State and Local Implementation Grant Program Frequently Asked Questions

Date: 
February 06, 2013
  1. Why did NTIA establish SLIGP? 

The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (Act) directs the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to establish a grant program to assist State, regional, tribal, and local jurisdictions with identifying, planning, and implementing the most efficient and effective means to use and integrate the infrastructure, equipment, and other architecture associated with the nationwide public safety broadband network  to satisfy the wireless broadband and data services needs of their jurisdictions.  SLIGP also supports and facilitates the states’ consultations with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), which the Act created as an independent authority within NTIA to oversee the design, construction, and operation of a nationwide public safety broadband network that is based on a single, nationwide network architecture.

  1. How do I apply? 

States and territories should submit applications via Grants.gov.   NTIA will accept paper applications as necessary.  Please refer to the Federal Funding Opportunity for further details, which can be found at http://www.ntia.doc.gov/other-publication/2013/sligp-federal-funding-opportunity.

  1. When does the grant application close?

Applications submitted on Grants.gov must be filed no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) on March 19, 2013.Paper applications must be either , or March 19, 2013.

  1. When will NTIA award the grants?

NTIA anticipates making all awards no later than July 15, 2013. 

  1. Who is the state designated point of contact?

The Act mandates that each Governor designate a single officer or governmental body to serve as coordinator of implementation of the SLIGP grant funds.The state or territory should also provide information about the state government entity where the single officer is employed, as the single officer must be a current government employee, not a contractor or consultant.Alternatively, if the Governor designates a governmental body to coordinate the implementation of grant funds, then that body must have legal authority to receive and expend funds on behalf of the state.

  1. Can a State or territory designate a private entity to receive its SLIGP grant funds?

No, only a state officer or state-designated governmental body may receive the SLIGP funds. 

  1. How are localities and tribal jurisdictions able to access the funds necessary to ensure their needs are addressed?

By statute, NTIA is directed to make grants to states under the SLIGP.  The recipient of grant funds will be the single officer of the state or a state-recognized governmental body designated by the Governor; however, a state or territory may sub-award grant funds to other units of government within its jurisdictional boundaries.  SLIGP activities are intended to be statewide and to assist each state and territory in effectively consulting with regional, tribal, and local entities and adequately conveying the interest of these groups to FirstNet. 

  1. How long is the grant period?

The period of performance for SLIGP awards is three (3) years.

  1. What activities must SLIGP grant recipients complete by the end of the grant period?

As described in the Federal Funding Opportunity, grant recipients must complete the following activities by the award end date: 

(1) establish or enhance a governance structure to consult with FirstNet;

(2) develop procedures to ensure local and tribal representation when the state is consulting with FirstNet;

(3) conduct education and outreach for all relevant stakeholders that will be involved in the public safety broadband network;

(4) identify potential public safety users for the PSBN;

(5) develop a standard Memorandum of Agreement appropriate for the grantee state to facilitate the possible sharing of infrastructure with FirstNet;

(6) develop staffing plans to involve local and tribal stakeholders in a future data collection in consultation with FirstNet; and

(7) prepare a comprehensive plan as part of the Statewide Communications Interoperability Plan (SCIP), or a plan complementary and similar to the SCIP, describing the public safety needs that the grantee expects FirstNet to address, plus relevant milestones. 

  1. May a recipient request an extension of time for the grant period of performance? 

Yes, recipients may request a no-cost extension to the three-year period of performance.  However, such requests may not occur until the final year of the grant period, must contain sufficient justification to warrant an extension, be recommended by the Federal Program Officer, and be approved by the Grants Officer.  If approved, grantees will have more time (up to twelve (12) months, but with no additional funds, to complete performance.

  1. What are allowable costs?

Allowable costs are those costs described in and consistent with the principles identified in the applicable OMB circulars and in the grant program’s authorizing legislation as detailed in the Federal Funding Opportunity.  Allowable costs must be reasonable, allocable, necessary to the project, and conform to generally accepted accounting principles.

Allowable costs may include categories such as: (1) personnel costs; (2) costs associated with planning meetings with statewide stakeholders; (3) travel costs for state, local, and tribal representatives to attend planning meetings; (4) costs to develop, modify, or enhance statewide plans and governance structures; (5) costs for communications, education, and outreach activities with state, local, tribal, and regional stakeholders; (5) costs to develop standardized Memoranda of Agreement and other types of agreements to facilitate access to and use of existing infrastructure; (6) costs to identify potential public safety users for the public safety broadband network; (7) administrative services costs, equipment costs, and supplies necessary to manage the grant program; and (8) reasonable proposal expenses, which include costs related to preparing an application and pre-award costs to attend FirstNet technical assistance workshops, if they are incurred after the publication date of the Federal Funding Opportunity and prior to the date of the issuance of the grant award from NTIA.

  1. What are unallowable costs?

Funds awarded under the SLIGP may not be used for activities related to site preparation, broadband deployment, installation, construction, lobbying costs, contingency fees, or the acquisition of equipment used to provide wireless broadband services.

Please note that costs ineligible for SLIGP may not be included as a part of the matching non-federal cost share.

  1. How will applications be reviewed? 

Applications will be assessed by at least three peer reviewers providing individual scores directly to NTIA.  The Federal Funding Opportunity identifies the criteria the evaluators will use to review the applications (project feasibility – 5 points; supplemental narrative questions – 75 points; and detailed budget justification – 20 points).  If an applicant does not achieve an average total score of 70 points from the peer reviewers, program staff may request that the applicant revise its application following which the same peer reviewers will reassess the revised application.  NTIA program staff will then review all applications to ensure the application meets all eligibility and grant requirements.  Following this programmatic review, program staff may again contact an applicant to discuss any recommended adjustments or revisions to their applications necessary to better meet SLIGP objectives.

  1. What is the minimum non-federal matching share? 

Under the Act, the federal share of the cost of any activity carried out under the grant program may not exceed 80 percent of the eligible cost of carrying out grant activities.  Thus, NTIA expects that SLIGP grant recipients will provide at least 20 percent non-federal matching funds toward the total eligible project cost.  Please note that the requirement is 20 percent of the total project costs, not 20 percent of the federal share awarded. 

Recipients may use indirect costs and allowable in-kind costs to help achieve the 20 percent matching requirement. 

  1. Can regional groups of states file a joint application on behalf of that region (with a single designated entity)?

No, each state and territory must submit an individual application. However, NTIA encourages states to collaborate and coordinate SLIGP activities with neighboring states. 

  1. What is the difference between the first and second funding phases? 

With first phase funding, states must focus on activities related to governance, consultation with FirstNet, engagement of all relevant stakeholders, education and outreach to stakeholders, and identification of potential users of the public safety broadband network.In the second phase, states will focus primarily on collecting requested data for FirstNet in preparation for the public safety broadband network, as well as continuing to perform the activities undertaken during the first phase of funding.

  1. Why is there a need to reserve funds for the second phase? Why not just make a one-time grant and designate allowable uses for phases?

NTIA is reserving 50 percent of the total grant award through a Special Award Condition so that recipients will have sufficient funding available to perform second phase activities or to continue with the planning, governance, and outreach activities they undertook during the first funding phase.  The entire federal share will be obligated at the time of award.  Because NTIA and states do not yet know what or how much data FirstNet will ask to be collected, it is necessary to reserve grant funding for this critical activity. 

  1. What data will be collected under SLIGP?

NTIA is coordinating closely with FirstNet regarding what data FirstNet needs to be collected by the states and territories in preparation for the public safety broadband network.  Once FirstNet identifies its specific needs, NTIA will provide a detailed list of data needs, request a revised budget from recipients, and, upon programmatic approval, will recommend to the Grants Office to release the second phase funding in order to commence data collection activities. 

  1. Will NTIA conduct any workshops to educate states, tribes, and localities about this program?

Yes, NTIA will conduct webinars in the near future to provide additional information to stakeholders regarding SLIGP.

  1. If a state declines to apply for a SLIGP grant, or is unable to receive the funds for any reason, is it ineligible to benefit from the nationwide public safety broadband network to be deployed by FirstNet?

No.

  1. Can a state appeal for more funding than indicated in the FFO?

No, states may not appeal the funding formula.  If additional funds remain during the grant program either because states do not accept SLIGP funds or administrative costs are less than projected, it is possible that additional grant funds could be awarded. 

  1. Can states with Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP) public safety grants use a portion of those funds to cover their match?

No, recipients may not use other Department of Commerce grant funds (e.g., BTOP) as a source of their non-federal matching share for SLIGP. 

  1. Does sequestration have an impact on SLIGP?

Sequestration will cut approximately $3.5 million in funding from NTIA’s State and Local Implementation Grant Program (SLIGP) through the remainder of this fiscal year. These grants will be awarded to states and territories for their work planning and consulting with FirstNet as part of ongoing discussions around the nationwide public safety broadband network.

NTIA still intends to award 56 grants in Fiscal Year 2013, but each grant could be reduced as a result of sequestration. NTIA will take steps to adjust the allocation formula originally announced in the Federal Funding Opportunity (FFO), released on February 6, 2013, to account for this reduction. Grantees’ non-federal share also will be adjusted down to correspond with the reduction in the amount of the federal share.

Since all grant funds will be obligated this year for the entire three-year period of performance, the recipients will encounter a one-time reduction.

States and territories planning to apply for a SLIGP grant should continue to prepare their application forms, including their detailed budget information, for submission by the March 19, 2013 deadline using the dollar amounts listed in the FFO. Following that deadline, and in advance of the anticipated award date in mid-July 2013, NTIA will work with applicants to modify their application materials, including detailed budgets, to reflect the revised award amounts.

  1. Who can I contact at NTIA if I have questions? 

Applicants with questions may contact Mike Dame, SLIGP Program Director at NTIA, by telephone at (202) 482-1181 or email: mdame@ntia.doc.gov.