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Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS); Overview Information; National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR)-Research Fellowships Program

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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Notice inviting applications for new awards for fiscal year (FY) 2010.

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

DATES:

Applications Available: December 1, 2009.

Deadline for Transmittal of Applications: February 1, 2010.

Full Text of Announcement

I. Funding Opportunity Description

Purpose of Program: The purpose of the Research Fellowships Program is to build research capacity by providing support to enable highly qualified individuals, including those who are individuals with disabilities, to conduct research on the rehabilitation of individuals with disabilities.

Note:

This program is in concert with NIDRR's Final Long-Range Plan for FY 2005-2009 (Plan). The Plan is comprehensive and integrates many issues relating to disability and rehabilitation research topics. The Plan, which was published in the Federal Register on February 15, 2006 (71 FR 8165), can be accessed on the Internet at the following site: http://www.ed.gov/​about/​offices/​list/​osers/​nidrr/​policy.html.

Through the implementation of 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 the 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.

Priorities: This competition contains one absolute priority and one invitational priority. In accordance with 34 CFR 75.105(b)(2)(ii), these priorities are from the regulations for this program (34 CFR 356.10).

Absolute Priority: For FY 2010, this priority is an absolute priority. Under 34 CFR 75.105(c)(3) we consider only applications that meet this priority.

This priority is:

Research Fellowships Program

Fellows must conduct original research in an area authorized by section 204 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (the Act). Section 204 authorizes research designed to maximize the full inclusion and integration of individuals with disabilities, especially individuals with the most severe disabilities, into society, by fostering improvements in the areas of employment, independent living, family, support, and economic and social self-sufficiency, and to improve the effectiveness of services authorized under the Act.

Within this absolute priority, we are particularly interested in applications that address the following invitational priority.

Invitational Priority: For FY 2010, this priority is an invitational priority. Under 34 CFR 75.105(c)(1) we do not give an application that meets this invitational priority a competitive or absolute preference over other applications.

This priority is:

For FY 2010, the Secretary is particularly interested in applications from qualified individuals with disabilities.

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Program Authority: 29 U.S.C. 762(e).

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Applicable Regulations: (a) The Education Department General Administrative Regulations (EDGAR) in 34 CFR 75.60 and 75.61, and parts 77, 82, 84, 85, and 97. (b) The regulations for this program in 34 CFR part 356. (c) The regulations in 34 CFR 350.51 and 350.52.

II. Award Information

Type of Award: Discretionary grants.

Estimated Available Funds: The Administration has requested $110,741,000 for the NIDRR program for FY 2010, of which we intend to use an estimated $505,000 for the Research Fellowships Program. The actual level of funding, if any, depends on final congressional action. However, we are inviting applications to allow enough time to complete the grant process if Congress appropriates funds for this program.

Maximum Awards: We will reject any application that proposes a budget exceeding $65,000 for Merit Fellowships and $75,000 for Distinguished Fellowships for a single budget period of 12 months. (These Fellowships are described in the Eligible Applicant section of this notice.) The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services may change the maximum amount through a notice published in the Federal Register.

Estimated Number of Awards: Seven total, including both Merit Fellowships and Distinguished Fellowships.

Note:

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

Maximum Project Period: We will reject any application that proposes a project period exceeding 12 months. The Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services may change the maximum project period through a notice published in the Federal Register.

III. Eligibility Information

1. Eligible Applicants: Eligible individuals must have training and experience that indicate a potential for engaging in scientific research related to the solution of rehabilitation problems of individuals with disabilities. The program provides two categories of Research Fellowships: Merit Fellowships and Distinguished Fellowships.

(a) To be eligible for a Merit Fellowship, an individual must have either advanced professional training or independent study experience in an area that is directly pertinent to disability and rehabilitation. In the most recent competitions for this program, Start Printed Page 62768Merit Fellowship recipients had research experience at the doctoral level.

(b) To be eligible for a Distinguished Fellowship, an individual must have seven or more years of research experience in subject areas, methods, or techniques relevant to rehabilitation research and must have a doctorate, other terminal degree, or comparable academic qualifications.

Note:

Institutions are not eligible to be recipients of Research Fellowships.

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

IV. Application and Submission Information

1. Address to Request Application Package: You can obtain an application package via the Internet or from the Education Publications Center (ED Pubs). To obtain a copy via the Internet, use the following address: http://www.ed.gov/​fund/​grant/​apply/​grantapps/​index.html.

To obtain a copy from ED Pubs, write, fax, or call the following: Education Publications Center, 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), call, toll free: 1-877-576-7734.

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

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

Individuals with disabilities can obtain a copy of the application package in an accessible format (e.g., braille, large print, audiotape, or computer diskette) by contacting the person or team listed under Accessible Format in section VIII 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.

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 the application narrative (Part III) to the equivalent of no more than 24 double-spaced pages, 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.
  • Double space (no more than three lines per vertical inch) all text in the application narrative. Single spacing may be used for 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).
  • Use one of the following fonts: Times New Roman, Courier, Courier New, or Arial. An application submitted in any other font (including Times Roman or Arial Narrow) will not be accepted.

The page limit does not apply to Part I, the Application for Federal Assistance; Part IV, the assurances and certifications; or the one-page abstract, the eligibility statement, the curriculum vitae, the bibliography, the letters of recommendation, or the information on the protection of human subjects. However, the page limit does apply to all of the application narrative section (Part III).

We will reject your application if you exceed the page limit or if you apply other standards and exceed the equivalent of the page limit.

3. Submission Dates and Times:

Applications Available: December 1, 2009.

Deadline for Transmittal of Applications: February 1, 2010.

Applications for grants under this program must be submitted electronically using the Electronic Grant Application system (e-Application) accessible through the Department's e-Grants site. For information (including dates and times) about how to submit your application electronically, or in paper format by mail or hand delivery if you qualify for an exception to the electronic submission requirement, please refer to section IV. 6. Other Submission Requirements in this notice.

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

Individuals with disabilities who need an accommodation or auxiliary aid in connection with the application process should contact the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT in section VII in this notice. If the Department provides an accommodation or auxiliary aid to an individual with a disability in connection with the application process, the individual's application remains subject to all other requirements and limitations in this notice.

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

5. Funding Restrictions: Applicants are not required to submit a budget with their proposal. The Merit Fellowships and Distinguished Fellowships awards are one Full Time Equivalent (FTE) awards. The Fellow must work principally on the fellowship during the term of the fellowship award. We define one FTE as equal to 40 hours per week. No Fellow is allowed to be a direct recipient of Federal government grant funds in addition to those provided by the Merit or Distinguished Fellowship grant (during the duration of the Fellowship award performance period). Fellows may, subject to compliance with their institution's policy on additional employment, work on a Federal grant that has been awarded to the Fellow's institution.

We reference additional regulations outlining funding restrictions in the Applicable Regulations section of this notice.

6. Other Submission Requirements: Applications for grants under this program must be submitted electronically unless you qualify for an exception to this requirement in accordance with the instructions in this section.

a. Electronic Submission of Applications.

Applications for grants under the Research Fellowships Program—CFDA Number 84.133F-1 must be submitted electronically using e-Application, accessible through the Department's e-Grants Web site at: http://e-grants.ed.gov.

We will reject your application if you submit it in paper format unless, as described elsewhere in this section, you qualify for one of the exceptions to the electronic submission requirement and submit, no later than two weeks before the application deadline date, a written statement to the Department that you qualify for one of these exceptions. Further information regarding calculation of the date that is two weeks before the application deadline date is provided later in this section under Exception to Electronic Submission Requirement.

While completing your electronic application, you will be entering data online that will be saved into a database. You may not e-mail an electronic copy of a grant application to us.

Please note the following:

  • You must complete the electronic submission of your grant application by 4:30:00 p.m., Washington, DC time, on the application deadline date. E-Application will not accept an application for this program after 4:30:00 p.m., Washington, DC time, on Start Printed Page 62769the application deadline date. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you do not wait until the application deadline date to begin the application process.
  • The hours of operation of the e-Grants Web site are 6:00 a.m. Monday until 7:00 p.m. Wednesday; and 6:00 a.m. Thursday until 8:00 p.m. Sunday, Washington, DC time. Please note that, because of maintenance, the system is unavailable between 8:00 p.m. on Sundays and 6:00 a.m. on Mondays, and between 7:00 p.m. on Wednesdays and 6:00 a.m. on Thursdays, Washington, DC time. Any modifications to these hours are posted on the e-Grants Web site.
  • You will not receive additional point value because you submit your application in electronic format, nor will we penalize you if you qualify for an exception to the electronic submission requirement, as described elsewhere in this section, and submit your application in paper format.
  • You must submit all documents electronically, including all information you typically provide on the following forms: the Application for Federal Assistance (SF 424), the Department of Education Supplemental Information for SF 424, Budget Information—Non-Construction Programs (ED 524), and all necessary assurances and certifications. You must attach any narrative sections of your application as files in a .DOC (document), .RTF (rich text), or .PDF (Portable Document) format. If you upload a file type other than the three file types specified in this paragraph or submit a password protected file, we will not review that material.
  • Your electronic application must comply with any page limit requirements described in this notice.
  • Prior to submitting your electronic application, you may wish to print a copy of it for your records.
  • After you electronically submit your application, you will receive an automatic acknowledgment that 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 SF 424 to the Application Control Center after following these steps:

(1) Print SF 424 from e-Application.

(2) The applicant'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 SF 424.

(4) Fax the signed SF 424 to the Application Control Center at (202) 245-6272.

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

Application Deadline Date Extension in Case of e-Application Unavailability: If you are prevented from electronically submitting your application on the application deadline date because e-Application is unavailable, we will grant you an extension of one business day to enable you 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 electronic application for this competition; and

(2)(a) E-Application 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) E-Application is unavailable for any period of time between 3:30 p.m. and 4:30:00 p.m., Washington, DC time, on the application deadline date.

We must acknowledge and confirm these periods of unavailability before granting you an extension. To request this extension or to confirm our acknowledgment 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. If e-Application is unavailable due to technical problems with the system and, therefore, the application deadline is extended, an e-mail will be sent to all registered users who have initiated an e-Application. Extensions referred to in this section apply only to the unavailability of e-Application.

Exception to Electronic Submission Requirement: You qualify for an exception to the electronic submission requirement, and may submit your application in paper format, if you are unable to submit an application through e-Application because—

  • You do not have access to the Internet; or
  • You do not have the capacity to upload large documents to e-Application; and
  • No later than two weeks before the application deadline date (14 calendar days or, if the fourteenth calendar day before the application deadline date falls on a Federal holiday, the next business day following the Federal holiday), you mail or fax a written statement to the Department, explaining which of the two grounds for an exception prevents you from using the Internet to submit your application. If you mail your written statement to the Department, it must be postmarked no later than two weeks before the application deadline date. If you fax your written statement to the Department, we must receive the faxed statement no later than two weeks before the application deadline date.

Address and mail or fax your statement to: Marlene Spencer, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, room 6026, Potomac Center Plaza (PCP), Washington, DC 20202-2700. Fax: (202) 245-7643.

Your paper application must be submitted in accordance with the mail or hand delivery instructions described in this notice.

b. Submission of Paper Applications by Mail.

If you qualify for an exception to the electronic submission requirement, you may mail (through the U.S. Postal Service or a commercial carrier) your application to the Department. You must mail the original and two copies of your application, on or before the application deadline date, to the Department at the following address: U.S. Department of Education, Application Control Center, Attention: (CFDA Number 84.133F-1), LBJ Basement Level 1, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20202-4260.

You must show proof of mailing consisting of one of the following:

(1) A legibly dated U.S. Postal Service postmark.

(2) A legible mail receipt with the date of mailing stamped by the U.S. Postal Service.

(3) A dated shipping label, invoice, or receipt from a commercial carrier.

(4) Any other proof of mailing acceptable to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education.

If you mail your application through the U.S. Postal Service, we do not accept either of the following as proof of mailing:

(1) A private metered postmark.

(2) A mail receipt that is not dated by the U.S. Postal Service.

If your application is postmarked after the application deadline date, we will not consider your application.

Note:

The U.S. Postal Service does not uniformly provide a dated postmark. Before relying on this method, you should check with your local post office.

c. Submission of Paper Applications by Hand Delivery.

If you qualify for an exception to the electronic submission requirement, you (or a courier service) may deliver your paper application to the Department by hand. You must deliver the original and two copies of your application, by hand, Start Printed Page 62770on or before the application deadline date, to the Department at the following address: U.S. Department of Education, Application Control Center, Attention: (CFDA Number 84.133F-1), 550 12th Street, SW., Room 7041, Potomac Center Plaza, Washington, DC 20202-4260.

The Application Control Center accepts hand deliveries daily between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30:00 p.m., Washington, DC time, except Saturdays, Sundays, and Federal holidays.

Note for Mail or Hand Delivery of Paper Applications: If you mail or hand deliver your application to the Department—

(1) You must indicate on the envelope and—if not provided by the Department—in Item 11 of the SF 424 the CFDA number, including suffix letter, if any, of the competition under which you are submitting your application; and

(2) The Application Control Center will mail to you a notification of receipt of your grant application. If you do not receive this grant notification within 15 business days from the application deadline date, you should call the U.S. Department of Education Application Control Center at (202) 245-6288.

V. Application Review Information

1. Selection Criteria: The selection criteria for this program are from 34 CFR 356.30 through 356.32 and are listed in the application package.

2. Review and Selection Process: Additional factors we consider in selecting an application for an award are as follows:

The Secretary is interested in outcomes-oriented research projects that use rigorous scientific methodologies. To address this interest applicants are encouraged to articulate goals, objectives, and expected outcomes for the proposed research activities. Proposals should describe how results and planned outputs are expected to contribute to advances in knowledge or improvements in policy and practice. Applicants should propose projects that are optimally designed to be consistent with these goals. Submission of the information identified under this paragraph is not required by law or regulation, but is desired.

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 notify you informally, also.

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. In accordance with 34 CFR 356.51, the final report must contain at a minimum an analysis of the significance of the project and an assessment of the degree to which the objectives of the project have been achieved. The Secretary may also require more frequent performance reports under 34 CFR 75.720(c). For specific requirements on reporting, please go to www.ed.gov/​fund/​grant/​apply/​appforms/​appforms.html.

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 a portion of its grantees to determine the extent to which grantees are conducting high-quality research and related activities that lead to high quality products. Performance measures for the Research Fellowships program include—

  • The percentage of NIDRR-supported fellows, post-doctoral trainees, and doctoral students who publish results of NIDRR-sponsored research in refereed journals;
  • The percentage of grantee research and development that has appropriate study design, meets rigorous standards of scientific and/or engineering methods, and builds on and contributes to knowledge in the field; and
  • The number of publications per award based on NIDRR-funded research and development activities in refereed journals.

NIDRR evaluates the overall success of individual research and development grants through review of grantee performance and products. NIDRR uses information submitted by grantees as part of their final performance report for these reviews. Approved final performance report guidelines require grantees to submit information regarding research methods, results, outputs, and outcomes.

VII. Agency Contact

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Marlene Spencer, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., room 6026, PCP, Washington, DC 20202-2700. Telephone: (202) 245-7532 or by e-mail: marlene.spencer@ed.gov.

If you use a TDD, call the Federal Relay Service (FRS), toll free, at 1-800-877-8339.

VIII. Other Information

Accessible Format: Individuals with disabilities can obtain this document and a copy of the application package in an accessible format (e.g., braille, large print, audiotape, or computer diskette) by contacting the Grants and Contracts Services Team, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., room 5075, PCP, Washington, DC 20202-2550. Telephone: (202) 245-7363. If you use a TDD, call the FRS, toll free, at 1-800-877-8339.

Electronic Access to This Document: You can 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: 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.

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Dated: November 25, 2009.

Alexa Posny,

Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.

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[FR Doc. E9-28758 Filed 11-30-09; 8:45 am]

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