[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 123 (Wednesday, June 30, 2021)]
[Notices]
[Pages 34838-34843]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-13980]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Transit Administration


Fiscal Year 2021 Competitive Funding Opportunity: Areas of 
Persistent Poverty Program

SUMMARY: Federal Transit Administration (FTA), U.S. Department of 
Transportation (DOT).

SUMMARY:  Notice of funding opportunity (NOFO).

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SUMMARY: The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announces the 
opportunity to apply for $16,259,614 in funding from Fiscal Year (FY) 
2020 ($39,614) and FY 2021 ($16,220,000) for the Areas of Persistent 
Poverty Program (Federal Assistance Listing: 20.505). As required by 
law, funds will be awarded competitively for planning, engineering, or 
development of technical or financing plans for projects that assist 
areas of persistent poverty. FTA may award additional funds if they are 
made available to the program prior to the announcement of project 
selections.

DATES: Complete proposals must be submitted electronically through the 
GRANTS.GOV ``APPLY'' function by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on August 30, 
2021. Prospective applicants should initiate the process by registering 
on the GRANTS.GOV website immediately to ensure completion of the 
application process before the submission deadline. Instructions for 
applying can be found on FTA's website at http://transit.dot.gov/howtoapply and in the ``FIND'' module of GRANTS.GOV. The funding 
opportunity ID is FTA-2021-005-TPE. Mail and fax submissions will not 
be accepted.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Tonya P. Holland, FTA Office of 
Planning and Environment, 202-493-0283, or [email protected]. A TDD 
is available at 1-800-877-8339 (TDD/FIRS).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Table of Contents

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

A. Program Description

    The Areas of Persistent Poverty Program provides funds to eligible 
recipients or subrecipients under Title 49 U.S.C. Sections 5307, 5310, 
or 5311 located in areas of persistent poverty. Funding to implement 
the Areas of Persistent Poverty Program was appropriated by the Further 
Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 (Pub. L. 116-94, Dec. 20, 2019) 
and the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (Pub. L. 116-260, Dec. 
27, 2020), and will be awarded through a competitive process, as 
described in this notice. This funding opportunity is occurring under 
Federal Assistance Listing number 20.505.
    FTA will award grants to eligible applicants for planning, 
engineering, or development of technical or financing plans for 
projects eligible under Chapter 53 of title 49, United States Code. 
Applicants are encouraged to work with non-profits or other entities of 
their choosing to develop an eligible project. An eligible project for 
this NOFO is defined as a planning study (including a planning and 
environmental linkages study that advances the environmental analysis 
and review process as part of the metropolitan planning process), an 
engineering study, a technical study, or a financial plan.
    This program supports FTA's strategic goals and objectives through 
the timely and efficient investment in public transportation. This 
program also supports the Biden-Harris Administration's agenda to 
mobilize American ingenuity to build modern infrastructure and an 
equitable, clean energy future. By supporting increased transit access 
for environmental justice (EJ) populations (see FTA Circular 4703.1), 
equity-focused community outreach, public engagement of underserved 
communities, adoption of equity-focused policies, reducing greenhouse 
gas emissions, and addressing the effects of climate change, FTA's 
Areas of Persistent Poverty Program advances the goals of Executive 
Order 13985: Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved 
Communities Through the Federal Government; Executive Order 13990: 
Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to 
Tackle the Climate Crisis; and Executive Order 14008: Tackling the 
Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad.
    FTA seeks to use the Areas of Persistent Poverty Program to 
encourage racial equity in two areas: (1) Planning and policies related 
to racial equity and barriers to opportunity; and (2) engineering, or 
development of technical or financing plans, for project investments 
that either proactively addresses racial equity and barriers to 
opportunity, including automobile dependence as a form of barrier, or 
redress prior inequities and barriers to opportunity.

B. Federal Award Information

    FTA intends to award all available funding (approximately $16.26 
million) in the form of grants to selected applicants responding to 
this NOFO. Additional funds made available for this program prior to 
project selection may be allocated to eligible projects. Funds will 
remain available for obligation for four fiscal years, not including 
the year in which the funds are allocated to projects.
    Only proposals from eligible recipients for eligible activities 
will be considered for funding. FTA anticipates a maximum grant award 
not to exceed $850,000.
    In response to a NOFO that closed on May 4, 2020, FTA received 
applications for 28 eligible projects requesting a total of 
$11,062,307. Of the 28 projects, 25 projects were selected and funded 
for a total of $8.46 million.

C. Eligibility Information

1. Eligible Applicants

    Eligible applicants include States, tribes, and designated or 
direct recipients eligible under 49 U.S.C. 5307, 49 U.S.C. 5310, or 49 
U.S.C. 5311 that are located in areas of persistent poverty. State 
departments of transportation may apply on behalf of eligible 
applicants within their States. Applicants are also encouraged to work 
with non-profit organizations.
    For the funding made available in FY 2021, eligible projects must 
be located: (1) In a county that had greater than or equal to 20 
percent of the population living in poverty over the 30-year period 
preceding the date of enactment of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 
2021 (Pub. L. 116-260, December 27, 2020), as measured by the 1990 and 
2000 decennial census and the most recent Small Area Income and Poverty 
Estimates, or (2) in a census tract with a poverty rate of at least 20 
percent as measured by the 2014-2018 five-year data series available 
from the American Community Survey of the Bureau of the Census; or (3) 
in any territory or possession of the United States. Use this link to 
confirm that your proposed project is in an Area of Persistent Poverty 
and document that in the Supplemental Form to the application--https://datahub.transportation.gov/stories/s/tsyd-k6ij.

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    For the funding made available in FY 2020, eligible projects must 
be located: (1) In a county that consistently had 20 percent or more of 
the population living in poverty over the 30-year period preceding the 
date of enactment of the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 
(Pub. L. 116-94, Dec. 20, 2019), as measured by the 1990 and 2000 
decennial census and the most recent Small Area Income and Poverty 
Estimates, or (2) in a census tract with a poverty rate of at least 20 
percent as measured by the 2013-2017 five-year data series available 
from the American Community Survey of the Bureau of the Census.
    Given the small amount of FY 2020 funding available, eligible 
applicants for FY 2020 funds must also meet the eligibility 
requirements for funding in FY 2021 in order to receive available FY 
2020 funding. Eligible applicants must be able to demonstrate the 
requisite legal, financial, and technical capabilities to receive and 
administer Federal funds under this program.
    As described in the Appropriations Acts, applicants are encouraged 
to work with non-profits or other entities of their choosing to develop 
planning, technical, engineering, or financing plans, and applicants 
are encouraged to partner with non-profits that can assist with making 
projects low or no emissions. If an application that involves such a 
partnership is selected for funding, the selection process for the non-
profit or other nongovernmental partners must satisfy the requirements 
for a competitive procurement under 49 U.S.C. 5325(a). A competitive 
selection process conducted by the applicant prior to applying for an 
Area of Persistent Poverty award will be deemed to satisfy the 
requirements of 49 U.S.C. 5325(a) for the named entities. Applicants 
are advised that any changes to the proposed partnership will require 
written FTA approval, must be consistent with the scope of the approved 
project, and may necessitate a competitive procurement.

2. Cost Sharing or Matching

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

3. Eligibility Criteria

i. Eligible Activities
    Under the Areas of Persistent Poverty Program, eligible projects 
are planning, engineering, or development of technical or financing 
plans for projects eligible under Chapter 53 of title 49, United States 
Code. For example, these activities may include planning, engineering, 
or development of technical or financing plans for improved transit 
services; new transit routes; engineering for transit facilities and 
improvements to existing facilities; innovative technologies; low or no 
emission buses or a new bus facility or intermodal center that supports 
transit services; integrated fare collections systems; or coordinated 
public transit human service transportation plans to improve transit 
service in an area of persistent poverty or to provide new service such 
as transportation for services to address the opioid epidemic, as well 
as increase access to environmental justice populations, while reducing 
greenhouse gas emissions and the effects of climate change. An eligible 
project also may be a planning and environmental linkages study that 
advances the environmental analysis and review process as part of the 
metropolitan planning process.
ii. Ineligible Activities
    It is important to note that capital, maintenance, or operating 
costs of any type are, not eligible for funding under the Areas of 
Persistent Poverty Program. Procurement of vehicles or equipment and 
support of the operation and maintenance of systems also are ineligible 
activities.

D. Application and Submission Information

1. Address To Request Application Package

    The application package may be obtained from GRANTS.GOV. 
Applications must be submitted electronically through GRANTS.GOV. 
General information for submitting applications through GRANTS.GOV can 
be found at https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/applicants.html, along 
with specific instructions for the forms and attachments required for 
submission. The Standard Form 424 (SF-424), Application for Federal 
Assistance, which must be included with every application, can be 
downloaded from GRANTS.GOV. Mail and fax submissions will not be 
accepted.
    A complete proposal submission consists of two forms: The SF-424 
Application for Federal Assistance (downloaded from GRANTS.GOV) and the 
Supplemental Form for the FY 2021 Areas of Persistent Poverty Program 
(downloaded from GRANTS.GOV or the FTA website at https://www.transit.dot.gov). Failure to submit the information as requested 
can delay review or disqualify the application.

2. Content and Form of Application Submission

    Proposals must include a completed SF-424 Application for Federal 
Assistance form and the following attachments to the completed SF-424:
    i. A completed Applicant and Proposal Profile supplemental form for 
the Areas of Persistent Poverty Program (Supplemental Form) found on 
the FTA website at https://www.transit.dot.gov. The information on the 
Supplemental Form will be used to determine applicant and project 
eligibility for the program, and to evaluate the proposal against the 
selection criteria described in part E of this notice;
    ii. A map of the proposed study area with which to confirm 
alignment between the proposed study area and areas of persistent 
poverty;
    iii. Documentation of any partnerships between the applicant and 
other organizations to carry out the proposed activities. Documentation 
may consist of a memorandum of agreement or letter of intent signed by 
all parties that describes the parties' roles and responsibilities in 
the proposed project; and
    iv. Documentation of any funding commitments for the proposed work.
    FTA will accept only one Supplemental Form per SF-424 submission. 
FTA encourages States and other applicants to consider submitting a 
single Supplemental Form that includes multiple activities to be 
evaluated as a consolidated proposal. If a State or other applicant 
chooses to submit separate proposals for individual consideration by 
FTA, each proposal must be submitted using a separate SF-424 and 
Supplemental Form.
    Applicants may attach additional supporting information to the SF-
424 submission, including but not limited to letters of support, 
project budgets, fleet

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status reports, or excerpts from relevant planning documents. 
Supporting documentation must be described and referenced by file name 
in the appropriate response section of the Supplemental Form, or it may 
not be reviewed.
    Information such as the applicant's name, Federal amount requested, 
local match amount, and description of the study area are requested in 
varying degrees of detail on both the SF-424 form and Supplemental 
Form. Applicants must fill in all fields unless stated otherwise on the 
forms. Applicants should use both the ``Check Package for Errors'' and 
the ``Validate Form'' buttons on both forms to check all required 
fields and to ensure that the Federal and local amounts specified are 
consistent. In the event of errors with the Supplemental Form, FTA 
recommends saving the form on your computer and ensuring that 
JavaScript is enabled in your PDF editor. The information listed below 
MUST be included on the SF-424 and Supplemental Form for Areas of 
Persistent Poverty Program funding applications.
    The SF-424 Mandatory Form and the Supplemental Form will prompt 
applicants for the following items:
    1. Provide the name of the lead applicant and, if applicable, the 
specific co-sponsors submitting the application.
    2. Provide the applicant's Dun and Bradstreet Data Universal 
Numbering System (DUNS) number.
    3. Provide contact information including: Contact name, title, 
address, phone number, and email address.
    4. Specify the Congressional district(s) where the planning project 
will take place.
    5. Identify the project title and project scope to be funded, 
including anticipated substantial deliverables and the milestones for 
when they will be provided to FTA.
    6. Identify and describe the eligible project that meets the 
requirements of Section C, subsection 3 of this notice, including a 
detailed description of the need for planning, engineering, or 
development of technical, or financial planning activities.
    7. Address each evaluation criterion separately, demonstrating how 
the project responds to each criterion as described in Section E and 
how the project will support the Areas of Persistent Poverty Program 
objectives.
    8. Provide a line-item budget for the project, with enough detail 
to indicate the various key components of the project.
    9. Identify the Federal amount requested.
    10. Document the matching funds, including the amount and source of 
the match (may include local or private sector financial participation 
in the project). Describe whether the matching funds are committed or 
planned, and include documentation of the commitments.
    11. Provide an explanation of the scalability of the project.
    12. Address whether other Federal funds have been sought or 
received for the comprehensive planning project.
    13. Provide a schedule and process for the project that includes 
anticipated dates for incorporating the project into the region's 
unified planning work program, completing major tasks and substantial 
deliverables, and completing the project.
    14. Describe how the proposed project advances the metropolitan 
transportation plan of the metropolitan planning organization or the 
statewide long-range plan prepared by the State department of 
transportation.
    15. Propose performance criteria for the development and 
implementation of the proposed activities funded under the Areas of 
Persistent Poverty Program.
    16. Identify potential State, local, or other impediments to the 
deliverables of the Areas of Persistent Poverty-funded work and their 
implementation, and how the impediments will be addressed.
    17. Describe how the proposed activities address climate change. 
Applicants should identify any air quality nonattainment or maintenance 
areas under the Clean Air Act in the planning or study area. 
Nonattainment or maintenance areas should be limited to the following 
applicable National Ambient Air Quality Standards criteria pollutants: 
Carbon monoxide, ozone, and particulate matter 2.5 and 10. The U.S. 
Environmental Protection Agency's Green Book (available at https://www.epa.gov/green-book) is a publicly-available resource for 
nonattainment and maintenance area data. This consideration will 
further the goals of Executive Order 13990: Protecting Public Health 
and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis, 
and Executive Order 14008: Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and 
Abroad.
    18. Describe how the proposed activities address environmental 
justice populations, racial equity, and barriers to opportunity.

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

    Each applicant is required to: (1) Be registered in SAM before 
submitting an application; (2) provide a valid unique entity identifier 
in its application; and (3) continue to maintain an active SAM 
registration with current information at all times during which the 
applicant has an active Federal award or an application or plan under 
consideration by FTA. FTA may not make an award until the applicant has 
complied with all applicable unique entity identifiers and SAM 
requirements. If an applicant has not fully complied with the 
requirements by the time FTA is ready to make an award, FTA may 
determine that the applicant is not qualified to receive an award and 
use that determination as a basis for making a Federal award to another 
applicant. These requirements do not apply if the applicant is an 
individual or has an exemption approved by FTA or the U.S. Office of 
Management and Budget pursuant to 2 CFR 25.110(c) or (d). SAM 
registration takes approximately 3-5 business days, but FTA recommends 
allowing ample time, up to several weeks, for completion of all steps. 
For additional information on obtaining a unique entity identifier, 
please visit https://www.sam.gov.
    Non-Federal entities that have received a Federal award are 
required to report certain civil, criminal, or administrative 
proceedings to SAM (currently the Federal Awardee Performance and 
Integrity Information System (FAPIIS) to ensure registration 
information is current and to comply with federal requirements. 
Applicants should refer to 2 CFR 200.113 for more information.

4. Submission Dates and Times

    Project proposals must be submitted electronically through 
GRANTS.GOV by 11:59 p.m. eastern time August 30, 2021. GRANTS.GOV 
attaches a timestamp to each application at the time of submission. 
Proposals submitted after the deadline will be considered only under 
extraordinary circumstances not under the applicant's control. Mail and 
fax submissions will not be accepted.
    Within 48 hours after submitting an electronic application, the 
applicant should receive two email messages from GRANTS.GOV: (1) 
Confirmation of successful transmission to GRANTS.GOV; and (2) 
confirmation of successful validation by GRANTS.GOV. FTA will then 
validate the application and will attempt to notify any applicants 
whose applications could not be validated. If the applicant does not 
receive confirmation of successful validation or a notice of failed 
validation or incomplete materials, the applicant must address the 
reason for the failed validation, as described in the email notice, and 
resubmit before the

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submission deadline. If making a resubmission for any reason, include 
all original attachments regardless of which attachments were updated, 
and check the box on the Supplemental Form indicating this is a 
resubmission. An application that is submitted at the deadline and 
cannot be validated will be marked as incomplete, and such applicants 
will not receive additional time to re-submit.
    FTA urges applicants to submit their applications at least 96 hours 
prior to the due date to allow time to receive the validation messages 
and to correct any problems that may have caused a rejection 
notification. GRANTS.GOV scheduled maintenance and outage times are 
announced on the GRANTS.GOV website. Deadlines will not be extended due 
to scheduled maintenance or outages.
    Applicants are encouraged to begin the registration process on the 
GRANTS.GOV site well in advance of the submission deadline. 
Registration in GRANTS.GOV is a multi-step process, which may take 
several weeks to complete before an application can be submitted. 
Applicants who are already registered in GRANTS.GOV may be required to 
take steps to keep their registration up to date before submissions can 
be made successfully: (1) Registration in the System for Award 
Management (SAM) is renewed annually, and (2) persons making 
submissions on behalf of the Authorized Organization Representative 
(AOR) must be authorized in GRANTS.GOV by the AOR to make submissions.

5. Funding Restrictions

    See Section C of this NOFO for detailed eligibility requirements. 
Funds under this NOFO cannot be used to reimburse applicants for 
otherwise eligible expenses incurred prior to an FTA award of a grant 
agreement unless FTA has issued pre-award authority for selected 
projects. Refer to Section C.3 of this NOFO (Eligible Projects) for 
information on activities that are eligible for funding under this 
grant program. Allowable direct and indirect expenses must be 
consistent with the government-wide Uniform Administrative Requirements 
and Cost Principles (2 CFR part 200) and FTA Circular 5010.1E.

6. Other Submission Requirements

    The minimum Federal share for projects selected under the Areas of 
Persistent Poverty Program is 90 percent of the net total project cost 
(i.e., the local share will be no more than 10 percent of the net total 
project cost, not 10 percent of the requested grant amount). Applicants 
are encouraged to identify scaled funding options in case insufficient 
funding is available to fund a project at the full requested amount. If 
an applicant indicates that a project is scalable, the applicant must 
provide either (1) a minimum Federal funding amount (not less than 90 
percent of the net total project cost); or (2) a reduced net total 
project cost and minimum Federal funding amount (not less than 90 
percent of the reduced net total project cost) that will fund an 
eligible project that achieves the objectives of the program and meets 
all relevant program requirements. The applicant must provide a clear 
explanation of how the project would be affected by a reduced award. 
FTA may award a lesser amount whether a scalable option is provided.
    All applications must be submitted via the GRANTS.GOV website. FTA 
does not accept applications on paper, by fax machine, email, or other 
means. For information on application submission requirements, please 
see Section D.1., Address to Request Application, and Section D.4., 
Submission Dates and Times.

E. Application Review Information

1. Criteria

    Project proposals will be evaluated primarily on the responses 
provided in the Supplemental Form. Additional information may be 
provided to support the responses; however, any additional 
documentation must be directly referenced on the Supplemental Form, 
including the file name where the additional information can be found. 
Applications will be evaluated based on the quality and extent to which 
the following evaluation criteria are addressed.
a. Demonstration of Need
    Applications will be evaluated based on the quality and extent to 
which they demonstrate how the proposed activities will support 
planning, engineering, or development of technical or financing plans 
that would result in a project eligible for funding under Chapter 53 of 
Title 49, United States Code.
b. Demonstration of Benefits
    Applications will be evaluated based on how well they describe how 
the proposed planning, engineering, or development of technical or 
financing plans address the existing condition of the transit system, 
improve the reliability of transit service for its riders, enhance 
access and mobility within the service area, accelerate innovation in 
areas of persistent poverty to serve unmet needs, promote emissions 
reductions, reduce barriers to affordable housing, address racial 
equity and reduce barriers to opportunity, and support environmental 
justice populations. The following factors will be considered:
    i. System Condition. FTA will evaluate the potential for the 
planning, engineering, or development of technical or financing plans 
to lead to an improvement in the condition of the transit system in 
areas of persistent poverty.
    ii. Service Reliability. FTA will evaluate the potential for the 
planning, engineering, or development of technical or financing plans 
to lead to a reduction in the frequency of breakdowns or other service 
interruptions caused by the age and condition of the agency's transit 
vehicle fleet, and improve system reliability.
    iii. Enhanced Access and Mobility. FTA will evaluate the potential 
for the planning, engineering, or development of technical or financing 
plans to lead to improved access and mobility for the transit riding 
public, such as through increased reliability, improved headways, 
creation of new transportation choices, or eliminating gaps in the 
current route network.
    iv. Accelerating Innovation. FTA will evaluate the potential for 
the planning, engineering, or development of technical or financing 
plans to accelerate the introduction of innovative technologies or 
practices such as integrated fare payment systems permitting complete 
trips or advancements to propulsion systems. Innovation can also 
include practices such as new public transportation operational models, 
financial or procurement arrangements, or value capture strategies.
    v. Emissions Reductions. FTA will evaluate the potential for the 
planning study, engineering study, or development of technical or 
financing plans to identify proposed actions that will reduce 
greenhouse gas and other harmful pollutants and/or improve resilience 
to climate change.
    vi. Barriers to Low Income Housing. FTA will evaluate the degree to 
which the planning study, engineering study, or development of 
technical or financial plans identify proposed actions that reduce 
regulatory barriers that unnecessarily raise the costs of housing 
development or impede the development of affordable housing.
    vii. Racial Equity and Barriers to Opportunity. FTA will evaluate 
the extent to which the planning study, engineering study, or 
development of technical or financial plans either

[[Page 34842]]

proactively address racial equity and barriers to opportunity, 
including automobile dependence as a form of barrier, or redress prior 
inequities and barriers to opportunity. FTA also will consider the 
extent to which applications incorporate such activities as equity-
focused community outreach and public engagement of underserved 
communities in the planning process, and adoption of an equity and 
inclusion program/plan or equity-focused policies.
    viii. Environmental Justice. FTA will evaluate the extent to which 
the planning study, engineering study, or development of technical or 
financial plans will support increased access to transit for 
environmental justice populations and engages such populations in plan 
or study development. See FTA Circular 4703.1, ``Environmental Justice 
Policy Guidance For Federal Transit Administration Recipients.''
    ix. Regional Support. Applicants should provide evidence of 
regional or local support for the proposed project. Documentation may 
include support letters from local and regional planning organizations, 
local governmental officials, public agencies, and/or non-profit or 
private sector partners attesting to the need for the project.
c. Funding Commitments
    Applicants must identify the source of the non-Federal cost-share 
and describe whether such funds are currently available for the 
project, or will need to be secured if the project is selected for 
funding. FTA will consider the availability of the local cost-share as 
evidence of local financial commitment to the project. Additional 
consideration will be given to those projects for which local funds 
have already been made available or reserved. Applicants should submit 
evidence of the availability of funds for the project (e.g., by 
including a board resolution, letter of support from the State, a 
budget document highlighting the line item or section committing funds 
to the proposed project, or other documentation of the source of non-
Federal funds).
d. Project Implementation Strategy
    FTA will evaluate the strength of the work plan, schedule, and 
process included in an application based on the following factors:
    i. Extent to which the schedule contains sufficient detail, 
identifies all steps needed to implement the work proposed, and is 
achievable;
    ii. Extent of partnerships, including with non-public sector 
entities; and
    iii. The partnerships' technical capability to develop, adopt, and 
implement the plans, based on FTA's assessment of the applicant's 
description of the policy formation, implementation, and financial 
roles of the partners, and the roles and responsibilities of proposed 
staff.
e. Technical, Legal, and Financial Capacity
    Applicants must demonstrate that they have the technical, legal, 
and financial capacity to undertake the project. FTA will review 
relevant oversight assessments and records to determine whether there 
are any outstanding legal, technical, or financial issues with the 
applicant that would affect the outcome of the proposed project. 
Applicants with unresolved legal, technical or financial compliance 
issues from an FTA compliance review or Federal grant-related Single 
Audit finding must explain how corrective actions taken will mitigate 
negative impacts on the proposed project.

2. Review and Selection Process

    In addition to other FTA staff that may review the proposals, a 
technical evaluation committee will verify each proposal's eligibility 
and evaluate proposals based on the published evaluation criteria. 
Members of the technical evaluation committee and other FTA staff may 
request additional information from applicants, if necessary. Taking 
into consideration the findings of the technical evaluation committee, 
the FTA Administrator will determine the final selection of projects 
for program funding.
    Among the factors in determining the allocation of program funds, 
FTA may consider geographic diversity and the applicant's receipt of 
other competitive awards. FTA may also consider capping the amount a 
single applicant may receive.

3. Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System Check

    Prior to making an award, FTA is required to review and consider 
any information about the applicant that is in the Federal Awardee 
Performance and Integrity Information Systems (FAPIIS) accessible 
through SAM. An applicant may review and comment on information about 
itself that a Federal awarding agency previously entered. FTA will 
consider any comments by the applicant, in addition to the other 
information in the designated integrity and performance system, in 
making a judgment about the applicant's integrity, business ethics, and 
record of performance under Federal awards when completing the review 
of risk posed by applicants as described in 2 CFR 200.206 Federal 
awarding agency review of risk posed by applicants.

F. Federal Award Administration Information

1. Federal Award Notice

    The FTA Administrator will announce the final project selections on 
the FTA website. Project recipients should contact their FTA Regional 
Offices for additional information regarding allocations for projects 
under the Areas of Persistent Poverty Program.
i. Pre-Award Authority
    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. Funds under this NOFO cannot be used to reimburse applicants 
for otherwise eligible expenses incurred prior to FTA award of a Grant 
Agreement until FTA has issued pre-award authority for selected 
projects, or unless FTA has issued a ``Letter of No Prejudice'' for the 
project before the expenses are incurred. For more information about 
FTA's policy on pre-award authority, please see the most recent 
Apportionment Notice at: https://www.transit.dot.gov.
ii. Grant Requirements
    If selected, awardees will apply for a grant through FTA's Transit 
Award Management System (TrAMS). Recipients of Areas of Persistent 
Poverty Program funds are subject to the grant requirements of the 
Section 5303 Metropolitan Planning program, including those of FTA 
Circular 8100.1D and Circular 5010.1E. All competitive grants, 
regardless of the award amount, will be subject to the Congressional 
Notification and release process. Technical assistance regarding these 
requirements is available from each FTA regional office.
    When applying for an award under this Program, eligible applicants 
and sub-recipients who are not direct recipients, or who have limited 
experience or access to FTA's Transit Award Management System (TrAMS), 
must secure the commitment of an active FTA direct recipient to apply 
for funding on their behalf through TrAMS if they are selected for an 
Areas of Persistent Poverty funding award. Documentation of such a 
commitment must be included in the application.

[[Page 34843]]

2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements

i. Planning
    FTA encourages applicants to notify the appropriate metropolitan 
planning organizations in areas likely to be served by the funds made 
available under this program. Selected projects must be incorporated 
into the unified planning work programs of metropolitan areas before 
they are eligible for FTA funding or pre-award authority.
ii. Standard Assurances
    The applicant assures that it will comply with all applicable 
Federal statutes, regulations, executive orders, directives, FTA 
circulars, and other Federal administrative requirements in carrying 
out any project supported by the FTA grant. The applicant acknowledges 
that it is under a continuing obligation to comply with the terms and 
conditions of the grant agreement issued for its project with FTA. The 
applicant understands that Federal laws, regulations, policies, and 
administrative practices might be modified from time to time and may 
affect the implementation of the project. The applicant agrees that the 
most recent Federal requirements will apply to the project unless FTA 
issues a written determination otherwise. The applicant must submit the 
Certifications and Assurances before receiving a grant if it does not 
have current certifications on file.
iii. Disadvantaged Business Enterprise
    FTA requires that its recipients receiving planning, capital, and/
or operating assistance that will award prime contracts exceeding 
$250,000 in FTA funds in a Federal fiscal year comply with Department 
of Transportation Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program 
regulations (49 CFR part 26). Applicants should expect to include any 
funds awarded, excluding those to be used for vehicle procurements, in 
setting their overall DBE goal.

3. Reporting

    Post-award reporting requirements include submission of Federal 
Financial Reports and Milestone Progress Reports in FTA's electronic 
grants management system on a quarterly basis. Applicants should 
include any goals, targets, and indicators referenced in their 
application to the project in the Executive Summary of the TrAMS 
application. Awardees must also submit copies of the substantial 
deliverables identified in the work plan to the FTA regional office at 
the corresponding milestones.
    As part of completing the annual certifications and assurances 
required of FTA grant recipients, a successful applicant must report on 
the suspension or debarment status of itself and its principals. If the 
award recipient's active grants, cooperative agreements, and 
procurement contracts from all Federal awarding agencies exceed 
$10,000,000 for any period of time during the period of performance of 
an award made pursuant to this Notice, the recipient must comply with 
the Recipient Integrity and Performance Matters reporting requirements 
described in Appendix XII to 2 CFR part 200.

G. Federal Awarding Agency Contacts

    For program-specific questions, please contact Tonya P. Holland, 
Office of Planning and Environment, (202) 493-0283, email: 
[email protected] A TDD is available at 1-800-877-8339 (TDD/FRS). 
Any addenda that FTA releases on the application process will be posted 
at https://www.transit.dot.gov. To ensure applicants receive accurate 
information about eligibility or the program, the applicant is 
encouraged to contact FTA directly, rather than through intermediaries 
or third parties. FTA staff may also conduct briefings on the FY 2021 
competitive grants selection and award process upon request. Contact 
information for FTA's regional offices can be found on FTA's website at 
https://www.transit.dot.gov/about/regional-offices/regional-offices.

H. Other Program Information

    This program is not subject to Executive Order 12372, 
``Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs.''
    For assistance with GRANTS.GOV please contact GRANTS.GOV by phone 
at 1-800-518-4726 or by email at [email protected].

Nuria I. Fernandez,
Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2021-13980 Filed 6-29-21; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-57-P