79 FR 75982, Dec. 19, 2014, unless otherwise noted.
(a) Standards for competition. Except as provided in paragraph (d) of this section, awarding agencies shall enter into discretionary grants and cooperative agreements only after competition. An awarding agency's competitive award process shall adhere to the following standards:
(1) Potential applicants must be invited to submit proposals through publications such as the Federal Register, OMB-designated governmentwide website as described in 2 CFR 200.204, professional trade journals, agency or program handbooks, the Assistance Listings, or any other appropriate means of solicitation. In so doing, awarding agencies should consider the broadest dissemination of project solicitations in order to reach the highest number of potential applicants.
(2) Proposals are to be evaluated objectively by independent reviewers in accordance with written criteria set forth by the awarding agency. Reviewers should make written comments, as appropriate, on each application. Independent reviewers may be from the private sector, another agency, or within the awarding agency, as long as they do not include anyone who has approval authority for the applications being reviewed or anyone who might appear to have a conflict of interest in the role of reviewer of applications. A conflict of interest might arise when the reviewer or the reviewer's immediate family members have been associated with the applicant or applicant organization within the past two years as an owner, partner, officer, director, employee, or consultant; has any financial interest in the applicant or applicant organization; or is negotiating for, or has any arrangement, concerning prospective employment.
(3) An unsolicited application, which is not unique and innovative, shall be competed under the project solicitation it comes closest to fitting. Awarding agency officials will determine the solicitation under which the application is to be evaluated. When the awarding agency official decides that the unsolicited application does not fall under a recent, current, or planned solicitation, a noncompetitive award may be made, if appropriate to do so under the criteria of this section. Otherwise, the application should be returned to the applicant.
(b) Project solicitations. A project solicitation by the awarding agency shall include or reference the following, as appropriate:
(1) A description of the eligible activities which the awarding agency proposes to support and the program priorities;
(2) Eligible applicants;
(3) The dates and amounts of funds expected to be available for awards;
(4) Evaluation criteria and weights, if appropriate, assigned to each;
(5) Methods for evaluating and ranking applications;
(6) Name and address where proposals should be mailed or emailed and submission deadline(s);
(7) Any required forms and how to obtain them;
(8) Applicable cost principles and administrative requirements;
(9) Type of funding instrument intended to be used (grant or cooperative agreement); and
(10) The Assistance Listings number and title.
(c) Approval of applications. The final decision to award is at the discretion of the awarding/approving official in each agency. The awarding/approving official shall consider the ranking, comments, and recommendations from the independent review group, and any other pertinent information before deciding which applications to approve and their order of approval. Any appeals by applicants regarding the award decision shall be handled by the awarding agency using existing agency appeal procedures or good administrative practice and sound business judgment.
(d) Exceptions. The awarding/approving official may make a determination in writing that competition is not deemed appropriate for a particular transaction. Such determination shall be limited to transactions where it can be adequately justified that a noncompetitive award is in the best interest of the Government and necessary to the accomplishment of the goals of the program. Reasons for considering noncompetitive awards may include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following:
(1) Nonmonetary awards of property or services;
(2) Awards of less than $75,000;
(3) Awards to fund continuing work already started under a previous award;
(4) Awards which cannot be delayed due to an emergency or a substantial danger to health or safety;
(5) Awards when it is impracticable to secure competition; or
(6) Awards to fund unique and innovative unsolicited applications.
(1) “Audiovisual” means a product containing visual imagery or sound or both. Examples of audiovisuals are motion pictures, live or prerecorded radio or television programs, slide shows, filmstrips, audio recordings, and multimedia presentations.
(2) “Production of an audiovisual” means any of the steps that lead to a finished audiovisual, including design, layout, script-writing, filming, editing, fabrication, sound recording or taping. The term does not include the placing of captions for the hearing impaired on films or videotapes not originally produced for use with the hearing impaired.
(3) “Publication” means a published book, periodical, pamphlet, brochure, flier, or similar item. It does not include any audiovisuals.
(b) Publications. Recipients shall have an acknowledgement of USDA awarding agency support placed on any publications written or published with grant support and, if feasible, on any publication reporting the results of, or describing, a grant-supported activity.
(c) Audiovisuals. Recipients shall have an acknowledgement of USDA awarding agency support placed on any audiovisual which is produced with grant support and which has a direct production cost to the recipient of over $5,000. Unless the other provisions of the grant award make it apply, this requirement does not apply to:
(1) Audiovisuals produced as research instruments or for documenting experimentation or findings and not intended for presentation or distribution to the general public.
(d) Waivers. USDA awarding agencies may waive any requirement of this section.
(a) The regulations in this part implement Executive Order 12372, “Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs”, issued July 14, 1982, and amended on April 8, 1983. These regulations also implement applicable provisions of section 401 of the Intergovernmental Cooperation Act of 1968 and section 204 of the Demonstration Cities and Metropolitan Development Act of 1966.
(b) These regulations are intended to foster an intergovernmental partnership and a strengthened Federalism by relying on State processes and on State, areawide, regional and local coordination for review of proposed Federal financial assistance and direct Federal development.
(c) The regulations are intended to aid the internal management of the Department, and are not intended to create any right or benefit enforceable at law by a party against the Department or its officers.
As used in this part, the following definitions apply:
Department means the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Order means Executive Order 12372, issued July 14, 1982, and amended April 8, 1983, and titled Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs.
Secretary means the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or an official or employee of the Department acting for the Secretary under a delegation of authority.
State means any of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The Secretary publishes in the Federal Register a list of the Department's programs and activities that are subject to these regulations and identifies which of these are subject to the requirements of section 204 of the Demonstration Cities and Metropolitan Development Act.
(a) The Secretary provides opportunities for consultation by elected officials of those State and local governments that would provide the non-Federal funds for, or that would be directly affected by, proposed Federal financial assistance from, or direct Federal development by, the Department.
(b) If a State adopts a process under the Order to review and coordinate proposed Federal financial assistance and direct Federal development, the Secretary, to the extent permitted by law:
(1) Uses the State process to determine official views of State and local elected officials;
(2) Communicates with State and local elected officials as early in a program planning cycle as is reasonably feasible to explain specific plans and actions;
(3) Makes efforts to accommodate State and local elected officials' concerns with proposed Federal financial assistance and direct Federal development that are communicated through the State process;
(4) Allows the States to simplify and consolidate existing Federally required State plan submissions;
(5) Where State planning and budgeting systems are sufficient and where permitted by law, encourages the substitution of State plans for Federally required State plans;
(6) Seeks the coordination of views of affected State and local elected officials in one State with those of another State when proposed Federal financial assistance or direct Federal development has an impact on interstate metropolitan urban centers or other interstate areas; and
(7) Supports State and local governments by discouraging the reauthorization or creation of any planning organization which is Federally-funded, which has a limited purpose, and which is not adequately representative of, or accountable to, State or local elected officials.
The Secretary, to the extent practicable, consults with and seeks advice from all other substantially affected Federal departments and agencies in an effort to assure full coordination between such agencies and the Department regarding programs and activities covered under these regulations.
(a) A State may select any program or activity published in the Federal Register in accordance with § 415.5 for intergovernmental review under these regulations. Each State, before selecting programs and activities, shall consult with local elected officials.
(b) Each State that adopts a process shall notify the secretary of the Department's programs and activities selected for that process.
(c) A State may notify the Secretary of changes in its selections at any time. For each change, the State shall submit to the Secretary an assurance that the State has consulted with elected local officials regarding the change. The Department may establish deadlines by which States are required to inform the Secretary of changes in their program selections.
(d) The Secretary uses a State's process as soon as feasible, depending on individual programs and activities, after the Secretary is notified of its selections.
(a) The Secretary provides notice to directly affected State, areawide, regional, and local entities in a State of proposed Federal financial assistance or direct Federal development if:
(1) The State has not adopted a process under the Order; or
(2) The assistance or development involves a program or an activity that is not covered under the State process.
(b) This notice may be made by publication in the Federal Register or other appropriate means, which the Department in its discretion deems appropriate.
(c) In order to facilitate communication with State and local officials the Secretary has established an office within the Department to receive all communications pertinent to this Order. All communications should be sent to the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, Room 143-W, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20250, Attention: E.O. 12372.
(a) Except in unusual circumstances, the Secretary gives State processes or directly affected State, areawide, regional, and local officials and entities:
(1) At least 30 days from the date established by the Secretary to comment on proposed Federal financial assistance in the form of noncompeting continuation awards; and
(2) At least 60 days from the date established by the Secretary to comment on proposed direct Federal development or Federal financial assistance other than noncompeting continuation awards.
(b) This section also applies to comments in cases in which the review, coordination and communication with the Department have been delegated.
(c) Applicants for programs and activities subject to section 204 of the Demonstration Cities and Metropolitan Development Act shall allow areawide agencies a 60-day opportunity for review and comment.
(a) The Secretary follows the procedures in § 415.12 if:
(1) A State office or official is designated to act as a single point of contact between a State process and all Federal agencies; and
(2) That office or official transmits a State process recommendation for a program selected under § 415.8.
(1) The single point of contact is not obligated to transmit comments from State, areawide, regional or local officials and entities where there is no State process recommendation.
(2) If a State process recommendation is transmitted by a single point of contact, all comments from State, areawide, regional and local officials and entities that differ from it must also be transmitted.
(c) If a State has not established a process, or is unable to submit a State process recommendation, State, areawide, regional and local officials and entities may submit comments either to the applicant or to the Department.
(d) If a program or activity is not selected by a State process, State, areawide, regional and local officials and entities may submit comments either to the applicant or to the Department. In addition, if a State process recommendation for a non-selected program or activity is transmitted to the Department by the single point of contact, the Secretary follows the procedures of § 415.12.
(e) The Secretary considers comments which do not constitute a State process recommendation submitted under these regulations and for which the Secretary is not required to apply the procedures of § 415.12, when such comments are provided by a single point of contact by the applicant, or directly to the Department by a commenting party.
(a) If a State process provides a State process recommendation to the Department through its single point of contact, the Secretary either -
(1) Accepts the recommendations;
(2) Reaches a mutually agreeable solution with the State process; or
(3) Provides the single point of contact with a written explanation of the decision, as the Secretary in his or her discretion deems appropriate. The Secretary may also supplement the written explanation by also providing the explanation to the single point of contact by telephone, other telecommunication, or other means.
(b) In any explanation under paragraph (a)(3) of this section, the Secretary informs the single point of contact that:
(1) The Department will not implement its decision for at least ten days after the single point of contact receives the explanation; or
(2) The Secretary has reviewed the decision and determined that, because of unusual circumstances, the waiting period of at least ten days is not feasible.
(c) For purposes of computing the waiting period under paragraph (b)(1) of this section, a single point of contact is presumed to have received written notification five days after the date of mailing of such notification.
(a) The Secretary is responsible for:
(1) Identifying proposed Federal financial assistance and direct Federal development that have an impact on interstate areas;
(2) Notifying appropriate officials in States which have adopted a process and which selected the Department's program or activity;
(3) Making efforts to identify and notify the affected State, areawide, regional and local officials and entities in those States that have not adopted a process under the Order or do not select the Department's program or activity; and
(4) Responding, pursuant to § 415.12, if the Secretary receives a recommendation from a designated areawide agency transmitted by a single point of contact, in cases in which the review, coordination, and communication with the Department have been delegated.
(b) The Secretary uses the procedures in § 415.12 if a State process provides a State process recommendation to the Department through a single point of contact.
(a) As used in this section:
(1) Simplify means that a State may develop its own format, choose its own submission date, and select the planning period for a State plan.
(2) Consolidate means that a State may meet statutory and regulatory requirements by combining two or more plans into one document and that the State can select the format, submission date, and the planning period for the consolidated plan.
(3) Substitute means that a State may use a plan or other document that it has developed for its own purposes to meet Federal requirements.
(b) If not inconsistent with law, a State may decide to try to simplify, consolidate, or substitute Federally required State plans without prior approval by the Secretary.
(c) The Secretary reviews each State plan a State has simplified, consolidated or substituted and accepts the plan only if its contents meet Federal requirements.
In an emergency, the Secretary may waive any provision in Subpart C - Intergovernmental Review of Department of Agriculture Programs and Activities, 2 CFR 415.3 to 415.14.