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Frequently Asked /Anticipated Questions - 2012 NSDI CAP

Updated September 9, 2011

Some useful links

NSDI CAP Web site - http://www.fgdc.gov/grants 

Where to find 2012 CAP announcement - http://www.fgdc.gov/grants/2012CAP/2012CAPDescriptions

Grants.gov - http://www.grants.gov/

Apply for grants - http://www.grants.gov/applicants/apply_for_grants.jsp

Tutorials and documents to help with Grants.gov - http://www.grants.gov/applicants/app_help_reso.jsp

A narrated tutorial on how to complete a grant application package - http://www.grants.gov/assets/CompletingaGrants.govApplication.html

USGS Help for Grants.gov - http://www.usgs.gov/contracts/grants/grantsgov.html

Where to request a DUNS Number - http://www.dnb.com/ 

Federal Central Contract Registry (CCR) - http://www.ccr.gov 

Register Organizations on Grants.gov - http://www07.grants.gov/applicants/organization_registration.jsp 

App to test your version of Abobe Reader - http://www.grants.gov/applicants/AdobeVersioningTestOnly.jsp

The status of a proposal in Grants.gov - https://apply07.grants.gov/apply/checkApplStatus.faces

What to Expect After Submission - http://www.grants.gov/assets/TrackingYourApplicationPackage.pdf

USGS State Geospatial Liaisons  - http://liaisons.usgs.gov/geospatial

Questions and Answers

Q.  I am having trouble sending my application to Grants.gov.  What can I do?
You should contact the Grants.gov Contact Center.   Problems can be reported to the USGS Grants.gov contact (lmahoney@usgs.gov) and/or the NSDI CAP Coordinator (burbanma@fgdc.gov).

Apple Mac based computer systems may have signification trouble submitting applications to Grants.gov.

Q. If I have trouble sending my application via Grants.gov may I submit it via email or send a hardcopy?
No, all proposals must be submitted via Grants.gov . Also, no applications (proposals) will be accepted after the closing date.

Q. How long does it take to get set up in Grants.gov?
Please allow at least two weeks to set up your agency to login and submit applications via the Grants.gov system.  The step by step information see How to Submit NSDI CAP Proposal.

Q. Is it acceptable to send in letters of support and memorandum of understanding after the submission deadline?
Yes.  Letters can be faxed, emailed, and sent via the postal service. Fax number: 703-648-5755; email address: burbanma@fgdc.gov; postal service: NSDI CAP Coordinator, MS 590 National Center, Reston, VA 20192.

Q. Can the USGS Geospatial Liaisons provide letters of support or commitment?
No.  Federal employees, which includes the liaisons, are not permitted to provide letters aof support or commitment.  However, the FGDC can request assessment of technical merit, past performance, alignment with the state's GIS objectives or other issues during the review of submitted proposals. In such cases, FGDC will contact, as appropriate, the USGS Liaison, the standards maintenance authority, and/or other Federal employees for their assessment of the proposals.

Q. What level of technical detail should be included in the proposals?
Look at the scoring criteria and the suggestions for length of proposals in the announcment - it's a balance. Proposals are ranked based on likelihood of success as revealed in responses to the scoring criteria elements. In general, significant technical details indicates greater understanding of the category and would underscore competence in the technical approach.

Q. We are preparing the budget for the CAP application and have a question on the instructions for SF-424A (page 3, Section A – Budget Summary Lines…). Does the program we are applying to not require functional or activity breakdown or does it?
The SF-424A is only a summary form. As a separate attachement, you must provide a detailed budget breakdown as follows (this is from page 9 in the announcement):

D.  Budget Breakdown Attachment
As an attachment to the project narrative, please provide more budget details than are required under the SF 424A form.  The budget format guide included in Attachment C can be used to include the following information, separating the CAP funds and the in-kind match.

Salaries and Wages.  List names, positions, and rate of compensation. This should only include personnel actively involved in the project.  If contract employees are to be hired, include their total time, rate of compensation, job titles, and roles.

Fringe Benefits.  Propose your rates/amounts.  If rates are audit approved, include copy of the audit agreement and/or the name of the audit agency.

Field Expenses.  Briefly itemize the estimated travel costs (i.e., destination, number of people, number of travel days, transportation costs, and other travel costs such as mileage rate and per diem).

Other Direct Cost Line Items.  Categories may include training, labor costs, software licenses, supplies, equipment, required travel, project logistics, and fees for consultants, publications, and project presentations. This is not an inclusive list; add other categories as appropriate and see the category description for additional details.  Please itemize the costs to the greatest extent possible.  If including contractual services, identify proposed contractors (individual or corporate) and provide the criteria by which contractors will be, or have been selected. If purchasing equipment or supplies these need to be dedicated to the project.

Total Direct Charges.  Totals for items 1, 2, 3, and 4. The proposal must show the in kind match.

Indirect Charges (Overhead).  Show proposed rate and amount.  Proposals from States or universities must include a copy of the negotiated indirect cost rate agreement.  Be sure that indirect charges apply only to those direct cost items allowable under the negotiated cost rate agreement.  Usually, sub-contract direct costs are either excluded from indirect charges, or there is a cap on the amount of subcontract costs eligible for indirect charges.

It is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that the budget sheet described above be used so that delays in processing an awarded proposal can be avoided. An award will not be issued until all required information and details have been provided.

Completeness of this information will be considered in review, but it is understood that this information is best guess estimation; therefore, prior approval of the Contracting Officer is not required for transfer of funds between direct cost categories when the cumulative amount of the transfers during the performance period does not exceed ten percent (10%) of the total award amount. Prior written approval is required from the Contracting Officer for transfers of funds in excess of the ten percent limitation.

Q. Can Federal funds from another project be used as in-kind matching?

No, direct funding from other Federal contacts, grants, and cooperative agreements cannot be used as in-kind match funding.

Q. Would funding already spent this year towards a solution count towards a match? If we've done work for
a Federal client which fits in the category of interest, can the funds contributed towards this be applied to a new CAP grant?
No. The agreement is for a new work period and in-kind and effort should take place during the same time frame.

Q. What are allowable expenses that can be used as in-kind match?
Examples of in-kind resource match are: cash, salaries, contract support, student assistance fees, travel expenses, venue costs, software purchase, equipment dedicated to the project, computer servers hosting data, production of outreach materials, third party in-kind, and indirect costs or overhead charges. All contributions need to meet the following criteria:

a.    Verifiable from the applicants’ records
b.     Not included as contributions for any other federally-assisted project or program
c.     Necessary and reasonable for proper and efficient accomplishment of project or program objectives (A good test for this is to ask: "Would it be necessary to buy the service or property in order to accomplish the project objectives, and is the cost (value) reasonable for this purpose?")
d.     Allowable under the applicable cost principles:

•    OMB Circular A-21: Cost Principles for Educational Institutions
•    OMB Circular A-87: Cost Principles for State, Local, and Indian Tribal Governments, Attachment B (this contains information that is useful to applicant when determining allowable in-kind matches)
•    OMB Circular A-122: Cost Principles for Non-Profit Organizations

e.     Not paid by the Federal Government under another award, except where authorized by Federal statute to be used for cost matching

Q.  What is the start date for 2012 NSDI CAP projects?
The start date of a project is up to the discretion of the applicant but it must be no later than September 30, 2012, the end of the Federal fiscal year. 

Q.  What is the length of a CAP project?
One year.  All projects end one year after the start date.  Depending on circumstances it may be possible to obtain a no-cost extension for up to 6 months.  USGS does not allow that cooperative agreements program projects to run longer than a year.

Q. What geographical area is covered by the 2012 NSDI CAP?
All 2012 projects must occur and cover areas in the United States and/or its territories and outlying areas .  The GSDI Small Grant Program may provide a funding opportunity for areas outside the United States.

Q. Who may apply for an NSDI CAP award?
Any entity, except Federal agencies and non-US entities, may submit an application for a CAP award.  This includes state government, local governments, tribal governments, academic institutions, commercial companies, and non-profit organizations.

Q. What types of groups have been awarded CAP projects in the past? For example, has any state or local government won a CAP?
All types of groups/entities have been awarded.  The selection is based on the scoring criteria listed for each of the categories in the announcement.

Q. Can a Federal agency be a partner on the CAP project?
Yes.  Federal agencies can be a partner to the applicant but not provide any direct in-kind funding.  The partnership needs to be demonstrated by a formal, signed agreement like a Memoranda of Understanding.  Federal employees cannot submit letters of support or commitment.

Q. Which 2012 CAP categories have the 3 year restriction on eligibility?
The 2012 categories 1, 5, and 6 have a 3 year restriction on eligibility but the restriction is only for similar type of award.  This means that if your organization received an award in 2009, 2010, or 2011 in the FGDC-endorsed Standards Implementation Training and Outreach category you may not recieve an award in this category but you are eligible for an award in any of the other 2012 categories. 

Q. What constitutes an "FGDC-endorsed" standard?
The endorsed standards can be found via this link.

Q. What is a cooperative agreement?  Is it a grant?
A cooperative agreement (CA) is not a grant but it is very similiar.  In a CA there is substantial involvement by Federal goverment in the project.  In the grant the grantee runs the project without Federal government involvement.  The involvement can include regular teleconferences, technical support, and administrative assistance in resolving issues.

Q. Who else has expressed interest in the CAP opportunities?
We cannot disclose applicant parties. In addition, the review team does not see the proposals until after the CAP closes.

Q. Can we issue an RFP after we submit the proposal or do we have to have a vendor already selected?
No, the vendor does not need to be selected when the proposal is submitted.

Q. Can the award cover any type of field data collection or data creation?
The program does not fund data collection projects rather we are looking for organizations that already have data that needs to be added the National Spatial Data Infrastructure.

Q. Are there any tips available for those interested in applying for 50 States Initiative Category?
Yes, please see the Powerpoint presentation from the November 19, 2010 50 States Initiative presentation (Webex) available on the 50 States Initiative Web page.

Q. Are there any sample proposals available to get an idea of what a typical proposal looks like?
No, there are no samples.  We can share a submitted proposal but first need to request permission from the applicant to do so. It is suggested that applicants read in the announcement the category narrative closely and when writing the proposal to use section L. Project Narrative as the guide. It lists the scoring criteria and emphasizes the areas of particular interest. When the reviewers are reading the proposals if the materials follow the guidance it will greatly easy their work and help with the scoring.

Three questions related to Category 1 Metadata Trainer and Outreach Assistance 

1. If we are focusing on metadata training delivery is there a particular training program, provided, or supported by FGDC we could employ for this effort?
The metadata curriculum (located at http://www.fgdc.gov/training/metadata-curriculum) gives you the content requires for each duration of training. The curriculum topics titles are linked to lessons or other resources for training. Other resources are located at http://www.fgdc.gov/metadata/online-metadata-resources . All these resources should give you a leg-up on developing your own training materials. We suggest you perform a "gap analysis" of the materials and suggest development of the "gap" materials in your proposal. You may include in your proposal the development of materials.

2. If we are to take the initiative and use trainers, already employed with our organization is there a requirement for them to be certified as Metadata Trainers?
If you have in-house trainers use the materials they use but assure that you are meeting the requirements of the FGDC metadata curriculum and state as such in your proposal.  The trainers do not need to be certified trainers but do include a resume of the metadata workshops they have conducted and their role(s) in the training.  The FGDC doesn't plan to offer a Train the Trainer workshop in the near future.  

3. Are the training materials expected to be part of the grant application  (erg. developed in advance) or we should include the material preparation as part of our proposal?
The training materials are not to be a part of the proposal but should be listed in the proposal. 

Q. Is there any helpful information for those applying for Category 4 Fifty States Initiative: Business Plan Development and Implementation?
Yes, see the slides from the December 8, 2010 webinar hosted by the National Association of Regional Councils.  The are posted at http://narc.org/uploads/presentations/FY2010CAPGrantOpportunitiesWebinar120809.pdf.

Q:  Is an organization that provides a "letter of support" a collaborating organization?
Not necessarily--for example the governors office might provide a letter of support. A collaborator like another State agency is expected to do something to support a the project like provide 100 hours of an employees time and this could be stated in a letter of support.  In general, active support--doing something to aid the project --by other organizations is encouraged.

Q: As metropolitan planning organization, we are a regional agency that is 100% federally funded. Are we still eligible?
Yes - if you are legally a nonprofit organization then you are eligible.  However, you just will not be able to use any staff or other items paid for with Federal funds as match/cost-share.  This is prohibited by 2 CFR 215.23 (OMB Circular A-110).

Q: In the Commitment to Effort section what description for “Role” and “Level of Support” is expected.  For example role could be technical or advisory as could level of support. 
Describe what they are doing to support your project  i.e. giving $10,000 cash to buy a widget, spending 100 hours of a GIS expert's time,  serve on project advisory team, etc.

Q: On the “Other Key Contact Personnel” list is there any reason not to list a non-governmental employee, i.e. would there be a negative connotation.  For example the lead of our Geospatial Working Group is from the private sector, a group that has been and will be critical to development of the database and application.  Is there any reason not to list him providing his firm does not benefit financially from the grant?
Private sector participation is encouraged. So please include all key project personnel.

Q: May my organization submit more than one proposal?
Yes - Organizations may submit proposals for more than one category if the you meets eligibility requirements. You will need to complete a separate application package for each category submission. If you receive awards in more than one category the projects will be combined into a single assistance award and the funding will be a combined total of all the awards. 

Q: Can Tribes apply to category 4: Fifty States Initiative: Business Plan Development and Implementation?
Yes, the eligibility information is on page 40 for of the announcement.

Q: In  category 4 will applications for themes other than cadastral, orthoimagery, or elevation be eligible for consideration?
Yes.

Q: I am a state employee, but the program I work for is largely federally funded - can my salary be used for match?
The portion of your salary that is not Federally funded can be used.

Q: Category 7: Geospatial Platform Cloud Service Testbed requires documentation of an agreement with a federal organization. What would this include?
Having a data exchange agreement for geospatial data with a federal agency could take the form of a letter of agreement, an Inter Agency Agreement (IIA) or MOU. If you do not see such a document in-place by March 2012, then you would be rated less favorably in review. It is an assumption of the grant, so an agreement letter at a minimum would need to be secured before funds could be disbursed, should you be selected for award.

Q: Category 7: Geospatial Platform Cloud Service Testbed -  What "documentation of a formal data exchange agreement" would be needed as proof, and if all we have are project-based partnership agreements, would we be disqualified based on the above requirement, or would our proposal receive serious consideration?
Development of data themes of national interest (alignment with Framework data) would allow your proposal to be qualified. You can reference the collaboration on NHD or other data exchange efforts as background. The main objective is to enable the data stewards to test
Cloud services for their data in an operational setting.

Q: Category 6 states that “Partnership with the project leader for the FGDC standard in development is required for this category.” The project leader for the standard is a Federal employee. Additionally, under Commitment of Effort, it states that the “applicant should include copies of formal agreements with the standard’s project lead that provide evidence of existing partnerships with the applicant.” How do I address this requirement if there is no formal agreement in place?
Provide the information that you can. Indicate your partnerships with Federal entities and your involvement and knowledge of the standard that is the focus of your project. During the review period the review panel will contact the appropriate Federal contacts and establish their level of support for a proposed standards project. Each proposal is reviewed on a case by case basis.

Q: In Category 5, under Commitment of Effort, it states that “the applicant is required to provide copies of the MOU or other formal agreements from the maintenance authority for an FGDC-endorsed standard.” To my knowledge, there are no formal agreements in place. Can you provide further guidance on this?
Provide the information that you can. Indicate your partnerships with Federal entities and your involvement and knowledge of the standard that is the focus of your project. During the review period the review panel will contact the appropriate Federal contacts and establish their level of support for a proposed standards project. Each proposal is reviewed on a case by case basis.

Q: I am interested on applying for Category 2 how can I get a copy of ISO 19115 standards?
There is a fee charged for the standards but most of the information is available in NOAA ISO 19115 Workbook at http://www.ncddc.noaa.gov/metadata-standards/. If your proposal is awarded the award funds can be used to purchase the ISO standard.

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If there are additional questions please send an email Gita Urban-Mathieux  (burbanma@fgdc.gov) and/or one of the categories leads.

Last Updated: Jan 13, 2012 01:03 PM
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