Below are frequently asked questions regarding the Ocean Technology Transition Project, grouped by category, as well as further clarification on page limits and budget information. Click on the + beside each category to see the questions and answers.


CLARIFICATION ON PAGE LIMITS AND BUDGET INFORMATION

The Proposal Narrative must total no more than 15 pages (double-spaced, 12-point font). The 15-page limit does not include the proposal title page, table of contents, the data sharing plan, the project summary, and any required appendices.

The Proposal narrative should include, among other elements:

  • A Milestone Schedule - time lines for major tasks, target milestones for important intermediate and final products including deliverables and key project outcomes.
  • A short Budget Description that follows the categories and formats in the NOAA grants package (SF-424A)

and includes a brief narrative justification of the budget.  

The Detailed Budget Narrative is an appendix and should not exceed 10 pages.  See guidance at: https://cdn.ioos.noaa.gov/media/2017/12/Budget-Narrative-Guidance-Effective-Feb-2015.pdf. Also see GMD budget narrative guidance at http://www.ago.noaa.gov/grants/training.html. In addition to an overall budget, an SF-424A must be submitted for each year of the proposal. Applicants must also provide a separate budget for each subcontract. SF- 424As will not be included in the page count of the proposal or appendices.

There can also be an Appendix for materials that directly support the main body of the proposal (e.g., support letters, resumes, references, lists of data sources, and maps), which may not exceed 30 pages in length.

What is the Ocean Technology Transition Project?

The IOOS Ocean Technology Transition Project (OTT) is an ongoing, multi-year effort to transition prototype ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes observing, product development, and data management technologies to sustained operations in a stepped, parallel, and scalable process that includes stakeholder engagement from industry, government, academia, and others invested in the monitoring and assessment of the nation’s ocean and coastal regions. Sustained or Operational mode is defined as the actual application of the technology in its final form and under mission requirements. OTT focuses on developing and improving technologies for ocean chemical, biological, and physical parameters at multiple spatial and temporal scales to monitor changing conditions in the oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes. OTT technologies include hardware and software platforms, sensors, and data management resulting in improved ocean information supporting decision making for the coastal ocean, and Great Lakes’ environments.

What are the Project priorities for the Funding Opportunity?

In FY 2020, the U.S. IOOS Program will accept applications to accelerate the transition of advanced coastal, ocean, and Great Lakes observing technologies to operations mode.  Technologies which support developing and improving observation, sensors, and information capabilities for chemical, biological, and physical parameters at multiple spatial and temporal scales to monitor changing conditions in the oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes will be considered. 

Specific areas of interest under this funding opportunity include, but are not limited to:

  1. sensors for physical, biological, or chemical parameters
  2. use of cloud-based technologies and platforms
  3. novel autonomous vehicles/platforms
  4. HAB sensors and sensor platforms including deployment of sensors on new platforms
  5. novel data management, analytics, and integration to improve service delivery to customers
  6. sensors for ocean acidification related measurements
  7. high frequency radar use impact and metrics, development, and improvement 

Who can apply?

Eligible funding applicants for this competition are institutions of higher education, non- profit and for-profit organizations, and State, local and tribal governments. Federal agencies or institutions and foreign governments may not be the primary recipient of awards under this announcement, but they are encouraged to partner with applicants when appropriate.

Applicants to this topic must include partners from an IOOS Regional Association to qualify.  The participation of an RA should be described in a Letter of Support and the RA providing the letter should be contacted no later than three weeks before the submission of the proposal to allow for sufficient coordination.  Additional partners are encouraged, e.g., academia, government (including Federal, State, local, and tribal) and other private sector partners (including Non-Governmental Organizations and Foundations).

What are important dates in the submission process?

Full proposals must be received no later than 11:59 PM Eastern on Monday, January 13, 2020.

How much funding is available and what is the limit for a proposal?

In FY 2020-2022, it is estimated that up to $7.5 million will be available from the U.S. IOOS Program. Multiple awards are anticipated, subject to availability of funds, in amounts up to $400,000 per year for up to three years, with some exceptions for highly ranked proposals. Proposals not funded in the current fiscal period may be considered for funding in the next fiscal period (FY21) without NOAA repeating the competitive process outlined in this announcement.

Grants on Line is not letting me fill and submit the SF424A.

Until we can troubleshoot the problem, we suggest the following work around:

What Readiness Levels should proposed technologies proposed have already reached?

OTT utilizes NOAA’s Readiness Levels (RL) ontology (see NOAA Administrative Order 215-105A at https://www.corporateservices.noaa.gov/ames/administrative_orders/chapter_216/NAO%20216-105A%20UNSEC%20Signed.pdf) to assess the maturity of R&D projects from research to operation, application, commercial product, or service, (Note: NOAA's Readiness Levels are similar to the Technology Readiness Levels developed by NASA) and embody the same concept for quantifying the maturity of research. RLs are used as a systematic metric/measurement system that supports assessments of the maturity of a particular IOOS technology, and enables a consistent comparison between different types of technologies. OTT specifically focuses on transitioning technology from RLs 6 through 8 to RL 9; in effect transforming the innovative research developed externally from this Project into operational elements of IOOS or other parts of NOAA. Applicants are asked to identify the RL of the technologies with which they are working. Each applicant’s application will state clearly how the applicant determined that his/her proposed technology project is at an appropriate RL level.

Who is the Transition Manager? Does it need to be a person from NOAA or the regional association?

The Transition Manager can be anyone who is willing and able to coordinate the transition - i.e. work with researchers and the eventual operator and lay out a plan to get from research to operations.  An RA could provide one, the eventual operator could be the Transition manger, or the Transition Manager could be an interested NOAA partner.

If the RA role is to not be a transition manager then what would the role be for the RA?

Outreach would be a good role.  Future user engagement would be another.   Data management might not be quite so important in these projects as in, for example, COMT projects. Our goal is to have true RA participation by making sure proposers contact an RA with enough lead time to define roles.

Can a non-US citizen be the Transition Manager?

Yes.

Can the PI and the Transition Manager be the same person?

They could be one and the same, though it would be a bit unusual. One option a number of projects for another IOOS funding opportunity used was to have the Transition PI be from the IOOS Regional Association you are collaborating with.  

Can there be more than one Transition Manager?

Yes.

Do both the scientific PI and transition PI have to be from a university, non- or for-profit, or state/local/tribe governments? Would a scenario where the scientific PI is from a University is the primary award recipient, but the transition PI is a partner from NOAA. Is that okay?

Absolutely. The Transition PI being Federal would be just fine. The caveat being that an OTT grant cannot pay federal salaries or travel.

Is the Transitional Principal Investigator a role for a NOAA team member? 

It can be but there is no requirement that the Transition PI be a NOAA employee.

What is meant by the requirement to have a technology transition partner? We have a company that is partnered with the university to commercialize the technology as well as potential technology end users.  Would it be more compelling for the proposal if one or the other of these was the transition partner?

Both options would be good Transition partners. The goal of OTT is to get research developments over the gap to operations - be that a commercial company or any other potential operator of the device/system.

“A project needs to involve operators and practitioners, to the fullest extent possible, from the beginning of the project. Commitment from operators and practitioners is critical to the eventual success of each project and the transition and adoption of technology for sustained use. The applicant must show a clear path for further developing the partnerships and opportunities for transfer throughout the course of the project."

How should these people be involved? Should there be a Project Steering Committee or should these partners be people using the technology in a test?  

People using the technology would probably be more representative of operators than a Steering Committee though a committee could include users. Either is acceptable as long as there is participation by folks who are planning to use the technology.

Does "the team must "include partners from at least one IOOS Regional Association, academia, and the private sector." mean must be at least one from each category?

No. An IOOS Association partner is required. The rest are optional. 

Are foreign entities such as Universities or companies eligible to submit a proposal?

Yes. There would probably be additional paperwork if we were to fund you covering liabilities, limitations etc.  You would need to have an IOOS Regional Association as a partner and transition manager.

How should we make contact with an IOOS Regional Association to be a partner in a proposal?

See https://ioos.noaa.gov/about/regional-associations/ for links to all the IOOS Regional Associations.

Would it be within NOAA policy to have both PIs or CO-PIs from the same institution?

Entirely fine to have PI and co-PIs from same institution. 

If an RA member is a PI on the proposal, is a letter of support from the RA also necessary?

A pro forma letter of support would be wise.

What the NOAA policy is regarding any IP that is developed thru OTT work?

We are awaiting an answer on this from the NOAA legal department.

Our policy stipulates in no circumstances would we ever share any indirect rates to anyone outside of the US Government.  In the past we sent a version to the prime with the backup with indirect and fringe rates directly to the US Government – in this instance, NOAA.

Yes. You can send a version to the prime with the backup with indirect and fringe rates sent directly to NOAA.

Can we submit proposals focusing on improving a model forecasting platform? 

While a modeling focused proposal is not precluded, our focus with this round of OTT is much more on observation technologies as opposed to modeling. There should be a COMT funding opportunity in FY21 that might be a better fit for a model platform proposal.

Do we need to go "fully operational" as part of the transition plan?  

You need to have a plan to become operational but do not need to be fully operational by the end of the grant. While operational is our goal, we realize there are many elements of becoming fully operational that may affect final timing and deployment.

What is needed in under section G of the project description?

It is the Statement of Work which describes the details on the work that you plan to conduct. It is not part of the Attachment.

What's the difference between a "budget description" and a "brief narrative justification"?

Budget description and a brief budget narrative are the same. The budget narrative/brief budget description explains in a clear and concise manner the costs in each category, and which items will be covered by the cooperative agreement.

Although the budget narratives/justifications + tables for the 424a's are mentioned here, the text says to include in the "Budget Justification Attachment" ...which I'm guessing is in the appendix?

Please include the budget narrative/justification, budget tables for the SF424As in the Budget Justification Attachment.

It's not clear to us what the difference is between 3.g. (pg 11 of the solicitation), "project budget.... and brief narrative justification" and 3.h. "detailed itemized budget.... and detailed budget justification."  

Section 3g. Request that the applicant completes a SF424A for the entire total amount of the budget of the project. There is a section on the SF424A to provide the budget costs (Personnel, Travel, Equipment, Supplies, Contracts, Subawards, Direct, Indirects) for each year of the award.  

Section 3h. Requests a detailed itemized budget narrative with a written justification for every expense to support project operating costs (Personnel, Travel, Equipment, Supplies, Contracts, Subawards, Direct, Indirects) per year. 

It sounds like the budget and justification are required in two different sections (proposal narrative AND appendices).   

The proposal narrative describes what is the proposed work for the project which has a 15 page limit. The budget narrative is separate from the proposal narrative that provides detailed narrative justification for each project budget expense.

Are either of these part of the 15-page limit of the "proposal narrative."

The budget section described in 3g and 3h are not part of the proposal narrative (description) 15 pages maximum requirement. There are no page limits for the budget narrative/justification section.

When the solicitation refers to "3. Project Description," is this referring to the entire proposal submission (the sum of all parts)? 

The Project Description (Project Narrative) includes sections 3a - 3f which refers to the description of the project work (goals and objectives, background, who is your audience, work plan, who benefits, and provide a milestone schedule) that your organization plans to propose. The Project Description (Project Narrative) has a 15 page limit. 

Sections 3g - 3h is the proposal's budget narrative which is NOT a part of the Project Description (Project Narrative) 15 page limit. There is no page limit for the budget narrative for sections 3g - 3h. 

Can we include federal salaries in our budget?

In most circumstances no salary or fringe benefit payments may be made from NOAA grant funds to support Federal employees. While the level of effort required for the research project must be allowed by the employing agency as part of the individuals' official duties, salary and fringe benefit costs associated with an individual participating in an official capacity as a career, career-conditional, or other Federal employees (civilian or uniformed services) are not allowable. 

What is needed in the appendix? (Detailed Budget Information)

  • SF424A for each year of the award
  • Budget Justification/Narratives
  • Itemized Budget Tables
  • Documentation showing proof of non-profit status (if applicable)
  • Resumes of Curriculum Vitae (CV) of key staff and personnel
  • Letters of endorsement, support or collaboration
  • Other visuals, graphs, or maps necessary to the application

Where can I find more information?

https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/search-grants.html?keywords=NOAA-NOS-IOOS-2020-2006167