Compliance Review. After the closing date, RITA staff will conduct an initial review of applications to identify any that are incomplete, nonresponsive to this solicitation, or are ineligible to apply for or receive a UTC grant. Any such applications will be rejected.
Merit Review. RITA will utilize knowledgeable and experienced reviewers drawn from the transportation-research community and the US DOT to evaluate all complete and responsive applications. Reviewers will base their evaluations on the criteria listed below. Section B in Part III (Application Instructions) of this solicitation provides more specific information on these criteria.
You must be located within federal Region 3 or Region 10 in order to be eligible to apply for a UTC grant under this solicitation.
Eligibility to apply under this solicitation is limited only to a university or group of universities located in one or more of the states within one of the following regions:
In addition, you must demonstrate that, as the sole or lead institution in a consortium, you have a well-established, nationally recognized program in transportation research and education, as evidenced by:
You must also demonstrate your commitment and ability to provide leadership within your respective region, to collaborate with other UTCs in the region, and to coordinate UTC transportation research, education, and technology transfer programs with regional needs and initiatives.
Research Capability: A demonstrated ability to conduct research activities that are multimodal and multidisciplinary in scope and have as their primary focus one of the Secretary of Transportation’s Strategic Goals:
State of Good Repair
Leadership: Demonstrated ability to make significant contributions to the solution of immediate and long-range transportation problems.
Education and Workforce Development: Demonstrated commitment to carry out transportation education and workforce development programs through degree-granting programs and outreach activities to attract new entrants into the transportation field.
Technology Transfer: The ability to disseminate research results, spur implementation, and conduct continuing education programs.
Collaboration: A commitment to forming collaborative relationships among different types and/or sizes of institutions.
Program Efficacy: The demonstrated research, technology transfer, and education resources available to produce results and the ability to implement planned activities in an effective and cost efficient manner.
Diversity: Applications that demonstrate a Center’s commitment to broadening participation and enhancing diversity will be given additional consideration. This applies to National and Regional Centers as well as to Tier 1 Centers.
RITA reserves the right to request from any or all applicants such additional information as it may deem necessary to complete its review of applications.
Submitted proposals will be evaluated by one or more review panels consisting of subject matter experts. The review panel(s) will rate each proposal as “highly recommended,” “recommended,” or “not recommended” for funding. These recommendations will be forwarded to a committee made up of the Administrators of the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Transit Administration, and RITA. The final decisions as to grant recipients will be made by the Secretary.
In conformance with the transparency requirements of MAP-21, upon request applicants may receive copies of any materials used in the evaluation of their proposals.
The Secretary will select two applicants to receive Regional UTC grants, one within Region 3 and one within Region 10. The selections made by the Secretary are final.
US DOT seeks to select a balanced portfolio across all selected Centers, including those selected in the FY 2013 solicitation (http://www.rita.dot.gov/utc/about/grant_recipients/html/2013_grant_recipients.html), which supports the US DOT’s Strategic Goals, includes different types and/or sizes of universities, provides geographic diversity, and is multimodal in focus.
If no meritorious applications are received for one or more regions, then a new competition will be held for those regions in order to ensure the selection of a qualified Center.
The funding and authorization available to RITA for this solicitation at this time are solely from federal FY 2013 and FY 2014 MAP-21 authorized funds. RITA will allow funds awarded to be spent over an approximately four-year period, from the award date up until September 30, 2017.
Total funding for a Center’s operation will include the US DOT funding plus non-federal matching funds. Regional UTCs must obtain matching funds in an amount at least equal to the US DOT grant amount. In-kind matching funds are acceptable as long as the funds comply with the criteria for such matches, as stated in federal grant regulations (OMB Circular A-110).
The non-federal funds may include funds provided to a recipient under sections 504(b), or 505 of Title 23, United States Code (local technical assistance and state planning and research programs managed by the Federal Highway Administration). The non-federal funds may be cash or in-kind, must be used to accomplish program objectives and the purpose of the grant, and must be fully documented in the Center’s records. Grantees will have the length of the grant period to provide the full amount of required matching funds.