[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 27 (Monday, February 10, 2020)]
[Pages 7580-7584]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-02616]



Bureau of Indian Affairs


National Tribal Broadband Grant; Solicitation of Proposals

AGENCY: Bureau of Indian Affairs, Interior.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: The Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development (IEED), 
Office of the Assistant Secretary--Indian Affairs, is soliciting 
proposals from Indian Tribes for grant funding to hire consultants to 
perform feasibility studies for deployment or expansion of high-speed 
internet (broadband) transmitted, variously, through digital subscriber 
line (DSL), cable modem, fiber, wireless, satellite and broadband over 
power lines (BPL).

DATES: Applications will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. EST on Friday, 
May 8, 2020.

ADDRESSES: Applicants must submit a completed Application for Federal 
Assistance SF-424 and the Project Narrative Attachment form in a single 
email to [email protected], Attention: Ms. Jo Ann Metcalfe, 
Certified Grant Specialist, Bureau of Indian Affairs.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. James R. West, National Tribal 
Broadband Grant (NTBG) Manager, Office of Indian Energy and Economic 
Development, Room 6049-B, 12220 Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston, Virginia 
20191; telephone: (202) 595-4766; email: [email protected].


I. General Information
II. Number of Projects Funded
III. Background
IV. Eligibility for Funding
V. Who may Perform Broadband Feasibility Studies Funded by NTBG 
VI. Applicant Procurement Procedures
VII. Limitations
VIII. NTBG Application Guidance
IX. Review and Selection Process
X. Evaluation Criteria
XI. Transfer of Funds
XII. Reporting Requirements for Award Recipients
XIII. Questions and Requests for IEED Assistance
XIV. Separate Document(s)
XV. Authority

I. General Information

Award Ceiling: 50,000
Award Floor: 40,000
CFDA Number: 15.032
Cost Sharing or Matching Requirement: No
Number of Awards: 25-30
Category: Communications

II. Number of Projects Funded

    IEED anticipates award of approximately twenty-five (25) to thirty 
(30) grants under this announcement ranging in value from approximately 
$40,000 to $50,000. The program can only fund projects one year at a 
time. IEED will use a competitive evaluation process based on criteria 
described in the Review and Selection Process section at section IX of 
this notice.

III. Background

    The Office of the Assistant Secretary--Indian Affairs, through 
IEED, is soliciting proposals from Indian Tribes, as defined at 25 
U.S.C. 5304(e), for grant funding to hire consultants to perform 
feasibility studies for deployment or expansion of high-speed internet 
(broadband) transmitted, variously, through DSL, cable modem, fiber, 
wireless, satellite and BPL.
    NTBG grants may be used to fund an assessment of the current 
broadband services, if any, that are available to an applicant's 
community; an engineering assessment of new or expanded broadband 
services; an estimate of the cost of building or expanding a broadband 
network; a determination of the transmission medium(s) that will be 
employed; identification of potential funding and/or financing for the 
network; and consideration of financial and practical risks associated 
with developing a broadband network.
    The purpose of the NTBG is to improve the quality of life, spur 
economic development and commercial activity, create opportunities for 
self-employment, enhance educational resources and remote learning 
opportunities, and meet emergency and law enforcement needs by bringing 
broadband services to Native American communities that lack them.
    Feasibility studies funded through NTBG will assist Tribes to make 
informed decisions regarding deployment or expansion of broadband in 
their communities.
    IEED administers this program through its Division of Economic 
Development (DED), which is located at 1849 C Street NW, MIB-4138, 
Washington, DC 20240.
    The funding periods and amounts referenced in this solicitation are 
subject to the availability of funds at the time of award, as well as 
the Department of the Interior (DOI) and Indian Affairs priorities at 
the time of the award. Neither DOI nor Indian Affairs will be held 
responsible for proposal or application preparation costs. Publication 
of this solicitation does not obligate DOI or Indian Affairs to award 
any specific grant or to obligate all or any part of available funds. 
Future funding is subject to the availability of appropriations and 
cannot be guaranteed. DOI or Indian Affairs may cancel or withdraw this 
solicitation at any time.

IV. Eligibility for Funding

    Only Indian Tribes, as defined at 25 U.S.C. 5304(e), are eligible 
for NTBG grants: ```Indian tribe' means any Indian tribe, band, nation, 
or other organized group or community, including any Alaska Native 
village or regional or village corporation as defined in or established 
pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (85

[[Page 7581]]

Stat.688) [43 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.], which is recognized as eligible for 
the special programs and services provided by the United States to 
Indians because of their status as Indians . . .''

V. Who May Perform Broadband Feasibility Studies Funded by NTBG Grants

    The applicant determines who will conduct its broadband feasibility 
study. An applicant has several choices, including but not limited to:
     Universities and colleges;
     Private consulting firms; or
     Non-academic, non-profit entities.

VI. Applicant Procurement Procedures

    The applicant is subject to the procurement standards under 2 CFR 
200.318 through 200.326. In accordance with 2 CFR 200.318, an applicant 
must use its own documented procurement procedures which reflect tribal 
laws and regulations, provided that the procurements conform to 
applicable Federal law and standards identified in Part 2 of the Code 
of Federal Regulations.

VII. Limitations

    NTBG grant funding must be expended in accordance with applicable 
statutory and regulatory requirements, including 2 CFR part 200. As 
part of the grant application review process, IEED may conduct a review 
of an applicant's prior IEED grant awards(s).
    Applicants that are currently under BIA sanction Level 2 or higher 
resulting from non-compliance with the Single Audit Act are ineligible 
for a NTBG award. Applicants at Sanction Level 1 will be considered for 
    An applicant may submit more than one grant application. For 
example, an applicant may submit an application to study the cost of 
expanding broadband access at its tribally operated schools and a 
separate application to assess whether broadband services may be 
installed in an isolated region of its community. However, applications 
should address one project and any submissions that contain multiple 
project proposals will not be considered. IEED will apply the same 
objective ranking criteria to each proposal.
    The purpose of NTBG grants is to fund broadband feasibility studies 
only. NTBG awards may not be used for:
     Establishing or operating a Tribal office;
     Indirect costs or administrative costs as defined by the 
Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR);
     Purchase of equipment that is used to develop the 
feasibility studies, such as computers, vehicles, field gear, etc. 
(however, leasing of this type of equipment for the purpose of 
developing feasibility studies is allowed);
     Creating Tribal jobs to complete the project. An NTBG 
grant is not intended to create temporary administrative jobs or 
supplement employment for Tribal members;
     Legal fees;
     Application fees associated with permitting;
     Contract negotiation fees; and
     Any other activities not authorized by the grant award 

VIII. NTBG Application Guidance

    All NTBG applicants must use the standard forms Application for 
Federal Assistance SF-424 and the Project Narrative Attachment Form. 
These forms can be found at www.grants.gov. A complete proposal must 
contain the five mandatory components as described below.

Step 1. Complete the Application for Federal Assistance SF-424

Instructions To Download the Application for Federal Assistance SF-424
    1. Go to www.grants.gov.
    2. Select the ``forms'' tab. This will open a page with a table 
titled ``SF-424 FAMILY FORMS.''
    3. Under the column ``Agency Owner,'' third row down, is listed, 
Grants.gov -Application for Federal Assistance SF-424.
    4. Click on the blue PDF letters to download the three-page 
Application for Federal Assistance SF-424 (Mandatory Component 1)
    Within the Application for Federal Assistance SF-424, please 
complete the following sections:
     Item 8a. Applicant Information--Legal Name (of School).
     Item 8b.
     Item 8c.
     Item 8d. Address.
     Item 8f. Name and contact information of person to be 
contacted on matters involving this application.
     Item 9. Select I: Indian/Native American Tribal Government 
(Federally Recognized).
     Item 11. CFDA Title box-Type in the numbers: 15.031.
     Item 12. Title box-Type in: IEED Broadband Grant.
     Item 15. Descriptive Title of Applicant's Project. Type in 
short description of proposal.
     Item 21. Read certification statement. Check ``agree'' 
     Authorized Representative section: Complete all boxes 
except ``signature of authorized representative.'' Be sure to type in 
the tribal leader's information. Be sure to include the Tribal leader's 
preferred title (Governor, President, Chairman, etc.).
    Save the Application for Federal Assistance SF-424 and name the 
file using the following format: Tribal Name Broadband Grant 
Application SF-424.
    Example for naming the SF-424 Application for Federal Assistance 
file: Pueblo of Laguna Broadband Grant Application SF-424.

Step 2. Prepare the Project Narrative, Budget, Critical Information 
Documents, and Obtain a Tribal Resolution

Project Narrative (Mandatory Component 2)
    The Project Narrative must not exceed 15 pages. At a minimum, it 
should include:
     A technical description of the project, including 
identifying any existing broadband feasibility information. The 
proposed new study should not duplicate previous work;
     A description of the project objectives and goals, 
including a description of the areas in which broadband will be 
deployed or expanded, short and long term benefits of broadband 
deployment or expansion, and how the feasibility study will meet the 
goals of the NTBG;
     Deliverable products that the consultant is expected to 
generate, including interim deliverables (such as status reports and 
technical data to be obtained) and final deliverables (the feasibility 
study); and
     Resumes of key consultants and personnel to be retained, 
if available, and the names of subcontractors, if applicable. This 
information may be included as an attachment to the application and 
will not be counted towards the 15-page limitation.
    In addition, where applicable, the Project Narrative Attachment 
Form, referenced below, must contain a description of the consultant(s) 
the applicant wishes to retain, including the consultant's contact 
information, technical expertise, training, qualifications, and 
suitability to undertake the feasibility study. This may be included as 
an attachment to the Project Narrative and will not be counted toward 
the 15-page limitation.
    Project Narratives are not judged based on their length. Please do 
not submit any attachments or documents beyond what is listed above, 
e.g., Tribal history.

[[Page 7582]]

Budget Narrative (Mandatory Component 3)
    The Budget Narrative should consist of a one-page, detailed budget 
estimate in Excel format with applicable attachments listed below. The 
budget must identify the amount of grant funding requested and a 
comprehensive breakdown of all projected and anticipated expenditures, 
including contracted personnel fees, consulting fees (hourly or fixed), 
travel costs, data collection and analysis costs, computer rentals, 
report generation, drafting, advertising costs for a proposed project 
and other relevant project expenses, and their subcomponents.
     Travel costs should be itemized by airfare, vehicle 
rental, lodging, and per diem, based on the current Federal government 
per diem schedule.
     Data collection and analysis costs should be itemized in 
sufficient detail for the IEED review committee to evaluate the 
     Other Expenses may include computer rental, report 
generation, drafting, and advertising costs for a proposed project.
Critical Information Page (Mandatory Component 4)
    Applicants must include a critical information page that includes:
     Project Manager's contact information.
     DUNS number.
     An active ASAP number.
     Counties where the project is located.
     Congressional District number where the project is 
Tribal Resolution Attachment (Mandatory Component 5)
    Applicants must include as an attachment to their application a 
Tribal resolution issued in the fiscal year of the grant application, 
authorizing the submission of a FY 2020 NTBG grant application. It must 
be signed by authorized Tribal representative(s). The Tribal resolution 
must also include:
     A description of the feasibility study to be developed; 
     An explicit reference to the Project Narrative being 

Step 3. Prepare the Project Narrative Attachment Form for Submission

    Note: Mandatory components 2-5 must be submitted using the Project 
Narrative Attachment Form.
Instructions To Download the Project Narrative Attachment Form
     Go to www.grants.gov.
     Select the ``forms'' tab. This will open a page within the 
table titled ``SF-424 FAMILY FORMS.''
     Under the column ``Agency Owner'' three quarters down the 
table (52nd row), is listed, Grants.gov--Project Narrative Attachment 
     Click on the blue PDF letters to download the one page 
    When the applicant has successfully downloaded the Project 
Narrative Attachment Form, follow the next steps to upload documents:
     On the Project Narrative Attachment Form, click on the 
button titled ``Add Project Narrative File.''
     Select the Project Narrative that you want to upload and 
click ``open'' to upload the file.
     On the same Project Narrative Attachment Form, you will 
find a grey button titled ``Add Optional Project Narrative File.'' Use 
this button to upload the Budget Narrative, Critical Information Page, 
and the Tribal Resolution as attachments.
    When the applicant has completed uploading the Project Narrative 
and the attachments (Budget, Tribal Resolution, and Critical 
Information Page) to the Project Narrative Attachment Form, the 
applicant will save and name the file using the following format: 
Tribal Name Broadband Grant Attachments.
    Example for naming the Project Narrative Attachment Form file: 
Pueblo of Laguna Broadband Grant Attachments.

Step 4. Submitting the Completed NTBG Grant Proposal

    Applicants must submit the Application for Federal Assistance SF-
424 form and the Project Narrative Attachment Form in a single email to 
[email protected], Attention: Ms. Jo Ann Metcalfe, Certified 
Grant Specialist, Bureau of Indian Affairs.
    Applications and mandatory attachments received and date stamped 
after the time listed in the DATES section of this notice will not be 
considered by the Awarding Official. IEED will accept applications at 
any time before the deadline and will send a notification of receipt to 
the return email address on the application package, along with a 
determination of whether the application is complete.
    Incomplete Applications. Applications submitted without one or more 
of the four mandatory attachments described above will be returned to 
the applicant with an explanation. The applicant will then be allowed 
to correct any deficiencies and resubmit the proposal for consideration 
on or before the deadline. This option will not be available to an 
applicant once the deadline has passed.

IX. Review and Selection Process

    Upon receiving a NTBG application, IEED will determine whether the 
application is complete and that the proposed project does not 
duplicate or overlap previous or currently funded IEED technical 
assistance projects. Any proposal that is received after the date and 
time in the DATES section of this notice will not be reviewed. If an 
application is not complete and the submission deadline has not passed, 
the applicant will be notified and given an opportunity to resubmit its 
    The IEED Review Committee (Committee), comprised of IEED staff, 
staff from other federal agencies, and subject matter experts, will 
evaluate the proposals against the ranking criteria. Proposals will be 
evaluated using the four criteria listed below, with a maximum 
achievable total of 100 points.
    Final award selections will be approved by the Assistant 
Secretary--Indian Affairs and the Associate Deputy Secretary, U.S. 
Department of the Interior. Applicants not selected for award will be 
notified in writing.

X. Evaluation Criteria

    Community Impact Potential: 55 points. This criterion focuses on 
how deployment or expansion of broadband services will improve the 
quality of life in the applicant's community, create educational and 
self-employment opportunities, and benefit the applicant's residents, 
businesses, commercial activities, schools, libraries, and law 
enforcement and emergency operations.
    Need: 20 points. This criterion focuses on an applicant's lack of 
capacity to obtain a broadband feasibility study absent grant funding.
    Project Location in an Opportunity Zone: 15 points. Points will be 
awarded for projects located in an Opportunity Zone. An Opportunity 
Zone is an economically-distressed community where new investments, 
under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax 
treatment. See 26 U.S.C. 1400Z-1 and 1400Z-2. A map and list of 
Opportunity Zones can be found at: https://www.cdfifund.gov/Pages/Opportunity-Zones.aspx.
    Authenticity: 10 points. The IEED review committee understands that 
applicants may intend that the consultant(s) they retain to prepare the 
broadband proposal will also conduct the feasibility study if the grant 
is awarded. This does not prejudice an applicant's chances of being 
selected as a grantee. However, the IEED review committee will view 

[[Page 7583]]

proposals that show little evidence of communication between the 
consultant(s) and the applicant or scant regard for the applicant 
community's unique circumstances. Facsimile applications prepared by 
the same consultant(s) and submitted by multiple applicants will 
receive particular scrutiny in this regard.
    NTBG applications will be ranked using only these criteria (as 
described above):
     Community Impact Potential--55.
     Project Location in an Opportunity Zone--15.

XI. Transfer of Funds

     IEED's obligation under this solicitation is contingent on receipt 
of congressionally appropriated funds. No liability on the part of the 
U.S. Government for any payment may arise until funds are made 
available to the awarding officer for this grant and until the 
recipient receives notice of such availability, to be confirmed in 
writing by the grant officer.
    All payments under this agreement will be made by electronic funds 
transfer through the Automated Standard Application for Payment (ASAP). 
All award recipients are required to have a current and accurate DUNS 
number to receive funds. All payments will be deposited to the banking 
information designated by the applicant in the System for Award 
Management (SAM).

XII. Reporting Requirements for Award Recipients

    The applicant must deliver all products and data required by the 
signed Grant Agreement for the proposed NTBG feasibility study project 
to IEED within 30 days of the end of each quarter and 90 days after 
completion of the project.
    IEED requires that deliverable products be provided in both digital 
format and printed hard copies. Reports can be provided in either 
Microsoft Word or Adobe Acrobat PDF format. Spreadsheet data can be 
provided in Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Access, or Adobe PDF formats. 
All vector figures should be converted to PDF format. Raster images can 
be provided in PDF, JPEG, TIFF, or any of the Windows metafile formats. 
The contract between the grantee and the consultant conducting the NTBG 
funded feasibility study must include deliverable products and require 
that the products be prepared in the format described above.
    The contract should include budget amounts for all printed and 
digital copies to be delivered in accordance with the grant agreement. 
In addition, the contract must specify that all products generated by a 
consultant belong to the grantee and cannot be released to the public 
without the grantee's written approval. Products include, but are not 
limited to, all reports and technical data obtained, maps, status 
reports, and the final report.
    In addition, this funding opportunity and financial assistance 
award must adhere to the following provisions:

Conflicts of Interest

     This section intends to ensure that non-Federal entities 
and their employees take appropriate steps to avoid conflicts of 
interest in their responsibilities under or with respect to Federal 
financial assistance agreements.
     In the procurement of supplies, equipment, construction, 
and services by recipients and by sub-recipients, the conflict of 
interest provisions in 2 CFR 200.318 apply.
     Non-Federal entities must avoid prohibited conflicts of 
interest, including any significant financial interests that could 
cause a reasonable person to question the recipient's ability to 
provide impartial, technically sound, and objective performance under 
or with respect to a Federal financial assistance agreement.
     In addition to any other prohibitions that may apply with 
respect to conflicts of interest, no key official of an actual or 
proposed recipient or sub-recipient, who is substantially involved in 
the proposal or project, may have been a former Federal employee who, 
within the last one (1) year, participated personally and substantially 
in the evaluation, award, or administration of an award with respect to 
that recipient or sub-recipient or in development of the requirement 
leading to the funding announcement.
     No actual or prospective recipient or sub-recipient may 
solicit, obtain, or use non-public information regarding the 
evaluation, award, administration of an award to that recipient or sub-
recipient or the development of a Federal financial assistance 
opportunity that may be of competitive interest to that recipient or 
     Non-Federal entities, including applicants for financial 
assistance awards, must disclose in writing any conflict of interest to 
the DOI awarding agency or pass-through entity in accordance with 2 CFR 
200.112, Conflicts of Interest.
     Recipients must establish internal controls that include, 
at a minimum, procedures to identify, disclose, and mitigate or 
eliminate identified conflicts of interest. The recipient is 
responsible for notifying the Financial Assistance Officer in writing 
of any conflicts of interest that may arise during the life of the 
award, including those that have been reported by sub-recipients.
     Restrictions on Lobbying. Non-Federal entities are 
strictly prohibited from using funds under this gran or cooperative 
agreement for lobbying activities and must provide the required 
certifications and disclosures pursuant to 43 CFR part 18 and 31 U.S.C. 
     Review Procedures. The Financial Assistance Officer will 
examine each conflict of interest disclosure on the basis of its 
particular facts and the nature of the proposed grant or cooperative 
agreement, and will determine whether a significant potential conflict 
exists and, if it does, develop an appropriate means for resolving it.
     Enforcement. Failure to resolve conflicts of interest in a 
manner that satisfies the Government may be cause for termination of 
the award. Failure to make the required disclosures may result in any 
of the remedies described in 2 CFR 200.338, Remedies for Noncompliance, 
including suspension or debarment (see also 2 CFR part 180).
Data Availability
     Applicability. The Department of the Interior is committed 
to basing its decisions on the best available science and providing the 
American people with enough information to thoughtfully and 
substantively evaluate the data, methodology, and analysis used by the 
Department to inform its decisions.
     Use of Data. The regulations at 2 CFR 200.315 apply to 
data produced under a Federal award, including the provision that the 
Federal Government has the right to obtain, reproduce, publish, or 
otherwise use the data produced under a Federal award as well as 
authorize others to receive, reproduce, publish, or otherwise use such 
data for Federal purposes.
     Availability of Data. The recipient shall make the data 
produced under this award and any subaward(s) available to the 
Government for public release, consistent with applicable law, to allow 
meaningful third party evaluation and reproduction of the following:
    [cir] The scientific data relied upon;

[[Page 7584]]

    [cir] The analysis relied upon; and
    [cir] The methodology, including models, used to gather and analyze 

XIII. Questions and Requests for IEED Assistance

    IEED staff may provide technical consultation, upon written request 
by an applicant. The request must clearly identify the type of 
assistance sought. Technical consultation does not include funding to 
prepare a grant proposal, grant writing assistance, or pre-
determinations as to the likelihood that a proposal will be awarded. 
The applicant is solely responsible for preparing its grant proposal. 
Technical consultation may include clarifying application requirements, 
confirming whether an applicant previously submitted the same or 
similar proposal, and registration information for SAM or ASAP.

XIV. Separate Document(s)

     Application for Federal Assistance SF-424 Form
     Project Narrative Attachment Form (This form includes the 
Project Narrative, Budget, Tribal Resolution, and Critical Information 

XV. Authority

    This is a discretionary grant program authorized under the Snyder 
Act (25 U.S.C.13) and the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act 2020 
(Pub. L. 116-94). The Snyder Act authorizes the BIA to expend such 
moneys as Congress may appropriate for the benefit, care, and 
assistance of Indians for the purposes listed in the Act. Broadband 
deployment or expansion facilitates two of the purposes listed in the 
Snyder Act: ``General support and civilization, including education'' 
and ``industrial assistance and advancement.'' The Further Consolidated 
Appropriations Act 2020 authorizes the BIA to ``carry out the operation 
of Indian programs by direct expenditure, contracts, cooperative 
agreements, compacts, and grants, either directly or in cooperation 
with States and other organizations.''

    Dated: December 23, 2019.
Tara Sweeney,
Assistant Secretary--Indian Affairs.
[FR Doc. 2020-02616 Filed 2-7-20; 8:45 am]