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Puget Sound

Funding Availability for Puget Sound Strategic Initiative Leads

Applications are due November 9, 2020. View the Request for Applications.

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About Strategic Initiative Leads Funding

EPA's Puget Sound Program is pleased to announce a funding opportunity for Strategic Initiative Leads. The following Request for Funding (RFA) announces the availability of funds and solicits applications from eligible applicants that are interested in acting as Strategic Initiative Leads (SILs), in coordination with the Puget Sound Partnership (PSP), EPA, and other relevant parties.

The primary roles of the Strategic Initiative Leads are to:

  1. Award and manage subawards to support the implementation of the Action Agenda with a focus on Implementation Strategies, and maintain Strategic Initiative Advisory Teams (SIATs) to advise in investment-related decision-making.
  2. Serve as Implementation Strategy Leads for Vital Signs related to the Strategic Initiative and form technical (e.g., Interdisciplinary Teams) and/or policy workgroups to develop, refine, adaptively manage, and operationalize Implementation Strategies.
  3. Participate in PSP and National Estuary Program (NEP) Management Conference processes and work groups. Proactively coordinate with tribal partners and Local Integrating Organizations (LIOs) in order to accomplish SIL work.

SILs will also provide technical recommendations to the Puget Sound NEP Management Conference, develop and refine the technical criteria for selecting priority actions through deliberation with the SIATs, and select and manage subawards to implement the work endorsed by the NEP Management Conference.

This work will be consistent with the 2018-2022 Puget Sound Action Agenda for the protection and restoration of Puget Sound and any future Action Agenda adopted by the PSP Leadership Council and approved by EPA during the project period of this award.

EPA anticipates awarding one cooperative agreement for each of the three Strategic Initiative areas of focus (i.e., Habitat, Shellfish, and Stormwater) for a total of three awards from this RFA, subject to the availability of funds, the quality of applications received, and other applicable considerations.

For more information about how EPA distributes money from Congress to help protect and restore Puget Sound, visit Funding and Grants for Puget Sound.

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How to Apply

A copy of the Request for Applications is available under documents below.

Application packages must be submitted electronically to EPA through no later than November 9, 2020, at 11:59pm (Eastern time).

For more information, contact Melissa Whitaker (, EPA Region 10, Puget Sound Program, 1200 6th Avenue, Suite 155, Seattle, Washington 98101.

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Informational Webinar

EPA hosted an informational webinar on September 30th to provide an overview of the Request for Applications and answer questions about the competition and application process.

A recorded version of the webinar is available upon request. Contact Melissa Whitaker (, 206-553-2119.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Are the awardees publicly listed after the determination is made?
Answer:  Yes, EPA will issue a press release.

Question: While the 2018-2022 Action Agenda is still applicable, can there be direct awards given to eligible recipients to fund Near Term Actions in the 2018-2022 Action Agenda or must a competitive process be developed?
Answer: EPA will continue to issue annual funding guidance to the SILs where subawards will be addressed.  At this time, we anticipate that NTAs in the 2018 Action Agenda which advance Implementation Strategies could be funded using a SIAT process.  This would apply until the approval of the 2022 Action Agenda.

Question: This has a nexus with the Action Agenda items, but with the award amount being 33.3 million, is the hope that multiple NTAs are packaged together in a single application?
Answer: We are not sure to which application you are referring.

Question: On page 54, it states that this is an award for $5,000,000 for year one, anticipating $25,000,000 over the five-year project period. However, on page 16, it references that it’s estimated it will be a $33,300,000 award over the seven-year project period. I’m looking for clarification on what amount we need to have as our match.
Answer: Funding amount for each application should be $33.3M with the match as the same amount for a total budget of $66.6M. 

Question: I have some general questions regarding the budget narrative section, and I’m not sure what is appropriate to ask. I’ve tried using the link ( for the additional guidance, but it doesn’t work for me.
Answer: Here is the correct link: (it appears there was an extra "dash" at the end of your link).

Question: Is the workplan part of the 20-page limit indicated for the narrative part of the application?
Answer: The workplan, budget and staffing plan are NOT included in the 20 page limit (from Attachment D of the RFA).

Question: If an applicant is awarded a multi-year grant, is each year subject to changes in the amount?
Answer: Yes. Factors such as the amount of the annual Puget Sound Geographic Program Congressional Appropriation and input from the Puget Sound Management Conference can affect the amount allocated to each Strategic Initiative Lead award in each year of the 5-year budget period.

Question: If an applicant doesn’t have an eligible FNIT, can they claim a 10% indirect cost rate?
Answer: Yes. For additional information, refer to the Indirect Cost Guidance for Recipients of EPA Assistance Agreements.

Question: Can you describe in more detail the semi-annual reporting that is required?
Answer: Semi-annual reports summarizing financial information, progress and subaward activities will be required. The EPA Puget Sound Program requires the use of the Financial and Ecosystem Accounting Tracking System. Award recipients will be provided with additional information and guidance on reporting after awards are finalized.

Question: How often does EPA reimburse awarded grantees?
Answer: Grantees will have access to a system called Automated Standard Application for Payments (ASAP) where they will drawdown as needed. As required by 2 CFR 200.305(b), recipients must only draw funds for the minimum amounts needed for actual and immediate cash requirements to pay employees, contractors, subrecipients or to satisfy other obligations for allowable costs under the assistance agreement. The timing and amounts of the drawdowns must be as close as administratively feasible to actual disbursement of EPA funds. The payment policy states that any funds drawn must be expended within 5 business days.

Question: Is there flexibility on project start dates?
Answer: Yes, there is flexibility on the project start date. EPA will work closely with selected entities on appropriate project start dates. Projects are expected to begin between February and September 2021, with an expected project completion date of 7 years afterwards.

Question: Can eligible entities contribute to the cost-share requirements if they are collaborators?
Answer: Yes. Any form of cost share must be included in the Budget Detail portion of the Work Plan, and the application must describe how and when the applicant will obtain the cost share and how the cost share funding will be used. Applicants may use their own funds or other sources for cost share if the standards of 2 CFR 200.306, are met. If the proposed cost share is to be provided by a named project partner, a letter of commitment is required. Only eligible and allowable costs may be used for cost share.

Question: If a grant application plans to rely on eligible cost share funds that the entity does not currently possess due to budget timing differences (i.e. the funds are expected to be included in the entity’s upcoming budget cycle), can the entity account for the expected funds in their proposed budget?
Answer: Yes. In their proposed budget, grant applicants can include funds even if they do not currently possess the money due to budget timing differences. Cost share or matching funds must be used by the end of the project period. For applicants that provide a mandatory and/or voluntary cost share, the Budget Detail must clearly specify the amount of federal funding and the cost share amount for each category. Any form of cost share included in the Budget Detail must also be included on the SF 424 and SF 424A.

Question: If two entities are applying that are both eligible, can they be co-applicants? Or should just one entity apply and include the other as a contractor or similar?
Answer: The grant program does not allow for co-applicants. Only one entity can apply. In your workplan, you can designate another entity as a partner or sub-awardee. Please see EPA’s Subaward Policy to understand the requirements and differences between subrecipients and contractors.

Question: Do you need the same budget detail for each sub-award recipient as you do for the applicant Can we just do a single line item with their total needs for their portion of the budget? Any additional info needed?
Answer: Subawards are a distinct type of cost and get captured under the “Other” budget category. Subaward recipients must comply with applicable provisions of 2 CFR Part 200 and EPA's Subaward Policy. In the Budget Detail, applicants must itemize costs related to personnel, fringe benefits, travel, equipment, installation (labor) supplies, contractual costs, other direct costs (subawards, participant support costs), indirect costs, and total costs. Please refer to Appendix C of this RFA for detailed guidance on funding projects and partnerships and how to correctly categorize these costs in the workplan budget.

Question: When can costs be incurred that are used as match? Does it have to be during the project period? If yes, when does the project period start?
Answer: Yes. Except for eligible pre-award costs as defined in 2 CFR 200.458 and as authorized by 2 CFR 200.309 and 2 CFR 1500.8, no funds awarded under this RFA shall be used to cover expenses incurred prior to the project period. Additionally, except for eligible pre-award costs as defined above, expenses incurred prior to the project period set forth in any assistance agreement funded under this RFA are not eligible as a cost share. EPA will work closely with selected entities on appropriate project start dates. Projects are expected to begin between February and September 2021, with an expected project completion date of 7 years afterwards.

Question: For tribal applicants, can other federal funds be used as match?
Answer: Yes. Tribal applicants may use their own funds or other sources for cost share if the standards of 2 CFR 200.306 are met. If the proposed cost share is to be provided by a named project partner, a letter of commitment is required. Only eligible and allowable costs may be used for cost share.

Question: How do I calculate match?
Answer: Match amount is 50% of the total budget, not just the federal share. Each federal dollar must be matched by a non-federal dollar.

Question: Will the presentation slides from the September 30th webinar be available?
Answer: Yes, the presentation slides will posted on this page.

Question: Will a recording of the September 30th webinar be available?
Answer: Yes, a recording of the entire webinar will be made available.

Question: It is unclear from the Applicant Eligibility section whether my certified small business falls into the category of "Non-Government – General."
Answer: Unless you are a non-profit or a university, you are not eligible to apply under the non-government organizations criteria. As stated in the RFA, EPA has defined non-governmental organization to mean non-profit or university.

Question: Is there a focus on serving vulnerable populations?
Answer: While all EPA programs have an overlay of addressing vulnerable communities and environmental justice populations, the Puget Sound Geographic Program Strategic Initiative Lead RFA does not include specific evaluation points related to serving vulnerable populations.

Question: Please provide clarification on the cost share. I am unclear as to whether it is 100% cash outlays or if in-kind staff time is allowed.
Answer: In-kind staff time is allowed. It needs to be monetized to show the specific match amount. See page 4 of the Interim General Budget Development Guidance for Applicants and Recipients of EPA Financial Assistance (PDF)(41 pp, 392 K, May 2019). Cost sharing or matching specifics can also can be found at 2 CFR §200.306 under the Code of Federal Regulations Part 200—Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards.

Question: Can I have a subaward with another federal agency with this grant?
Answer: Yes, an EPA grant recipient can enter into an agreement with a federal agency to perform services that will be paid for with grant funds provided the federal agency has statutory authority to retain and use the funds. However, as stated in EPA’s Subaward Policy for EPA Assistance Agreement Recipients, we do not consider that transaction to be a "subaward:"

7.0 (b) EPA does not consider transactions between pass-through entities and Federal agencies to be subawards or procurement contracts subject to the UGG.

  1. Under 2 CFR Part 25, Appendix A, Federal agencies are subrecipients for the purposes of the System for Award Management and Universal Identifier Requirements when they receive “subawards” from pass-through entities. However, because the Uniform Grant Guidance at 2 CFR 200.93 defines “subrecipient” as “… a non-Federal entity that receives a subaward from a pass-through entity…“ EPA has determined that Federal agencies are not subject to UGG requirements applicable to subrecipients.
  2. Federal agencies must have statutory authority to provide services to non-Federal entities on a reimbursable basis or otherwise receive and use funds from non-Federal entities. Transactions between pass-through entities and Federal agencies are governed by the applicable statute and the terms of the instruments Federal agencies use to establish their legal relationship with the pass- through entity rather than the UGG.
  3. Examples of statutes available to all Federal agencies for receipt and use of EPA financial assistance funds are the Intergovernmental Cooperation Act for services to state and local governments, the Federal Technology Transfer Act for Cooperative Research and Development Agreements, and the Omnibus Territories Act for reimbursable services agreements with U.S. Territories.

Question: For proposals with multiple collaborators, do an applicant’s project partners need to be registered in the Data Universal Number System (DUNS) and System for Award Management (SAM) in order to apply for a grant?
Answer: The grantee is required to be registered in DUNS and SAM in order to apply for a grant. Prior to making subawards, the grantee must ensure each subrecipient has a DUNS and SAM “unique entity identifier” number. This is found in the Subaward Policy (see below):

Prior to making subawards, ensure that each subrecipient has a "unique entity identifier." This identifier is required for registering in the System for Award Management (SAM) and by 2 CFR Part 25 and 2 CFR 200.331(a)(1). The unique entity identifier currently is the subrecipient's Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number. Information regarding obtaining a DUNS number and registering in SAM is available in the General Condition of the pass-through entity's agreement with EPA entitled Central Contractor Registration/System for Award Management and Universal Identifier Requirements T&C of the pass-through entity's agreement with the EPA.

Question: Is it necessary to be registered in the SAM system in order to apply for a grant?
Answer: Yes. The grant applicant is required to register in the System for Award Management (SAM) to apply for a grant.

Question: If a project applicant does not have an Indirect Cost Agreement, is there a standard maximum value the applicant can include for indirect costs in the budget?
Answer: If a project applicant has never had an Indirect Cost Agreement, the applicant could use a de minimis rate of 10% for indirect costs in their proposed budget. For additional information, refer to the Indirect Cost Guidance for Recipients of EPA Assistance Agreements.

Potential grant applicants can direct specific questions related to indirect cost agreements or other topics by sending an email to Melissa Whitaker (

Question: Does a project applicant’s Indirect Cost Agreement have to be current for fiscal year 2021?
Answer: To apply for a grant, a project applicant does not need a current Indirect Cost agreement for fiscal year (FY) 2021. The RFA eligibility criteria and grant review process does not consider if an applicant has an FY2021 Indirect Cost Agreement. The details of an organization’s Indirect Cost Agreement will only be a factor should a grant application be selected and EPA awards grant funds for the project. During the workplan negotiation period, the organization would need to have a current Indirect Cost Agreement to be able to draw down budgeted indirect costs. For additional information, refer to the Indirect Cost Guidance for Recipients of EPA Assistance Agreements.

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