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FY 2021 Competitive Funding Opportunity: Low or No Emission Grant Program

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Buses

FY 2021 Competitive Funding Opportunity: Low or No Emission Grant Program

Matthew J. Welbes
Federal Transit Administration
18 February 2021


[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 31 (Thursday, February 18, 2021)]
[Notices]
[Pages 10061-10067]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2021-03180]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Transit Administration


FY 2021 Competitive Funding Opportunity: Low or No Emission Grant 
Program

AGENCY: Federal Transit Administration (FTA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice of funding opportunity (NOFO).

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announces the 
opportunity to apply for $180 million in competitive grants under the 
fiscal year (FY) 2021 Low or No Emission Grant Program (Low-No Program) 
(Federal Assistance Listing: 20.526). As required by Federal public 
transportation law, funds will be awarded competitively for the 
purchase or lease of low or noemission vehicles that use advanced 
technologies for transit revenue operations, including related 
equipment or facilities. Projects may include costs incidental to the 
acquisition of buses or to the construction of facilities, such as the 
costs of related workforce development and training activities, and 
project administration expenses. FTA may award additional funding that 
is made available to the program prior to the announcement of project 
selections.

DATES: Complete proposals must be submitted electronically through the 
GRANTS.GOV ``APPLY'' function by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on April 12, 
2021. 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 http://www.transit.dot.gov/howtoapply and in the ``FIND'' module of GRANTS.GOV. The funding 
opportunity ID is FTA-2021-001-LowNo. Mail and fax submissions will not 
be accepted.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Amy Volz, FTA Office of Program 
Management, 202-366-7484, or amy.volz@dot.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Table of Contents

A. Program Description
B. Federal Award Information
C. Eligibility Information
D. Application and Submission Information
E. Application Review Information
F. Federal Award Administration Information
G. Federal Awarding Agency Contacts
H. Other Information

A. Program Description

    Federal public transportation law (49 U.S.C. 5339(c)) authorizes 
FTA to award grants for low or no emission buses through a competitive 
process, as described in this notice. The Low-No Program provides 
funding to State and local governmental authorities for the purchase or 
lease of zero-emission and low-emission transit buses, including 
acquisition, construction, and leasing of required supporting 
facilities such as recharging, refueling, and maintenance facilities. 
FTA recognizes that a significant transformation is occurring in the 
transit bus industry, with the increasing availability of low and zero 
emission bus vehicles for transit revenue operations. This program 
supports FTA's strategic goals and objectives through the timely and 
efficient investment in public transportation. This program also 
supports the President's Build Back Better initiative to mobilize 
American ingenuity to build a modern infrastructure and an equitable, 
clean energy future. In addition, the Low-No Program and this NOFO will 
advance the goals of the President's January 20, 2021 Executive Order 
on Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science 
to Tackle the Climate Crisis.

B. Federal Award Information

    Federal public transportation law (49 U.S.C. 5338(a)(2)(M)) 
authorizes $55,000,000 in FY 2021 for the Low-No Program. The 
Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, appropriated an additional 
$125,000,000 for the Low-No Program, for a total of $180,000,000 for 
grants under this program.

[[Page 10062]]

Additional funds made available prior to project selection may be 
allocated to eligible projects.
    In FY 2020, the program received applications for 147 projects 
requesting a total of $513 million. Forty-one projects were funded at a 
total of $130 million. FTA may cap the amount a single recipient or 
State may receive as part of the selection process. In FY 2020, for 
example, the largest amount awarded to a single applicant was 
approximately $7 million and no State received more than 5.4 percent of 
the total funding available.
    FTA will grant pre-award authority to incur costs for selected 
projects beginning on the date FY 2021 project selections are announced 
on FTA's website. Funds are available for obligation for three fiscal 
years after the fiscal year in which the competitive awards are 
announced. Funds are only available for projects that have not incurred 
costs prior to the announcement of project selections.

C. Eligibility Information

1. Eligible Applicants

    Eligible applicants include designated recipients, States, local 
governmental authorities, and Indian Tribes. Proposals for funding 
projects in rural (non-urbanized) areas may be submitted as part of a 
consolidated State proposal. To be considered eligible, applicants must 
be able to demonstrate the requisite legal, financial, and technical 
capabilities to receive and administer Federal funds under this 
program. States and other eligible applicants may submit consolidated 
proposals for projects in urbanized areas. Proposals may contain 
projects to be implemented by the recipient or its eligible 
subrecipients. Eligible subrecipients are entities that are otherwise 
eligible recipients under this program.
    As permitted by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, 
applicants to the Low-No Program may submit applications that include 
partnerships with other entities that intend to participate in the 
implementation of the project, including, but not limited to, specific 
vehicle manufacturers, equipment vendors, owners or operators of 
related facilities, or project consultants. If an application that 
involves such a partnership is selected for funding, the competitive 
selection process will be deemed to satisfy the requirement for a 
competitive procurement under 49 U.S.C. 5325(a) for the named entities. 
Applicants are advised that any changes to the proposed partnership 
will require FTA written approval, must be consistent with the scope of 
the approved project, and may necessitate a competitive procurement.

2. Cost Sharing or Matching

    The maximum Federal share for projects that involve leasing or 
acquiring transit buses (including clean fuel or alternative fuel 
vehicles) for purposes of complying with or maintaining compliance with 
the Clean Air Act is 85 percent of the net project cost.
    The maximum Federal share for the cost of acquiring, installing, or 
constructing vehicle-related equipment or facilities (including clean 
fuel or alternative fuel vehicle-related equipment or facilities) for 
purposes of complying with or maintaining compliance with the Clean Air 
Act is 90 percent of the net project cost of such equipment or 
facilities that are attributable to compliance with the Clean Air Act. 
The award recipient must itemize the cost of specific, discrete, 
vehicle-related equipment associated with compliance with the Clean Air 
Act to be eligible for the maximum 90 percent Federal share for these 
costs.
    The Federal share of the cost of other projects shall not exceed 80 
percent.
    Eligible sources of match include the following: cash from non-
Government sources other than revenues from providing public 
transportation services; revenues derived from the sale of advertising 
and concessions; amounts received under a service agreement with a 
State or local social service agency or private social service 
organization; revenues generated from value capture financing 
mechanisms; funds from an undistributed cash surplus; replacement or 
depreciation cash fund or reserve; new capital; or in-kind 
contributions. Transportation development credits or in-kind match may 
be used for local match if identified and documented in the 
application.

3. Eligible Projects

    Under the Low-No Program (49 U.S.C. 5339(c)), eligible projects 
include projects or programs of projects in an eligible area for: (1) 
Purchasing or leasing low or no emission buses; (2) acquiring low or no 
emission buses with a leased power source; (3) constructing or leasing 
facilities and related equipment for low or no emission buses; (4) 
constructing new public transportation facilities to accommodate low or 
no emission buses; (5) or rehabilitating or improving existing public 
transportation facilities to accommodate low or no emission buses (49 
U.S.C. 5339(c)(1)(B)). As required by Federal public transportation law 
(49 U.S.C. 5339(c)(5)), FTA will only consider eligible projects 
relating to the acquisition or leasing of low or no emission buses or 
bus facilities that make greater reductions in energy consumption and 
harmful emissions than comparable standard buses or other low or no 
emission buses and are part of the recipient's long-term integrated 
fleet management plan.
    A low or no emission bus is defined as a passenger vehicle used to 
provide public transportation that significantly reduces energy 
consumption or harmful emissions, including direct carbon emissions, 
when compared to a standard vehicle. The statutory definition includes 
zero emission transit buses, which are defined as buses that produce no 
direct carbon emissions and no particulate matter emissions under any 
and all possible operational modes and conditions. Examples of zero 
emission bus technologies include, but are not limited to, hydrogen 
fuel-cell buses and battery-electric buses. All new transit bus models 
must successfully complete FTA bus testing for production transit buses 
pursuant to FTA's Bus Testing regulation (49 CFR part 665) in order to 
be procured with funds awarded under the Low-No Program. All transit 
vehicles must be procured from certified transit vehicle manufacturers 
in accordance with the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) 
regulations (49 CFR part 26). The development or deployment of 
prototype vehicles is not eligible for funding under the Low-No 
Program.
    Recipients are permitted to use up to 0.5 percent of their 
requested grant award for workforce development activities eligible 
under Federal public transportation law (49 U.S.C. 5314(b)) and an 
additional 0.5 percent for costs associated with training at the 
National Transit Institute. Applicants must identify the proposed use 
of funds for these activities in the project proposal and identify them 
separately in the project budget.
    If a single project proposal involves multiple public 
transportation providers, such as when an agency acquires vehicles that 
will be operated by another agency, the proposal must include a 
detailed statement regarding the role of each public transportation 
provider in the implementation of the project.

D. Application and Submission Information

1. Address To Request Application

    Applications must be submitted electronically through GRANTS.GOV. 
General information for submitting

[[Page 10063]]

applications through GRANTS.GOV can be found at www.fta.dot.gov/howtoapply along with specific instructions for the forms and 
attachments required for submission. Mail and fax submissions of 
completed proposals will not be accepted. A complete proposal 
submission consists of two forms: The SF-424 Application for Federal 
Assistance (available at GRANTS.GOV) and the supplemental form for the 
FY 2021 Low-No Program (downloaded from GRANTS.GOV or the FTA website 
at https://www.transit.dot.gov/funding/grants/lowno). Failure to submit 
the information as requested can delay review or disqualify the 
application.

2. Content and Form of Application Submission

a. Proposal Submission
    A complete proposal submission consists of two forms: (1) The SF-
424 Application for Federal Assistance; and (2) the supplemental form 
for the FY 2021 Low-No Program. The supplemental form and any 
supporting documents must be attached to the ``Attachments'' section of 
the SF-424. The application must include responses to all sections of 
the SF-424 Application for Federal Assistance and the supplemental 
form, unless indicated as optional. The information on the supplemental 
form will be used to determine applicant and project eligibility for 
the program, and to evaluate the proposal against the selection 
criteria described in part E of this notice.
    FTA will accept only one supplemental form per SF-424 submission. 
FTA encourages States and other applicants to consider submitting a 
single supplemental form that includes multiple activities to be 
evaluated as a consolidated proposal. If a State or other applicant 
chooses to submit separate proposals for individual consideration by 
FTA, each proposal must be submitted using a separate SF-424 and 
supplemental form.
    Applicants may attach additional supporting information to the SF-
424 submission, including but not limited to letters of support, 
project budgets, fleet status reports, or excerpts from relevant 
planning documents. Any supporting documentation must be described and 
referenced by file name in the appropriate response section of the 
supplemental form, or it may not be reviewed.
    Information such as applicant 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 and supplemental form. 
Applicants must fill in all fields unless stated otherwise on the 
forms. If information is copied into the supplemental form from another 
source, applicants should verify that pasted text is fully captured on 
the supplemental form and has not been truncated by the character 
limits built into the form. 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.
b. Application Content
    The SF-424 Application for Federal Assistance and the supplemental 
form will prompt applicants for the required information, including:

i. Applicant name
ii. Dun and Bradstreet (D&B) Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) 
number
iii. Key contact information (including contact name, address, email 
address, and phone)
iv. Congressional district(s) where project will take place
v. Project information (including title, an executive summary, and 
type)
vi. A detailed description of the need for the project
vii. A detailed description on how the project will support the Low-No 
Program objectives
viii. Evidence that the project is consistent with local and regional 
planning documents
ix. Evidence that the applicant can provide the local cost share
x. A description of the technical, legal, and financial capacity of the 
applicant
xi. A detailed project budget
xii. An explanation of the scalability of the project
xiii. Details on the local matching funds
xiv. A detailed project timeline

3. Unique Entity Identifier and System for Award Management (SAM)

    Each applicant is required to: (1) Be registered in SAM before 
submitting an application; (2) provide a valid unique entity identifier 
in its application; and (3) continue to maintain an active SAM 
registration with current information at all times during which the 
applicant has an active Federal award or an application or plan under 
consideration by FTA. These requirements do not apply if the applicant 
has an exemption approved by FTA under Federal grants and agreements 
law (2 CFR 25.110(d)). FTA may not make an award until the applicant 
has complied with all applicable unique entity identifier and SAM 
requirements. If an applicant has not fully complied with the 
requirements by the time FTA is ready to make an award, FTA may 
determine that the applicant is not qualified to receive an award and 
use that determination as a basis for making a Federal award to another 
applicant. Non-federal entities that have received a federal award are 
required to report certain civil, criminal, or administrative 
proceedings to SAM (currently the Federal Awardee Performance and 
Integrity Information System (FAPIIS)) to ensure registration 
information is current and comply with federal requirements. Applicants 
should reference 2 CFR 200.113, for more information.
    All applicants must provide a unique entity identifier provided by 
SAM. Registration in SAM may take as little as 3-5 business days, but 
since there could be unexpected steps or delays (for example, if there 
is a need to obtain an Employer Identification Number), FTA recommends 
allowing ample time, up to several weeks, for completion of all steps. 
For additional information on obtaining a unique entity identifier, 
please visit www.sam.gov.

4. Submission Dates and Times

    Project proposals must be submitted electronically through 
GRANTS.GOV by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on April 12, 2021. GRANTS.GOV 
attaches a time stamp to each application at the time of submission. 
Proposals submitted after the deadline will only be considered under 
extraordinary circumstances not under the applicant's control. Mail and 
fax submissions will not be accepted.
    Within 48 hours after submitting an electronic application, the 
applicant should receive an email message from GRANTS.GOV with 
confirmation of successful transmission to GRANTS.GOV. If 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.
    FTA urges applicants to submit 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. 
GRANTS.GOV scheduled maintenance and outage times are announced on the 
GRANTS.GOV website. Deadlines will

[[Page 10064]]

not be extended due to scheduled website maintenance.
    Applicants are encouraged to begin the process of registration on 
the GRANTS.GOV site well in advance of the submission deadline. 
Registration is a multi-step process, which may take several weeks to 
complete before an application can be submitted. 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 
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.

5. Funding Restrictions

    Funds under this NOFO cannot be used to reimburse applicants for 
otherwise eligible expenses incurred prior to FTA award of a grant 
agreement until FTA has issued pre-award authority for selected 
projects. Refer to Section C.3., Eligible Projects, for information on 
activities that are allowable in this grant program. Allowable direct 
and indirect expenses must be consistent with the Governmentwide 
Uniform Administrative Requirements and Cost Principles (2 CFR part 
200) and FTA Circular 5010.1E.

6. Other Submission Requirements

    Applicants are encouraged to identify scaled funding options in 
case insufficient funding is available to fund a project at the full 
requested amount. If an applicant indicates that a project is scalable, 
the applicant must provide an appropriate minimum funding amount that 
will fund an eligible project that achieves the objectives of the 
program and meets all relevant program requirements. The applicant must 
provide a clear explanation of how the project budget would be affected 
by a reduced award. FTA may award a lesser amount regardless of whether 
a scalable option is provided.
    All applications must be submitted via the GRANTS.GOV website. FTA 
does not accept applications on paper, by fax machine, email, or other 
means. For information on application submission requirements, please 
see Section D.1., Address to Request Application.

E. Application Review Information

1. Criteria

    Projects will be evaluated primarily on the responses provided in 
the supplemental form. Additional information may be provided to 
support the responses; however, any additional documentation must be 
directly referenced on the supplemental form, including the file name 
where the additional information can be found. FTA will evaluate 
proposals for the Low-No Program based on the criteria described in 
this notice.
    If an applicant is proposing to deploy autonomous vehicles or other 
innovative motor vehicle technology, the application should demonstrate 
that all vehicles will comply with applicable safety requirements, 
including those administered by the National Highway Traffic Safety 
Administration (NHTSA) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration 
(FMCSA). Specifically, the application should show that vehicles 
acquired for the proposed project will comply with applicable Federal 
Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety 
Regulations (FMCSR). If the vehicles may not comply, the application 
should either (1) show that the vehicles and their proposed operations 
are within the scope of an exemption or waiver that has already been 
granted by NHTSA, FMCSA, or both agencies or (2) directly address 
whether the project will require exemptions or waivers from the FMVSS, 
FMCSR, or any other regulation and, if the project will require 
exemptions or waivers, present a plan for obtaining them.
a. Demonstration of Need
    Since the purpose of this program is to fund vehicles and 
facilities, applications will be evaluated based on the quality and 
extent to which they demonstrate how the proposed project will address 
an unmet need for capital investment in vehicles and/or supporting 
facilities. For example, an applicant may demonstrate that it requires 
additional or improved charging or maintenance facilities for low or no 
emission vehicles, that it intends to replace existing vehicles that 
have exceeded their minimum useful life, or that it requires additional 
vehicles to meet current ridership demands.
    FTA will consider an applicant's responses to the following 
criteria when assessing the need for capital investment underlying the 
proposed project:
    i. Consistency with Long-Term Fleet Management Plan: As required by 
Federal public transportation law (49 U.S.C. 5339(c)(5)(B)), all 
project proposals must demonstrate that they are part of the intended 
recipient's long-term integrated fleet management plan, as demonstrated 
through an existing transit asset management program, fleet procurement 
plan, or similarly documented program or policy. These plans must be 
attached to the application. FTA will evaluate the consistency of the 
proposed project with the applicant's long-term fleet management plan, 
as well as the applicant's previous experience with the relevant low or 
no emissions vehicle technologies.
    ii. For low or no emission bus projects (replacement and/or or 
expansion): Applicants must provide information on the age, condition, 
and performance of the vehicles to be replaced by the proposed project. 
Vehicles to be replaced must have met their minimum useful life at the 
time of project completion. For service expansion requests, applicants 
must provide information on the proposed service expansion and the 
benefits for transit riders and the community from the new service. For 
all vehicle projects, the proposal must address whether the project 
conforms to FTA's spare ratio guidelines. Low or no emission vehicles 
funded under this program are not exempted from FTA's standard spare 
ratio requirements, which apply to and are calculated on the agency's 
entire fleet.
    iii. For bus facility and equipment projects (replacement, 
rehabilitation, and/or expansion): Applicants must provide information 
on the age and condition of the asset to be rehabilitated or replaced 
relative to its minimum useful life.
b. Demonstration of Benefits
    Applicants must demonstrate how the proposed project will support 
the statutory requirements of the Low-No Program (See 49 U.S.C. 
5339(c)(5)(A)). In particular, FTA will consider the quality and extent 
to which applications demonstrate how the proposed project will: (1) 
Reduce Energy Consumption; (2) Reduce Harmful Emissions; and (3) Reduce 
Direct Carbon Emissions.
    i. Reduce Energy Consumption: Applicants must describe how the 
proposed project will reduce energy consumption. FTA will evaluate 
applications based on the degree to which the proposed technology 
reduces energy consumption as compared to more common vehicle 
propulsion technologies.
    ii. Reduce Harmful Emissions: Applicants must demonstrate how the 
proposed vehicles or facility will reduce the emission of particulates 
that create local air pollution, which leads to local environmental 
health concerns, smog, and unhealthy ozone concentrations.

[[Page 10065]]

FTA will evaluate the rate of particulate emissions by the proposed 
vehicles or vehicles to be supported by the proposed facility, compared 
to the emissions from the vehicles that will be replaced or moved to 
the spare fleet as a result of the proposed project, as well as 
comparable standard buses.
    iii. Reduce Direct Carbon Emissions: Applicants should demonstrate 
how the proposed vehicles or facility will reduce emissions of 
greenhouse gases from transit vehicle operations. FTA will evaluate the 
rate of direct carbon emissions by the proposed vehicles or vehicles to 
be supported by the proposed facility, compared to the emissions from 
the vehicles that will be replaced or moved to the spare fleet as a 
result of the proposed project, as well as comparable standard buses.
c. Planning and Local/Regional Prioritization
    Applicants must demonstrate how the proposed project is consistent 
with local and regional long-range planning documents and local 
government priorities. FTA will evaluate applications based on the 
quality and extent to which they assess whether the project is 
consistent with the transit priorities identified in the long-range 
plan; and/or contingency/illustrative projects included in that plan; 
or the locally developed human services public transportation 
coordinated plan. Applicants may submit copies of the relevant pages of 
such plans to support their application. FTA will consider how the 
project will support regional goals and applicants may submit support 
letters from local and regional planning organizations attesting to the 
consistency of the proposed project with these plans.
    Evidence of additional local or regional prioritization may include 
letters of support for the project from local government officials, 
public agencies, and non-profit or private sector partners.
d. Local Financial Commitment
    Applicants must identify the source of the local cost share and 
describe whether such funds are currently available for the project or 
will need to be secured if the project is selected for funding. FTA 
will consider the availability of the local cost share as evidence of 
local financial commitment to the project. Applicants should submit 
evidence of the availability of funds for the project; for example, by 
including a board resolution, letter of support from the State, or 
other documentation of the source of local funds such as a budget 
document highlighting the line item or section committing funds to the 
proposed project. FTA will note if an applicant proposes to use grant 
funds only for the incremental cost of new technologies over the cost 
of replacing vehicles with standard propulsion technologies.
e. Project Implementation Strategy
    FTA will rate projects higher if grant funds can be obligated 
within 12 months of selection and the project can be implemented within 
a reasonable time frame. In assessing when funds can be obligated, FTA 
will consider whether the project qualifies for a Categorical Exclusion 
(CE), or whether the required environmental work has been initiated or 
completed for projects that require an Environmental Assessment (EA) or 
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under the National Environmental 
Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), as amended. As such, applicants should 
submit information describing the project's anticipated path and 
timeline through the environmental review process. The proposal must 
state when grant funds can be obligated and indicate the timeframe 
under which the Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) 
and/or Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) can be 
amended to include the proposed project.
    In assessing whether the proposed implementation plans are 
reasonable and complete, FTA will review the proposed project 
implementation plan, including all necessary project milestones and the 
overall project timeline. For projects that will require formal 
coordination, approvals, or permits from other agencies or project 
partners, the applicant must demonstrate coordination with these 
organizations and their support for the project, such as through 
letters of support.
    For project proposals that involve a partnership with a 
manufacturer, vendor, consultant, or other third party, applicants must 
identify by name any project partners, including, but not limited to, 
other transit agencies, bus manufacturers, owners or operators of 
related facilities, or any expert consultants. FTA will evaluate the 
experience and capacity of the named project partners to successfully 
implement the proposed project based on the partners' experience and 
qualifications. Applicants are advised to submit information on the 
partners' qualifications and experience as a part of the application. 
Entities involved in the project that are not named in the application 
will be required to be selected through a competitive procurement.
f. Technical, Legal, and Financial Capacity
    Applicants must demonstrate that they have the technical, legal, 
and financial capacity to undertake the project. FTA will review 
relevant oversight assessments and records to determine whether there 
are any outstanding legal, technical, or financial issues with the 
applicant that would affect the outcome of the proposed project.

2. Review and Selection Process

    In addition to other FTA staff that may review the proposals, a 
technical evaluation committee will evaluate proposals based on the 
published evaluation criteria. Members of the technical evaluation 
committee and other FTA staff may request additional information from 
applicants, if necessary. Based on the findings of the technical 
evaluation committee, the FTA Administrator will determine the final 
selection of projects for program funding. In determining the 
allocation of program funds, FTA may consider geographic diversity, 
diversity in the size of the transit systems receiving funding, and the 
applicant's receipt of other competitive awards. FTA may also consider 
capping the amount a single applicant may receive.
    After applying the above criteria, in support of the President's 
January 20, 2021 Executive Order on Protecting Public Health and the 
Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis, the FTA 
Administrator will consider applications that may provide other air 
quality benefits as part of the application review. Applicants should 
identify any nonattainment or maintenance areas under the Clean Air Act 
in the proposed service area. Nonattainment or maintenance areas should 
be limited to the following applicable National Ambient Air Quality 
Standards criteria pollutants: Carbon monoxide, ozone, and particulate 
matter 2.5 and 10. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Green 
Book (available at https://www.epa.gov/green-book) is a publicly-
available resource for nonattainment and maintenance area data. This 
consideration will further the goals of the Executive Order, including 
the goal to prioritize environment justice (EJ).
    In addition, FTA will consider benefits to EJ communities when 
reviewing applications received under this program. Applicants should 
identify any EJ populations located within the proposed service area 
and

[[Page 10066]]

describe anticipated benefits to that population(s) should the 
applicant receive a grant under this program. A formal EJ analysis that 
is typically included in transportation planning or environmental 
reviews is not requested.
    Additionally, the FTA Administrator will consider applications that 
include a funding request for workforce development activities that 
improve the technical expertise of America's transit workers.
    Prior to making an award, FTA is required to review and consider 
any information about the applicant that is in the Federal Award 
Performance and Integrity Information System accessible through SAM. An 
applicant may review and comment on any information about itself that a 
Federal awarding agency previously entered. 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 the Office of Management and Budget's 
Uniform Requirements for Federal Awards (2 CFR 200.205).

F. Federal Award Administration Information

1. Federal Award Notices

    FTA will announce the final project selections on the FTA website. 
Recipients should contact their FTA Regional Offices for additional 
information regarding allocations for projects under the Low-No 
Program. At the time the project selections are announced, FTA will 
extend pre-award authority for the selected projects. There is no 
blanket pre-award authority for these projects before announcement.
    Funds under the Low-No Program are available to States, designated 
recipients, local governmental authorities, and Indian Tribes. There is 
no minimum or maximum grant award amount. However, FTA intends to fund 
as many meritorious projects as possible. Only proposals from eligible 
recipients for eligible activities will be considered for funding. Due 
to funding limitations, applicants that are selected for funding may 
receive less than the amount originally requested. In those cases, 
applicants must be able to demonstrate that the proposed projects are 
still viable and can be completed with the amount awarded.

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 even 
then, there are Federal requirements that must be met before costs are 
incurred. For more information about FTA's policy on pre-award 
authority, please see the most recent Apportionment Notice at https://www.transit.dot.gov.
b. Grant Requirements
    If selected, awardees will apply for a grant through FTA's Transit 
Award Management System (TrAMS). All Low-No Program recipients are 
subject to the grant requirements of the Urbanized Area Formula Grant 
program (49 U.S.C. 5307), including those of FTA Circular ``Urbanized 
Area Formula Program: Program Guidance and Application Instructions'' 
(FTA C.9030.1E). All recipients must also follow the Award Management 
Requirements (FTA C.5010.1) and the labor protections required by 
Federal public transportation law (49 U.S.C. 5333(b)). Technical 
assistance regarding these requirements is available from each FTA 
regional office.
c. Buy America
    FTA requires that all capital procurements meet FTA's Buy America 
requirements (49 U.S.C. 5323(j) and 49 CFR part 661), which require 
that all iron, steel, or manufactured products be produced in the 
United States. Federal public transportation law provided for a phased 
increase in the domestic content for rolling stock between FY 2016 and 
FY 2020. For FY 2020 and beyond, the cost of components and 
subcomponents produced in the United States must be more than 70 
percent of the cost of all components. There is no change to the 
requirement that final assembly of rolling stock must occur in the 
United States. FTA issued guidance on the implementation of the phased 
increase in domestic content on September 1, 2016 (81 FR 60278). 
Applicants should read the policy guidance carefully to determine the 
applicable domestic content requirement for their project. Any proposal 
that will require a waiver must identify in the application the items 
for which a waiver will be sought. Applicants should not proceed with 
the expectation that waivers will be granted.
d. Disadvantaged Business Enterprise
    FTA requires that its recipients receiving planning, capital, and/
or operating assistance that will award prime contracts exceeding 
$250,000 in FTA funds in a Federal fiscal year comply with Department 
of Transportation Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program 
regulations (49 CFR part 26). Applicants should expect to include any 
funds awarded, excluding those to be used for vehicle procurements, in 
setting their overall DBE goal. Note, however, that projects including 
vehicle procurements remain subject to the DBE program regulations. The 
rule requires that, prior to bidding on any FTA-assisted vehicle 
procurement, entities that manufacture vehicles, or perform post-
production alterations or retrofitting, must submit a DBE program plan 
and goal methodology to FTA. Further, to the extent that a vehicle 
remanufacturer is responding to a solicitation for new or 
remanufactured vehicles with a vehicle to which the remanufacturer has 
provided post-production alterations or retrofitting (e.g., replacing 
major components such as an engine to provide a ``like new'' vehicle), 
the vehicle remanufacturer is considered a transit vehicle manufacturer 
and must also comply with the DBE regulations.
    FTA will then issue a transit vehicle manufacturer (TVM) 
concurrence/certification letter. Grant recipients must verify each 
entity's compliance with these requirements before accepting its bid. A 
list of compliant, certified TVMs is posted on FTA's web page at 
https://www.transit.dot.gov/regulations-and-guidance/civil-rights-ada/eligible-transit-vehicle-manufacturers. Please note that this list is 
nonexclusive, and recipients must contact FTA before accepting bids 
from entities not listed on this web-posting. Recipients may also 
establish project-specific DBE goals for vehicle procurements. FTA will 
provide additional guidance as grants are awarded. For more information 
on DBE requirements, please contact Scheryl Portee, Office of the Chief 
Counsel, 202-366-0840, email: scheryl.portee@dot.gov.
e. Planning
    FTA encourages applicants to notify the appropriate State 
Departments of Transportation and metropolitan planning organizations 
in areas likely to be served by the project funds made available under 
these initiatives and programs. Selected projects must be incorporated 
into the long-range plans and transportation improvement

[[Page 10067]]

programs of States and metropolitan areas before they are eligible for 
FTA funding. As described under the evaluation criteria, FTA may 
consider whether a project is consistent with or already included in 
these plans when evaluating a project.
f. Standard Assurances
    The applicant assures that it will comply with all applicable 
Federal statutes, regulations, executive orders, directives, FTA 
circulars, and other Federal administrative requirements in carrying 
out any project supported by the FTA grant. The applicant acknowledges 
that it is under a continuing obligation to comply with the terms and 
conditions of the grant 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 the electronic submission 
of Federal Financial Reports and Milestone Progress Reports in FTA's 
electronic grants management system. Recipients of funds made available 
through this NOFO are also required to regularly submit data to the 
National Transit Database. Applicant should include any goals, targets, 
and indicators referenced in their application in the Executive Summary 
of the TrAMS application.
    As part of completing the annual certifications and assurances 
required of FTA grant recipients, a successful applicant must report on 
the suspension or debarment status of itself and its principals. If the 
award recipient's active grants, cooperative agreements, and 
procurement contracts from all Federal awarding agencies exceeds 
$10,000,000 for any period of time during the period of performance of 
an award made pursuant to this Notice, the recipient must comply with 
the Recipient Integrity and Performance Matters reporting requirements 
described in Appendix XII to 2 CFR part 200.

G. Federal Awarding Agency Contacts

    For further information concerning this notice, please contact the 
Low-No Program Manager, Amy Volz, by phone at 202-366-7484, or by email 
at amy.volz@dot.gov. A TDD is available for individuals who are deaf or 
hard of hearing at 800-877-8339. In addition, FTA will post answers to 
questions and requests for clarifications on FTA's website at https://www.transit.dot.gov/funding/grants/lowno. To ensure applicants receive 
accurate information about eligibility or the program, applicants are 
encouraged to contact FTA directly, rather than through intermediaries 
or third parties, with questions. FTA staff may also conduct briefings 
on the FY 2021 competitive grants selection and award process upon 
request.

H. Other Information

    This program is not subject to Executive Order 12372, 
``Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs.'' FTA will consider 
applications for funding only from eligible recipients for eligible 
projects listed in Section C. Complete applications must be submitted 
through GRANTS.GOV by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on April 12, 2021.
    For issues with GRANTS.GOV, please contact GRANTS.GOV by phone at 
1-800-518-4726 or by email at support@grants.gov. Contact information 
for FTA's regional offices can be found on FTA's website at 
www.fta.dot.gov.

Matthew J. Welbes,
Executive Director.
[FR Doc. 2021-03180 Filed 2-17-21; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-57-P

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