4.0 TOPIC C: DECISION-MAKING AND VALUATION FOR ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY

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4.1 Introduction

The Decision-making and Valuation for Environmental Policy competition encourages research on decision-making and understanding public values in environmental policy and related public issues. Within this component, priority will be given to fundamental and methodological research on benefit-cost analysis, ecosystem valuation, and normative behaviors and environmental decision-making. The goal of this competition is to support research that advances the scientific basis of valuation and decision analysis as it contributes to the formulation and evaluation of environmental policy. Funding priority will be given to research that assists environmental interest groups, labor, industry, and environmental justice and community groups, as well as environmental agencies at all levels of government to address issues of practical significance to their activities.

Theoretical and empirical research in mathematics, engineering, social and behavioral sciences, and environmental ethics has provided a number of useful analytical frameworks for organizing information on the economic and social consequences of alternative environmental policies. Benefit-cost analysis, multi-criteria decision analysis, cost-effectiveness analysis, and consensus modeling represent well known approaches in environmental decision-making. At the federal level and to a more limited extent at the state level, benefit-cost analysis is required for all major regulations as well as legislative initiatives and some other decisions. A general lack of accepted methods for determining many important economic and social benefits and costs limits the use of decision-analytic frameworks, particularly for community based environmental problems and issues dealing with ecosystem variability. This competition invites applications that address key theoretical and methodological needs associated with the use of these frameworks. Novel, collaborative, or interdisciplinary scientific efforts are especially encouraged.

4.2 Description

Government agencies responsible for policy analysis, statutory rules, regulatory decision-making, priority setting for environmental actions, and assessment have an interest in advancing research to help develop practical approaches to estimating economic and social benefits and costs that are systematic and credible. This competition is intended to support research projects in four areas: (1) benefits of environmental policies and programs; (2) costs of environmental policies and programs; (3) ecosystem valuation and protection; and (4) normative behaviors and environmental decision-making.

4.2.1 Benefits of Environmental Policies and Programs

Environmental policies and programs are generally intended to protect or improve the health and well being of humans and the ecosystems vital to human welfare. Policies that enhance and protect the environment provide economic value and benefits to society. Currently, there are several approaches to measuring this value, including methods that rely predominantly upon either revealed or stated preferences for health and environmental goods and services. Improvements to existing methods and the development of new methods are encouraged. Examples of areas where government agencies have significant information needs in the environmental valuation area include:

  • Methods to improve estimation of values for reductions in mortality and morbidity risks resulting from pollution and other environmental hazards. Research on methods to address non-cancer health benefits is particularly encouraged.

  • Identification and improvement of methods for measuring environmental quality influences on human welfare, including those that recognize distributional factors in addition to efficiency.

  • Methods to apply existing benefit estimates or valuation functions to assess the benefits of a distinct but similar environmental change (i.e., benefits transfer methods).

  • Improved methods for valuing changes in the environmental quality of public resources (e.g., groundwater) regulated by multiple laws.

  • Methods to assess the benefits of providing environmental information to consumers, investors, and/or producers of goods and services.

4.2.2 Costs of Environmental Policies and Programs

The societal costs of environmental policies and programs include compliance costs, government regulatory costs, losses to consumer and producer welfare, costs of displaced resources, and other costs to the economic system arising from changes in product quality, productivity, innovation, and market structure. Industry, however, increasingly abates pollution by changes in production processes (i.e., pollution prevention) instead of waste remediation. As a consequence, traditional financial and engineering methods must be augmented by dynamic models that incorporate resource substitutions, price changes, technological change, and innovation. This component of the competition seeks to strengthen the conceptual and empirical basis for cost estimation methods. Examples of topics of interest in this area are:

  • Integrated approaches to modeling production technology that includes both desirable outputs and potential wastes or pollutants, including conceptual and methodological research that captures life-cycle or legacy factors.

  • Methodology to estimate the cost savings from using economic incentives relative to other approaches to environmental pollution control.

  • Empirical research that compares estimated and realized costs for pollution prevention and abatement at levels of the plant, market, industry, and economy.

  • Improved methods to estimate and validate aggregate and sectoral costs of environmental protection programs including, for example, empirical analyses of system-wide and dynamic effects that capture plant location, productivity, and technological change.

4.2.3 Ecosystem Valuation and Protection

Traditional valuation approaches have focused on changes in the individual services or functions of ecosystems to identify benefits or costs of environmental policy or regulation. Comprehensive assessments of changes in ecosystem functions are often limited by inadequate knowledge of the relationships among ecosystem inhabitants, functions, and services. Another limiting factor is the poorly understood relationship between keystone species or critical biological functions and human activities. Scientific advances in ecosystem valuation and cost analysis require better understanding of the interconnectedness among social, economic, physical, and biological systems. Proposals submitted to this component of the competition should emphasize these interdependencies in their research and focus on how comprehensive or critical ecosystem changes can be measured in terms of social welfare. Examples of the topics of interest in this component include:

  • Core concepts of comprehensive ecosystem function, including research that characterizes and quantifies the natural environment and links measures of ecosystem productivity and sustainability with economic activities and changes in human welfare. Improved understanding of the economic-ecological relationships in areas such as wetlands, timber, watersheds, minerals, wildlife/fish, and grasslands are of particular interest.

  • Methods for valuing biodiversity, populations of native species, amounts of protected areas and open space, and other critical ecosystem attributes, including research that illuminates the interactive and synergistic role of these attributes and their economic and social implications.

  • Methods for defining the scope of ecosystem restoration that reflect the cost to restore the quality and service characteristics.

  • Methods for valuation, including research that identifies ecosystem functions of value to society and addresses issues of time, scale, and natural and political boundaries.

4.2.4 Normative Behaviors and Environmental Decision-making

This area encourages research to identify and examine behavioral and institutional factors that influence the development, implementation, and evaluation of environmental policies. Research is expected to be theoretically and methodologically sophisticated and to contain an empirical component. Psychological attitudes, socio-cultural, legal, and ethical norms, economic forces, and political and communication activities, in isolation and altogether, affect the development and use of environmental policy. Better understanding of these factors and the ways in which they can improve or interfere with social negotiations about environmental issues is needed. Potential topics for consideration here include but are not limited to:

  • Identification and characterization of communities and the values and normative behaviors that influence their responses to new environmental information, proposed development plans and regulations, and processes to involve communities in developing and assessing criteria for decision-making about environmental and economic investments and problems.

  • Identification and analysis of social, political, and ethical factors relevant to environmental problem-solving in a trans-jurisdictional context, and effective mechanisms for addressing those factors.

  • Implications of geographical and political boundaries and personal, group, and organizational characteristics, behaviors, and attitudes for environmental problem-solving.

  • Comparative analysis of different models of environmental decision-making that emphasizes their descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive implications, to include analysis and assessment of public-private deliberation on environmental decision-making affecting industrial and community based environmental issues.

4.3 Relationship to Current EPA Activities

The EPA/NSF Decision-making and Valuation for Environmental Policy activity is related to EPA's research interests for the Common Sense Initiative and other environmental policy initiatives within the Agency. CSI is directed toward finding "cleaner, cheaper, and smarter" environmental protection approaches based on multi-stakeholder, consensus based decision-making processes. EPA has launched the CSI to bring together representatives from federal, state, and local governments; industry; environmental interests, environmental justice, and community based organizations; and labor to examine key environmental management issues facing six CSI pilot industrial sectors. These six sectors include: the computer and electronics, iron and steel, automobile manufacturing, metal finishing, petroleum refining, and printing industries. CSI is unique in that it addresses environmental decision-making by industrial sector rather than by medium (air, water, land), and it provides an opportunity for building new public-private institutional relationships based on participation, trust, and consensus rather than disagreement and adversarial relationships.

4.4 Additional Considerations

To assist in the evaluation of how the research contributes to the decision needs of environmental agencies, proposals must include a special information and supplementary documentation section titled "Policy Relevance." For the purposes of this solicitation, the Policy Relevance discussion is limited to two pages and must contain an explicit statement on the policy relevance of the proposed research. This does not count against the 15-page limit. In particular, the principal investigator (PI) must identify the "target group," or set of policy makers and/or policy analysts, who are likely to benefit from this research. Once identified, the PI must elaborate on the potential benefits of this research for the designated target group. The PI should also address ways that members of the research team intend to communicate the results to the relevant target group.

In addition, if the project will produce data and information of value to the broader research community, the applicant must also include a discussion of "Data and Information Availability." This discussion, not to exceed two pages in addition to the 15 allowed, should describe the data and information products, the management plans for their validation, quality control, archiving, costs for these activities, and whether and under what conditions the data will be made available to interested parties.

The normal application page limit for the Project Description is 15. However, for this announcement, any proposal submitted under the Decision-making and Valuation for Environmental Policy component which involves a survey is hereby authorized to add a separate additional section for the survey instrument as an appendix to the proposal.

Proposals received by NSF under its normal unsolicited proposal mechanisms may also be deemed appropriate for consideration by the Decision-making and Valuation for Environmental Policy competition and may be funded under this joint program.

Approximately $2 million is expected to be available for this competition. The projected award range is $60,000 to $125,000 per award per year, with a duration of up to 3 years. Laboratory and field experiments and survey research, and multi-investigator projects may be considered for a higher funding level. Depending on the quality of proposals and the recommendations from merit review, the sponsoring agencies expect more than half the resources to be allocated to the component area of benefits of environmental policies and programs.

Please see Section 6.0 for complete instructions for proposal submission.


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5.0 ELIGIBILITY

Academic and not-for-profit institutions located in the U.S., and State or local governments are eligible. Profit-making firms and federal agencies are not eligible to apply to this program. However, personnel in profit-making firms may participate as non-funded co-investigators or through sub-contracts with the awardee institution. Personnel associated with entities such as national labs and FFRDCs are encouraged to participate as co-investigators on applications originating at eligible institutions. Non-EPA federal employees may cooperate or collaborate with eligible applicants within the limits imposed by applicable legislation and regulations. Federal employees may not receive salaries or in other ways augment their agency's appropriations through grants made by this program. Potential applicants who are uncertain of their eligibility should contact Dr. Robert E. Menzer (listed in Section 1.0).

EPA and NSF welcome applications on behalf of all qualified scientists, engineers, and other professionals and strongly encourage women, minorities, and persons with disabilities to compete fully in any of the programs described in this announcement.

In accordance with Federal statutes and regulations and EPA and NSF policies, no person on grounds of race, color, age, sex, national origin, or disability shall be excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving financial assistance from the Environmental Protection Agency or the National Science Foundation.


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6.0 INSTRUCTIONS FOR APPLICATION SUBMISSION

6.1 Sorting Codes

In order to facilitate proper assignment and review of applications, each applicant is asked to identify the topic area in which the application is to be considered. It is the responsibility of the applicant to correctly identify the proper sorting code. Failure to do so may result in an improper review assignment. At various places within the application, applicants will be asked to identify this topic area by using the appropriate Sorting Code. The Sorting Codes correspond to the topic areas within the solicitation and are shown below:

Water and Watersheds 97-NCERQA-11
Technology for a Sustainable Environment
Chemistry for Pollution Prevention 97-NCERQA-12A
Engineering for Pollution Prevention 97-NCERQA-12B
Measurement, Assessment, and Feedback
Techniques for Pollution Prevention 97-NCERQA-12C
Decision-making and Valuation for Environmental Policy
Benefits of Environmental Policies and Programs 97-NCERQA-13A
Costs of Environmental Policies and Programs 97-NCERQA-13B
Ecosystem Valuation and Protection 97-NCERQA-13C
Normative Behaviors and Environmental Decision
making 97-NCERQA-13D

The Sorting Code must be placed at the top of the abstract (as shown in the abstract format), on the title page (as shown in the title page format), and must also be included in the address on the package that is sent to EPA (see section 6.3).

6.2 The Application

Click here to download the Application in Adobe Acrobat PDF format

The initial application is made through the submission of the application materials described below. It is important that the application contain all the information requested and be submitted in the formats described. If it is not, the application may be eliminated from review on administrative grounds. Once an applicant is chosen for award (i.e., after external peer review and internal programmatic review), additional documentation and forms will be requested by the Project Officer. The application contains the following:

A.Standard Form 424: The applicant must complete Standard Form 424 (see attached). This form will act as a cover sheet for the proposal and should be the first page in the proposal. Instructions for completion of the SF424 are included with the form and the second form must be the Contacts Form [attached]

B.Abstract: The abstract is a very important document. Prior to attending peer review panel meetings, some of the panelists may read only the abstract. Therefore, it is critical that the abstract accurately describe the research being proposed and convey all the essential elements of the research. Also, in the event of an award, the abstracts will form the basis for an annual report of awards made under this program. The abstract should include the following information: the sorting code, the project title, the names and affiliations of all principal investigators, and a summary of the objectives, approach, and expected results described in the proposal. The abstract must not exceed one 8.5x11 inch page of single spaced standard 12-point type with 1 inch margins. (See attached format).

C.Project Description: This description must not exceed fifteen (15) consecutively numbered (center bottom), 8.5x11 inch pages of single-spaced standard 12-point type with 1 inch margins. The description must provide the following information:

1.Objectives: List objective of the proposed research and/or the hypotheses being tested during the project. Include a statement on the context of the proposed research in relation to other environmental research in the particular area of work; this statement should also be synopsized in the objectives section of the abstract.

2.Approach: Outline the methods, approaches, and techniques that you intend to employ in meeting the objective stated above.

3.Expected Results or Benefits: Describe the results you expect to achieve during the project and the benefits of success as they relate to the topic under which the proposal was submitted.

4.Results from Prior Federal Support: Provide information on the results of research conducted with prior or current Federal support. This must be limited to five pages and counts as part of the 15-page total, except for Water and Watersheds only, in which an additional five pages is authorized. This section should include information on any prior Federal awards closely related to the application (i.e., not limited to EPA or NSF awards).

5.General Project Information: Discuss other information relevant to the potential success of the project. This should include facilities, personnel, project schedules, proposed management, interactions with other institutions, etc.

6.Important Attachments: Appendices, references, or other information must be included but must remain within the 15-page limit unless deviation from the page limit is specifically authorized under the guidance for sections 2.0, 3.0, or 4.0.

D.Resumes
: The resumes of all principal investigators and important co-workers should be presented using NSF form 1362 (see attached). Resumes must not exceed two consecutively numbered (bottom center), 8.5x11 inch pages of single-spaced standard 12-point type with 1 inch margins.

E.Current and Pending Support: The applicant must identify any current and pending financial resources that are intended to support research. This should be done by Completing NSF Form 1239 (see attached) for each investigator and other senior personnel involved in the proposal. Failure to provide this information may delay consideration of your proposal.

F.Budget: A detailed, itemized budget for each year of the proposed project must be included. This budget must utilize the format shown in the attachment.

G.Budget Justification: This section should describe the basis for calculating the personnel, fringe benefits, travel, equipment, supplies, contractual support, construction, and other costs identified in the itemized budget. This should also include an explanation of how the indirect costs and charges were calculated. This justification should not exceed two consecutively numbered (bottom center), 8.5x11 inch pages of single-spaced standard 12 point type with 1 inch margins.

H. Quality Assurance Narrative Statement:
A quality assurance system that complies with the requirements of ANSI/ASQC E4, "Specifications and Guidelines for Quality Systems for Environmental Data Collection and Environmental Technology Programs," must be provided. This statement should not exceed two consecutively numbered (bottom center), 8.5x11 inch pages of single-spaced standard 12 point type with 1 inch margins. The Quality Assurance Narrative Statement should either present the required information or provide a justification as to why the item does not apply to the proposed research for each item listed below:

    1.The data collection activities to be performed or hypothesis to be tested (reference may be made to the specific page and paragraph number in the application where this information may be found); acceptance criteria for data quality (precision, accuracy, representativeness, completeness, comparability).

    2.The survey design including sample type and location requirements and any statistical analyses that were used to estimate the types and numbers of samples required.

    4.The procedures for the handling and custody of samples, including sample identification, preservation, transportation, and storage.

    5.The methods that will be used to analyze samples collected, including a description of the sampling and/or analytical instruments required.

    6.The procedures that will be used in the calibration and performance evaluation of the sampling and analytical methods used during the project.

    7.The intended use of the data as they relate to the study objectives or hypotheses.

    8.The quantitative and or qualitative procedures that will be used to evaluate the success of the project.

    9.Any plans for peer or other reviews of the survey design or analytical methods prior to data collection.

    10.The procedures for data reduction and reporting, including description of statistical analyses to be used.

[ANSI/ASQC E4, "Specifications and Guidelines for Quality Systems for Environmental Data Collection and Environmental Technology Programs," is available for purchase from the American Society for Quality Control, telephone : 1-800-248-1946, item T55. Only in exceptional circumstances should it be necessary to consult this document.]

6.3 How to Apply

The original and fifteen (15) copies of the fully developed application and five (5) additional copies of the abstract (20 in all), must be received by NCER no later than 4:00 P.M. EST on the closing date, January 31, 1997.

The application and abstract must be prepared in accordance with these instructions. Informal, incomplete, or unsigned proposals will not be considered. Completed applications should be sent via regular or express mail to:

    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
    Peer Review Division (8703)
    Sorting Code: 97-NCERQA-X (replace the "X" with the appropriate code)
    401 M Street, SW
    Washington DC 20460

    Phone : (202) 260-0653 (For express mail applications)

Proposals must be submitted to only one topic area, using a single sorting code. Proposals submitted to more than one RFA topic will be assigned to the topic designated on the first version received or to the first sorting code designated on the application. If you wish to submit more than one application to EPA or NSF, you must ensure that the research proposed is significantly different from the research in other proposals that have been submitted to this solicitation or from other grants you are currently receiving from any Federal government agency.

The sorting code must be identified in the address (as shown above). Please do not fail to substitute the appropriate code for the "X" in 97-NCERQA-X.

6.4 Guidelines, Limitations, and Additional Requirements

Subcontracts for research to be conducted under the grant which exceed 40% of the total direct cost of the grant for each year in which the subcontract is awarded must be especially well justified.

Researchers may be invited to participate in an annual All-Investigators Meeting with EPA and NSF scientists and other grantees to report on research activities and to discuss areas of mutual interest. Travel funds should be budgeted to accommodate that eventuality.

The application must include a blank, self-addressed, stamped post card. This will be returned to the applicant to signify that the application has been received.


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7.0 REVIEW AND SELECTION

7.1 Review Procedures

All grant applications are initially screened by EPA and NSF to determine their compliance with legal and administrative requirements. Acceptable applications are then reviewed by an appropriate technical peer review group. This review is designed to evaluate each proposal according to its technical merit. Each review group is composed primarily of non-EPA scientists, engineers, and/or social scientists who are experts in their respective disciplines. The reviewers use the following criteria to guide them in their reviews:

1. The originality and creativity of the proposed research, the potential contribution the proposed research could make to advance scientific knowledge in the environmental area, the appropriateness and adequacy of the research methods proposed, and the appropriateness and adequacy of the Quality Assurance Narrative Statement.

2. The qualifications of the principal investigator(s) and other staff, including knowledge of pertinent literature, experience, and publication records as well as the likelihood that the proposed research will be successfully completed.

3. The availability and/or adequacy of the facilities and equipment proposed for the project.

4. The responsiveness of the proposal to the research needs set forth in this solicitation.

5. Although budget information is not used by the reviewers as the basis for their evaluation of scientific merit, the reviewers are asked to provide their input on the appropriateness and/or adequacy of the proposed budget and its implications on the potential success of the proposed research. Input on requested equipment is of particular interest.

Copies of the evaluations by the technical reviewers will be provided to each applicant. Funding decisions are the sole responsibility of EPA and NSF. Grants are selected on the basis of technical merit, relevancy to the research priorities outlined, program balance, and budget.

7.2 Proprietary Information

By submitting an application in response to this solicitation, the applicant grants EPA and NSF permission to share the application with technical reviewers both within and outside the Agencies. Applications containing proprietary or other types of confidential information will not be reviewed.


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8.0 Grant Administration

Upon conclusion of the review process, meritorious applications may be recommended for funding by either EPA or NSF, at the option of the agencies, not the applicant. Subsequent grant administration procedures will be in accordance with the individual policies of the awarding agency.

8.1 EPA Grant Administration

The funding mechanisms for all awards issued under this solicitation will consist of grant agreements between EPA and the recipient. In accordance with Public Law 95-224, grants are used to accomplish a public purpose of support or stimulation authorized by Federal statute rather than acquisition for the direct benefit of the Agency. In using a grant agreement, EPA anticipates that there will be no substantial involvement during the course of the grant between the recipient and the Agency.

EPA grants awarded as a result of this announcement will be administered in accordance with 40 CFR Part 30 and 40 or the most recent FDP terms and conditions, depending upon the grantee institution.

EPA provides awards for research in the sciences and engineering related to environmental protection. The awardee is solely responsible for the conduct of such activities and preparation of results for publication. EPA, therefore, does not assume responsibility for such findings or their interpretation.

8.2 NSF Grant Administration

NSF grants awarded as a result of this announcement will be administered in accordance with the terms and conditions of the most recent NSF GC-1, "Grant General Conditions," or the FDP-III, "Federal Demonstration Project General Terms and Conditions," depending on the grantee organization.

More comprehensive information on the administration of NSF grants is contained in the Grant Policy Manual (NSF 95-26, July 1995), for sale through the Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office (GPO), Washington, D.C. 20402. The telephone number at GPO is (202) 512-1800 for subscription information.

Organizations applying to NSF for the first time, or which have not received an NSF award within the preceding two years, should refer to the NSF Grant Policy Manual, Section 500, for instructions on specific information that may be requested by NSF. First time NSF awardees will be required to submit organizational, management, and financial information, including a certification of civil rights compliance, before a grant can be made. One copy of the Grant Policy Manual will be provided free of charge to new grantees.

Upon completion of an NSF project, a Final Project Report (NSF Form 98A) form will be sent to the grantee. Applicants should review this form prior to proposal submission so that appropriate tracking mechanisms are included in the proposal plan to ensure that complete information will be available at the conclusion of the project.

Activities described in this publication are in the following categories in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA): 47.041 Engineering; 47.049 Mathematical and Physical Sciences; 47.050 Geosciences; 47.074 Biological Sciences; 47.075 Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences.

OMB 3145-0058 EPA/600/x-xx/xxx
P.T.: 34 Replaces NSF 96-45
K.W.: 1007001
1007010
0307002
041009


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Last Updated: February 3, 2000