Frequently Asked Questions

Select a FOA to view questions and answers for the specific funding opportunity. Alternatively select "Non-FOA related items" to view system FAQ items.

Question 1: Section II.C the maximum award is $2.5M  while in II.E the anticipated award is $1.5M. Is the anticipated just the expected average?
Answer 1: Yes, the anticipated award size is $1.5M, but could range from $500,000 to $2.5M depending on what is proposed.
Question 2: Would the submission of a proposal to use plasma be considered non-responsive to the FOA?
Answer 2:

Yes. This would be a non responsive approach.

Question 3: The Summary of Required Forms/Files indicates the Project Management Plan should be included as an appendix to the narrative AND in a separate Word file. Do you want it twice or do these refer to different documents? Also, on page 19, you give instructions to provide a  "Coordination and Management Plan" for applications that include multiple PIs. What constitutes a PI? If the lead is designated as the PI and the other technical experts are co-PIs, is the "Coordination and Management Plan" required? If so, is it to be submitted as one of the appendices at the back of the project narrative?
Answer 3: The Project Management Plan is a separate document that explains how you will manage the project and is  not a restatement of the project work plan. It should also include the ELSI explanations.   A project should have one prinicipal investigator who is the point of contact for negotiations for an award should the project be selected for negotiation.  The participation by others who are technical experts whether they are named as co PIs or technical experts needs to be explained in the Project Management Plan  along with how the project will be managed relative to the items listed on page 19 of the FOA.  The components of this coordination and  management plan would be included in the PMP. 
Question 4: If one of the subrecipients qualifies as an entity type 6 or 7, and they are only providing cost share (in kind service) and do not require any Federal funds, are they required to provide 10% or 20% of the total requested Federal funds?
Answer 4: If federal funds are not required by a subrecipient, they may contribute any amount in cost share.
Question 5: In a situation where a small U.S. Based company has research facilities in other countries, is cost share determined by (1) domestic small company (i.e. 10%) or location of where the research is being done (i.e. 20%)?
Answer 5: Cost share is considered where the primary applicants headquarters is based.  Therefore, if the small U.S. based company is headquartered within the United States the cost share would be 10%.   The small company must conform to the definition of a small business as explained in Appendix A.
Question 6: It appears as though this FOA is soliciting synthetic biology approaches to addressing the problems with biofuels and biorenewable chemicals. Synthetic biology is a vague term and we were wondering if experimental or directed evolution could be considered 'synthetic biology'.
Answer 6: Experimental or directed evolution could be part of an overall strategy, however, use of only directed evolution may be considered less transformational. The merits of any approach would be evaluated according to the criterion listed in the FOA.
Question 7: Under Topic Area 1 –Intermediate Production: Would using synthetic biology approaches on plants (feedstocks) be within the scope of this FOA?
Answer 7: No. Synthetic Biology for plant development was the topic of another FOA recently issued and currently closed by the Office of Science, reference “Genomic Science: Biosystems Design to Enable Next-Generation Biofuels,” DE-FOA-0000640."
Question 8: On page 7, Topic Area 2, “Another desirable outcome could be the reduction in process energy for product production, separation, and purification …”   Do these reductions need to be based on synthetic biology approaches or can they be achieved through the use of other technologies?
Answer 8: The preferred outcomes would be achieved by synthetic biology approaches.  A combination of synthetic biology approaches and other technologies is not excluded and the merits of such an approach may be evaluated as part of the overall merit review.
Question 9: Is Macroalgae an a acceptable feedstock for Topic Area 1?
Answer 9: Macroalgae would be an acceptable feedstock
Question 10: For the purposes of this FOA, could you provide a definition for the term "synthetic biology?" Because this is an emerging scientific discipline, there are several definitions in the literature. A definition for this FOA would clarify technology eligibility.
Answer 10: The FOA provides two general defintiions in Appendix A.
Question 11: Can cost sharing be shown in personnel salary, use of other facilities etc? Is there option for indirect costs in this RFA? If so, how much is allowed if an application is submitted on behalf of a University?
Answer 11: Yes. An applicant can use their personal salary for cost sharing purposes; and the approved indirect cost rate agreement for the University is allowable for this FOA.   
Question 12: Would a proposal on metabolic adaption and engineering of heterotrophic algae to municipal/industrial waste waters supplemented with glycerol for increased production of lipids be responsive to this FOA?
Answer 12: Please refer to the first two merit review criteria.  This FOA does not specify what synthetic biology approaches are to be used, but rather that the application be evaluated based on the merit review criteria.  The applicant must present an application that demonstrates transformational changes by whatever synthetic biology approach is employed by the applicant.
Question 13: Is diesel/jet fuel derived from non-agronomic biomass excluded from this solicitation?
Answer 13:

It depends. Diesel/jet fuel derived from gaseous intermediates can be proposed without concern over the source of the gaseous intermediates, hence those could be a non-agronomic source.  The applicant, however, needs to provide some rationale and pathway to eventually use agronomic biomass in the future.  Other non-agronomic sources that are excluded are identified in Appendix E under EISA 2007, Title II.

Question 14: According to EISA 2007 Title II, “Ethanol derived from sugar or starch”, is considered an advanced biofuel. Question 1: In that case, will “Ethanol derived from glucose” be considered as an advanced biofuel?
Answer 14: Please refer to Appendix E for EISA 2007, Title II definitions of what constitutes an advanced biofuel. If applying to topic I, please note the explanation regarding ethanol in the table found on pages 11 and 12 in Section I of the FOA under the line "Advanced Biofuels."
Question 15: Can you please confirm which Tables in the Technical and Financial (TechFin) spreadsheet need to be filled out.  On pg 7 it mentions Tables A-D need to be filled in.  On pg 22 it mentions the “Process Technology Table A Tech Fin” and the “Process Analytics Table B Tech Fin”  need to be filled in yet those are not what Table A or B are called in the TechFin spreadsheet.
Answer 15: This confusing situation should now be resolved in the latest change to the FOA document. The use of techfin tables is explained in the FOA Section I, about page 10 is the prevailing requirement. To reiterate,  each application should plan on filling out techfin tables that are germane to their specific situation. Several samples of tables are made available. The major requirement is that the application should employ the appropriate techfin table(s) that provide the best analysis of the technology baseline and performance metrics the project is hoping to achieve and concomittantly provide at least one techfin table that estimates economics.  For projects employing gaseous intermediates, the GHG analysis is an additional requirement.
Question 16: May organizations request a cost share waiver for TRL 2-3 concepts that are responsive to the FOA?
Answer 16: A cost share reduction to 10% for qualified applicants has been approved  and should be applied as appropriate.  A request for a waiver will not be considered.
Question 17: 1)The application states that gaseous intermediates can be considered “processable components” for Topic Area 2.  For clarity, will biological conversion of syngas (CO, H2 and CO2) into biofuels qualify? 2) I read through the definition of synthetic biology and I believe the syntrophic biology would qualify. Can you please confirm?
Answer 17:

1)  Technology to convert a gaseous intermediate such as syngas into biofuels will quality, however, the proposed approach needs to demonstrate a transformational change, not a simple incremental improvement in performance to be most meritorious .

2)   Syntrophic biology involving aspects of synthetic biology would not be excluded.  The merits of that approach need to be evaluated against the merit criteria listed in the FOA.

Question 18: What is the "Project Management Plan" you expect to see as an appendix to the narrative?
Answer 18: How the project lead will manage the project and not a restatement of work objectives.  Project management plans should include organizational structure, work break down structures, identification of key and lead personnel, communications plans, etc. among other things.  There are many references in the literature on project management plans and the applicant is free to provide their own models and structure.  Please note the answer to question about PMPs in an earlier question.
Question 19: Are institutions permitted to submit multiple applications? Does this limit apply to an individual PI or an institution?
Answer 19: Yes, Institutions are permitted to submit multiple applications to this FOA.  However, the Lead PI must be different on each application.  This limit only applies to the individual PI, not the institution.
Question 20: we have few questions regarding the eligibility of our approach and selected target plant. - Our final goal is the reduction of enzyme load required for lignocellulosic biomass conversion into simple sugar usable by microbe for biofuel production and it falls under Topic #1 since we will do plant engineering. Our approach is to engineer and express a new type of chimeric cellulase which will be be accumulated in planta in specific location within cell wall to benefit of a crowding effect used to increase enzymatic activity and stability. In addition to further increase the potential benefit of the crowding effect our  target plants will be engineered for a less recalcitrant lignin using a technology that we developed and validated at JBEI (Eudes et al, 2012 Plant Biotechnology journal 13:609). - To perform such demonstration within 2y we will use tobacco plants for engineering. The eligibility concern comes from the FAQ #7 regarding plant synthetic.
Answer 20: In planta approaches are not the focus of this FOA as the Office of Science recently issued a FOA that addressed this line of technology development, “Genomic Science: Biosystems Design to Enable Next-Generation Biofuels,” DE-FOA-0000640." These approaches are not consistent with the intent of this FOA.
Question 21: Does DDGS from corn ethanol count as an acceptable feedstock under this FOA?
Answer 21: This FOA is focusing on the conversion technology for biomass resources.  It is the innovation in converting lignocellulosic fractions into processable components that will be evaluated.  It would be incumbent upon the applicant to demonstrate that the technology proposed is working on the lignocellulosic fractions of DDGs and not the residual protein and sugars or unliberated starch.
Question 22: Is it acceptable to make biodiesel as a final fuel if it is created from lignocellulosic biomass?
Answer 22: Yes.  The restriction is transesterification of oils derived from biological and food processing sources - see "Excluded Topics" in the table found on about page 10 or 11 .  If a biodiesel can be made from lignocellulosic biomass then it would be an acceptable final fuel.
Question 23: We are partnering with a DOE national lab on this proposed project.  If our proposal is funded, they will be providing hydrolysate for use on the project, which comprises only 2% of the project cost (and less than $100,000).   Since their role is minor, they would like to provide this under a fee for services contract.  According to our partner, if we go this route, a DOE authorization letter or FWP would not be required.  Is that acceptable?
Answer 23: This would be acceptable under a fee structure.


Question 24: Is there a cap on indirect cost for this Funding opportunity?
Answer 24: No, there is not a cap on indirect costs.  However, the recipient will have to provide either an approved rate agreement from their cognzant agency, or an indirect rate proposal to be reviewed. 
Question 25: Can you clarify what the maximum level of effort that an FFRDC can provide as a lead institution for this proposal, please?
Answer 25: This FOA is open to all applicants as defined in the eligibility section IV.  Hence an FFRDC can provide 100% of the effort as long as cost share requirements are met and no federal funds are used for cost share.
Question 26: I have a question about the project start date.  I noticed that the award will be made at the middle of December.  However,  the RFP does not pecify a definite start date.  Does the project have to start in January 1st, 2013 or anytime later is fine?
Answer 26: The anticipated award date is December 2012, however this is just an estimation of when the award negotiations will be completed.  The project doesn't have to start right away, but should start within a reasonable timeframe following the award of an agreement.
Question 27: There is a question regarding the 50% cost share.  Can you provide further clarity is the 50% cost share to be an equal 1:1 ratio of dollar for dollar or can in-kind be included in this at an equivalent dollar to dollar rate up to a certain amount to serve as a match so long as it is documentable and captured for an accounting and auditing perspective?  If in-kind is allowable, are their limitations on this?  I have reviewed 10CFR Part 600 and didn’t find guidance on this).
Answer 27: Please refer to Appendix C of the FOA (Cost Share Information). A 50% cost share will be equal to a 1:1 ratio. The cost share requirement may be satisfied with both cash and third party in-kind contributions, provided that such contributions meet the criteria as stated in 10 CFR 600.  The rules associated with what is allowable as cost share are specific to the type of organization that is receiving funds under the grant or cooperative agreement, and can be found at  10 CFR 600.123, 10 CFR 600.224, or 10 CFR 600.313.  It is up to the recipient to propose the ratio of cash to third party in-kind contributions. Additionally, all costs must be reasonable and allowable pursuant to the applicable cost principles
Question 28: A.       The total project cost is anticipated to require $100 million in capital of which $50 million of that is equity already raised and secured leaving $10 million of it to be sought through this grant and the remaining balance of $40 million to be borrowed and financed by the recipient.  The question regarding the contingency then is – by having the $50 million equity already available and on hand for this project – does that satisfy the 25% total contingency for the project?  And if it does – how long does 25% of it have to remain secured if it in reality is part of what is needed to construct this project? Also, If it has to remain in reserve during Budget Period 2 (which Is the construction phase) – is there any point in the project that it can be authorized for use?  OR is the 25% contingency to read that in addition to the $100 million capital that has to be secured/raised – the expectation is that an additional $25 million in capital is set aside and restricted from use for the life of the project or the life of the grant? B. The second question to this would then be – if the answer is yes, there must be an additional $25 million raised in addition to the $100 million, at what point can this money be released and returned to the source that it came from? C.  And just for argument sake – is the Total Project Cost defined as the entire cost it will take to design and construct and undergo the demonstration scale on the way to commercialization OR is the Total Project Cost the total costs of the Grant + the recipients cost share equal to the Total project costs??  Meaning – if we requested $10 million in the grant with a $10 million cost share match – is the contingency then 25% of the $20 million or if the projects total project cost is $100 million is it 25% of the $100 million?
Answer 28: This question does not pertain to this FOA.  More likely to the Innovative Pilot plant FOA, DE-FOA-0000739
Question 29: Will any consideration be given to full applications submitted on time without having submitted a prior letter of intent  by June 21st?
Answer 29: No, a Letter of Intent is required to submit a full application.
Question 30: Is there any potential that a time extension will be put on this solicitation's due date?
Answer 30: No, there will not be a time extension for this FOA.
Question 31: We are trying to involve a Canadian collaborator on this EREE grant. In the RFA, it says 'Foreign entities are not eligible to submit applications although they may participate as partners with eligible entities.'. I wonder how we could interpret this. Importantly, the collaborator will bring much more on the table than the cost. a, He will provide expertise and many constructs and components important for the synthetic design; b, since he has existing funding in Genome Canada doing things similar, he will bring much cost sharing, but request limited funding to tailor his projects to help us. In this scenario, I wonder if we could budget them personnel and material, at very minimal amount. Or we are limited to budget them for consultation.
Answer 31: A foreign entity is only restricted from being the prime applicant.  They can be a  partner including budgeting for personnel, supplies, equipment and travel.  If their involvement exceeds $100,000, then a budget justification form must be included with the application.  Cost share would be commensurate with their status as explained in the tables on cost-share.
Question 32: And I don’t see the “upload new additional files” button that is shown in the user guide dated 06July2011. Does this only show up when I’ve uploaded all the other files?
Answer 32:

This issue has been remedied.

Question 33: The Funding Opportunity Announcement for DE-FOA-0000719 requires that an FWP be submitted with the proposal. Where do we obtain the necessary information to fill in the form? For instance, the FWP requires Headquarters Program Point of Contact, Headquarters Budget Point of Contact, only we do not have the information in the call. Should we leave these fields blank and submit the FWP?
Answer 33: Yes, you can leave that information blank
Question 34: Our EERE/DOE proposal includes 3 subcontractors, but the file upload for “Subaward budget file(s)” only allows for a single upload. Should all the data for the subcontractor budgets be converted and uploaded as a single PDF or alternate format?
Answer 34: Please upload as additional files
Question 35: We are required to submit a 424A and a budget justification (PMC 123.1) for each subcontractor on our proposal. We have two subcontractors so that is a total of four documents, all of which are excel files. On the EERE-exchange site, there is only one slot for uploading budget documents for subcontractors. When I try to upload a second document, it replaces the first document. Am I doing something wrong or if not, do you have a solution for this?
Answer 35: Please upload as additional files