Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO)
for RISA Competitions Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

What are the competition ID numbers for the RISA competitions?
Competition 1- RISA Teams in Continuing Regions: 3001614
Competition 2- RISA Teams in New Regions: 3001615
Competition 3- Collaborative Planning Activities 3001622
Competition 4- Complex Fiscal Pathways for Climate Adaptation 3001624

Will the informational webinars highlighting the NOFO be recorded and made available online?
Yes, the webinars have been recorded and can be accessed here: 
Competition 1 & 2 Round 1
Competition 3 & 4

Letters of Intent

Is there any way we can submit a LOI if we miss the deadline?
Once the LOI deadline has passed, LOIs cannot be submitted.

Can we submit a proposal despite not having submitted an LOI?
LOIs are not a requirement, so you can still submit a proposal without going through the LOI stage. We would encourage you to view our webinar slides and recording at https://cpo.noaa.gov/grants/

We understand that the LOI should be no more than two pages in length. Will a cover page and preliminary budget information sheet be counted as the two pages limitation?
The LOI should not have a cover/title page.  The instructions for and information that needs to be included in the LOI is listed in the NOFO in section I.V.B.I.

What feedback was given in response to the LOIs that were submitted?
LOI Responses for Competitions 1 & 2
LOI Responses for Competition 3

Team / Investigators

Are applicants allowed to change/add investigators and/or institutions to the proposed teams after submitting an LOI to competition 1 or 2?
Yes, after the LOI stage, you may still add or take out investigators or institutions.  We recognize that you may not have had time before the LOI deadline to assemble your full team.

Can a person be a PI on more than one RISA?
Yes, but it is important to articulate how one will be positioned to handle the work associated with that commitment and what the role is of the investigator that warrants being on more than one proposal.

Is there a limit on the number of Co-PIs a team can have?
There is no limit. You just want to have a manageable team.

Is it possible for various faculty from one university to be on different, competing “teams” either with members within this university or in other combinations with others from other universities or agencies? I am trying to determine if this is indeed a limited call for our university, that is, only one team from our university can submit a proposal. 
Researchers from one university may participate in multiple proposals, and one university could be on multiple proposals (e.g. as a lead institution and as an affiliate). However, given the scope and scale of RISA proposals, we encourage you to use the LOI phase to make informed decisions about the merits of submitting multiple proposals.

Can a non-profit organization serve as a lead institution or sub-awardee?
Yes.

Will you accept (what do you think of?) non-academics as co-PIs on proposals?
Yes. While the leads have traditionally been academic researchers, we would consider all eligible institution types listed in the Notice of Funding Opportunity.

Is a federal center or laboratory (e.g. DOE national lab) eligible to participate in the RISA team?
Yes, but note that we cannot support federal salaries. 

Does an institution have to be located in the region?
It's not a Yes or No question. In the past, proposals from institutions well outside the region of interest have not reviewed well. However, many of those cases involved people on the opposite end of the US or thousands of miles outside the region. It helps tremendously to have a track record of engagement in and research on the region in question, including institutional partners in the region. Ultimately, reviewers focus on whether the investigator will be able to engage people in the region in person and, on a related note, whether they would be seen as an outsider with passing interest in issues that are very tangible and real.

Prior Research

For teams that are existing RISAs, may we cite work done by members of our team who are not official PIs in the new proposal? For the prior research section, do we include only research from the actual group of PIs listed on the proposal, or can we include previous research from the RISA even if the person who led it is not going to be a named PI on the new proposal? Where is the boundary of whose research is included?
The section is explicitly intended to include prior research for the PIs named on the proposal. You can cite previous work of researchers not named as PIs in the project narrative.

What is the difference between the “prior research” and “current and pending research” sections?
Results from prior research may include any relevant research. This section is not limited to NOAA-funded grants. This section is used to understand the relevance of the team's experience to the competition. The current and pending support section is limited to federal support. The purpose of this section is to assess what projects could be leveraged, whether investigators are overcommitted, and whether federal projects are being duplicated. 

Budget / Funding

Matching funds are not required.  But it will be allowed. Is that correct?
You are allowed to have matching funds provided.  However, matching funds are not required.

Can applicants include a small stipend based on the days of participation to be paid to stakeholders who will participate in the team's workshops? Would these be considered as participant costs in the proposal?
Yes, Applicants can include a small stipend (Participant Support Cost) for participants in connections to a conference/Workshop/training). BUT ONLY If the participants are considered essential in completing the objective of the project. Make sure in the budget justification that they detail why the participants are there and how valuable their input is during the workshop. Participant support costs can be stipends, travel allowance, registration fee, and subsistence allowance.

Does NOAA have salary caps on grant funding as does the Department of Health and Human Services?
There is no salary cap. The salary will be reviewed by the grants management division to determine if it is reasonable and allowable.

If submitting a proposal with a sub-award, do we need to submit separate forms for the sub-award recipient?
No, but all subcontracts will require their own budget narrative and table. This should look similar to the prime recipient's, with a detailed breakdown of the costs incurred by each subcontract. Including these at the end of the primary budget narrative and table is acceptable.

Miscellaneous

Can you please outline how the review panel will be selected. What will be the general composition of the review panel?
We have a set of technical reviewers and relevance reviewers. It will be a diverse group with a mix of skills, disciplines, perspectives, geographies, and sector backgrounds who understand the basics of co-production of actionable knowledge. Panelists will be screened for conflicts of interest.

Is there information available on past RISA awardees or successful proposals?
The RISA website includes links to currently funded team websites, which maintain updated information about implemented projects. See https://cpo.noaa.gov/RISA/risa-teams

Can we provide research and tools that relate to weather (i.e. short term events) as well as to climate (i.e. longer term conditions)?
Our office is interested in supporting work that connects weather to climate but be sure to make the climate connection for the review process.

In addition to a letter of endorsement from the lead PI's institution, can we get letters of collaboration from stakeholders? Do you have instructions on those letters? Do you have a limit on the number of letters we can include in a proposal?
Letters of support are not required. However, up to 10 letters may be submitted and can be used to supplement information included in the full proposal if submitted as part of the application. Letters will be taken into consideration when evaluating the proposal generally and the proposed partnerships specifically. When deciding who to gather letters of support from, consider the centrality of the partner’s role in the project and the relevance of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. The letters supplement the reviewers’ understanding from the full proposal, so letters are particularly useful where they provide a sense of the prior relationship or level of interest from critical and/or nontraditional partners. In situations where partners represent underserved communities, letters indicate the community’s willingness and choice to engage.

Where should Letters of Support be included in the proposal document?
The letters of support can be placed anywhere after the appendices.  In grants.gov, they can be included in the other documents section for uploading.  There are no strict guidelines for placement of the letters. You can include an appendix for other tables as you list.

Competitions 1&2 Questions

Budget / Funding

Will there only be one award per region or will you consider multiple awards if you have two strong proposals from the same region?
The RISA program can fund only one award per region. The number of regions that can be funded is contingent on the program budget, but geographic coverage is an important national priority.

How important is it to hit the annual budgets tightly, as opposed to a bit of fluctuation, as long as the 5-year total is under the limit?

Proposals can request up to $1,000,000/year for core RISA work, for a total of $5,000,000. For proposals including a small-grants component, applicants can propose up to an additional $180,000 total to support the competition.

How should applicants fill out the SF424A NOAA budget forms for a 5- year RISA proposal?
Complete years 1 through 4 on the first SF-424A. Year 5 will go on the second SF-424A. In addition, in the last column of the second SF-424A, you would insert the totals for each row from all the categories covering all 5 years (1-4 from the first SF-424A and year 5 from the second SF-424A). The totals should be derived from the line item categories, in section B. The categories are travel, personnel, etc.

Would NOAA be willing to make a RISA grant/coop agreement with two universities in a region (e.g., in the case of a collaborative/joint/equally-shared proposal)?
Financially, NOAA has to select one institutional award for each region, but the funds can be distributed equally with other universities through subawards.

We plan to compete for one RISA team in the {specific region}. However, we might have team members from another region. Is that allowed (cross regions team members)?
The idea of a RISA team is to be resident in the region for building trust and collaborations.  If you do choose to include an investigator(s)/researcher from outside the region, you will need to provide adequate justification for why you are doing so as opposed to finding that expertise in the region.

Scope Questions

Can we propose work in an adjacent RISA region [in addition to the primary proposal region]? Would we need to negotiate with the existing team or an applicant in that region?
If an applicant wants to propose work that includes part of an adjacent state/region, you are  encouraged to coordinate with the RISA team already covering that state/region if possible. We have seen this expressed as letters of support. Please see the Program Information Sheet for more information about the expectations of coverage across geographic regions.

What should be the balance between research and products? For example, say a set of users want a seasonal forecast of a climate parameter that is currently not available from suppliers because it requires research to develop. Our RISA team then carries out the research to develop the product. Can the RISA now also take charge of regularly disseminating the new product through a website, forums, etc.? Or should we hope that the research findings will be disseminated to forecast suppliers (public and private) and they will start disseminating?
We encourage RISAs to develop and disseminate products that combine social and physical/natural science information to enhance planning for the region, particularly where the products serve a purpose in investigating an overarching research question on the use of climate information. For applicants proposing to develop outlook products and forums as part of developing and maintaining an engagement strategy and as part of research on what constitutes timely and credible information, we encourage them to also look for ways to transition those products to operational partners.

Can applicants work on drought and if so, what are the parameters?
For RISA core funding, applicants can propose work on multiple stressor climate impacts to society in which drought is one of many drivers. The societal ramifications of long term drought coupled with other concurrent and/or combined physical and/or social events, trends, or projections are within the scope of the competition. RISA core funds should be used for multiple stressors (combined physical and social) in which drought is one of many drivers of risk. RISA is not supporting work on drought as a sole driver. Work on regional drought early warning systems (RDEWS) and the indicators, forecasts, impact assessments, monitoring, and state, federal and local planning and convening needed to enhance preparedness to short-term drought is funded by CPO’s National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS).

Competition 3 Questions

Budget / Funding

Are you anticipating two separate RISA's for the Upper Northeast and Appalachia as a follow up to this Competition 3?
The addition of new full RISA teams to the RISA Network is dependent on continued growth in funding for the RISA program and will be determined at a future date.

Team / Investigators

Does the lead PI need to be a current PI on a RISA
No - Existing RISA teams are not fully covering these regions. This is a new geographic initiative for the program.

Can an existing RISA team PI (on another award) submit a proposal for these planning activities?
The competition for planning activities is being held in areas and regions not currently covered by RISA teams. Applicants are encouraged to develop proposals that build new relationships with partners within those areas and regions. While a RISA team PI is eligible to apply for planning activities, applicants should consider what the role of a RISA team PI from a different area or region will be and if their involvement will adequately support the development of new relationships in a new area or region. We are looking to build capacity in the region where the planning activity will take place.There are no restrictions on inviting RISA team PIs to participate in planned activities as experts in engagement activities or potential partners.

Scope Questions

Will you fund projects that reach across both Appalachia and the Upper Northeast?
No, each proposal must address one of the two regions.

For the purposes of this competition, what are the boundaries of the Appalachian region?
Our Central Appalachia region is the combination of the North Central, Central, and South Central Appalachian Regional Commission subregions as depicted in this map: https://www.arc.gov/map/subregions-in-appalachia/.

The NOFO mentions a number of specific topics related to the social and economic dimensions of climate variability and change. Do you have specific expectations for one of these topics?
This list is meant to be a broad list of options for proposal brainstorming. Most importantly, the focus selected must center some social and economic dimension of climate variability and change in a manner consistent with RISA program priorities.

What is the duration of the proposed work? One year?
One year beginning September 1, 2022.

What are some examples of collaborative planning activities that are relevant to the RISA program?
Please review the FY21 Collaborative Planning Activities abstracts for examples of collaborative planning activities RISA has funded in the past.

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