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Competitive Research Funding Opportunity: Redesign of Transit Bus Operator Compartment To Improve Safety, Operational Efficiency, and Passenger Accessibility.

American Government Buses

Competitive Research Funding Opportunity: Redesign of Transit Bus Operator Compartment To Improve Safety, Operational Efficiency, and Passenger Accessibility.

K. Jane Williams
Federal Transit Administration
11 February 2020

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 28 (Tuesday, February 11, 2020)]
[Pages 7820-7825]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-02624]



Federal Transit Administration

Competitive Research Funding Opportunity: Redesign of Transit Bus 
Operator Compartment To Improve Safety, Operational Efficiency, and 
Passenger Accessibility.

AGENCY: Federal Transit Administration (FTA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) and Solicitation of 
Project Proposals.


SUMMARY: The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announces the 
availability of $2,000,000 in Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Public 
Transportation Innovation Program (49 U.S.C. 5312) funds for the 
redesign of the transit bus operator compartment to improve operator 
and public safety. Bus operator assaults have been increasing. On July 
6, 2015, the Transit Advisory Committee for Safety (TRACS) published 
report 14-01, ``Reinventing and Mitigating Transit Worker Assaults in 
the Bus and Rail Transit Industry,'' (14-01 Report) highlighting news 
articles documenting bus operator assaults. The report recommended 
incorporating measures such as installing protective barriers and 
educating the workforce in conflict resolution tactics. This NOFO 
provides an opportunity to reevaluate the bus operator compartment and 
develop innovative solutions to the space around the bus operator with 
the purpose to not just increase safety, but also to improve bus 
operator efficiency and passenger accessibility. FTA is seeking to fund 
cooperative agreements to engage in the research and development of new 
transit bus operator compartment designs in partnership with bus 
manufacturers, technology vendors, vehicle engineering and design 
firms, and transit agencies. The major goals of this program are to 
support a redesign of the bus operator compartment that improves bus 
operator and public safety, and to improve bus operator access to key 
vehicle instruments and controls without hindering the accessibility of 
the bus. Transit agency partners would have an important role to test a 
promising compartment redesign. This research will apply only to 
transit buses that are 40 ft. or longer, and almost exclusively used 
for local, fixed-route public transportation revenue service.
    An eligible lead applicant and eligible project partners and 
subrecipients under this program may include, but are not limited to, 
providers of public transportation; State and local governmental 
entities; departments, agencies, and instrumentalities of the 
Government, including Federal laboratories; private or non-profit 
organizations; institutions of higher education; and technical and 
community colleges. This notice solicits competitive proposals to 
address the objectives described under the Program Description of this 
notice, provides instructions for submitting proposals, describes 
criteria FTA will use to identify meritorious proposals for funding, 
and the process to apply for funding.
    This announcement is also available at: https://www.transit.dot.gov/grants.
    A synopsis of this funding opportunity will be posted in the FIND 
module of the government-wide electronic grants at http://www.grants.gov. The funding Opportunity ID is FTA-2020-003-TRI-BCP and 
the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) number for FTA's 
Public Transportation Innovation Program (49 U.S.C. 5312) is 20.530.

DATES: Complete proposals are due by 11:59 p.m. EST on Tuesday, March 
24, 2020.

ADDRESSES: All proposals must be submitted electronically through the 
Grants.gov ``APPLY'' function. Prospective applicants should initiate 
the process by registering on the Grants.gov website promptly to ensure 
completion of the application process before the submission deadline. 
Instructions for applying can be found on FTA's website at https://www.transit.dot.gov/grants and in the ``FIND'' module of Grants.gov. 
Mail and fax submissions will not be accepted.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Please send any questions related to 
this notice to Jamel El-Hamri, Office of Research, Demonstration, and 
Innovation (TRI), by email at Jamel.El-Hamri@dot.gov, or by telephone 
at (202) 366-8985. A TDD is available for individuals who are deaf or 
hard of hearing at 1-800-877-8339.



A. Program Description
B. Federal Award Information
C. Eligibility Information
    1. Eligible Applicants
    2. Eligible Projects
    3. Cost Sharing or Matching
    4. Other Requirements
    a. Evaluation and Data Requirements
D. Application and Submission Information
    1. Address and Form of Application Submission
    2. Proposal Content
    3. Unique Entity Identifier and System for Award Management 
(SAM) Registration in Brief
    4. Submission Dates and Times
    5. Funding Restrictions
E. Application Review
    1. Evaluation Criteria
    a. Project Innovation and Impact
    b. Project Approach
    c. National Applicability
    d. Team Capacity and Commitment
    e. Commercialization or Dissemination Plan
    2. Review and Selection Process
    3. SAM Review
F. Federal Award Administration
    1. Federal Award Notices
    2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements
    a. Pre-Award Authority
    b. Grant Requirements
    c. Planning
    d. Standard Assurances Reporting
    3. Reporting
G. Federal Awarding Agency Contacts

[[Page 7821]]

A. Program Description

    FTA's Public Transportation Innovation Program (49 U.S.C. 5312) 
authorizes FTA to fund research, development, demonstration, and 
deployment projects to improve public transportation. The ``Redesign of 
Transit Bus Operator Compartment to Improve Safety, Operational 
Efficiency, and Passenger Accessibility Program'' is a competitive 
research and development opportunity under FTA's research emphasis 
areas of innovation, infrastructure and safety. This program supports 
the U.S. Department of Transportation's Safety and Infrastructure goals 
to provide technical and financial support to design, build, and deploy 
innovative solutions and advanced-technology systems to make crucial 
improvements in public transit infrastructure that reduce injuries and 
    Over the past decade, the level and intensity of assaults on 
transit bus operators has increased. Bus operators are being physically 
assaulted and do not have enough protection in their bus compartment. 
Bus operators need a compartment that is safe and secure, and one where 
they can safely steer transit buses through congested traffic, 
protecting the lives of passengers, pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers 
of other vehicles. The physical and emotional impact of these assaults 
on transit bus operators and their travelers is significant. While many 
bus operators recover from their physical wounds, the mental and 
debilitating emotional damage may linger indefinitely.
    Transit agencies are not immune to the effects of these assaults. 
Lost work hours due to related injuries and illness have impacted 
service. As an indirect consequence ridership decreases due to declines 
in service reliability and loss of public confidence in buses being 
secure and safe.
    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National 
Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, there is an increased 
risk of workplace violence for workers who have direct contact with the 
public, have mobile workplaces or deliver services, work in community 
settings, deliver passengers, handle money, and work in small numbers. 
Transit bus operators fall into this larger group. Therefore, a safe 
working environment coupled with access to key instruments and controls 
is critical for transit bus operators.
    The Transit Advisory Committee for Safety (TRACS) states in its 14-
01 Report, ``protective infrastructure can hinder assault through 
design and technology, thereby playing a key role in assault mitigation 
and prevention systems.'' Additionally, TRACS recommended FTA conduct 
further research on protective infrastructure for situations in which 
transit workers must leave the bus or rail transit vehicle unattended.
    For these reasons, FTA is issuing this NOFO to fund innovative 
proposals that will increase workplace safety for bus operators, reduce 
the opportunity for assaults, and increase security and safety for 
travelers. Modifying the bus operator compartment, however, cannot be 
at the expense of operator visibility of other roadway users or 
passenger accessibility. Because of this, FTA also seeks to address 
recommendations put forth by the public transit industry to improve 
operator visibility of other roadway users and passenger accessibility 
as equal evaluation criteria for this project.
    The primary objectives of this project are as follows:
     Increase bus operator safety from assaults.
     Increase operator visibility to improve safety of 
pedestrians and other roadway users (e.g. minimizing bus operator 
blind-spots around A-pillars and mirrors of the bus).
     Increase passenger accessibility for positive interactions 
between operators and passengers, including assisting passengers in 
need of special assistance.
     Improve ergonomics to reduce bus operator work-related 
health issues and injuries, as well as locate key instrument and 
control interfaces to improve operational efficiency and convenience.
     Reduce operator distractions.
     Accommodate Americans with Disabilities Act compliance for 
passenger boarding, alighting and securement.
    The Redesign of Transit Bus Operator Compartment to Improve Safety, 
Operational Efficiency and Passenger Accessibility Program will be 
carried out in two phases, based on the availability of Federal 
    Phase I: Bus operator compartment re-design competition;
    Phase II: Procure, manufacture, and test the redesign through one 
or more partner transit agencies and vehicle manufacturers.
    This notice will provide funding for Phase I; thus, applicants 
should submit proposals to address Phase I. The post award evaluation 
process will be managed and conducted by FTA personnel along with FTA 
hired independent evaluators. Recipients of Phase I awards with the 
most promising redesigns--as determined by FTA in accordance with the 
evaluation criteria--will be eligible for Phase II, subject to the 
availability of funding.

B. Federal Award Information

    A total of $2,000,000 in FY 2018 funds is available for award under 
this announcement. FTA intends to fund as many meritorious projects as 
possible under this announcement, and FTA recognizes that the available 
funding may be insufficient to fund all meritorious projects. FTA may, 
at its discretion, select an application for award of less than the 
originally-proposed amount if doing so is expected to result in a more 
advantageous portfolio of projects. Consequently, proposals should 
provide a detailed budget proposal for the fully-realized project as 
well as a reduced scope and budget if the project can be scaled down 
and still achieve useful results. Applicants should specify and justify 
the minimum award amount needed to achieve effective project results.
    FTA anticipates a minimum grant award of $250,000 to maximum amount 
of $1,000,000. Only proposals from eligible recipients (see section 
C.1, below) for eligible activities will be considered for funding. 
Funds made available under this program may be used to fund operating 
expenses and preventive maintenance directly associated with the 
demonstration of the proposed prototype transit bus, but may not be 
used to fund such expenses for equipment not essential to the project.
    FTA may, at its discretion, provide additional funds for selections 
made under this announcement or for additional meritorious proposals, 
if additional funding is made available for Section 5312 of title 49, 
United States Code. FTA will announce final selections on its website 
(www.transit.dot.gov) and may also announce selections in the Federal 
Register. FTA seeks projects that can be implemented/started within six 
months of project award. The maximum period of performance allowed for 
the work covered by the award should not exceed thirty-six (36) months 
from the date of award.

C. Eligibility Information

1. Eligible Applicants

    To be eligible for funding under this notice, applicants must 
demonstrate that the proposed project is supported by a lead applicant 
in partnership with one or more strategic partner(s) with a substantial 
interest and involvement in the project. An application must clearly 
identify the eligible lead applicant and all project partners on the 

[[Page 7822]]

    Eligible lead applicants must be one of the listed entities 
prescribed below. Additionally, project partners and subrecipients 
under this program may include, but are not limited to:
    (a) Public Transportation Systems;
    (b) Private for profit and not-for-profit organizations, including 
technology system suppliers and bus manufacturers;
    (c) Operators of transportation, such as employee shuttle services 
or airport connector services or university transportation systems;
    (d) State or local government entities; and
    (e) Other organizations that may contribute to the success of the 
project team including consultants, research consortia or not-for-
profit industry organizations, and institutions of higher education.
    The lead applicant must have the ability to carry out the proposed 
agreement and procurements with strategic partners in compliance with 
its respective State and local laws. FTA may determine that any named 
strategic partner in the proposal is a key party and make any award 
conditional upon the participation of that key party. A key party, as 
approved by FTA, is essential to the project and is, therefore, 
eligible for a noncompetitive award to the lead applicant to provide 
the goods or services described in the application. A key party on a 
selected project may not later be substituted without FTA's approval. 
For-profit companies may participate as a strategic partner; however, 
entities receiving funding under this program may not charge a fee or 
profit from the FTA research program funding.
    In instances where a provider(s) of public transportation is a 
partner and not the lead applicant, a detailed statement regarding the 
role of the provider(s) in the conduct of the project is required. Also 
required is a signed letter from the public transportation service 
provider's General Manager, or equivalent, of their commitment to the 
project and the understanding of the agency's roles/responsibilities in 
the project.

2. Eligible Projects

    Applicants may submit one proposal for each project but not one 
proposal containing multiple projects. Applicants can submit multiple 
proposals, but each eligible project proposal must demonstrate the 
redesign proposal meets the three main objectives: Operator safety, 
operational efficiency, and passenger accessibility.
    The goal of this program is to ultimately manufacture the selected 
redesign proposals from Phase I in Phase II. For this reason, lead 
applicants must partner with at least one transit agency and at least 
one transit vehicle manufacturer in Phase I to ensure the redesigns are 
feasible and can be manufactured into a prototype. Proposals should 
include a cost-benefit analysis of the redesign.
    Proposals should also show how bus operators and their unions will 
be consulted and involved in the process. FTA will assess the strength 
of these partnerships and inclusion activities in the evaluation of 
    At the conclusion of Phase I, feasible redesign project(s) will be 
selected and move forward to Phase II where applicants will then need 
to develop and test a prototype bus(es). Proposals in Phase I should 
include how they intend to test their future prototype, including, but 
not limited to, a test procedure that validates the redesign's 
operability, and identification of the test laboratory that will be 
running the test.
    Phase I proposals should be separated into a research phase and 
design phase. The research phase should document the process to partner 
with a vehicle transit manufacturer and transit agency. It should also 
demonstrate how the prototype will meet the objectives described in the 
Program Description section of this notice, above. The design phase 
should include engineering drawings and computer renderings that are 
ready for prototype manufacturing. The design phase should demonstrate 
that the redesign complies with Federal requirements applicable to 

3. Cost Sharing or Matching

    The Federal share of project costs under this program is limited to 
eighty percent (80 percent). Applicants may seek a lower Federal 
contribution. The applicant must provide the local share of the net 
project cost in cash or in-kind, and must document in its application 
the source of the local match. Regardless of minimum share 
requirements, cost sharing is an evaluation criterion and proposals 
with higher local cost share than the minimum twenty percent (20 
percent) share requirement will be considered more favorably. Cash and 
other high-quality match will be considered more favorably than in-kind 
cost matching, though all are acceptable. Eligible sources of local 
match are detailed in FTA Research Circular 6100.1E. (available at 

4. Other Requirements

a. Evaluation and Data Requirements
    Upon completion of Phase I, projects funded under this announcement 
will be required to gather and share all relevant and required data 
with FTA or its designated independent evaluator within appropriate and 
agreed-upon timelines, to support project evaluation. The Department 
may make available a secure data system to store data for evaluation 
(more information available at https://its.dot.gov/data/secure/), or 
recipients may suggest an appropriate third-party system where 
Departmental analysts can conduct their work, with FTA approval. 
Applicants should budget for the costs of data storage and sharing as 
    In response to the White House Office of Science and Technology 
Policy memorandum dated February 22, 2013, entitled ``Increasing Access 
to the Results of Federally Funded Scientific Research,'' U.S. DOT is 
incorporating public access requirements into all funding awards 
(grants and cooperative agreements) for scientific research. All work 
conducted under the Redesign of Transit Bus Operator Compartment to 
Improve Safety, Operational Efficiency, and Passenger Accessibility 
Program must follow the Department data policies outlined in the DOT 
Public Access Plan at: https://ntl.bts.gov/public-access/how-comply. 
Recipients are required to include these obligations in any sub-awards 
or other related funding agreements.
    FTA expects recipients to remove confidential business information 
(CBI) and Personally Identifiable Information (PII) before providing 
public access to project data. Recipients must ensure the appropriate 
data are accessible to FTA and/or the public for a minimum of five 
years after the award period of performance expires.
    Additionally, information submitted as part of or in support of 
this demonstration program-funded project shall make every attempt to 
use publicly-available data or data that can be made public and 
methodologies that are accepted by industry practice and standards, to 
the extent possible. FTA recognizes that certain partnerships may pose 
a challenge to data sharing and will work with each recipient to 
develop an appropriate data management plan (DMP). Recipients must make 
available to FTA copies of all work developed in performance of a 
project funded under this announcement, including but not limited to 
software and data. Data rights shall be in accordance with 2 CFR 
200.315, Intangible property.

[[Page 7823]]

    If the submission includes information the applicant considers to 
be trade secret or confidential commercial or financial information, 
the applicant should do the following: (1) Note on the front cover that 
the submission ``Contains Confidential Business Information (CBI)''; 
(2) mark each affected page ``CBI''; and (3) highlight or otherwise 
denote the CBI portions. FTA protects such information from disclosure 
to the extent allowed under applicable law. If FTA receives a Freedom 
of Information Act (FOIA) request for the information, FTA will follow 
the procedures described in the U.S. DOT FOIA regulations (49 CFR part 
7). Only information that is ultimately determined to be confidential 
under that procedure will be exempt from disclosure under FOIA. Should 
FTA receive an order from a court of competent jurisdiction ordering 
the release of the information, FTA will provide the recipient timely 
notice of such order to allow the recipient the opportunity to 
challenge such an order. FTA will not challenge a court order on behalf 
of a recipient.
    Project teams may be asked to participate in information exchange 
meetings, webinars, or outreach events to support FTA's goal of 
advancing the state of the practice. Project teams will be required to 
work with FTA to support knowledge transfer by participating in a 
relevant community of practice or similar activity. Applicants should 
allocate a portion of their budgets to support such work, which may 
include travel or presentations at key industry gatherings, such as 
conferences of the American Public Transportation Association, 
Transportation Research Board, and U.S. DOT, among others.

D. Application and Submission Information

1. Address and Form of Application Submission

    Project proposals must be submitted electronically through 
Grants.gov (www.grants.gov) by Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Mail and fax 
submissions will not be accepted. A complete proposal submission will 
consist of at least two files: (1) The SF 424 Mandatory form 
(downloaded from Grants.gov) and (2) the Applicant and Proposal Profile 
supplemental form for the ``Redesign of Transit Bus Operator 
Compartment to Improve Safety, Operational Efficiency, and Passenger 
Accessibility Program'' found on the FTA website at https://www.transit.dot.gov/research-innovation. The supplemental form provides 
guidance and a consistent format for applicants to respond to the 
criteria outlined in this NOFO. Once completed, the supplemental form 
must be placed in the attachments section of the SF 424 Mandatory form. 
Applicants must use the supplemental form designated for the ``Redesign 
of Transit Bus Operator Compartment to Improve Safety, Operational 
Efficiency, and Passenger Accessibility Program'' and attach it to 
their submission in Grants.gov to successfully complete the application 
process. A proposal submission may contain additional supporting 
documentation as attachments. Supporting documentation could include 
but is not limited to support letters, pictures, digitized drawings, 
and spreadsheets.
    Within 24 to 48 hours after submitting an electronic application, 
the applicant should receive 3 email messages from Grants.gov: (1) 
Confirmation of successful transmission to Grants.gov, (2) confirmation 
of successful validation by Grants.gov, and (3) confirmation of 
successful validation by FTA. If confirmations of successful validation 
are not received and a notice of failed validation or incomplete 
materials is received, the applicant must address the reason for the 
failed validation, as described in the email notice, and resubmit 
before the submission deadline. If making a resubmission for any 
reason, include all original attachments regardless of which 
attachments were updated and check the box on the supplemental form 
indicating this is a resubmission. Complete instructions on the 
application process can be found at https://www.transit.dot.gov/grants. 
FTA strongly encourages applicants to submit their applications at 
least 72 hours prior to the due date to allow time to receive the 
validation messages and to correct any problems that may have caused a 
rejection notification. FTA will not accept submissions after the 
stated submission deadline for any reason. Grants.gov scheduled 
maintenance and outage times are announced on Grants.gov. Deadlines 
will not be extended due to scheduled maintenance or outages.
    Applicants are encouraged to begin the process of registration on 
the Grants.gov website well in advance of the submission deadline. 
Instructions on registration process are available at Grants.gov. 
Registration is a multi-step process, which may take 3 to 5 days, but 
could take as long as several weeks to complete before an application 
can be submitted if the applicant needs to obtain certain identifying 
numbers external to Grants.gov (for example, applying for an Employer 
Identification Number). Registered applicants may still be required to 
take steps to keep their registration up to date before submissions can 
be made successfully: (1) Registration in the System for Award 
Management (SAM) is renewed annually and (2) persons making submissions 
on behalf of the Authorized Organization Representative (AOR) must be 
authorized in Grants.gov by the AOR to make submissions. Applicants may 
submit one proposal for each project but not one proposal containing 
multiple projects. Information such as proposer name, Federal amount 
requested, local match amount, description of areas served, etc. may be 
requested in varying degrees of detail on both the SF 424 Form and 
Supplemental Form. Applicants must fill in all fields unless stated 
otherwise on the forms. Applicants should use both the ``CHECK PACKAGE 
FOR ERRORS'' and the ``VALIDATE FORM'' validation buttons on both forms 
to check all required fields on the forms, and ensure that the Federal 
and local amounts specified are consistent. The information described 
in Sections ``E'' through ``H'' below MUST be included and/or addressed 
on the SF 424 Form and other supplemental forms for all requests for 
the ``Redesign of Transit Bus Operator Compartment to Improve Safety, 
Operational Efficiency, and Passenger Accessibility Program'' funding.

2. Proposal Content

    At a minimum, every proposal must include an SF-424 form, with the 
Applicant and Proposal Profile supplemental form attached. The 
Applicant and Proposal Profile supplemental form for this Program can 
be found on the FTA website at https://www.transit.dot.gov/research-innovation.
    Consistent with the Department's R.O.U.T.E.S. Initiative (https://www.transportation.gov/rural), the Department encourages applicants to 
describe how activities proposed in their application would address the 
unique challenges facing rural transportation networks, regardless of 
the geographic location of those activities.
    All applicants are required to provide detailed information on the 
Applicant and Proposal Profile supplemental form, including:
    (a) State the project title, the overall goals of the project, and 
describe the project scope, including anticipated deliverables.
    (b) Discuss the current state of practice regarding bus operator 
safety, visibility, and passenger accessibility,

[[Page 7824]]

their challenges, and how the proposed project will address those 
    (c) Details on whether the proposed project is a new effort or a 
continuation of a prior research and degree of improvement over current 
bus compartment design and practices.
    (d) Address each evaluation criterion separately, demonstrating how 
the project responds to each criterion as described in Section E of 
this notice, below.
    (e) Provide a line-item budget for the total project with enough 
detail to indicate the various key components of the project. As FTA 
may elect to fund only part of some project proposals, the budget 
should provide for the minimum amount necessary to fund specific 
project components of independent utility. If the project can be 
scaled, provide a scaling plan describing the minimum funding necessary 
for a feasible project and the impacts of a reduced funding level.
    (f) Provide the Federal amount requested and document the matching 
funds, including amount and source of the match (may include local or 
private sector financial participation in the project). Provide support 
documentation, including financial statements, bond-ratings, and 
documents supporting the commitment of non-federal funding to the 
project, or a timeframe upon which those commitments would be made.
    (g) A project time-line outlining steps from project implementation 
through completion, including significant milestones and the roles of 
the responsible team members.
    (h) The proposed methods to demonstrate the engineering designs and 
computer renderings of Phase I.
    (i) The technologies and design modifications to be used in this 
project and explanation of the principle of operation.
    (j) A description of any exceptions or waivers to FTA requirements 
or policies necessary to successfully implement the proposed project. 
FTA is not inclined to grant exceptions from its requirements, but may 
consider exceptions if the applicant can show a compelling benefit.
    (k) Potential issues (technical or other) that may impact the 
success of the project.
    (l) Address whether other Federal funds have been sought for the 
    (m) Provide Congressional district information for the project's 
place(s) of performance.

3. Unique Entity Identifier and System for Award Management (Sam) 
Registration in Brief

    FTA recommends allowing ample time for completion of all steps.
    STEP 1: Obtain DUNS Number: Same day. If requested by phone (1-866-
705-5711) DUNS is provided immediately. Go to the Dun & Bradstreet 
website at http://fedgov.dnb.com/webform to obtain the number.
    STEP 2: Register With SAM: Three to five business days or up to two 
weeks. If you already have a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN), your 
SAM registration will take 3-5 business days to process. If you are 
applying for an EIN please allow up to 2 weeks. Ensure that your 
organization or an authorizing official is registered with SAM. FTA may 
not make a Federal award to an applicant until the applicant has 
complied with all applicable unique entity identifier and SAM 
requirements and, if an applicant has not fully complied with the 
requirements by the time FTA is ready to make a Federal award, FTA may 
determine that the applicant is not qualified to receive a Federal 
award and use that determination as a basis for making a Federal award 
to another applicant.
    STEP 3: Username & Password: Same day. Complete your Authorized 
Organization Representative (AOR) profile on Grants.gov and create your 
username and password.
    STEP 4: AOR Authorization: Same day. The organization's E-Business 
Point of Contact (E-Biz POC) must login to Grants.gov to confirm the 
AOR. Please note that there can be more than one AOR per organization. 
In some cases, the E-Biz POC is also the AOR for an organization.
    STEP 5: Track AOR Status: At any time, you can track your AOR 
status by logging in with your username and password. Login as an 
Applicant under applicant profile.

4. Submission Dates and Times

    Project proposals must be submitted electronically through http://www.grants.gov by 11:59 p.m. EST on Tuesday, March 24, 2020.

5. Funding Restrictions

    Funds under this NOFO cannot be used to reimburse projects for 
otherwise eligible expenses incurred prior to FTA award of a Grant 
Agreement or Cooperative Agreement unless FTA has issued a ``Letter of 
No Prejudice'' for the project before the expenses are incurred.
    This program is a research and development effort and as such FTA 
Circular 6100.1E rules will apply in administering the program 
(available at https://www.transit.dot.gov/regulations-and-guidance/fta-circulars/final-circulars).

E. Application Review

1. Evaluation Criteria

    Projects will be evaluated by FTA according to the five evaluation 
criteria described in this section. Each applicant is encouraged to 
demonstrate the responsiveness of a project to all the criteria shown 
below with the most relevant information that the proposer can provide.
    Consistent with the Department's R.O.U.T.E.S. Initiative (https://www.transportation.gov/rural), the Department recognizes that rural 
transportation networks face unique challenges. To the extent that 
those challenges are reflected in the merit criteria listed in this 
section, the Department will consider how the activities proposed in 
the application will address those challenges, regardless of the 
geographic location of those activities.
    FTA will assess the extent to which a proposal addresses the 
following criteria:
a. Project Innovation and Impact
    i. Effectiveness of the project in achieving and demonstrating the 
specific requirements identified under the objectives of this program.
    ii. Degree of public and operator safety, and operational 
efficiency improvement over current and existing technologies 
applicable to the bus operator compartment design and passenger 
b. Project Approach
    i. Quality of the project approach, including bus interface design, 
existing partnerships and collaboration strategies in meeting the 
objectives of the program.
    ii. Level of cost share by project partners to support the proposed 
project (in-kind or cash).
    iii. Details on whether the proposed project is a new effort or a 
continuation of a related research project and how the project plans to 
move from Phase I to Phase II if the proposed redesign is selected.
c. National Applicability
    i. Degree to which the new compartment design could be replicated 
by other transit bus manufacturers regionally or nationally.
    ii. Ability to evaluate technologies and designs in a wide variety 
of conditions and locales.

[[Page 7825]]

    iii. Degree to which the proposed redesign could be used for buses 
of different capacity such as 35-foot or 60-foot buses. Applicability 
to smaller body-on-chassis buses is not required for this program, but 
is desirable.
    iv. Degree to which the compartment design elements could be 
retrofitted to existing transit buses.
d. Team Capacity and Commitment
    i. Timeliness of the proposed project schedule, and reasonableness 
of the proposed milestones.
    ii. Availability of existing resources (physical facilities, human 
resources including bus operators and civil rights specialists, 
partnerships with TVMs and vendors) to carry out the project.
    iii. Demonstrated capacity and experience of the partners to carry 
out project of similar size and/or scope.
    iv. Clear performance management strategy for tracking results and 
a public data management plan approach including where data will be 
housed and shared.
e. Commercialization or Dissemination Plan
    i. Demonstrates cost-effective manufacturability of the redesigned 
    ii. Description of how the project team plans to disseminate the 
result of the project to the transit industry.
    iii. The anticipated intangible benefits, such as increasing bus 
operator retention, making public transportation service more appealing 
to potential passengers, providing educational opportunities, or 
reducing negative externalities such as bus operator injuries, stress, 
and downtime.

2. Review and Selection Process

    A technical evaluation panel comprised of FTA subject matter expert 
and possibly other U.S. DOT staff will review project proposals against 
the evaluation criteria listed above. Members of the technical 
evaluation panel reserve the right to seek clarification from any 
applicant about any ambiguous statement in the proposal. FTA may also 
request additional documentation or information to be considered during 
the evaluation process. After a thorough evaluation of all valid 
proposals, the technical evaluation panel will provide project 
recommendations to the FTA Administrator. The FTA Administrator will 
determine the final list of project selections, and the amount of 
funding for each project. Geographic diversity, diversity of project 
type, and the applicant's receipt of other Federal funding may be 
considered in FTA's award decisions.

3. SAM Review

    FTA, prior to making a Federal award with a total amount of Federal 
share greater than the simplified acquisition threshold (currently 
$350,000), is required to review and consider any information about the 
applicant that is in the designated integrity and performance system 
accessible through SAM (currently FAPIIS) (see 41 U.S.C. 2313). An 
applicant, at its option, may review information in the designated 
integrity and performance systems accessible through SAM and comment on 
any information about itself that a Federal awarding agency previously 
entered and is currently in the designated integrity and performance 
system accessible through SAM. FTA will consider any comments by the 
applicant, in addition to the other information in the designated 
integrity and performance system, in making a judgment about the 
applicant's integrity, business ethics, and record of performance under 
Federal awards when completing the review of risk posed by applicants 
as described in Sec.  200.205 Federal awarding agency review of risk 
posed by applicants.

F. Federal Award Administration

    FTA intends to fund as many meritorious projects as possible to 
support executing eligible project activities. To enhance the value of 
the portfolio of research and demonstration projects to be implemented, 
FTA reserves the right to request an adjustment of the project scope 
and budget of any proposal selected for funding. Such adjustments shall 
not constitute a material alteration of any aspect of the proposal that 
influenced the proposal evaluation or decision to fund the project.
    FTA also reserves the right to terminate and re-compete a 
project(s) awarded under this notice when a project sponsor(s) fail to 
meet the requirements set forth under this notice.

1. Federal Award Notice

    FTA will publish final project selections on the FTA website, to 
include a list of the selected projects, including Federal dollar 
amounts and recipients.

2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements

a. Pre-Award Authority
    FTA will issue specific guidance to recipients regarding pre-award 
authority at the time of selection. FTA does not provide pre-award 
authority for competitive funds until projects are selected and the 
applicable Federal requirements are met. Preparation of proposals is 
not an eligible pre-award expense.
b. Grant Requirements
    Successful proposals will be awarded through FTA's Transit Award 
Management System (TrAMS) as Cooperative Agreements.
c. Planning
    FTA encourages applicants to engage the appropriate State 
Departments of Transportation, Regional Transportation Planning 
Organizations, or Metropolitan Planning Organizations in areas likely 
to be served by the project funds made available under this program.
d. Standard Assurances
    The applicant assures that it will comply with all applicable 
Federal statutes, regulations, executive orders, FTA circulars, and 
other Federal administrative requirements in carrying out any project 
supported by the FTA grant or cooperative agreement. The applicant 
acknowledges that it is under a continuing obligation to comply with 
the terms and conditions of the grant or cooperative agreement issued 
for its project with FTA. The applicant understands that Federal laws, 
regulations, policies, and administrative practices might be modified 
from time to time and may affect the implementation of the project. The 
applicant agrees that the most recent Federal requirements will apply 
to the project, unless FTA issues a written determination otherwise. 
The applicant must submit the Certifications and Assurances before 
receiving a grant if it does not have current certifications on file.

3. Reporting

    Post-award reporting requirements include submission of Federal 
Financial Reports and Milestone Progress Reports in FTA's electronic 
grants management system on a quarterly basis for all projects.

G. Federal Awarding Agency Contacts

    For further information concerning this notice please contact Jamel 
El-Hamri at jamel.el-hamri@dot.gov or 202-366-8985. A TDD is available 
for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing at 1-800-877-8339.

    Issued in Washington, DC.
K. Jane Williams,
Acting Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2020-02624 Filed 2-10-20; 8:45 am]

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