not relevant--housing, for example--the applicant 
should suggest a more relevant performance measure.

     Number of jobs created for the Center as a result of RCDG 
funding.
     Number of jobs saved for the Center as a result of RCDG 
funding.
     Additional performance measures identified by the grantee 
in Section 4(iv) of the application and accepted as binding in the 
Grant Agreement.
    Reports are due as provided in paragraph 1 of this section. 
Supporting documentation must also be submitted for completed tasks. 
The supporting documentation for completed tasks includes, but is not 
limited to: Feasibility studies, marketing plans, business plans, 
publication quality success stories, applied research reports, copies 
of surveys conducted, articles of incorporation and bylaws and an 
accounting of how outreach, training, and other funds were expended.
    3. Final project performance reports shall include all of the 
requirements of the semi-annual performance reports and responses to 
the following:
    i. What have been the most challenging or unexpected aspects of 
this program?
    ii. What advice would the grantee give to other organizations 
planning a similar program? These should include strengths and 
limitations of the program. If the grantee had the opportunity, what 
would they have done differently?
    iii. If an innovative approach was used successfully, the grantee 
should describe their program in detail so that other organizations 
might consider replication in their areas.
    The final performance report is due within 90 days of the 
completion of the project.

VII. Agency Contacts

    For general questions about this announcement and for program 
technical assistance, applicants should contact their USDA Rural 
Development State Office at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/recd_map.html. 
If an applicant is unable to contact their State Office, please contact 
a nearby State Office or the USDA Rural Development National Office at 
1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Mail Stop 3250, Room. 4016-South, 
Washington, DC 20250-3250, telephone: (202) 720-8460, e-mail: 
[email protected].

VIII. Nondiscrimination Statement

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination 
in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, 
national origin, age, disability, and where applicable, sex, marital 
status, familial status, parental status, religion, sexual orientation, 
genetic information, political beliefs, reprisal, or because all or 
part of an individual's income is derived from any public assistance 
program. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with 
disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program 
information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact 
USDA's TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD).
    To file a complaint of discrimination write to USDA, Director, 
Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 
20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (voice) or (202) 401-0216 (TDD). USDA 
is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

    Dated: May 31, 2011.
Judith A. Canales,
Administrator, Rural Business Cooperative Service.
[FR Doc. 2011-13927 Filed 6-6-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-XY-P