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Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services; Overview Information; National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR)-Small Business Innovative Research Program (SBIR); Notice Inviting Applications for New Awards for Fiscal Year (FY) 2004

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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Start Preamble

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 84.133S-1.

DATES:

Applications Available: March 31, 2004.

Deadline for Notice of Intent to Apply: April 30, 2004.

Deadline for Transmittal of Applications: June 1, 2004.

Eligible Applicants: Small business concerns as defined by the Small Business Administration (SBA) at the time of the award. This definition is included in the application package.

All technology, science, or engineering firms with strong research capabilities in any of the priority areas listed in this notice are encouraged to participate.

Consultative or other arrangements between these firms and universities or other non-profit organizations are Start Printed Page 16532permitted, but the small business concern must serve as the grantee.

If it appears that an applicant organization does not meet the eligibility requirements, we will request an evaluation by the SBA. Under circumstances in which eligibility is unclear, we will not make a SBIR award until the SBA makes a determination.

Estimated Available Funds: $1,125,000 for new Phase I awards.

Note:

The estimated amount of funds available for new Phase I awards is based upon the estimated threshold SBIR allocation for OSERS, less prior commitments for Phase II continuation awards.

Estimated Average Size of Awards: $75,000.

Maximum Award: We will reject any application that proposes a budget exceeding $75,000 for a single budget period of 6 months. The Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services may change the maximum amount through a notice published in the Federal Register.

Note:

Maximum award amount includes direct and indirect costs and fees.

Estimated Number of Awards: 15.

Note:

The Department is not bound by any estimates in this notice.

Project Period: Up to 6 months for Phase I.

Full Text of Announcement

I. Funding Opportunity Description

Purpose of Program: The purpose of this program is to stimulate technological innovation in the private sector, strengthen the role of small business in meeting Federal research or research and development (R/R&D) needs, increase the commercial application of Department of Education (ED) supported research results, and improve the return on investment from Federally funded research for economic and social benefits to the Nation.

Note:

NIDRR supports the goals of President Bush's New Freedom Initiative (NFI). The NFI can be accessed on the Internet at the following site: http://www.whitehouse.gov/​news/​freedominitiative/​freedominitiative.html.

The goals of the SBIR program are in concert with NIDRR's 1999-2003 Long-Range Plan (Plan). The Plan can be accessed on the Internet at the following site: http://www.ed.gov/​rschstat/​research/​pubs/​index.html.

Through the implementation of the NFI and the Plan, NIDRR seeks to—(1) improve the quality and utility of disability and rehabilitation research; (2) foster an exchange of expertise, information, and training to facilitate the advancement of knowledge and understanding of the unique needs of traditionally underserved populations; (3) determine best strategies and programs to improve rehabilitation outcomes for underserved populations; (4) identify research gaps; (5) identify mechanisms of integrating research and practice; and (6) disseminate findings.

Background

The Small Business Reauthorization Act (Act) of 2000 was enacted on December 21, 2000. The Act requires certain agencies, including the Department, to establish SBIR programs by reserving a statutory percentage of their extramural research and development budgets to be awarded to small business concerns for research or research and development (R/R&D) through a uniform, highly competitive three-phase process.

The three phases of the SBIR program are:

Phase I: Phase I is to determine, insofar as possible, the scientific or technical merit and feasibility of ideas submitted under the SBIR program. The application should concentrate on research that will significantly contribute to proving the scientific or technical feasibility of the approach or concept and that would be prerequisite to further Department support in Phase II.

Phase II: Phase II is to expand on the results of and to further pursue the development of Phase I projects. Phase II is the principal R/R&D effort. It requires a more comprehensive application, outlining the effort in detail including the commercial potential. Phase II applicants must be Phase I awardees with approaches that appear sufficiently promising as a result of Phase I. Awards are for periods of up to 2 years in amounts up to $500,000.

Phase III: In Phase III, the small business must use non-SBIR capital to pursue commercial applications of the R/R&D. Also, under Phase III, Federal agencies may award non-SBIR follow-on funding for products or processes that meet the needs of those agencies.

Priorities: SBIR projects are encouraged to look to the future by exploring uses of technology to ensure equal access to education, employment, and community environments and information. Under this competition we are particularly interested in applications that address one of the following priorities.

Invitational Priorities: For FY 2004 these priorities are invitational priorities. Under 34 CFR 75.105(c)(1) we do not give an application that meets one of these invitational priorities a competitive or absolute preference over other applications. The invitational priorities relate to innovative research utilizing new technologies to address the needs of individuals with disabilities and their families.

These priorities are:

(1) Development of technology to support access, promote integration, or foster independence of individuals with disabilities in the community, workplace, or educational setting.

(2) Development of technology to enhance sensory or motor function of individuals with disabilities.

(3) Development of technology to support transition into post-secondary educational or employment settings for individuals with disabilities.

(4) Development of technology that promotes access to information in educational, employment and community settings.

Each applicant should describe the approaches they expect to use to collect empirical evidence that demonstrates the effectiveness of the technology they are proposing in an effort to assess the efficacy and usefulness of the technology.

Note:

New technologies must adhere to universal design principles and Guidelines for More Accessible Design. Universal design is defined as “the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design” (The Center for Universal Design, 1997. The Principles of Universal Design, Version 2.0. Raleigh, NC: North Carolina State University. Web: http://www.design.ncsu.edu). Accessible design of consumer products will seek to minimize or alleviate barriers that reduce the ability of individuals with disabilities to effectively or safely use standard consumer products (For more information see—http://www.trace.wisc.edu/​docs/​consumer_​product_​guidelines/​consumer.pcs/​disabil.htm).

Start Authority

Program Authority: The Small Business Reauthorization Act of 2000, Pub. L. 106-554 (15 U.S.C. 631 and 638) and title II of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, Pub. L. 105-220 (29 U.S.C. 760-764).

End Authority

Applicable Regulations: The Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR) in 34 CFR parts 74, 75, 77, 81, 82, 84, 85, 97, 98 and 99.

II. Award Information

Type of Award: Discretionary grants.

Estimated Available Funds: $1,125,000 for new Phase I awards.

Note:

The estimated amount of funds available for new Phase I awards is based upon the estimated threshold SBIR allocation Start Printed Page 16533for OSERS, less prior commitments for Phase II continuation awards.

Estimated Average Size of Awards: $75,000.

Maximum Award: We will reject any application that proposes a budget exceeding $75,000 for a single budget period of 6 months. The Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services may change the maximum amount through a notice published in the Federal Register.

Note:

Maximum award amount includes direct and indirect costs and fees.

Estimated Number of Awards: 15.

Note:

The Department is not bound by any estimates in this notice.

Project Period: Up to 6 months for Phase I.

III. Eligibility Information

1. Eligible Applicants: Small business concerns as defined by the SBA at the time of the award. This definition is included in the application package.

All technology, science, or engineering firms with strong research capabilities in any of the priority areas listed in this notice are encouraged to participate.

Consultative or other arrangements between these firms and universities or other non-profit organizations are permitted, but the small business concern must serve as the grantee.

If it appears that an applicant organization does not meet the eligibility requirements, we will request an evaluation by the SBA. Under circumstances in which eligibility is unclear, we will not make a SBIR award until the SBA makes a determination.

2. Cost Sharing or Matching: This program does not involve cost sharing or matching.

IV. Application and Submission Information

1. Address to Request Application Package: You may obtain an application package via Internet or from the ED Publications Center (ED Pubs). To obtain a copy via Internet use the following address: http://www.ed.gov/​fund/​grant/​apply/​grantapps/​index.html. To obtain an application package from ED Pubs, write or call the following: ED Pubs P.O. Box 1398, Jessup, MD 20794-1398. Telephone (toll free): 1-877-433-7827. FAX: (301) 470-1244. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), you may call (toll free): 1-877-576-7734.

You may also contact ED Pubs at its Web site: http://www.ed.gov/​pubs/​edpubs.html or you may contact ED Pubs at its e-mail address: edpubs@inet.ed.gov.

If you request an application from ED Pubs, be sure to identify this competition as follows: CFDA Number 84.133S-1.

Individuals with disabilities may obtain a copy of the application package in an alternative format (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, or computer diskette) by contacting the program contact person listed under section VII of this notice.

2. Content and Form of Application Submission: Requirements concerning the content of an application, together with the forms you must submit, are in the application package for this competition.

Notice of Intent to Apply: Due to the open nature of the SBIR competition, and to assist with the selection of reviewers for this competition, NIDRR is requiring all potential applicants to submit a Letter of Intent (LOI). While the submission is mandatory, the content of the LOI will not be peer reviewed or otherwise used to rate an applicant's application. We will notify only those potential applicants who have failed to submit an LOI that meets the following requirements.

Each LOI should be limited to a maximum of four pages and include the following information: (1) the title of the proposed project, which invitational priority will be addressed, the name of the company, the name of the Project Director or Principal Investigator (PI), and the names of partner institutions and entities; (2) a brief statement of the vision, goals, and objectives of the proposed project and a description of its activities at a sufficient level of detail to allow NIDRR to select potential peer reviewers; (3) a list of proposed project staff including the Project Director or PI and key personnel; (4) a list of individuals whose selection as a peer reviewer might constitute a conflict of interest due to involvement in proposal development, selection as an advisory board member, co-PI relationships, etc.; and (5) contact information for the Project Director or PI. Submission of a LOI is a prerequisite for eligibility to submit an application.

NIDRR will accept a LOI via surface mail, e-mail, or facsimile by April 30, 2004. If a LOI is submitted via e-mail or facsimile, the applicant must also provide NIDRR with the original signed LOI within seven days after the date the e-mail or facsimile is submitted. The LOI must be sent to: Surface mail: Carol Cohen, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., room 3420, Switzer Building, Washington, DC 20202-2645; or fax (202) 205-8515; or e-mail: carol.cohen@ed.gov.

For further information regarding the LOI requirement contact Carol Cohen at (202) 205-5666.

Page Limit: The application narrative (Part III of the application) is where you, the applicant, address the selection criteria that reviewers use to evaluate your application. You must limit Part III to the equivalent of no more than 25 pages, excluding any documentation of prior multiple Phase II awards, if applicable, and required forms, using the following standards:

  • A “page” is 8.5″ x 11″, on one side only, with 1″ margins at the top, bottom, and both sides.
  • Single space all text in the application narrative, including titles, headings, footnotes, quotations, references, and captions, as well as all text in charts, tables, figures, and graphs.
  • Use a font that is either 12-point or larger or no smaller than 10 pitch (characters per inch). Standard black type should be used to permit photocopying.
  • Draw all graphs, diagrams, tables, and charts in black ink. Do not include glossy photographs or materials that cannot be photocopied in the body of the application.

The page limit does not apply to the budget section, including the narrative budget justification; the one-page abstract; the resumes; the bibliography; the letters of support; certifications; statements; related application(s) or award(s); or documentation of multiple Phase II awards, if applicable.

The application package will provide instructions for completing all components to be included in the application. Each application must include a cover sheet (ED Standard Form 424); budget requirements (ED Form 524) and other required forms; an abstract, certifications, and statements; a technical content project narrative (subject to the 25-page limit); and related application(s) or award(s) and documentation of multiple Phase II awards, if applicable.

We will reject your application if—

  • You apply these standards and exceed the page limit; or
  • You apply other standards and exceed the equivalent of the page limit.

3. Content Restrictions: If an applicant chooses to respond to the invitational priorities and an application is relevant to more than one priority, the applicant must decide which priority is most relevant to the application and submit the application under that priority only. There is no limitation on the number of different applications that an applicant Start Printed Page 16534may submit under this competition. An applicant may submit separate applications on different topics, or different applications on the same priority. However, each application must respond to only one priority.

4. Submission Dates and Times:

Applications Available: March 31, 2004.

Deadline for Notice of Intent To Apply: April 30, 2004.

Deadline for Transmittal of Applications: June 1, 2004.

The dates and times for the transmittal of applications by mail or by hand (including a courier service or commercial carrier) are in the application package for this competition. The application package also specifies the hours of operation of the e-Application Web site.

We do not consider an application that does not comply with the deadline requirements.

5. Intergovernmental Review: This program is not subject to Executive Order 12372 and the regulations in 34 CFR part 79.

6. Funding Restrictions: We reference regulations outlining funding restrictions in the Applicable Regulations section of this notice.

7. Other Submission Requirements: Instructions and requirements for the transmittal of applications by mail or by hand (including a courier service or commercial carrier) are in the application package for this competition.

Application Procedures: The Government Paperwork Elimination Act (GPEA) of 1998 (Pub. L. 105-277) and the Federal Financial Assistance Management Improvement Act of 1999 (Pub. L. 106-107) encourage us to undertake initiatives to improve our grant processes. Enhancing the ability of individuals and entities to conduct business with us electronically is a major part of our response to these Acts. Therefore, we are taking steps to adopt the Internet as our chief means of conducting transactions in order to improve services to our customers and to simplify and expedite our business processes.

Some of the procedures in these instructions for transmitting applications differ from those in the Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR) (34 CFR 75.102). Under the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. 553), the Department generally offers interested parties the opportunity to comment on proposed regulations. However, these amendments make procedural changes only and do not establish new substantive policy. Therefore, under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(A), the Secretary has determined that proposed rulemaking is not required.

We are requiring that applications for grants under the Small Business Innovative Research Program—CFDA Number 84.133S-1 be submitted electronically using the Electronic Grant Application System (e-Application) available through the Department's e-GRANTS system. The e-GRANTS system is accessible through its portal page at: http://e-grants.ed.gov.

If you are unable to submit an application through the e-GRANTS system, you may submit a written request for a waiver of the electronic submission requirement. In your request, you should explain the reason or reasons that prevent you from using the Internet to submit your application. Address your request to: Carol Cohen, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., room 3420, Switzer Building, Washington, DC 20202-2704. Please submit your request no later than two weeks before the application deadline date.

If, within two weeks of the application deadline date, you are unable to submit an application electronically, you must submit a paper application by the application deadline date in accordance with the transmittal instructions in the application package. The paper application must include a written request for a waiver documenting the reasons that prevented you from using the Internet to submit your application.

Pilot Project for Electronic Submission of Applications: We are continuing to expand our pilot project for electronic submission of applications to include additional formula grant programs and additional discretionary grant competitions. The Small Business Innovative Research Program—CFDA Number 84.133S-1 is one of the programs included in the pilot project. If you are an applicant under the Small Business Innovative Research Program, you must submit your application to us in electronic format or receive a waiver.

The pilot project involves the use of e-Application. If you use e-Application, you will be entering data online while completing your application. You may not e-mail an electronic copy of a grant application to us. The data you enter online will be saved into a database. We shall continue to evaluate the success of e-Application and solicit suggestions for its improvement.

If you participate in e-Application, please note the following:

  • When you enter the e-Application system, you will find information about its hours of operation. We strongly recommend that you do not wait until the application deadline date to initiate an e-Application package.
  • You will not receive additional point value because you submit a grant application in electronic format, nor will we penalize you if you submit an application in paper format.
  • You must submit all documents electronically, including the Application for Federal Education Assistance (ED 424), Budget Information—Non-Construction Programs (ED 524), and all necessary assurances and certifications.
  • Your e-Application must comply with any page limit requirements and content restrictions described in this notice.
  • After you electronically submit your application, you will receive an automatic acknowledgement, which will include a PR/Award number (an identifying number unique to your application).
  • Within three working days after submitting your electronic application, fax a signed copy of the Application for Federal Education Assistance (ED 424) to the Application Control Center after following these steps:

1. Print ED 424 from e-Application.

2. The institution's Authorizing Representative must sign this form.

3. Place the PR/Award number in the upper right hand corner of the hard copy signature page of the ED 424.

4. Fax the signed ED 424 to the Application Control Center at (202) 260-1349.

  • We may request that you give us original signatures on other forms at a later date.

Application Deadline Date Extension in Case of System Unavailability: If you are prevented from submitting your application on the application deadline date because the e-Application system is unavailable, we will grant you an extension of one business day in order to transmit your application electronically, by mail, or by hand delivery. We will grant this extension if—

1. You are a registered user of e-Application and you have initiated an e-Application for this competition; and

2. (a) The e-Application system is unavailable for 60 minutes or more between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., Washington, DC time, on the application deadline date; or

(b) The e-Application system is unavailable for any period of time during the last hour of operation (that is, for any period of time between 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., Washington, DC time) on the application deadline date. Start Printed Page 16535

We must acknowledge and confirm these periods of unavailability before granting you an extension. To request this extension or to confirm our acknowledgement of any system unavailability, you may contact either (1) the person listed elsewhere in this notice under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT (see VII. Agency Contact) or (2) the e-GRANTS help desk at 1-888-336-8930.

You may access the electronic grant application for the Small Business Innovative Research Program at: http://e-grants.ed.gov.

V. Application Review Information

Selection Criteria: The selection criteria for this competition are in 34 CFR 75.210 of EDGAR. The specific selection criteria to be used for this competition are in the application package.

VI. Award Administration Information

1. Award Notices: If your application is successful, we notify your U.S. Representative and U.S. Senators and send you a Grant Award Notification (GAN). We may also notify you informally.

If your application is not evaluated or not selected for funding, we notify you.

2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements: We identify administrative and national policy requirements in the application package and reference these and other requirements in the Applicable Regulations section of this notice.

We reference the regulations outlining the terms and conditions of an award in the Applicable Regulations section of this notice and include these and other specific conditions in the GAN. The GAN also incorporates your approved application as part of your binding commitments under the grant.

3. Reporting: At the end of your project period, you must submit a final performance report, including financial information, as directed by the Secretary. If you receive a multi-year award, you must submit an annual performance report that provides the most current performance and financial expenditure information as specified by the Secretary in 34 CFR 75.118.

Note:

NIDRR will provide information by letter to grantees on how and when to submit the report.

4. Performance Measures: To evaluate the overall success of its research program, NIDRR assesses the quality of its funded projects through review of grantee performance and products. Each year, NIDRR examines, through expert peer review, a portion of its grantees to determine:

  • The degree to which the grantees are conducting high-quality research, as reflected in the appropriateness of study designs, the rigor with which accepted standards of scientific and engineering methods are applied, and the degree to which the research builds on and contributes to the level of knowledge in the field;
  • The number of new or improved tools, instruments, protocols, and technologies developed and published by grantees that are deemed to improve the measurement of disability and rehabilitation-related concepts and to contribute to changes or improvements in policy, practice, and outcomes for individuals with disabilities and their families; and
  • The number of new or improved assistive and universally designed technologies, devices, and systems developed by grantees that are deemed to improve rehabilitation services and outcomes and enhance opportunities for participation by, and are successfully transferred to industry for potential commercialization.

VII. Agency Contact

Start Further Info

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Kristi E. Wilson, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., room 3433, Switzer Building, Washington, DC 20202-2645. Telephone: (202) 260-0988 or by e-mail: kristi.wilson@ed.gov.

If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), you may call the TDD number at (202) 205-4475 or the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339.

Individuals with disabilities may obtain this document in an alternative format (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, or computer diskette) on request to the program contact person listed in this section.

VIII. Other Information

Electronic Access to This Document: You may view this document, as well as all other documents of this Department published in the Federal Register, in text or Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) on the Internet at the following site: http://www.ed.gov/​news/​fedregister.

To use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free at this site. If you have questions about using PDF, call the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO), toll free, at 1-888-293-6498; or in the Washington, DC, area at (202) 512-1530.

Note:

The official version of this document is the document published in the Federal Register. Free Internet access to the official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations is available on GPO Access at: www.gpoaccess.gov/​nara/​index.html.

Start Signature

Dated: March 24, 2004.

Troy R. Justesen,

Acting Deputy Assistant, Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.

End Signature End Further Info End Preamble

[FR Doc. 04-7083 Filed 3-29-04; 8:45 am]

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