Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Department of Education.
The Department of Education (Department) is issuing a notice inviting applications for new awards for fiscal year (FY) 2020 for a National Technical Assistance Center to Improve State Capacity to Collect, Report, Analyze, and Use Accurate IDEA Part B and Part C Fiscal Data (Fiscal Data Center), Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) number 84.373F. The Fiscal Data Center will provide technical assistance (TA) to improve the capacity of States to meet the data collection requirements under Parts B and C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The Fiscal Data Center will support States in collecting, reporting, and determining how to best analyze and use their IDEA Parts B and C fiscal data to establish and meet high expectations for each child with a disability and will customize its TA to meet each State's specific needs. This notice relates to the approved information collection under OMB control number 1894-0006.
Applications Available: June 16, 2020.
Deadline for Transmittal of Applications: July 31, 2020.
Deadline for Intergovernmental Review: September 29, 2020.
For the addresses for obtaining and submitting an application, please refer to our Common Instructions for Applicants to Start Printed Page 36386Department of Education Discretionary Grant Programs, published in the Federal Register on February 13, 2019 (84 FR 3768), and available at www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2019-02-13/pdf/2019-02206.pdf.
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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Jennifer Finch, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW, Room 5016C, Potomac Center Plaza, Washington, DC 20202-5076. Telephone: (202) 245-6610. Email: Jennifer.Finch@ed.gov.
If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) or a text telephone (TTY), call the Federal Relay Service (FRS), toll free, at 1-800-877-8339.
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Full Text of Announcement
I. Funding Opportunity Description
Purpose of Program: The purpose of the Technical Assistance on State Data Collection program is to improve the capacity of States to meet IDEA data collection and reporting requirements. Funding for the program is authorized under section 611(c)(1) of IDEA, which gives the Secretary the authority to reserve not more than 1/2 of 1 percent of the amounts appropriated under Part B for each fiscal year to provide TA activities authorized under section 616(i) of IDEA, where needed, to improve the capacity of States to meet the data collection requirements under Parts B and C of IDEA. The maximum amount the Secretary may reserve under this set-aside for any fiscal year is $25,000,000, cumulatively adjusted by the rate of inflation. Section 616(i) of IDEA requires the Secretary to review the data collection and analysis capacity of States to ensure that data and information determined necessary for the implementation of section 616 of IDEA are collected, analyzed, and accurately reported to the Secretary. It also requires the Secretary to provide TA (from funds reserved under section 611(c)(1)), where needed, to improve the capacity of States to meet the data collection requirements under Parts B and C of IDEA, which include the data collection and reporting requirements in sections 616 and 618 of IDEA. Additionally, the Department of Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act, 2019 and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2019; and the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 give the Secretary the authority to use funds reserved under section 611(c) to “administer and carry out other services and activities to improve data collection, coordination, quality, and use under parts B and C of the IDEA.” Department of Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act, 2019, and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2019, Div. B, Title III of Public Law 115-245, 132 Stat. 3100 (2018); Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020, Div. A, Title III of Public Law 116-94, 133 Stat. 2590 (2019).
Priority: This priority is from the notice of final priority and requirements (NFP) for this program published elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register.
Background: The purpose of this priority is to establish a Fiscal Data Center to provide States with TA to assist them in meeting their fiscal data collection and reporting obligations under IDEA. Under Part B of IDEA, State educational agencies (SEAs) are required to submit fiscal data to the Department in (1) the IDEA Part B local educational agency (LEA) Maintenance of Effort (MOE) Reduction and Coordinated Early Intervening Services (CEIS) (LEA MOE/CEIS) Data Collection; and (2) Section V of the IDEA Part B Annual Application. Under IDEA Part C, State lead agencies (LAs) are also required to report fiscal data to the Department in (1) Section III of the IDEA Part C Annual Application (use of funds); and (2) Section IV of the IDEA Part C Annual Application (indirect costs).
In reviewing the data submitted by States, the Department finds that States continue to need support to build their capacity to submit valid and reliable IDEA Part B and Part C fiscal data. It is important for these data to be accurate so that States can use them to more effectively manage all available funding resources for services for children with disabilities and ensure that IDEA funds are used as a payor of last resort. In addition, under IDEA Part B, States may suffer significant monetary consequences as a result of inaccurate data reporting or noncompliance identified through these data collections.
Data Under IDEA Part B
In FY 2014, the Department funded the Technical Assistance on State Data Collection—IDEA Fiscal Data Center, which provided TA to improve the capacity of States to meet the following IDEA Part B fiscal data collection requirements under section 618 of IDEA: (1) Maintenance of State Financial Support (MFS) for special education and related services; and (2) LEA MOE/CEIS.
Since that time, the Department added new data elements to the LEA MOE/CEIS data collection based on the final LEA MOE regulations that were published in the Federal Register on April 28, 2015 (80 FR 23644), and States will need to ensure that the data they submit under those new elements are valid and reliable. In addition, the Department continues to identify errors in States' Part B LEA MOE/CEIS data submissions through its annual review process. Finally, based on the Office of Special Education Programs' (OSEP) monitoring visits and subsequent fiscal findings in several States, OSEP has determined that States continue to need support in understanding the requirements relating to the data elements reported under the LEA MOE/CEIS data collection.
For example, OSEP has identified noncompliance in the methodologies used by some States to calculate the amounts of their LEAs' IDEA Part B subgrants. This type of noncompliance has broader implications for LEAs and States that receive increased or decreased funding for special education and related services. As an illustration of the potential impact of fiscal noncompliance, an error in calculating the amount of an LEA's IDEA Part B allocation affects the amounts the LEA may expend to meet other fiscal requirements, such as LEA MOE reduction under 34 CFR 300.205, voluntary CEIS under 34 CFR 300.226(a), comprehensive CEIS under 34 CFR 300.646(d), and proportionate share for parentally placed private school children with disabilities under 34 CFR 300.133. Based on the complexities and high stakes involved in reporting valid and reliable IDEA Part B fiscal data, the Department determined that States continue to need TA to improve their data collection capacity, their ability to analyze and use that data, and their ability to ensure data are accurate and can be reported to the Department and the public.
Accurately collecting and reporting valid and reliable IDEA Part B fiscal data is critically important for States and LEAs. Failure of a State to report accurate data on MFS may result in a reduction of IDEA Part B section 611 funds. Failure of an LEA to meet LEA MOE may result in repayment by the SEA of non-Federal funds to the Department. In addition, accurate fiscal information is needed for States to make informed decisions on the use of their IDEA Part B funds. Finally, valid and reliable fiscal data allow OSEP to better Start Printed Page 36387protect the Federal interest in the approximately $13.2 billion of IDEA Part B grants made available to States by the Department in Federal fiscal year (FFY) 2019 by ensuring that States and LEAs meet their obligation to collect and report accurate data on IDEA's MFS and LEA MOE requirements.
TA on collecting, reporting, analyzing, and using other IDEA Part B and Part C data reported under sections 616 and 618 of IDEA will be provided by the National Technical Assistance Center to Improve State Capacity to Collect, Report, Analyze, and Use Accurate IDEA Part B Data, CFDA number 84.373Y, and the National Technical Assistance Center to Improve State Capacity to Collect, Report, Analyze, and Use Accurate Early Childhood IDEA Data, CFDA number 84.373Z, for which notices of final priority and requirements were published in the Federal Register on August 12, 2019 (84 FR 39736 and 84 FR 39727).
Data Under IDEA Part C
In its review of State submissions of IDEA Part C fiscal data, the Department found that States need support to submit accurate, valid, and reliable data in two areas: (1) Use of IDEA Part C funds; and (2) indirect costs.
In its reviews, OSEP found inconsistencies within the IDEA Part C Annual Application between the fiscal data reported by a State LA and the related fiscal certification and assurances that the State must provide as part of its application for eligibility.
In its IDEA Part C Annual Application, each LA must provide several fiscal-related assurances and a fiscal-related certification. Specifically, each LA must—
(1) Ensure its statewide system has a single line of responsibility, including—
(a) The identification and coordination of all available resources for early intervention services within the State, including those from Federal, State, local, and private sources, consistent with subpart F of 34 CFR part 303; and
(b) The assignment of financial responsibility in accordance with subpart F of 34 CFR part 303 and specifically ensure IDEA Part C funds are used as payor of last resort (including any method under IDEA section 640);
(2) Coordinate all available funding sources for IDEA Part C services (including its system of payments);
(3) Use IDEA Part C funds to supplement, not supplant, the level of State and local funds expended for infants and toddlers with disabilities; and
(4) Charge administrative direct and indirect costs to the IDEA Part C grant consistent with applicable Federal fiscal requirements.
In addition, each LA must certify that the arrangements to establish financial responsibility for the provision of IDEA Part C services among appropriate public agencies under 34 CFR 303.511 and the LA's contracts with early intervention service (EIS) providers regarding financial responsibility for the provision of IDEA Part C services meet the requirements in 34 CFR 303.500 through 303.521 and are current as of the date of submission of the certification.
Fiscal data related to this certification may need to also be reported in Section III of the IDEA Part C Annual State Application under funding for other State agencies to the extent Federal IDEA Part C funds are used in conjunction with State funding or other support provided by State agencies other than the State LA.
In several instances, States' reporting of IDEA Part C fiscal data in their applications indicates that there is confusion related to the implementation of underlying Part C fiscal requirements. Many States need support in understanding the administrative costs that may be charged to IDEA Part C grants as direct and indirect costs. Additionally, in their annual application numerous States are unable to identify or disaggregate the costs for direct services, as well as costs attributable to other State agencies, due to confusion regarding the fiscal certification, and fiscal assurances regarding the payor of last resort, system of payments, methods, and related fiscal coordination requirements.
OSEP's review of the fiscal data in Section III of the IDEA Part C application (use of funds) indicates that States need TA in this area. This review has identified inconsistencies in data across categories of expenses (including direct and indirect costs) and between the fiscal data reported by the State and the related fiscal assurances and certification regarding funding needed or provided by other State agencies (and any methods, such as interagency agreements or other appropriate written mechanisms) and the State's related application requirements, including its system of payments policies. States' fiscal data reflect confusion with the fiscal requirements not only under the IDEA Part C statute and regulations, but also the fiscal requirements under the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards, codified in 2 CFR part 200 (OMB Uniform Guidance).
Specifically, OSEP has identified issues with, and States have raised questions about, how to report IDEA Part C fiscal data regarding the amount of IDEA Part C funds to be used for: (1) Administrative costs, such as positions partially or wholly funded by IDEA Part C funds, and the amount of fringe benefits (reported in Section III.A.); (2) maintenance and implementation activities for the LA and the State Interagency Coordinating Council (ICC) (including any costs that require prior approval by OSEP, such as equipment, rent, and participant support costs for trainings and conferences) (reported in Section III.B.); (3) direct services (disaggregated by the type of service and expended consistently with IDEA's payor-of-last-resort and system of payments requirements) (reported in Section III.C.); and (4) activities by other State agencies (reported in Section III.D.). The fiscal data in each of these categories reflects a need for TA on the requirements in the OMB Uniform Guidance as they apply to IDEA Part C LAs and EIS providers.
OSEP has also found that States need TA with Section III use of funds or “budget” amendment requests after the grant is issued to comply with fiscal requirements and in order to expend unused IDEA Part C funds prior to those funds lapsing. These fiscal requirements are also codified in the OMB Uniform Guidance.
In Section IV.B. of the IDEA Part C application, the LA must report on whether the State plans to charge indirect costs to the IDEA Part C grant through the use of a restricted indirect cost rate agreement or a cost allocation plan that is approved by the LA's Federal cognizant agency and provide appropriate documentation.
Sections III.F.6 and IV.B also require States to indicate that, if indirect costs are being charged to the IDEA Part C grant, the State must indicate the total Start Printed Page 36388amount of the overall Federal IDEA Part C grant funds that will be charged for restricted indirect costs and provide appropriate approval documentation. If the State charges indirect costs to its IDEA Part C grant, then, under 34 CFR 303.225(c), an LA may charge them through either: (1) A restricted indirect cost rate agreement that meets the requirements in 34 CFR 76.560 through 76.569; or (2) a cost allocation plan that meets the non-supplanting requirements in 34 CFR 303.225(b) and 34 CFR part 76.
OSEP has worked with LAs when it identifies large amounts of IDEA Part C funding being reserved for administrative or indirect costs and believes that LAs need TA both on reporting indirect cost data to the Department in the application and on applying indirect costs and related Federal requirements to the IDEA Part C grant. This is particularly relevant to LAs that have a cognizant Federal agency other than the Department and to ensure that States and LAs meet requirements in the Education Department General Administrative Regulations and the OMB Uniform Guidance, which require indirect costs for IDEA Part C grants to be calculated on a restricted basis due to IDEA Part C's nonsupplanting requirement.
The Fiscal Data Center will support States in appropriately applying their previously negotiated or provisionally approved indirect cost rate agreements or a cost allocation plan as described above. The Fiscal Data Center will not support LAs in negotiating an indirect cost rate agreement with their cognizant agencies.
States need TA in reporting valid and reliable IDEA Part C fiscal data, understanding the underlying requirements in Section III and Section IV of the IDEA Part C Annual State Application, and optimally using and analyzing the data submitted to the Department.
Indirect Costs Charged by the Fiscal Data Center to the Grant.
In addition, this priority includes an indirect cost cap that is the lesser of the grantee's actual indirect costs as determined by the grantee's negotiated indirect cost rate agreement with its cognizant Federal agency and 40 percent of the grantee's modified total direct cost (MTDC) base. We believe this cap is appropriate as it maximizes the availability of funds for the primary TA purposes of this priority. The Department has done an analysis of the indirect cost rates for all current TA centers funded under the Technical Assistance and Dissemination and Technical Assistance on State Data Collection programs as well as other grantees that are large, midsize, and small businesses and small nonprofit organizations and has found that, in general, total indirect costs charged on these grants by these entities were at or below 35 percent of total direct costs (TDC). We recognize that, dependent on the structure of the investment and activities, the MTDC base could be much smaller than the TDC, which would imply a higher indirect cost rate than those calculated here. The Department arrived at a 40 percent rate to address some of that variation. This would account for a 12 percent variance between TDC and MTDC. However, we note that, in the absence of a cap, certain entities would likely charge indirect cost rates in excess of 40 percent of MTDC. Based on our analysis, it appears that those entities would likely be larger for-profit and nonprofit organizations, but these organizations appear to be outliers when compared to the majority of other large businesses as well as the entirety of OSEP's grantees. Setting an indirect cost rate cap of 40 percent would be in line with the majority of applicants' existing negotiated rates with the cognizant Federal agency.
This priority aligns with two priorities from the Secretary's Final Supplemental Priorities and Definitions for Discretionary Grant Programs, published in the Federal Register on March 2, 2018 (83 FR 9096): Priority 2: Promoting Innovation and Efficiency, Streamlining Education With an Increased Focus on Student Outcomes, and Providing Increased Value to Students and Taxpayers; and Priority 5: Meeting the Unique Needs of Students and Children with Disabilities and/or Those With Unique Gifts and Talents.
The Fiscal Data Center must be awarded and operated in a manner consistent with the nondiscrimination requirements contained in the U.S. Constitution and the Federal civil rights laws.
Absolute Priority: For FY 2020 and any subsequent year in which we make awards from the list of unfunded applications from this competition, this priority is an absolute priority. Under 34 CFR 75.105(c)(3), we consider only applications that meet this priority.
This priority is:
National Technical Assistance Center to Improve State Capacity to Collect, Report, Analyze, and Use Accurate IDEA Part B and Part C Fiscal Data.
The purpose of this priority is to fund a cooperative agreement to establish and operate the National Technical Assistance Center to Improve State Capacity to Collect, Report, Analyze, and Use Accurate IDEA Part B and Part C Fiscal Data (Fiscal Data Center).
The Fiscal Data Center will provide TA to improve the capacity of States to meet the IDEA Parts B and C fiscal data collection requirements under IDEA section 618 and increase States' knowledge of the underlying IDEA fiscal requirements and calculations necessary to submit valid and reliable data for the following collections: (1) MFS in Section V of the IDEA Part B Annual State Application; (2) LEA MOE/CEIS; (3) Description of Use of Federal IDEA Part C Funds for the LA and the ICC in Section III of the IDEA Part C Annual State Application; and (4) Restricted Indirect Cost Rate/Cost Allocation Plan Information in Sections III and IV of the IDEA Part C Annual State Application. States will also receive TA from the Fiscal Data Center on the underlying fiscal requirements of IDEA related to these collections and how they impact the States' ability to meet IDEA fiscal data collection requirements.
Note: The Fiscal Data Center may neither provide TA to States on negotiating indirect cost rate agreements with their cognizant Federal agencies nor act as an agent or representative of States in such negotiations.
The Fiscal Data Center must be designed to achieve, at a minimum, the following outcomes:
(a) Increased capacity of States to collect, report, analyze, and use high-quality IDEA Part B and Part C fiscal data;
(b) Increased State knowledge of underlying statutory and regulatory fiscal requirements and the calculations necessary to submit valid and reliable fiscal data under IDEA Part B and Part C;
(c) Improved fiscal infrastructure (e.g., sample interagency agreements, standard operating procedures and templates) by coordinating and promoting communication and effective fiscal data collection and reporting strategies among relevant State offices, Start Printed Page 36389including SEAs, LAs and other State agencies, LEAs, schools, and EIS programs or providers;
(d) Increased capacity of States to submit accurate and timely fiscal data to enhance current State validation procedures to prevent errors in State-reported IDEA data;
(e) Increased capacity of States to train personnel to meet the IDEA fiscal data collection and reporting requirements under sections 616 and 618 of IDEA through development of effective tools and resources (e.g., templates, tools, calculators, and documentation of State data processes); and providing opportunities for in-person and virtual cross-State collaboration about IDEA fiscal data collection and reporting requirements (required under section 618 of IDEA);
(f) Improved capacity of SEAs, LEAs, LAs, and EIS programs or providers to collect and use IDEA fiscal data to identify issues and address those issues through monitoring, TA, and stakeholder involvement; and
(g) Improved IDEA fiscal data validation using results from data reviews conducted by the Department to work with States and generate tools that can be used by States to accurately communicate fiscal data to local consumers (e.g., parents, LEAs, EIS programs or providers, the general public) and lead to improvements in the validity and reliability of fiscal data required by IDEA.
In addition to these programmatic requirements, to be considered for funding under this priority, applicants must meet the application and administrative requirements in this priority, which are—
(a) Describe, in the narrative section of the application under “Significance,” how the proposed project will—
(1) Use knowledge of how SEAs, LAs, LEAs, and EIS programs and providers are meeting IDEA Part B and Part C fiscal data collection and reporting requirements and the underlying statutory and regulatory fiscal requirements, as well as knowledge of State and local data collection systems, as appropriate;
(2) Examine applicable national, State, and local data to determine the current capacity needs of SEAs, LAs, LEAs, and EIS programs and providers to meet IDEA Part B and Part C fiscal data collection and reporting requirements;
(3) Train SEAs and LAs on how to use IDEA section 618 fiscal data as a means of both improving data quality and identifying programmatic strengths and areas for improvement; and
(4) Disseminate information regarding how SEAs and LAs are currently meeting IDEA fiscal data collection and reporting requirements and are using IDEA section 618 data as a means of both improving data quality and identifying programmatic strengths and areas for improvement.
(b) Demonstrate, in the narrative section of the application under “Quality of project services,” how the proposed project will—
(1) Ensure equal access and treatment for members of groups that have traditionally been underrepresented based on race, color, national origin, gender, age, or disability. To meet this requirement, the applicant must describe how it will—
(i) Identify the needs of the intended recipients for TA and information; and
(ii) Ensure that services and products meet the needs of the intended recipients of the grant;
(2) Achieve its goals, objectives, and intended outcomes. To meet this requirement, the applicant must provide—
(i) Measurable intended project outcomes; and
(ii) In Appendix A, the logic model (as defined in 34 CFR 77.1) by which the proposed project will achieve its intended outcomes that depicts, at a minimum, the goals, activities, outputs, and intended outcomes of the proposed project;
(3) Use a conceptual framework to develop project plans and activities, describing any underlying concepts, assumptions, expectations, beliefs, or theories, as well as the presumed relationships or linkages among these variables, and any empirical support for this framework. Include a copy of the conceptual framework in Appendix A;
Note: The following websites provide more information on logic models and conceptual frameworks: www.osepideasthatwork.org/logicModel and www.osepideasthatwork.org/resources-grantees/program-areas/ta-ta/tad-project-logic-model-and-conceptual-framework.
(4) Be based on current research and make use of evidence-based practices (EBPs).
To meet this requirement, the applicant must describe—
(i) The current research on fiscal data management and data system integration, and related EBPs; and
(ii) How the proposed project will incorporate current research and EBPs in the development and delivery of its products and services;
(5) Develop products and provide services that are of high quality and sufficient intensity and duration to achieve the intended outcomes of the proposed project. To address this requirement, the applicant must describe—
(i) How it proposes to identify or develop the knowledge base on fiscal data management and data system integration and the underlying fiscal requirements of IDEA;
(ii) Its proposed approach to universal, general TA,
which must identify the intended recipients, including the type and number of recipients, that will receive the products and services under this approach;
(iii) Its proposed approach to targeted, specialized TA,
which must identify—
(A) The intended recipients, including the type and number of recipients, that will receive the products and services under this approach;
(B) Its proposed approach to measure the readiness of potential TA recipients to work with the project, assessing, at a minimum, their current infrastructure, available resources, and ability to build capacity at the State and local levels; and
(C) The process by which the proposed project will collaborate with OSEP-funded centers and other federally funded TA centers to develop and implement a coordinated TA plan when such other centers are involved in a State; and
(iv) Its proposed approach to intensive, sustained TA,
which must identify—
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(A) The intended recipients, including the type and number of recipients, that will receive the products and services under this approach;
(B) Its proposed approach to addressing States' challenges reporting high-quality IDEA fiscal data to the Department and the public, which should, at a minimum, include providing on-site consultants to the SEA or LA to—
(1) Assess all 57 IDEA Part C programs to determine LA organizational structure and their capacity to submit valid and reliable IDEA Part C fiscal data;
(2) Assess all 60 entities that receive IDEA Part B grants to determine their capacity to submit valid and reliable IDEA Part B fiscal data;
(3) Identify and document model practices for data management and data system integration policies, procedures, processes, and activities within the State;
(4) Develop and adapt tools and provide technical solutions to meet State-specific data needs; and
(5) Develop a sustainability plan for the State to continue the data management and data system integration work in the future;
(C) Its proposed approach to measure the readiness of SEAs and LAs to work with the project, including their commitment to the initiative, alignment of the initiative to their needs, current infrastructure, available resources, and ability to build capacity at the State and local levels;
(D) Its proposed plan to prioritize States with the greatest need for intensive TA to receive products and services;
(E) Its proposed plan for assisting SEAs and LAs to build or enhance training systems that include professional development based on adult learning principles and coaching;
(F) Its proposed plan for working with appropriate levels of the education system (e.g., SEAs, regional TA providers, districts, local programs, families) to ensure that there is communication between each level and that there are systems in place to support the collection, reporting, analysis, and use of high-quality IDEA fiscal data as well as fiscal data management and data system integration; and
(G) The process by which the proposed project will collaborate with OSEP-funded centers and other federally funded TA centers to develop and implement a coordinated TA plan when they are involved in a State;
(6) Develop products and implement services that maximize efficiency. To address this requirement, the applicant must describe—
(i) How the proposed project will use technology to achieve the intended project outcomes;
(ii) With whom the proposed project will collaborate and the intended outcomes of this collaboration; and
(iii) How the proposed project will use non-project resources to achieve the intended project outcomes.
(c) In the narrative section of the application under “Quality of the project evaluation,” include an evaluation plan for the project developed in consultation with and implemented by a third-party evaluator.
The evaluation plan must—
(1) Articulate formative and summative evaluation questions, including important process and outcome evaluation questions. These questions should be related to the project's proposed logic model required in paragraph (b)(2)(ii) of these requirements;
(2) Describe how progress in and fidelity of implementation, as well as project outcomes, will be measured to answer the evaluation questions. Specify the measures and associated instruments or sources for data appropriate to the evaluation questions. Include information regarding reliability and validity of measures where appropriate;
(3) Describe strategies for analyzing data and how data collected as part of this plan will be used to inform and improve service delivery over the course of the project and to refine the proposed logic model and evaluation plan, including subsequent data collection;
(4) Provide a timeline for conducting the evaluation and include staff assignments for completing the plan. The timeline must indicate that the data will be available annually for the Annual Performance Report (APR); and
(5) Dedicate sufficient funds in each budget year to cover the costs of developing or refining the evaluation plan in consultation with a third-party evaluator, as well as the costs associated with the implementation of the evaluation plan by the third-party evaluator.
(d) Demonstrate, in the narrative section of the application under “Adequacy of resources,” how—
(1) The proposed project will encourage applications for employment from persons who are members of groups that have traditionally been underrepresented based on race, color, national origin, gender, age, or disability, as appropriate;
(2) The proposed key project personnel, consultants, and subcontractors have the qualifications and experience to carry out the proposed activities and achieve the project's intended outcomes;
(3) The applicant and any key partners have adequate resources to carry out the proposed activities;
(4) The proposed costs are reasonable in relation to the anticipated results and benefits, and how funds will be spent in a way that increases their efficiency and cost-effectiveness, including by reducing waste or achieving better outcomes; and
(5) The applicant will ensure that it will recover the lesser of: (i) Its actual indirect costs as determined by the grantee's negotiated indirect cost rate agreement with its cognizant Federal agency; and (ii) 40 percent of its modified total direct cost (MTDC) base as defined in 2 CFR 200.68.
Note: The MTDC is different from the total amount of the grant. Additionally, the MTDC is not the same as calculating a percentage of each or a specific expenditure category. If the grantee is billing based on the MTDC base, the grantee must make its MTDC documentation available to the program office and the Department's Indirect Cost Unit. If a grantee's allocable indirect costs exceed 40 percent of its MTDC as defined in 2 CFR 200.68, the grantee may not recoup the excess by shifting the cost to other grants or contracts with the U.S. Government, unless specifically authorized by legislation. The grantee must use non-Federal revenue sources to pay for such unrecovered costs.
(e) Demonstrate, in the narrative section of the application under “Quality of the management plan,” how—
(1) The proposed management plan will ensure that the project's intended outcomes will be achieved on time and within budget. To address this requirement, the applicant must describe—Start Printed Page 36391
(i) Clearly defined responsibilities for key project personnel, consultants, and subcontractors, as applicable; and
(ii) Timelines and milestones for accomplishing the project tasks;
(2) Key project personnel and any consultants and subcontractors will be allocated and how these allocations are appropriate and adequate to achieve the project's intended outcomes;
(3) The proposed management plan will ensure that the products and services provided are of high quality, relevant, and useful to recipients; and
(4) The proposed project will benefit from a diversity of perspectives, including those of families, educators, TA providers, researchers, and policy makers, among others, in its development and operation.
(f) Address the following application requirements. The applicant must—
(1) Include, in Appendix A, personnel-loading charts and timelines, as applicable, to illustrate the management plan described in the narrative;
(2) Include, in the budget, attendance at the following:
(i) A one and one-half day kick-off meeting in Washington, DC, after receipt of the award, and an annual planning meeting in Washington, DC, with the OSEP project officer and other relevant staff during each subsequent year of the project period.
Note: Within 30 days of receipt of the award, a post-award teleconference must be held between the OSEP project officer and the grantee's project director or other authorized representative;
(ii) A two- and one-half-day project directors' conference in Washington, DC, during each year of the project period; and
(iii) Three annual two-day trips to attend Department briefings, Department-sponsored conferences, and other meetings, as requested by OSEP;
(3) Include, in the budget, a line item for an annual set-aside of 5 percent of the grant amount to support emerging needs that are consistent with the proposed project's intended outcomes, as those needs are identified in consultation with, and approved by, the OSEP project officer. With approval from the OSEP project officer, the project must reallocate any remaining funds from this annual set-aside no later than the end of the third quarter of each budget period;
(4) Maintain a high-quality website, with an easy-to-navigate design, that meets government or industry-recognized standards for accessibility;
(5) Include, in Appendix A, an assurance to assist OSEP with the transfer of pertinent resources and products and to maintain the continuity of services to States during the transition to this new award period and at the end of this award period, as appropriate; and
(6) Budget at least 50 percent of the grant award for providing intensive, sustained TA.
Applicable Regulations: (a) The Education Department General Administrative Regulations in 34 CFR parts 75, 77, 79, 81, 82, 84, 86, 97, 98, and 99. (b) The OMB Guidelines to Agencies on Governmentwide Debarment and Suspension (Nonprocurement) in 2 CFR part 180, as adopted and amended as regulations of the Department in 2 CFR part 3485. (c) The Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards in 2 CFR part 200, as adopted and amended as regulations of the Department in 2 CFR part 3474. (d) The regulations for this program in 34 CFR 300.702. (e) The NFP.
Note: The regulations in 34 CFR part 79 apply to all applicants except federally recognized Indian Tribes.
Note: The regulations in 34 CFR part 86 apply to institutions of higher education (IHEs) only.
II. Award Information
Type of Award: Cooperative agreement.
Estimated Available Funds: $3,975,000 in years 1 and 2, $4,425,000 in years 3 and 4, and $4,200,000 in year 5.
Contingent upon the availability of funds and the quality of applications, we may make additional awards in FY 2021 from the list of unfunded applications from this competition.
Maximum Award: We will not make an award exceeding $3,975,000 in years 1 and 2, $4,425,000 in years 3 and 4, and $4,200,000 in year 5 for a single budget period of 12 months.
Estimated Number of Awards: 1.
Note: The Department is not bound by any estimates in this notice.
Project Period: Up to 60 months.
III. Eligibility Information
1. Eligible Applicants: SEAs; LAs under Part C of the IDEA; LEAs, including public charter schools that are considered LEAs under State law; IHEs; other public agencies; private nonprofit organizations; freely associated States and outlying areas; Indian Tribes or Tribal organizations; and for-profit organizations.
2. Cost Sharing or Matching: This program does not require cost sharing or matching.
3. Subgrantees: A grantee under this competition may not award subgrants to entities to directly carry out project activities described in its application. Under 34 CFR 75.708(e), a grantee may contract for supplies, equipment, and other services in accordance with 2 CFR part 200.
4. Other General Requirements:
(a) Recipients of funding under this competition must make positive efforts to employ and advance in employment qualified individuals with disabilities (see section 606 of IDEA).
(b) Applicants for, and recipients of, funding must, with respect to the aspects of their proposed project relating to the absolute priority, involve individuals with disabilities, or parents of individuals with disabilities ages birth through 26, in planning, implementing, and evaluating the project (see section 682(a)(1)(A) of IDEA).
IV. Application and Submission Information
1. Application Submission Instructions: Applicants are required to follow the Common Instructions for Applicants to Department of Education Discretionary Grant Programs, published in the Federal Register on February 13, 2019 (84 FR 3768), and available at www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2019-02-13/pdf/2019-02206.pdf, which contain requirements and information on how to submit an application. Grants.gov has relaxed the requirement for applicants to have an active registration in the System for Award Management (SAM) in order to apply for funding during the COVID-19 pandemic. An applicant that does not have an active SAM registration can still register with Grants.gov, but must contact the Grants.gov Support Desk, toll-free, at 1-800-518-4726, in order to take advantage of this flexibility.
2. Intergovernmental Review: This competition is subject to Executive Order 12372 and the regulations in 34 CFR part 79. Information about Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs under Executive Order 12372 is in the application package for this competition.
3. Funding Restrictions: We reference regulations outlining funding Start Printed Page 36392restrictions in the Applicable Regulations section of this notice.
4. Recommended 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. We recommend that you (1) limit the application narrative to no more than 70 pages and (2) use 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, including titles, headings, footnotes, quotations, reference citations, and captions, as well as all text in charts, tables, figures, graphs, and screen shots.
- Use a font that is 12 point or larger.
- Use one of the following fonts: Times New Roman, Courier, Courier New, or Arial.
The recommended page limit does not apply to Part I, the cover sheet; Part II, the budget section, including the narrative budget justification; Part IV, the assurances and certifications; or the abstract (follow the guidance provided in the application package for completing the abstract), the table of contents, the list of priority requirements, the resumes, the reference list, the letters of support, or the appendices. However, the recommended page limit does apply to all of the application narrative, including all text in charts, tables, figures, graphs, and screen shots.
V. Application Review Information
1. Selection Criteria: The selection criteria for this competition are from 34 CFR 75.210 and are as follows:
(a) Significance (10 points).
(1) The Secretary considers the significance of the proposed project.
(2) In determining the significance of the proposed project, the Secretary considers the following factors:
(i) The extent to which specific gaps or weaknesses in services, infrastructure, or opportunities have been identified and will be addressed by the proposed project, including the nature and magnitude of those gaps or weaknesses.
(ii) The importance or magnitude of the results or outcomes likely to be attained by the proposed project.
(b) Quality of project services (35 points).
(1) The Secretary considers the quality of the services to be provided by the proposed project.
(2) In determining the quality of the services to be provided by the proposed project, the Secretary considers the quality and sufficiency of strategies for ensuring equal access and treatment for eligible project participants who are members of groups that have traditionally been underrepresented based on race, color, national origin, gender, age, or disability.
(3) In addition, the Secretary considers the following factors:
(i) The extent to which the goals, objectives, and outcomes to be achieved by the proposed project are clearly specified and measurable.
(ii) The extent to which there is a conceptual framework underlying the proposed research or demonstration activities and the quality of that framework.
(iii) The extent to which the services to be provided by the proposed project reflect up-to-date knowledge from research and effective practice.
(iv) The extent to which the training or professional development services to be provided by the proposed project are of sufficient quality, intensity, and duration to lead to improvements in practice among the recipients of those services.
(v) The extent to which the TA services to be provided by the proposed project involve the use of efficient strategies, including the use of technology, as appropriate, and the leveraging of non-project resources.
(vi) The adequacy of mechanisms for ensuring high-quality products and services from the proposed project.
(c) Quality of the project evaluation (15 points).
(1) The Secretary considers the quality of the evaluation to be conducted of the proposed project.
(2) In determining the quality of the evaluation, the Secretary considers the following factors:
(i) The extent to which the methods of evaluation are thorough, feasible, and appropriate to the goals, objectives, and outcomes of the proposed project.
(ii) The extent to which the methods of evaluation provide for examining the effectiveness of project implementation strategies.
(iii) The extent to which the methods of evaluation will provide performance feedback and permit periodic assessment of progress toward achieving intended outcomes.
(iv) The extent to which the methods of evaluation include the use of objective performance measures that are clearly related to the intended outcomes of the project and will produce quantitative and qualitative data to the extent possible.
(d) Adequacy of resources and quality of project personnel (15 points).
(1) The Secretary considers the adequacy of resources for the proposed project and the quality of the personnel who will carry out the proposed project.
(2) In determining the quality of project personnel, the Secretary considers the extent to which the applicant encourages applications for employment from persons who are members of groups that have traditionally been underrepresented based on race, color, national origin, gender, age, or disability.
(3) In addition, the Secretary considers the following factors:
(i) The qualifications, including relevant training and experience, of the project director or principal investigator.
(ii) The qualifications, including relevant training and experience, of key project personnel.
(iii) The qualifications, including relevant training and experience, of project consultants or subcontractors.
(iv) The qualifications, including relevant training, experience, and independence, of the evaluator.
(v) The adequacy of support, including facilities, equipment, supplies, and other resources, from the applicant organization or the lead applicant organization.
(vi) The relevance and demonstrated commitment of each partner in the proposed project to the implementation and success of the project.
(vii) The extent to which the budget is adequate to support the proposed project.
(viii) The extent to which the costs are reasonable in relation to the objectives, design, and potential significance of the proposed project.
(e) Quality of the management plan (25 points).
(1) The Secretary considers the quality of the management plan for the proposed project.
(2) In determining the quality of the management plan for the proposed project, the Secretary considers the following factors:
(i) The adequacy of the management plan to achieve the objectives of the proposed project on time and within budget, including clearly defined responsibilities, timelines, and milestones for accomplishing project tasks.
(ii) The extent to which the time commitments of the project director and principal investigator and other key project personnel are appropriate and adequate to meet the objectives of the proposed project.
(iii) The adequacy of mechanisms for ensuring high-quality products and services from the proposed project.Start Printed Page 36393
(iv) How the applicant will ensure that a diversity of perspectives is brought to bear in the operation of the proposed project, including those of parents, teachers, the business community, a variety of disciplinary and professional fields, recipients or beneficiaries of services, or others, as appropriate.
2. Review and Selection Process: We remind potential applicants that in reviewing applications in any discretionary grant competition, the Secretary may consider, under 34 CFR 75.217(d)(3), the past performance of the applicant in carrying out a previous award, such as the applicant's use of funds, achievement of project objectives, and compliance with grant conditions. The Secretary may also consider whether the applicant failed to submit a timely performance report or submitted a report of unacceptable quality.
In addition, in making a competitive grant award, the Secretary requires various assurances, including those applicable to Federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in programs or activities receiving Federal financial assistance from the Department (34 CFR 100.4, 104.5, 106.4, 108.8, and 110.23).
3. Additional Review and Selection Process Factors: In the past, the Department has had difficulty finding peer reviewers for certain competitions because so many individuals who are eligible to serve as peer reviewers have conflicts of interest. The standing panel requirements under section 682(b) of IDEA also have placed additional constraints on the availability of reviewers. Therefore, the Department has determined that for some discretionary grant competitions, applications may be separated into two or more groups and ranked and selected for funding within specific groups. This procedure will make it easier for the Department to find peer reviewers by ensuring that greater numbers of individuals who are eligible to serve as reviewers for any particular group of applicants will not have conflicts of interest. It also will increase the quality, independence, and fairness of the review process, while permitting panel members to review applications under discretionary grant competitions for which they also have submitted applications.
4. Risk Assessment and Specific Conditions: Consistent with 2 CFR 200.205, before awarding grants under this competition the Department conducts a review of the risks posed by applicants. Under 2 CFR 3474.10, the Secretary may impose specific conditions and, in appropriate circumstances, high-risk conditions on a grant if the applicant or grantee is not financially stable; has a history of unsatisfactory performance; has a financial or other management system that does not meet the standards in 2 CFR part 200, subpart D; has not fulfilled the conditions of a prior grant; or is otherwise not responsible.
5. Integrity and Performance System: If you are selected under this competition to receive an award that over the course of the project period may exceed the simplified acquisition threshold (currently $250,000), under 2 CFR 200.205(a)(2) we must make a judgment about your integrity, business ethics, and record of performance under Federal awards—that is, the risk posed by you as an applicant—before we make an award. In doing so, we must consider any information about you that is in the integrity and performance system (currently referred to as the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS)), accessible through SAM. You may review and comment on any information about yourself that a Federal agency previously entered and that is currently in FAPIIS.
Please note that, if the total value of your currently active grants, cooperative agreements, and procurement contracts from the Federal Government exceeds $10,000,000, the reporting requirements in 2 CFR part 200, Appendix XII, require you to report certain integrity information to FAPIIS semiannually. Please review the requirements in 2 CFR part 200, Appendix XII, if this grant plus all the other Federal funds you receive exceed $10,000,000.
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); or we may send you an email containing a link to access an electronic version of your 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. Open Licensing Requirements: Unless an exception applies, if you are awarded a grant under this competition, you will be required to openly license to the public grant deliverables created in whole, or in part, with Department grant funds. When the deliverable consists of modifications to pre-existing works, the license extends only to those modifications that can be separately identified and only to the extent that open licensing is permitted under the terms of any licenses or other legal restrictions on the use of pre-existing works. Additionally, a grantee that is awarded competitive grant funds must have a plan to disseminate these public grant deliverables. This dissemination plan can be developed and submitted after your application has been reviewed and selected for funding. For additional information on the open licensing requirements please refer to 2 CFR 3474.20.
4. Reporting: (a) If you apply for a grant under this competition, you must ensure that you have in place the necessary processes and systems to comply with the reporting requirements in 2 CFR part 170 should you receive funding under the competition. This does not apply if you have an exception under 2 CFR 170.110(b).
(b) 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 multiyear award, you must submit an annual performance report that provides the most current performance and financial expenditure information as directed by the Secretary under 34 CFR 75.118. 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.
5. Performance Measures: Under the Government Performance Results Modernization Act of 2010, the Department has established a set of performance measures that are designed to yield information on various aspects of the effectiveness and quality of the Technical Assistance on State Data Collection program. These measures are:
- Program Performance Measure 1: The percentage of TA and dissemination products and services deemed to be of high quality by an independent review panel of experts qualified to review the substantive content of the products and services.
- Program Performance Measure 2: The percentage of TA and dissemination Start Printed Page 36394products and services deemed by an independent review panel of qualified experts or members of the target audiences to be of high relevance to educational and early intervention policy or practice.
- Program Performance Measure 3: The percentage of all TA and dissemination products and services deemed by an independent review panel of qualified experts or members of target audiences to be useful in improving educational or early intervention policy or practice.
- Program Performance Measure 4: The cost efficiency of the Technical Assistance on State Data Collection Program includes the percentage of milestones achieved in the current annual performance report period and the percentage of funds spent during the current fiscal year.
The measures apply to projects funded under this competition, and grantees are required to submit data on these measures as directed by OSEP.
Grantees will be required to report information on their project's performance in annual and final performance reports to the Department (34 CFR 75.590).
The Department will also closely monitor the extent to which the products and services provided by the Center meet needs identified by stakeholders and may require the Center to report on such alignment in their annual and final performance reports.
6. Continuation Awards: In making a continuation award under 34 CFR 75.253, the Secretary considers, among other things: Whether a grantee has made substantial progress in achieving the goals and objectives of the project; whether the grantee has expended funds in a manner that is consistent with its approved application and budget; and, if the Secretary has established performance measurement requirements, the performance targets in the grantee's approved application.
In making a continuation award, the Secretary also considers whether the grantee is operating in compliance with the assurances in its approved application, including those applicable to Federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in programs or activities receiving Federal financial assistance from the Department (34 CFR 100.4, 104.5, 106.4, 108.8, and 110.23).
VII. 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 compact disc) on request to the program contact person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.
Electronic Access to This Document: The official version of this document is the document published in the Federal Register
. You may access the official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations at www.govinfo.gov. At this site you can view this document, as well as all other documents of this Department published in the Federal Register
, in text or Portable Document Format (PDF). To use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free at the site.
You may also access documents of the Department published in the Federal Register by using the article search feature at www.federalregister.gov. Specifically, through the advanced search feature at this site, you can limit your search to documents published by the Department.
End Supplemental Information
Commissioner, Rehabilitation Services Administration, Delegated the authority to perform the functions and duties of the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.
[FR Doc. 2020-11504 Filed 6-15-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4000-01-P