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Competitive and Noncompetitive Non-Formula Federal Assistance Programs-Administrative Provisions for the Sun Grant Program

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AGENCY:

National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is adopting as final, without change, an interim rule (published at 75 FR 70578 on November 18, 2010) that established a set of specific administrative requirements for the Sun Grant Program as subpart O to 7 CFR part 3430, to supplement the Competitive and Noncompetitive Non-formula Federal Assistance Programs—General Award Administrative Provisions for this program.

DATES:

This final rule is effective on July 11, 2011.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Carmela Bailey, National Program Leader, Division of Bioenergy, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, STOP 3356, 1400 Independence Avenue, Washington, DC 20250-3356; Voice: 202-401-6443; Fax: 202-401-4888; E-mail: cbailey@NIFA.usda.gov.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background and Summary

Authority

On November 18, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 70,578), NIFA published an interim rule with a 120-day comment period to provide administrative provisions that are specific to the Federal assistance awards made under section 7526 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (FCEA), Public Law 110-246 (7 U.S.C. 8114), providing authority to the Secretary of Agriculture (Secretary) to establish and carry out the Sun Grant Program. No program specific comments were received. NIFA will adopt the interim rule as a final rule without change.

Under the Sun Grant Program grants are provided to Sun Grant Centers (hereafter, the Center(s)) and a Subcenter (as designated in section 7526(b)(1)(A)-(F) of the FCEA) for the purpose of subawarding 75 percent of USDA-awarded funds through a regional competitive grants program administered by the Centers and Subcenter to fund multi-institutional and multistate research, extension, and education programs on technology development and integrated research, extension, and education programs on technology implementation, in accordance with the purpose and priorities as described in section 7526. The Centers and Subcenter will utilize the remaining balance of USDA-awarded funds (after using up to 4 percent of the USDA-awarded funds for the administrative expenses of carrying out the regional competitive grants program) to conduct such programs at the respective Center or the Subcenter. Additionally, section 7526(d) of the FCEA requires the Centers and Subcenter to jointly develop and submit to the Secretary for approval a plan for addressing the bioenergy, biomass, and gasification research priorities of USDA and the Department of Energy at the State and regional levels. With respect to gasification research activities, the Centers and Subcenter are required to coordinate planning with land-grant colleges and universities in their respective regions that have ongoing research activities in that area. The Centers and Subcenter must use the approved plan in making grants and must give priority to programs that are consistent with the plan.

Section 7526(e) of the FCEA also requires the Centers and Subcenter to maintain, at the North-Central Center, a Sun Grant Information Analysis Center to provide the Centers and Subcenter with analysis and data management support.

The USDA authority to carry out this program has been delegated to NIFA through the Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics.

Purpose

The objectives of the Sun Grant Program are to enhance national energy security through the development, distribution, and implementation of biobased energy technologies; to promote diversification in, and the environmental sustainability of, agricultural production in the United States through biobased energy and product technologies; to promote economic diversification in rural areas of the United States through biobased energy and product technologies; and to enhance the efficiency of bioenergy and biomass research and development programs through improved coordination and collaboration among USDA, the Department of Energy, and land-grant colleges and universities.

Organization of 7 CFR part 3430

A primary function of NIFA is the fair, effective, and efficient administration of Federal assistance programs implementing agricultural research, education, and extension programs. As noted above, NIFA has been delegated the authority to administer this program and will be issuing Federal assistance awards for funding made available for this program; and thus, awards made under this authority will be subject to the Agency's assistance regulations at 7 CFR part 3430, Competitive and Noncompetitive Non-formula Federal Assistance Programs—General Award Administrative Provisions. The Agency's development and publication of these regulations for its non-formula Federal assistance programs serve to enhance its accountability and to standardize procedures across the Federal assistance programs it administers while providing transparency to the public. NIFA published 7 CFR part 3430 with subparts A through F as an interim rule on August 1, 2008 [73 FR 44897-44909] and as a final rule on September 4, 2009 [74 FR 45736-45752]. These regulations apply to all Federal assistance programs administered by NIFA except for the formula grant programs identified in 7 CFR 3430.1(f), the Small Business Innovation Research programs, with implementing regulations at 7 CFR part 3403, and the Veterinary Medicine Loan Start Printed Page 40594Repayment Program (VMLRP) authorized under section 1415A of the National Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching Policy Act of 1977 (NARETPA), with implementing regulations at 7 CFR part 3431.

NIFA organized the regulation as follows: Subparts A through E provide administrative provisions for all competitive and noncompetitive non-formula Federal assistance awards. Subparts F and thereafter apply to specific NIFA programs.

NIFA is, to the extent practical, using the following subpart template for each program authority: (1) Applicability of regulations, (2) purpose, (3) definitions (those in addition to or different from § 3430.2), (4) eligibility, (5) project types and priorities, (6) funding restrictions (including indirect costs), and (7) matching requirements. Subparts F and thereafter contain the above seven components in this order. Additional sections may be added for a specific program if there are additional requirements or a need for additional rules for the program (e.g., additional reporting requirements).

Through this rulemaking, NIFA is adding subpart O for the administrative provisions that are specific to the Federal assistance awards made under the Sun Grant Program authority.

II. Administrative Requirements for the Proposed Rulemaking

Executive Order 12866

This action has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866, and therefore, has not been reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget. This final rule will not create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an action taken or planned by another agency; nor will it materially alter the budgetary impact of entitlements, grants, user fees, or loan programs; nor will it have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more; nor will it adversely affect the economy, a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public health or safety, or State, local, or tribal governments or communities in a material way. Furthermore, it does not raise a novel legal or policy issue arising out of legal mandates, the President's priorities or principles set forth in the Executive Order.

Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980

This final rule has been reviewed in accordance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996, 5 U.S.C. 601-612. The Department concluded that the rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The rule does not involve regulatory and informational requirements regarding businesses, organizations, and governmental jurisdictions subject to regulation.

Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA)

The Department certifies that this final rule has been assessed in accordance with the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act, 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq. (PRA). The Department concludes that this final rule does not impose any new information requirements; however, the burden estimates will increase for existing approved information collections associated with this rule due to additional applicants. These estimates will be provided to OMB. In addition to the SF-424 form families (i.e., Research and Related and Mandatory), and the SF-425 Federal Financial Report; NIFA has three currently approved OMB information collections associated with this rulemaking: OMB Information Collection No. 0524-0042, NIFA Current Research Information System (CRIS); No. 0524-0041, NIFA Application Review Process; and No. 0524-0026, Assurance of Compliance with the Department of Agriculture Regulations Assuring Civil Rights Compliance and Organizational Information.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance

This final regulation applies to the Federal assistance program administered by NIFA under the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) No. 10.320, Sun Grant Program.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 and Executive Order 13132

The Department has reviewed this final rule in accordance with the requirements of Executive Order No. 13132 and the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995, 2 U.S.C. 1501 et seq., and has found no potential or substantial direct effects on the States, on the relationship between the national government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government. As there is no Federal mandate contained herein that could result in increased expenditures by State, local, or tribal governments, or by the private sector, the Department has not prepared a budgetary impact statement.

Executive Order 13175: Consultation and Coordination With Indian Tribal Governments

The Department has reviewed this final rule in accordance with Executive Order 13175, and has determined that it does not have “tribal implications.” The final rule does not “have substantial direct effects on one or more Indian tribes, on the relationship between the Federal Government and Indian tribes, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities between the Federal Government and Indian tribes.”

Clarity of This Regulation

Executive Order 12866 and the President's Memorandum of June 1, 1998, require each agency to write all rules in plain language. The Department invites comments on how to make this final rule easier to understand.

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List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 3430

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Accordingly, the interim rule amending 7 CFR part 3430, which was published at 75 FR 70578 on November 18, 2010, is adopted as a final rule without change.

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Signed at Washington, DC, on July 1, 2011.

Chavonda Jacobs-Young,

Acting Director, National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

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[FR Doc. 2011-17350 Filed 7-8-11; 8:45 am]

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