[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 225 (Tuesday, November 22, 2016)]
[Pages 83923-83928]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-28069]



Federal Transit Administration

Discretionary Funding Opportunity: Zero Emission Research 

AGENCY: Federal Transit Administration (FTA), DOT.

[[Page 83924]]

ACTION: Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) and Request for Proposals 


SUMMARY: This competitive solicitation is for the Zero Emission 
Research Opportunity (ZERO), administered by the Federal Transit 
Administration. Available funding is $2.75 million in FTA research 
funds and this solicitation also will establish eligibility for 
possible future funding, subject to Congressional appropriations and 
FTA funding approval, for ZERO. The purpose of the program is to 
facilitate the advancement, production, and deployment of zero emission 
public transportation vehicle technology and related infrastructure. 
FTA intends to select, and enter into cooperative agreements with, 
multiple (up to 3) nonprofit consortia to continue building on past 
research innovation and development efforts to facilitate the 
deployment of zero emission vehicles and associated advanced 
technology. Eligibility for future ZERO funding opportunities in fiscal 
years 2017-2020 will be limited to those nonprofit consortia selected 
under this fiscal year 2017 notice. Potential research partners such as 
transit agencies, other nonprofits, vendors, suppliers and systems 
integrators may work with multiple consortia. The Federal cost share of 
a project carried out under ZERO shall not exceed 80 percent.

DATES: Complete proposals must be submitted electronically through the 
GRANTS.GOV ``APPLY'' function by 11:59 EST on February 21, 2017. 
Prospective applicants should initiate the process by registering on 
the GRANTS.GOV Web site promptly to ensure completion of the 
application process before the submission deadline. This announcement 
is also available at FTA's Web site at: https://www.transit.dot.gov/funding/grants/notices and in the ``FIND'' module of GRANTS.GOV. The 
funding opportunity ID is FTA-2016-009-TRI-ZERO and the Catalog of 
Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) number for Section 5312 is 20.514. 
Mail and fax submissions will not be accepted.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sean Ricketson, FTA Office of Research 
Demonstration and Innovation, (202) 366-6678 or [email protected]. A TDD 
is available for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing at 1-800-


Table of Contents

A. Program Description
B. Federal Award Information
C. Eligibility Information
D. Application and Submission Information
E. Application Review
F. Federal Award Administration
G. Federal Awarding Agency Contacts
H. Other Information

A. Program Description

1. Background

    Advances in technology are enabling substantial changes in vehicle 
propulsion, transportation operations, and transportation service 
delivery. These changes are creating opportunities for our nation's 
transportation system to deliver higher levels of service at lower cost 
and with fewer externalities, benefitting all Americans. Opportunity 
for change also carries risk, however. Through the Zero Emission 
Research Opportunity (ZERO), FTA seeks to work with the public 
transportation industry to solve challenges, increase efficiency, and 
reduce the costs and risks of deploying zero emission vehicles in 
transit service.
    In implementing ZERO, FTA intends to use a cooperative research 
model similar to FTA's successful National Fuel Cell Bus Program. Under 
this model, research and demonstration projects are defined and 
conducted by pre-selected non-profit third parties (non-profit 
consortia as defined in 49 U.S.C. 5312(e)(2)(B)) that, under FTA 
direction, assemble and manage teams of departments, agencies, and 
instrumentalities of the Federal Government, including federal 
laboratories; state and local governmental entities; providers of 
public transportation; private or non-profit organizations; 
institutions of higher education; and technical and community colleges. 
The model introduces an enhanced level of research management, program 
continuity, and flexibility to federally-funded transit research. It 
also provides a higher degree of innovation and resiliency, resulting 
in more successful projects. Through ZERO, FTA seeks to refine this 
research model with the goal of creating a research environment which 
results in greater industry involvement and more innovative and 
successful projects.

2. Scope

    The purpose of ZERO is to work with U.S. industry to remove 
obstacles on the critical path to the wider adoption of zero emission 
technology in public transportation. Examples include improving 
charging standards for battery-electric transit vehicles, improved 
passenger compartment heating systems, or expanding hydrogen 
infrastructure. For purposes of this program, zero emission technology 
refers to any technology that provides a pathway to the immediate or 
eventual adoption of transit vehicles that produce no harmful emissions 
in any, and all, operating modes. Battery-electric and hydrogen fuel 
cell technology are typical examples. Not all pathways to zero emission 
vehicles have to be zero emission, but they have to be shown to be on 
an evolutionary pathway to zero emission. For example, hybrid 
technology is considered zero emission technology for the purposes of 
this program if it can be shown to advance the pathway to improved 
vehicle electrification.
    This program focuses on one aspect of transportation emissions--
those of systems under the control of a typical domestic transit 
agency, such as vehicles and fueling or charging systems. With the 
exception of applications such as solar panels on a maintenance garage 
roof, emissions from energy production are not targeted in this 
program. Programs addressing the emissions of energy production are 
carried out by the Department of Energy (DoE) and the Environmental 
Protection Agency (EPA). FTA coordinates with the DoE and EPA to 
eliminate duplication of effort and to ensure strategic consistency.
    The projects under ZERO may address aspects of the following 
subject areas:
    a. Technology Research and Development--improving the efficiency, 
reducing costs, and improving the performance of vehicles, vehicle 
systems, and subsystems.
    b. Transit Fleet Operations--improving the efficiency, reducing 
costs, and improving the performance of vehicle fleets including 
maintenance and operations practices.
    c. Energy Infrastructure--addressing challenges of supporting zero 
emission technology including hydrogen fueling, electric charging, and 
relationships with suppliers and electric utilities.
    d. Standards and Policy--research to support standards development 
and testing protocols and to identify policies and policy changes to 
reduce costs and risks of adopting zero emission vehicle technology.
    e. Other--FTA is open to considering other research subjects or 
combinations of subjects to advance zero emission technology.

B. Federal Award Information

    Section 5312 of title 49, United States Code (Section 5312), 
authorizes FTA's Public Transportation Innovation program. Through this 
program, FTA may make grants, or enter into contracts, cooperative 
agreements and other agreements for research, development,

[[Page 83925]]

demonstration and deployment projects, and evaluation of research and 
technology of national significance to public transportation that the 
Secretary of Transportation determines will improve public 
    ZERO is funded under Section 5312 program authority. A total of 
$2.75 million in funds from FY 2014 and 2015 appropriations are 
available for awards under this announcement. FTA intends to award 
multiple projects under this announcement.
    FTA may, at its discretion, provide additional funds for selections 
made under this announcement or for additional meritorious proposals 
from funds made available for 49 U.S.C. Section 5312.

C. Eligibility Information

1. Eligible Applicants

    Eligible applicants and recipients under this program are limited 
to non-profit organizations leading a consortium of entities as listed 
below. All consortia must include at least one provider of public 
transportation. As defined in Section 5312, the following entities may 
be part of a consortium:
    a. Departments, agencies, and instrumentalities of the Federal 
Government, including Federal laboratories;
    b. State and local governmental entities;
    c. Providers of public transportation;
    d. Private or non-profit organizations;
    e. Institutions of higher education; and
    f. Technical and community colleges.

2. Cost Sharing or Matching

    The federal share of project costs under this program is limited to 
80 percent. Applicants may seek a lower Federal contribution. The 
applicant must provide the required local share in cash or in-kind, and 
must document in its application the source of the local share. 
Eligible sources of local share are detailed in FTA Research Circular 
6100.1E. (available at http://www.fta.dot.gov/legislation_law/12349_16434.html).

3. Eligible Projects

    Eligible projects include those defined under 49 U.S.C. 5312(c), 
(d), and (e) that will build on successful research, innovation, and 
development efforts to facilitate the deployment of low or no emission 
vehicles, zero emission vehicles, or associated advanced technology.
    Each consortium may propose up to three projects in its 
application. These are projects the consortium proposes for the first 
iteration of Federal funding under ZERO. For projects requesting more 
than $500,000, proposals should include one or more alternative funding 
schedules allowing the project to be funded incrementally in 
anticipation of additional future funding. However, given that future 
funding is not guaranteed, project proposals must provide meaningful 
deliverables for this first iteration of funding. The proposed projects 
must advance zero emission technology in public transportation by 
addressing one or more of the following subject areas:
    a. Technology Research and Development--improving the efficiency, 
reducing costs, and improving the performance of vehicles, vehicle 
systems, and subsystems.
    b. Transit Fleet Operations--improving the efficiency, reducing 
costs, and improving the performance of vehicle fleets including 
maintenance and operations practices.
    c. Energy Infrastructure--addressing challenges of supporting zero 
emission technology including hydrogen fueling, electric charging, and 
relationships with suppliers and electric utilities.
    d. Standards and Policy--research to support standards development 
and testing protocols and to identify policies and policy changes to 
reduce costs and risks of adopting zero emission vehicle technology.
    e. Other--FTA is open to considering other research subjects or 
combinations of subjects to advance zero emission technology.

D. Application and Submission Information

1. Address and Form of Application Submission

    Project proposals must be submitted electronically through 
GRANTS.GOV (www.grants.gov) by February 21, 2017. Mail and fax 
submissions will not be accepted. A complete proposal submission will 
consist of at least two files: (1) The SF-424 Mandatory form 
(downloaded from GRANTS.GOV) and (2) the Applicant and Proposal Profile 
for the ``Zero Emission Research Opportunity'' (ZERO Supplemental Form) 
found on GRANTS.GOV and the FTA Web site by clicking (or copying and 
pasting) the ZERO Program link at www.transit.dot.gov/funding/grants/grant-programs/zero-emission-research-opportunity-ZERO. The 
Supplemental Form provides guidance and a consistent format for 
proposers to respond to the criteria outlined in this NOFO.

2. Content and Form of Application Submission

a. Proposal Submission
    A complete proposal submission consists of two forms: The SF-424 
Mandatory Form, and the ZERO Supplemental Form. FTA will evaluate only 
complete applications.
    The Supplemental Form must be placed in the attachments section of 
the SF-424 Mandatory Form. Proposers must use the Supplemental Form 
designated for ZERO and attach it to the submission in GRANTS.GOV to 
successfully complete the application process.
    A proposal submission may contain additional supporting 
documentation as attachments. If an applicant elects to attach an 
additional narrative, it must not exceed 10 numbered pages. Submissions 
must be presentable and use standard fonts, font sizing, and at least 
one-inch margins so reviewers can easily read the information.
    Within 48 hours after submitting an electronic application, the 
applicant should receive three email messages from GRANTS.GOV: (1) 
Confirmation of successful transmission to GRANTS.GOV, (2) confirmation 
of successful validation by GRANTS.GOV, and (3) confirmation of 
successful validation by FTA. If confirmations of successful validation 
are not received or a notice of failed validation or incomplete 
materials is received, 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.
    FTA urges proposers to submit applications at least 72 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. FTA 
will not accept submissions after the stated deadline. GRANTS.GOV 
scheduled maintenance and outage times are announced on the GRANTS.GOV 
Web site. Deadlines will not be extended due to scheduled Web site 
    Proposers are encouraged to begin the process of registration 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 proposers 
may be required to take steps to keep their registration up to date 
before submissions can be made

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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 provided in the Appendix.
    Information such as the proposer's 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 form and Supplemental 
Form. Proposers must fill in all fields unless stated otherwise on the 
forms. The Supplemental Form template supports pasting copied text with 
limited formatting from other documents; 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. Proposers 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 
b. Application Content
    The SF-424 Mandatory Form and the Supplemental Form will prompt 
applicants for the required information, including the:
    (i) Applicant name;
    (ii) Dun and Bradstreet (D&B) Data Universal Numbering System 
(DUNS) number if available. (Note: If selected, the applicant will be 
required to provide its DUNS number prior to award);
    (iii) Key contact information including contact name, address, 
email address, and phone number;
    (iv) Congressional district(s) of the applicant;
    (v) A list of consortium organizational members, by organization 
name and address;
    (vi) Documentation of membership of each organizational member of 
the consortium (e.g., memorandum of understanding, letter of 
commitment, or other documentation);
    (vii) A schedule outlining steps and milestones for each project;
    (viii) A detailed description of the consortium's project 
experience, providing details of the projects the consortium has led 
and how those details support the evaluation criteria;
    (ix) A detailed description of the consortium's experience working 
with zero emission technology and any related technology;
    (x) A detailed description of the consortium's public 
transportation experience;
    (xi) A detailed description of the consortium's experience working 
with the Federal research programs;
    (xii) A detailed description of the consortium's experience 
functioning as a research organization;
    (xiii) Descriptions of up to three proposed projects, including 
project deliverables, schedule and budget; and
    (xiv) A detailed description of technical, financial and legal 
capacity to administer the proposed projects.
    Applicants may also support their applications by including an 
example of a statement of work, budget, or project plan from an 
existing or previously funded research project.
c. Unique Entity Identifier and System for Award Management (SAM)
    Registration can take as little as 3-5 business days, but since 
there could be unexpected steps or delays (for example, if the 
applicant needs to obtain an Employer Identification Number), FTA 
recommends allowing ample time, up to several weeks, for completion of 
all steps.

Step 1: Obtain DUNS Number

    If requested by phone (1-866-705-5711) DUNS is provided 
    If your organization does not have one, you will need to go to the 
Dun & Bradstreet Web site at http://fedgov.dnb.com/webform to obtain 
the number. * Information for Foreign Registrants. * Webform requests 
take 1-2 business days.

Step 2: Register with SAM

    If you already have an Employer Identification Number, your SAM 
registration will take 3 to 5 business days to process. If you are 
applying for an Employer Identification Number please allow up to two 
weeks. Ensure that your organization is registered with the System for 
Award Management (SAM). If your organization is not registered, an 
authorizing official of your organization must register at www.sam.gov.

Step 3: Username & Password

    Complete your AOR (Authorized Organization Representative) profile 
on GRANTS.GOV and create your username and password. You will need to 
use your organization's DUNS Number to complete this step. https://apply07.grants.gov/apply/OrcRegister.

Step 4: AOR Authorization

    The E-Business Point of Contact (E-Biz POC) at your organization 
must login to GRANTS.GOV to confirm you as an Authorized Organization 
Representative (AOR). Please note that there can be more than one AOR 
for your organization. In some cases the E-Biz POC is also the AOR for 
an organization. * Time to complete this step depends on the 
responsiveness of your E-Biz POC.

Step 5: Track AOR Status

    At any time, you can track your AOR status by logging in with your 
username and password. Login as an Applicant (enter your username & 
password you obtained in Step 3) using the following link: 
d. Submission Dates and Times
    Project proposals must be submitted electronically through 
GRANTS.GOV by February 21, 2017. Mail and fax submissions will not be 
e. Funding Restriction
    FTA will issue specific guidance to recipients regarding pre-award 
authority at the time of selection. 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. Preparation of proposals is not an eligible pre-award 

E. Application Review

1. Evaluation Criteria

    FTA will use the following criteria when evaluating applications:
    a. Project Experience--Consortia will be evaluated based on their 
experience and track record in designing, leading and executing 
transportation research or demonstration projects. The applicant must 
demonstrate the experience and ability to bring together both private 
and public industry partners to design and execute research or 
demonstration projects with multi-million dollar budgets.
    b. Technology experience--Consortia will be evaluated based on 
their knowledge and experience working with zero emission technology, 
including in various public transportation modes.
    c. Public transportation experience--Consortia will be evaluated 
based on their experience and ability working with U.S. public 
transportation agencies, and in the field of public transportation. 
Applicants should name the public transportation agencies they have 
worked with in their applications.
    d. Federal Research or Demonstration Experience--Consortia will be 
evaluated based on their experience and ability managing Federal 
research or demonstration projects, and

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understanding and meeting Federal requirements.
    e. Organizational Experience--Consortia will be evaluated based on 
their experience operating as a team with regard to the above areas. 
Where some consortia may have member organizations with experience and 
expertise, the expertise and experience of the consortium as a team 
working together is also important. This criterion addresses this 
    f. Proposed Projects (A consortium may submit up to three proposed 
projects) Applications will be evaluated based on the following:
    (i) The extent to which the proposed projects will advance zero 
emission technology in public transportation applications, and
    (ii) The effectiveness of the proposed project in advancing zero 
emission technology relative to the amount of FTA investment.

2. Review and Selection Process

    FTA staff will comprise the technical evaluation committee and will 
review applications against the described evaluation criteria. The 
technical evaluation committee reserves the right to evaluate proposals 
it receives and to seek clarification from any proposer about any 
statement that is made in a proposal that FTA finds ambiguous. FTA may 
also request additional documentation or information to be considered 
during the evaluation process. After the evaluation of all eligible 
proposals, the technical evaluation committee will provide 
recommendations to the FTA Administrator or designee. The FTA 
Administrator or designee will determine the final list of consortia 
and the amount of funding for each consortium's proposed projects. FTA 
may choose to fund some, all, part, or none of a selected consortium's 
proposed projects. To better evaluate technologies in a variety of 
conditions and locales, FTA may select a portfolio of geographically 
diverse projects.

F. Federal Award Administration

1. Federal Award Notice

    Subsequent to an announcement by the FTA Administrator or designee 
of the final project selections posted on FTA's Web site, FTA will 
publish a list of the selected projects, including Federal dollar 
amounts and recipients.
    All information submitted as part of or in support of a ZERO 
application shall use publicly available data or data that can be made 
public and methodologies that are accepted by industry practice and 
standards, to the extent possible. If the submission includes 
information the applicant considers to be trade secret or confidential 
commercial or financial information, the applicant should do the 
following: (1) On the Supplemental Form, on every relevant page, select 
the button to affirm that the submission ``Contains Confidential 
Business Information (CBI);'' (2) On any other documentation, mark each 
affected page ``CBI;'' and (3) highlight or otherwise denote the CBI 
portions. FTA protects such information from disclosure to the extent 
allowed under applicable law. In the event FTA receives a Freedom of 
Information Act (FOIA) request for the information, FTA will follow the 
procedures described in the U.S. DOT FOIA regulations at 49 CFR part 7. 
Only information that ultimately is determined to be confidential under 
the regulations will be exempt from disclosure under FOIA. Should FTA 
receive an order from a court of competent jurisdiction ordering the 
release of the information, FTA will provide the applicant timely 
notice of such order to allow the applicant the opportunity to 
challenge such an order. FTA will not challenge a court order on behalf 
of an applicant.

2. Award Administration

    Successful proposals will be awarded funding through FTA's Transit 
Award Management System (TrAMS) as Cooperative Agreements. The FTA 
Research Office will manage those Cooperative Agreements. Apart from 
the specific terms and conditions within the Scope of Work, general 
terms and conditions for Grant Agreements and Cooperative Agreements 
are found at www.transit.dot.gov.
    Applicants must sign and submit current Certifications and 
Assurances before FTA may award funding under a Cooperative Agreement 
for a competitively selected project. If the applicant has already 
submitted its annual Certifications and Assurances for the fiscal year 
in which the award will be made in TrAMS, it does not need to be 
    To enhance the value of the portfolio of the projects to be 
implemented, FTA reserves the right to request an adjustment of the 
project scope and budget of any proposal selected for funding. Such 
adjustments shall not constitute a material alteration of any aspect of 
the proposal that influenced the proposal evaluation or decision to 
fund the project.

3. Administrative and National Policy Requirements

    Except as otherwise provided in this NOFO, cooperative agreements 
are subject to the requirements of 49 U.S.C. 5312 as described in the 
latest FTA Research Circular, currently 6100.1E, ``Research, Technical 
Assistance and Training Program: Application Instructions and Program 
Management Guidelines.'' In particular, the recipient(s) of a ZERO 
award must submit quarterly Federal Financial Reports and Milestone 
Progress Reports in TrAMS.

4. Reporting, Data and Information Exchange, and Data Requirements

    In order to achieve a comprehensive understanding of the impacts 
and implications of ZERO, FTA, or its designated independent evaluator, 
will require direct access to project data. Projects should include a 
data capture component that allows for the reliable and consistent 
collection of information relevant to gauging the impact and outcomes 
of the project.
    At any time during the period of performance, the project team may 
be requested to coordinate data collection activities in order to 
provide interim information under the requirements of this award. A 
project team may be asked to provide the data directly to FTA or to a 
designated independent evaluator. This information, if requested, will 
be used to conduct program evaluations during the execution of the 
project and after it has been completed.

G. Federal Awarding Agency Contacts

    For further information concerning this NOFO please contact the 
ZERO staff via email at [email protected], or call Sean Ricketson at 
202-366-6678. A TDD is available for individuals who are deaf or hard 
of hearing at 1-800-877-8339. In addition, FTA will post answers to 
questions and requests for clarifications on FTA's Web site at https://www.transit.dot.gov/about/research-innovation/ZERO. To ensure 
applicants receive accurate information about eligibility or the 
program, the applicant is encouraged to contact DOT directly with 
questions, rather than through intermediaries or third parties. DOT 
staff may also conduct briefings on the ZERO selection and award 
process upon request.

H. Other Information

    The applicant must assure that it will comply with all applicable 
Federal statutes, regulations, executive orders, FTA Circulars, and 
other Federal administrative requirements in carrying out any project 
supported by the FTA

[[Page 83928]]

agreement. The applicant must acknowledge that it is under a continuing 
obligation to comply with the terms and conditions of the Cooperative 
Agreement it executes with FTA for its project. The applicant must 
acknowledge that it 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 
must agree that the most recent Federal requirements will apply to the 
project, unless FTA issues a written determination otherwise.

    Issued in Washington, DC, this sixteenth day of November 2016.
Matthew Welbes,
Executive Director.
[FR Doc. 2016-28069 Filed 11-21-16; 8:45 am]