A recording of an informational webinar held for RFP3 on Feb 1, 2024 is posted below, along with FAQs regarding LA-COE RFPs.

This page will be regularly updated with responses to any additional questions regarding RFP3. If you wish to submit a question, please email LA-COE using the link provided here. The deadline for submission of questions regarding full proposals for RFP3 is April 12, 2024.


RFP3 Informational Webinar


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: There are several locations for flotant marsh between the Atchafalaya and Mississippi rivers. Does LA-COE/CPRA, have opinions on which locations of flotant marsh would be of the most interest for characterization?

A: Thank you for your question. While LA-COE appreciates your willingness to assess areas of flotant marsh that will be most beneficial to the implementation of the Coastal Master Plan, we are unable to provide direct guidance at this stage of the proposal process. However, the LA-COE/CPRA team will work with researchers to refine their project, if and when it is selected for funding.

Q: Can you please clarify what you are looking for under RFP Appendix C, Item 3d (“outputs, including opportunities for training students, postdoctoral fellows, and/or junior researchers”). The discussion of mentoring and training students and early career personnel appears to fall under Appendix C Item 3g, so does the term “outputs” refer to project deliverables?

A: The “outputs” in Appendix C, Item 3d broadly refer to project deliverables; these outputs can include, for instance, reports, datasets, and/or training provided to undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and/or junior researchers through the project. The quantification of such a training output can be provided as the number of students and/or researchers trained, and the number of presentations given by students and/or junior researchers during the project.

Item 3g in Appendix C refers to demonstrating the experience of the research team in providing mentorship and training of students and junior researchers in support of Item 3d.

Q: Has the COE considered extending the submittal deadline since the LOI deadline was extended?

A: As the feedback on LOIs was provided to PIs on the original RFP3 timeline, no extension will be granted at the full proposal stage.

Q: We are adding collaborators to our proposal. For individuals that would be listed as independent contractors (vendor agreement with the university), do they need the co-PI documents? (i.e., biosketch, current and pending support, list of collaborators, and a letter of commitment).

A: If anyone is labeled as a co-PI they will need biosketch, current and pending support, list of collaborators, and letters of commitment. If you have a consultant (consultant services) or subaward/contractual costs, please follow the guidance listed in the Budget Section of the RFP, page C-3 to make sure you budget them correctly. If you are working with a university, please make sure that their services to be provided are listed under the correct contract category. LA-COE will enter into a subaward agreement with the lead PI’s organization only. The lead PI’s organization shall execute the grant agreement and shall execute lower-tier subaward agreements with co-PIs. All lower-tier subawards shall incorporate all applicable terms and conditions.

Q: We are also adding a vendor to perform a professional task (drone survey). Even though on-paper this situation is the same as the one above, this person would not be collaborating or contributing to the science, just providing a service. Does that person also need to submit docs?

A: For a basic vendor service for drone surveys with no collaboration, you can budget the item under the "Other expenses" category and justify the item/cost. This would not require any additional documentation. Please refer to the Budget Section of the RFP, page C-3.

Q: We plan to include a high school field trip in the research proposal. Can we include a letter of commitment from the high school we plan to work with?

A: A letter of commitment can be submitted from the high school, as long as they meet the criteria listed in Appendix C of the RFP, page C-4. "Letters of commitment: Letters of commitment, with official authorized signatures, must be provided for each named collaborating organization expected to receive funds and/or contribute key personnel or make substantial contributions to the research." You can consider the involvement of the high school to be contribution to the research.

Q: I am writing with a question regarding budgeting of graduate assistantships. The FAQ notes (on page D-1 in the RFP) that “Other Expenses” category is limited to less than $10,000 across both years. Does travel count as a research expense? In the excel budget spreadsheet, it is listed in a different category than Other Expenses, but we wondered if it should be counted as part of the $10,000 limit. For our proposal, we have envisioned travel in two forms: (a) a university summer course, and (b) conference travel. Given that (a) is also educational, I also wondered if travel was the appropriate category for this kind of budget item.

A: The $10,000 limit is for expenses outside of travel, such as publications, supplies, etc. The tuition for the summer course would fall under this category, but the travel to and from the course would be part of the separate travel budget.

Q: I noticed that the budget template (xlsx) cells F31-F36 are not populating correctly due to a '@' that suppresses their equations. However, cell F37 is population correctly. Was the @ intentional or should the equations be corrected?

A: The @ was not intentional, thank you for bringing this to our attention. The error has been corrected and an updated budget template has been posted which is available on the RFP3 Application Documents page.

Q: Should in-kind be represented in the budget spreadsheet and justification? If yes, how? For example, if a co-PI’s year 1 has 12 effort months of which 6 (50%) are in-kind, should the spreadsheet report the 12 effort months but only report the 50% funds requested, and the justification state that the remaining 50% funds is in-kind. Or should the spreadsheet only report the requested effort months and funds, and the justification report any in-kind?

A: In-kind and match contributions do not need to be shared or mentioned in the budget spreadsheet and justification; these are not required by LA-COE or the U.S. Department of the Treasury. As such, only the requested effort months and funds should be shown in the budget spreadsheet and justification.

Q: The fringe rate in the LA-COE budget template is set at 10%, but the fringe benefits required by the academic institution we work for are greater. The RFP doesn’t specify the fringe rate, so we wonder whether or not we could change the rate in the budget to align with our employer.

A: The budget template is used as a guide, but the formulas are editable. The only restriction is the IDC rate, which must remain at 26%. The fringe rate can be charged at the applicants federally negotiated rate, with the budget spreadsheet edited by the applicant to reflect that rate.

Q: Can collaborators, including co-PIs, be added later to the full proposal who were not included initially on the LOI?

A: Yes, collaborators, including co-PIs can be added later to a full proposal if the team is invited to submit a full proposal.

Q: Does the award only cover salary for personnel at the lead organization or also for co-PIs at other institutions?

A: The award may cover the salary for any personnel, such as co-PIs at other institutions, listed in the project proposal. Please note that co-PI institutions should be included as subawards to the lead-PI institution.

Q: For the “list of past and current collaborators, advisors and advisees”, can you clarify what you mean by collaborators? Does this include organizations who have contracted us to do work for them?

A: An organization that has contracted an investigator to do work for them would not be considered a collaborator. However, if an individual from that contracting organization collaborated on a project, and/or were listed as a co-author with an investigator on any publication within the last 48 months, that individual would be considered a collaborator.

Guidance on collaborators can be found in Section 6.0 of RFP3. In addition, LA-COE follows the guidance provided by the National Science Foundation regarding collaborators, for more information please review NSF’s FAQs on collaborators, which is available here.

Q: I am working on putting together the LOI for the COE call and I am wondering what costs I can cover with the Research Award. Can I allocate salary for postdocs and graduate students or just for myself and any co-PIs?

A: Yes, funding provided under RFP3 can be used to provide salaries for both senior personnel and all other personnel working on the project for the lead organization. These salaries do not need to be provided for a Letter of Intent, but are required for submission of a full proposal. Appendix C of RFP3 details that when creating the budget request to be submitted with a full proposal, the budget justification should include line items for:

  1. Senior personnel: Name PI and co-PI of the lead organization and list salary by year, level of effort, and a brief description of their role in the project.
  2. Other personnel: Name all other personnel of the lead organization and list salary by year, level of effort, and a brief description of their role in the project.

Q: I accepted an offer from a university in LA and will join there on July 1. I am checking if I am eligible to submit a proposal as PI since I will join an institute in LA before the project start date

A: An individual who is not presently at a Louisiana institution, but who will be during the full period of the project is still eligible for a grant under RFP3. To provide proof of eligibility, the applicant must include with their Letter of Intent a document from the Louisiana institution for which they will be working to confirm that the applicant has accepted an offer of employment. This document should include the date on which the applicant will begin working for the Louisiana institution.

Q: How are intellectual ideas in the proposal protected through the review process? The Water Institute, which handles the proposal review process, is often competing on some of the same RFPs put out by other agencies where investigators submitting to COE are also submitting. Thus, there is a need for general guidelines on how ideas in the proposals submitted for RFP3 are protected so that investigators are willing to participate in this COE call with their best ideas.

A: All individuals who read or review a Letter of Intent or full proposal must sign a conflict of interest and confidentiality statement. In addition, all Water Institute are subject to The Water Institute’s Scientific Integrity Policy, which staff have participated in trainings for and have signed an acknowledgement of. This policy states, in relevant part:

“2. The Water Institute’s work with others is conducted with professional equity, respect, and fairness, including when representing and acknowledging the intellectual contributions of others. 3. Water Institute staff demonstrate unselfish cooperation in research. Science involves a collective approach to advancing knowledge. This cooperative and collective approach supports the next generation of scientists.” The Water Institute’s full Scientific Integrity Policy is available to view here [we need to have this posted online].

The Water Institute also has a commitment and responsibility to the U.S. Department of the Treasury to administer the LA-COE grant process with integrity.

As such, intellectual ideas presented in responses to RFP3 are viewed by a diverse group of professionals. There is an absolute commitment to protecting those ideas so as to further the opportunities available to researchers responding to RFP3.

Q: Are individuals who have consulted for (but were not staff of) the Water Institute or for the Coastal Master Plan eligible?

A. As long as they are not hourly, part-time, or full-time/salaried employees at the Water Institute or CPRA and have not been in the last two years (2021-2023), yes, individuals who have consulted for the Water Institute or the Coastal Master Plan are eligible to apply.

Q: Can I be main PI on a proposal and co-PI on another proposal for this call?

A. An individual investigator can only lead one proposal submission but can also participate in others. There is no limit to how many LOIs or proposals an individual may participate on as co-PI. For complete information regarding eligibility, see Section 4.1 of RFP3.

Q: What are all the organizations that are excluded from submitting an LOI in addition to the CPRA and the Water Institute? Also, are they only excluded to be a Primary Investigator or are not allowed as a Co-PI?

A. Academic institutions, private firms, non-governmental organizations, non-profit organizations, and government agencies are all eligible for various categories of awards. The Lead PI must be located in the state of Louisiana, but co-PIs and other proposed team members may be located outside of Louisiana.

The Water Institute and CPRA are the only organizations whose staff are explicitly excluded from participating in an LOI or full proposal, however employees of federal agencies must work with their agency in advance of submitting a proposal to determine whether their agency rules allow them to participate in this program and receive funding. For complete information regarding eligibility, see Section 4.1 of RFP3.

Q: Can you provide a little more detail about federal agencies as co-PI's/Partner and what is required for receiving funding.

A. Prior to submission of an LOI, employees of federal agencies must work with their agency to determine whether their agency rules allow them to participate in this program and receive funding. In addition, any award made by the LA-COE to a federal agency or employee must have prior written approval of U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of General Counsel before any award is executed.

Q: Are there any no-cost extensions to be allowed for this RFP Cycle 3?

A: The graduate assistantships are expected to begin in the Fall 2024, at the same time as the Research Awards will begin. We understand that this may pose challenges for some. Thus, if the full proposal for the Graduate Assistantship is awarded, we will work with the PI on a case-by-case basis about a request for an extension.

Q: Is it possible to have scientific advisors for the projects? People who are not co-PIs but would be a part of the project in an official capacity. If so, what documents would be needed from them (Biosketch, etc.)?

A: Yes, scientific advisors can be added to projects, and they should be listed as part of the team. The PI should make sure they include all the same required documents that a co-PI would need to submit (i.e., biosketch, current and pending support, list of collaborators, and a letter of commitment) and their role should be clearly defined in the proposal.

Q: Are company performers for federal work treated differently than universities? For all our federal work we follow FAR 15.403-4 (Certification of cost or pricing data), and this does not include a 26% IDC cap.  Are we correct in assuming we can follow our typical approach for federal contracts to building personnel charge rates (as outlined in the DARPA costing requirements)?

A: The rates can be built up as you do for any federal work (salary+fringe+IDC). The indirect, however, is limited to 26% and not your standard federally negotiated rate. This project is funded by the U.S. Dept of Treasury, FAR 15.403-4 is not applicable under the terms of this award.

Q: The graduate Assistantship award stipulates “…minimal (less than $10,000) research expenses to support a graduate student…” can be included in the budget. Does this mean $10,000/year or $10,000 for the full duration of the award (two years)?

A: This means $10,000 for the duration of the award (two years). Therefore, the cumulative budget should have a maximum of $10,000 for these categories under the “Other Expenses” and they include: Materials and Supplies, Publication Costs, Computer Services, and Facility/Equipment Rental, and Others.

Q: Will the standard and commercial personnel charge rates of a private sector company as lead awardee (rates that are accepted by CPRA under existing contracts) be accepted for the Research Grant work? Is the 26% IDC cap only applying to universities? If this is incorrect, we need more guidance in terms of what are considered direct costs under this award (i.e., other than fringe and travel). Can a subawardee charge its full commercial rates?

A: The rates to be used should also be the same rates that apply to any federal work. This work is funded by the U.S. Department of Treasury and not CPRA. Please refer to Appendix C, 5. Budget Request (page 18) instructions for more information. As listed in the RFP, “i. Senior Personnel: Name PI and co-PI of the lead organization and list salary by year, level of effort (person months), and a brief description of their role in the project. ii. Other Personnel: Name all other personnel of the lead organization and list salary by year, level of effort (person months), and a brief description of their role in the project. Iii. Fringe Benefits: Total of fringe benefits by year.”

26% IDC applies to everyone, not just universities. As listed in the RFP, “Indirect Costs: Indirect costs shall be no more than 26% of modified total direct costs. Administrative support should be provided from the indirect costs unless specific exceptions are requested and justified and accepted through the subaward.”

The items that fall under Direct Costs are listed in Appendix C, 5.b Budget Request (page 18).

Subawards should follow the same budget guidelines as the lead, refer to answer 1 above. As listed in the RFP, Appendix C, 5.a. Budget Request (page 18) “For proposals that contain a subaward(s), each subaward must include a separate budget & budget justification of no more than 2 pages for each subaward with a co-PI identified for all said subawards.”

Q: If we work with a federal lab or federal agency as a lower-tier sub, does this paragraph in RFP3 that “Interagency transfers from U.S. Department of Treasury are not supported; awards are to be made by LA-COE” mean that the subaward to the federal agency/lab will be issued by the Institute directly without involving the awarded academic institution?

A: If the academic institution will be listed as a subrecipient on a proposal being submitted by a federal agency as the lead, that federal agency is responsible for contracting with the academic institution. If the academic institution is including a federal agency on their proposal as a subrecipient, that institution will be responsible for contracting with that agency, pending Treasury prior written approval. Either way, Treasury approval will be needed for any federal agency. LA-COE will issue all awards to LA-COE recipients only. The Department of Treasury will not issue an interagency transfer. Note: This program is different as the federal agency must have prior approval before LA-COE will issue an award.

Q: Will you all be culling the submissions of the LOIs, or will everyone who put in a LOI be eligible to submit the full proposals? 

A: LA-COE is planning to release the reviews of the LOIs by 3/18/2024. A notification email about LOI feedback will be sent to all the PIs and the LA-COE website will be updated with the new deadline for submitting full proposals.

Q: Can collaborators be added later to the full proposal who were not included initially on the LOI?

A: Yes, collaborators can be added later to a full proposal if the team is invited to submit a full proposal.

Q: Can a private company serve as lead on a project, or does it have to be a university or government agency?

A: Yes, a private company can serve as lead on a project. Please refer to RFP Section 4.1: Eligibility (page 9) that includes, “Academic institutions, private firms, non-governmental organizations, non-profit organizations, and government agencies are all eligible for various categories of awards. Federal agencies are eligible to apply and participate on other proposals; however, each federal agency must determine in advance of submitting a proposal whether their agency rules allow them to participate in this program and receive funding.”

Q: I understand that the LOI narrative should not identify researchers/institutions. Are references allowed/expected in the narrative?

A: No, references are not expected in the narrative. Please refer to RFP Section 6.0: Letters of Intent Submission Information. The narrative must include three components, including, “a. Statement of the issue the proposal plans to address and its relevance to the research activities identified in Section 3.0 of the RFP, b. Brief summary of methods and approach to be used, and c. Brief summary of how the findings and outputs of the project can support the implementation of the Louisiana Coastal Master Plan.”

Q: Must Graduate Assistantship proposals also match at least one of the 19 listed research topics? Or can they address other questions or research needs relevant to CPRA / LA-COE coastal restoration activities but not explicitly listed in RFP3?

A: Yes, Graduate Assistantship Award proposals must match at least one of 19 listed research activities (Note: Research activity 19 allows for research activities that address the overarching topics listed in the LA-COE Research Needs document). Please refer to RFP: Section 2.1 Types of Awards and Funding Levels that “Graduate Assistantships: These awards provide funds for full-time graduate student stipends, tuition, and minimal (less than $10,000) research expenses to support a graduate student (master’s or Ph.D.) at a Louisiana college/university for up to two years to undertake research in an area identified in Section 3.0: Research Topics”. Please also read Section 6: Letters of Intent Submission Information (page 7) that includes, “Cover page including (fill out fields in the SurveyMonkey Apply portal): a. Award Type b. Tentative project title c. Lead PI Name(s), Title, phone number(s), email address(s), and organization(s) address d. List any Co-PI’s, Name(s), Title, phone number(s), email address(s), and organization(s) address e. Duration of project f. Approximate cost of the project (annual budget amount per year) g. Identification of the research activities (at least one out of 19) being addressed (select all that apply) h. Up to six keywords describing the research and research discipline(s).”

Q: For the graduate assistantships: Are co-PIs allowed (e.g., other faculty) when appropriate for multidisciplinary research?

A: Yes, a co-PI is allowed for the Graduate Assistantship Award. Please note that the Principal Investigator (PI) on the proposal must be a full-time employee of a Louisiana college/university (see page 1 of the RFP document).

Q: Are researchers working in foreign universities eligible to participate as Co-PI?

A: Yes, researchers working in foreign universities are eligible to participate as co-PI. Please note that the co-PI from a foreign university will need to comply with all applicable terms and conditions. Please review RFP Section 4.0: Funding Instruments which explains: “The lead PI’s organization shall execute the grant agreement and shall execute lower-tier subaward agreements with co-PIs. All lower tier subawards shall incorporate all applicable terms and conditions.”

Q: Can an individual investigator lead one proposal submission for each category (Graduate Assistantships and Research Awards) or only one overall (Graduate Assistantships or Research Awards)?

A: An individual investigator can only lead one proposal overall. You can only select one category not both. Please refer to the RFP document (page i) which states: “An individual investigator may only lead one proposal submission but may participate in others. For complete information regarding eligibility see Section 4.1: Eligibility.”

Q: If you are from the USGS (Lower Mississippi-Gulf Water Science Center), do you have to be located in the Louisiana office to be PI?

A: Yes, you have to be located in a Louisiana office to be a PI. As documented in RFP Section 2.1 (page 2): “The PI on each proposal must be a full-time employee of a Louisiana organization/institution. Other participants may be from any organization or institution within or outside Louisiana. If the PI moves to another institution outside the state of Louisiana, a co-PI will need to be identified as the new PI. A Letter of Intent is required in advance of full proposal submission.”

Please note that if PI is from the Baton Rouge, LA office of the USGS Lower Mississippi-Gulf Water Science Center they are eligible. If the PI is from offices that are outside Louisiana (e.g., Jackson, MS), they are not eligible.

Q: Can we seek funding for two students on the same proposal? Or is the money meant to support a PI for a summer month, lab equipment, and travel for the Assistantships?

A: No, Graduate Assistantships will only be made available to support one full-time graduate student per award conducting relevant research at Louisiana college/universities. Also, the RFP document (page 2) states, “These levels will be adjusted if the meritorious proposals submitted in each category do not total the designated amount. Cost sharing or matching is not required for LA-COE awards.”

Money cannot be used to support a PI for a summer month, lab equipment or travel. Research expenses (less than $10,000) are allowed to only support a graduate student and their research needs. Please refer to the RFP, Section 2.1: Types of Awards and Funding Levels (page 1) that lists details of Graduate Assistantships.

Q: Is the lead PI the only eligible to submit the LOI?

A: The PI is responsible for submitting all the required documents for LOI submission in our submission portal (https://lacoe.smapply.io/). However, a co-PI or collaborator can obtain ownership of the application. Per SurveyMonkey Apply, "When a submission is created it is linked to the profile of the user who created it. However, in some cases, it may be necessary to change the owner of an application such as when the user has multiple accounts, if the application is managed by a team and the ownership must be changed, or if an organization is completing an application and the creator leaves the organization." If an Authorized Official Representative needs to approve proposal submissions, they can be added as a collaborator to allow for their approval/sign off on the proposal.

Q: Do you expect to fund each of the research needs listed in RFP?

A: We do not have any pre-defined expectations on the number awards per topical area. From the RFP document (page 9), please review RFP Section 8.2.1: Graduate Assistantship Award and Research Award Proposals that includes Table 1. Evaluation criteria for full proposals (page 9). A suite of criteria will be considered when making funding decisions.

Q: If our research team is interested in working toward a diverse combination of Activities that are all related to a certain geography, do you see that as combination or separate proposals?

A: Please refer to RFP Section 2.1 (page 1): “Interorganizational proposals, including partnerships with academia, federal, state, private, or non-profit organizations, are strongly encouraged. Collaboration among organizations and disciplines to address cross-disciplinary research needs is also encouraged.” LA-COE encourages cross-disciplinary research, thus, proposed research with a diverse combination, such as for research activities 7, 8, and 17, will be encouraged.

Q: Are there directions for the Letter of Intent available at this time?

A: The Request for Proposal – Cycle 3 (RFP3) was released on January 25, 2024 and is available to view and download at this link.

Please refer to Section 6: Letters of Intent Submission Information, and Appendix A in the RFP document to prepare your LOI submission.

Q: Can Graduate Assistantship Awards be used to support graduate students outside of Louisiana?

A: Graduate Assistantship Awards are only available to full-time students who are currently enrolled or who will be enrolled at a Louisiana college or university for the duration of the Award.

Q: Does the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON) count as a college/university, and can a researcher at LUMCON be a lead PI on a Research Award?

A: Yes, LUMCON is considered a Louisiana college or university. Full-time employees at LUMCON are eligible to be lead PI on Research Awards.

Q: Given the MTDC definition in 2CFR200, are subrecipients only allowed the 26% indirect rate on the first $25,000 of the subaward, and subsequently not allowed an indirect rate on costs above $25,000?

A: The MTDC calculation means that indirect costs can be charged at 26% of the total grant budget (e.g., personnel, supplies, travel, etc.) and then only on the first $25,000 of each subaward that will be made by the lead institution (in addition to other exclusions as noted in 2 CFR 200).

Q: Is overhead capped at 26% of MTDC for federal agencies?

A: Yes, indirect costs will be no more than 26% of modified total direct costs. Administrative support should be provided from the indirect costs unless specific exceptions are requested and justified and accepted through the subaward.

Q: Can an individual submit multiple Letters of Intent and full proposals as lead PI?

A: No, an individual is only eligible if they submit one Letter of Intent as lead PI.

Q: Can an individual submit multiple proposals as a Co-PI?

A: Yes, an individual can be listed on multiple Letters of Intent and proposals as a Co-PI. There is no limit on the number of Letters of Intent and full proposals an individual can participate as a Co-PI.

Q: Is an agency considered a recipient or a sub-recipient if that agency is the only agency listed in the Letter of Intent?

A: For the purposes of issuing an Award agreement and the flow down of federal funds, all awardees are considered subrecipients of the LA-COE. If the agency has partners on the proposal, those partners would be lower tier subrecipients to the agency.