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Part III. Application Instructions (Steps A-D)

The applicant (in the case of a consortium, the lead institution) will submit an application consisting of the following:

  1. Standard Forms SF-424 “Application for Federal Assistance” and SF-424B “Assurances – Non-Construction Programs;”
  2. A written prospectus no more than 35 pages long;
  3. Appendices containing supporting documentation and budget; and
  4. A copy of your institution’s most recently negotiated overhead and fringe benefit rates.

A. Standard Forms SF-424, and SF-424B

Prepare and submit Standard Forms SF-424 and SF-424B.  For hard copy submissions of Standard Forms SF424 and SF424B, original signatures are not required.

B. Cover Sheet and Prospectus

Page Limit: Your prospectus must not exceed a total length of thirty-five (35) 8.5x11 standard-size pages, single-spaced, Arial 12 font*, with one-inch margins.  A table of contents is not required, and if you choose to include one, it counts toward the 35 page limit.**  The cover sheet and Appendices do not count toward the 35 page limit.  However, there are specific page limits for the Appendices, which are stated in Part III-C below.

NOTE:  Any hyperlinks to external websites that provide supplemental content to the information contained in the prospectus will not be viewed by the review panels.

*Arial Narrow may not be used, but Arial Bold and Arial Black are acceptable.  Text and numbers within tables and figures, caption text, and text within headers and footers may go down to Arial size 9 font.  Title boxes and headings must remain in Arial 12 font.
**A hard copy submission of an application must contain information that is identical to that found in the application submitted through Grants.gov.  If a table of contents is included in a hard copy submission of an application, the same table of contents would need to be included in the electronic copy submitted to Grants.gov.

Prepare and submit a cover sheet and prospectus that includes the following:

  1. A cover sheet.  Please indicate (in bold letters) on the cover page of the prospectus:

    1. The federal Region in which you are located:  (Region 3 or 10).

    2. The US DOT Strategic Goal which is your primary focus:  Safety, State of Good Repair, Economic Competitiveness, Livable Communities, or Environmental Sustainability. While your planned activities may span more than one Strategic Goal, you must select one goal as your key focus.

    3. If a consortium, the names and addresses (city, state, and zip code) of all members of the consortium.

  2. A narrative statement that addresses the following sections:

    1. Applicant Information

    2. Response to Evaluation Criteria

    3. Center Director and Key Staff

  1. Applicant Information

    In this section, identify by name and city/state, the grantee university, and in the case of a consortium the other universities that will participate in your Center.  In order for RITA to comply with federal agency reporting requirements, state whether any of the participating universities is a Minority Serving Institution (see Section (g) Diversity, page 22).

  2. Response to Evaluation Criteria

    The proposal submitted in response to this solicitation will serve as the Strategic Plan for any Center that is selected to receive funding.  All the items listed below should be addressed clearly and completely.

    As an applicant for Regional Center funding, you should discuss throughout your proposal how your Center will address regional issues.  The discussion should include the following:

    • How your Regional Center will serve as a focal point within your region to help coordinate UTC transportation research, education, workforce development, and technology transfer programs with regional needs and initiatives.
    • How your Regional Center will work with the other UTCs in the region to maximize the effectiveness of their collective services and programs.
    • Your institution’s relevant experience, if any, in leading regional efforts.
    • Ideas for how your Center can use regional efforts to further UTC program objectives.

    You must respond to the following evaluation criteria, in the exact order specified below.

    1. Research Activities and Capability
      You must, first, describe the key research activities that you will undertake and, second, demonstrate your capability and experience to carry out these activities and achieve the objectives of the UTC Program.  You must provide sufficient detail in this prospectus to enable the reviewers to understand what you intend to accomplish with your Center, to see how you plan to carry out the projects financed with your grant, and to evaluate the feasibility of your proposed approach as well as your capability to achieve the proposed outcomes within the designated grant time frame.

      1. Proposed Research Activities

        • Describe your Center’s proposed research activities (including projects) and their relationship to the US DOT’s Strategic Goal (Safety, State of Good Repair, Economic Competitiveness, Livable Communities, or Environmental Sustainability) that you previously identified as your primary focus area.  It is recognized that some of a Center’s activities may go beyond a Center’s primary focus area and that is acceptable.

          MAP-21 identifies a number of research priorities.  In describing your ideas for research activities, you should discuss how your proposed research activities relate to the research priorities identified in Section 503(b)(2), (3), (4), (5) of Title 23 USC, as amended by MAP-21 (Pub. L. 112-141 Sec. 52003 (effective Oct. 1, 2012)).  US DOT welcomes a focused Center that will make dramatic impacts on one or a few closely related topics and is not necessarily looking for Centers trying to demonstrate the ability to connect to a large number of research topics.

        • Discuss the degree to which your proposed research activities are multimodal (either across modes or involving modes other than highway) and multidisciplinary in scope, and how such an emphasis impacts the quality of the research.  Although the US DOT seeks to fund an array of UTCs that together cut across disciplines and span all modes of surface transportation, one or more individual Centers with an especially strong single-mode focus may be included in that group. 

        • Describe your commitment to, and implementation of, peer review principles and other research “best practices” in the selection and management of your research projects.

        • State the performance metrics you will use to assess your performance in meeting your research goals.

          • In addition, state how you will obtain and maintain the information included in those metrics.

      2. Capability and Experience

        • Describe the research resources already available with which you may conduct research, including those at any consortium universities.  Among others, these resources may include the following, if relevant to the transportation research to be conducted:

          • Dedicated laboratory space;

          • Specialized computer or other technical equipment; and

          • University support personnel with particular knowledge of transportation-research needs such as a librarian or equipment fabricator.

        • Describe any research resources you anticipate obtaining in order to perform your proposed research activities.

        • Provide details on whether your proposed research activities are a continuation of existing research projects and programs within your university (or any members of the consortium), or are intended to provide opportunities to create and establish new research projects and programs.

        • Describe your ability to address the specific topic areas you described above as proposed research activities.  Please include:

          • Examples of significant impacts of past research on the transportation enterprise, including:

            • products;

            • patents;

            • change in practice; and

            • informing policy decisions.

          • Examples of research included in peer-reviewed journals, publications, and conferences.

          • Qualifications of faculty expected to be involved in your proposed research activities.

    2. Leadership
      In this section, you must describe your plans for providing and creating leadership to solve immediate and long range national and/or regional transportation problems and advancing transportation expertise and technology.  You should provide examples of:

      • Your high standing within the national and international arenas of transportation research as evidenced by activities such as publications, committee work, participation in professional transportation organizations and conferences (e.g., presentations, steering committees, session chairs, etc.), awards, and other indicators of leadership excellence.

      • Your experience in contributing to the solution of regional and/or national transportation problems.

      • Your plans for the development of future leaders (young faculty and graduate students).

      • Demonstrated leadership in the development and delivery of programs.  This includes innovative transportation education, workforce development, technology transfer, and research activities.

      • The performance metrics that you will use to measure your Center’s leadership and how you will obtain the information to track these outcomes.

    3. Education and Workforce Development
      Education and workforce development efforts should result in the development of a transportation workforce that is prepared to design, deploy, operate, and maintain the complex transportation systems of the future. In describing your Center’s planned education and workforce development activities, you must provide the following information:

      • Describe any accredited degree-granting programs with transportation components and/or specializations that will be part of this grant, and provide the number of degrees conferred annually during the past five years (undergraduate, masters, and Ph.D.) as well as the number of full-time faculty in each program.  Describe how the grant will be used to support, increase and improve these academic programs.  Discuss what you propose to do to facilitate the connections between your students and transportation industry employers.

      • Describe any transportation non-degree programs that will be supported by the grant.  Include in your description a narrative on how the grant will support, increase or improve non-degree transportation education programs.

      • Describe the number and types of seminars, workshops and/or training courses you will offer with support from the grant and the target audience(s) for those seminars, workshops and/or training courses.  Include in your description a narrative on how the grant will support, increase or improve these offerings.

      • Describe the outreach and educational activities you propose to undertake with support from the grant to attract new entrants into the transportation field.  Discuss any specific plans to reach out to primary and secondary school students and connect your activities with the career technical education system in your state or geographic proximity.  Discuss any activities to foster and sustain the interest of primary and/or secondary students in transportation careers beyond the initial exposure.  Include in your narrative the target groups by age, grade, ethnic/race, and/or gender characteristics.  Provide details on the annual numbers of students to be involved in the proposed programs, what will be done to promote outreach and educational efforts, and how successes will be documented and shared.

      • Describe additional education and workforce development programs and activities that are not listed above.  Be sure to include a description of program purpose, target audience(s), and numbers of events and participants in the narrative.

      • Include the performance metrics that you will use to measure the effectiveness of degree granting programs, other educational efforts, outreach, workforce development, and other educational and workforce activities and how you will obtain the information to populate these metrics.

    4. Technology Transfer
      UTC programs must include an ongoing program of technology transfer to make research results available to potential users in a form that can be implemented, utilized, or otherwise applied. In this section, you must describe the technology transfer activities you will undertake to ensure the handoff of information and technology to those who can use it, especially current transportation practitioners. You should also provide examples of your prior experience in outreach, dissemination, and technology transfer related to transportation research and education.

      • Describe your planned activities and prior experience in technology transfer activities, such as:

        • Partnerships across sectors, with private enterprise or state and local government, to move research into practice;

        • Technical assistance to others who might take leadership in applying research results;

        • Use of technology transfer mechanisms, such as licensing, patents, commercialization, cooperative research and/or user agreements, or the creation of new business entities;

        • Use of peer reviewed journals or academic publications to showcase research results;

        • Information exchanges, including new or social media campaigns and activities;

        • Academic and continuing education programs targeted towards transportation professionals, such as statewide or region-wide continuing education courses and/or distance learning, seminars, symposia, and workshops related to transportation; and

        • Placement of research outcomes in the US DOT Research Hub through research.hub@dot.gov.

      • State the performance metrics that you will use to measure the effectiveness of outreach efforts as well as the progress in implementing research results, including how you will obtain the information to track these outcomes for reporting purposes to RITA.

    5. Collaboration
      Centers are encouraged to form consortia and other collaborative relationships with other academic and/or research institutions in order to achieve their objectives.  Centers must also demonstrate a commitment and capability to form substantial and effective partnerships with public and private entities, in order to advance transportation expertise and technology and address critical workforce needs.

      In this section, you should describe:

      • Your plans for:

        • Collaborating with other universities or research institutions.  If you are proposing a consortium, describe how the participating universities will draw upon diverse types and/or sizes of institutions, including Minority Serving Institutions, how the members will work together within the proposed consortium, including roles and responsibilities of lead and other organizations, what each university brings to the proposed consortium, and how the presence of multiple parties will enhance your ability to reach your goals.

        • Establishing collaborative relationships and linking your research, education, workforce development, and technology transfer activities among collaborative partners.

        • Developing collaborations with other entities, including private sector concerns, Minority Serving Institutions, state DOTs, Metropolitan Planning Organizations, other public sector organizations at all levels of government, and non-profit institutions such as the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Transportation Research Board (TRB), and the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).

      • The composition of any existing or planned advisory committees.

      • Your prior experience forming collaborative relationships, including the outcomes of these relationships.

      • The performance metrics that you will use to measure the effectiveness of collaborative efforts and how you will obtain the information to track these outcomes.

    6. Program Efficacy
      In this section, you should describe your management approach and procedures, and how you will implement planned activities and produce results in an effective and cost efficient manner.  This should include the following:

      • A description of the availability of institutional resources to carry out planned activities.  If your Center includes more than one institution, describe the institutional resources available from all.

        Institutional resources encompass such things as research and training facilities, human resources, physical facilities, and institutional support capabilities.  If you are proposing a multiparty arrangement, such as a consortium or partnership with another university, discuss the collective resources that will be available to your Center.  NOTE:  If there is any pre-existing center of transportation studies or research at the institution[s] comprising your Center, describe how the UTC’s activities and accomplishments will relate to, and be distinguishable from, those of the other center[s].

      • Plans for overall management and oversight of fiscal and technical activities, including methods for ensuring cost efficiency, including the ability to implement the program in a cost efficient manner.

      • Procedures for tracking and coordinating research efforts.

    7. Diversity
      Applications should demonstrate a Center’s commitment to broadening participation and attracting new entrants to the transportation field in order to enhance diversity. Diversity is the inclusion of people of different genders, races, and cultures.  Applications should describe planned outreach or workforce development activities designed to increase interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) disciplines and/or raise awareness of transportation careers among underrepresented groups including women and minorities.

      Minority institutions are encouraged to apply as a lead institution for a Center or to be part of consortia or other collaborative relationships with other institutions of higher education.  Section 365 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1067k) defines a minority institution as an institution of higher education whose enrollment of a single minority or a combination of minorities exceeds 50 percent of the total enrollment.  The following link provides a complete listing of all colleges and universities that fall within a particular category of institution:
      http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/edlite-minorityinst.html

      Minority institutions that apply as lead institutions or consortia members must have demonstrated abilities in transportation-related research and education. 

  3. Center Director and Key Staff

    The Center Director is the person responsible for ensuring compliance with all UTC Program requirements.  This role is particularly important in multiparty consortia involving distant partners.  The Center Director is expected to represent the Center and/or the UTC Program at external meetings, and is required to participate in up to two annual meetings convened by US DOT with the directors of all UTCs.

    In this section, name the individual who will lead the Center and the key staff who will support the Center Director in accomplishing the goals of the grant.  For purposes of management and oversight, RITA requires that a single Center Director be identified and
    affiliated with the grantee institution, not any of the sub-grant consortium-member institutions.

    • Describe how your Center Director plans to effectively direct and oversee the Center’s funds, personnel, and programs.

    • State the titles and describe the duties and responsibilities of any other key Center staff that will spend 50 percent or more of their time on Center activities.

    • Briefly discuss the qualifications of the Center Director and key staff. (NOTE: The curriculum vitae for the Center Director and key staff are a required attachment, as described in Section C below.)

C. Appendices

Prepare and submit the following in appendices attached to your prospectus.  You must arrange them in the exact order specified below.

Please note:
(a) RITA will accept CVs in any readable format;
(b) The budget may be in any format you choose, so you may choose any readable font for that appendix, and
(c) Submissions should be modeled closely after the format of Exhibit A including font and type size.

  1. Curriculum Vitae for Center Director and Key Staff.
    Key staff includes any individual that anticipates spending 50 percent or more of his/her time on UTC activities.

    You must limit curriculum vitae to two pages per individual, and you should include only those individuals noted previously in section 3 of your prospectus.  Do not include personal information such as home address, etc.

  2. Center Budget Plan.
    Provide a completed Center Budget Plan, including match, (see Exhibit B to this solicitation) for your UTC.  Your budget should reflect the $2,592,500 amount for which you are applying and should cover a period of performance under the grant of 4/1/2014 to 9/30/2017).

    If your proposed UTC is a consortium of two or more universities, in addition to the Center Budget Plan, provide individual budget plans for each consortium member and the lead.  For a consortium, the Center Budget Plan should be a roll-up, by category, that totals the amounts shown on all of the individual budgets plans for each category.

    You may provide the budget plan in any format you choose, but it must use only the budget categories specified in Exhibit A.

    UTCs selected to receive grants under this solicitation may, subject to availability of funds, receive a second increment of funding toward the grant in 2014.  UTC grantees will have through 9/30/2017 to expend all funds.  Prior to awarding such additional funds, RITA will ask grantees to submit a revised budget reflecting the two increments of funding.

D. Confirmation of Negotiated Overhead and Fringe Benefit Rates.

  • As a separate document from the Prospectus, provide a legible copy of your institution’s most recent negotiated overhead rates and fringe benefits rates, including the name and telephone number of the federal audit agency representative.
  • If your UTC is a consortium of two or more universities, obtain the same evidence from each of the consortium institutions and provide that as well.