Expressions of Interest Call for Inclusion in IOOS Proposal

The Central and Northern California Ocean Observing System (CeNCOOS) is requesting expressions of interest (EOI) in relation to the IOOS Federal Funding Opportunity issued February 11, 2015, entitled: FY 2016 Implementation of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System. 

Introduction

NOAA’s Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) intends to support eleven Regional Associations to operate ocean observing systems during the five year period 2016-2021.  Like the previous five-year award, the IOOS FFO presents a great opportunity for our region to develop and maintain observing systems and conduct science that supports people and decision-making.  The 2011-2015 award is currently the largest source of CeNCOOS support (about $2.3M/yr) but in itself is insufficient to meet our ocean observing needs, and all regional IOOS associations depend on partnerships and leveraged resources.  Through the IOOS grant, we expect to make available funds for projects contributed by individuals and teams of investigators (approx. 5-15 sub-awards). These projects will be chosen from community submitted expressions of interest.  Expressions should align with CeNCOOS strategies as detailed in our Strategic Plan. We anticipate tough competition for sub-award funding under this potential IOOS grant. We encourage submission of EOIs that meet CeNCOOS goals and align with core objectives so that those projects can be considered given potential IOOS funding increases and additional upcoming funding opportunities.

Proposal Theme

The IOOS program expects regional associations to focus on the science and observing that meets the region’s most pressing needs.  In California, common to nearly every issue is the need to understand the state of the CeNCOOS region: monitoring the current physical and biological conditions relative to the past, and providing a forecast to the extent possible. To continue developing CeNCOOS into a dynamic, impactful organization that meets the coastal ocean information needs of the region, we hope to assemble a proposal that supports your best applied science, and integrates the data and information into the observing system.

Activities

The FFO describes expectations for core activities (including data, modeling and analysis) and operation of the high frequency radar network.  These obligations help our region contribute to the national Integrated Ocean Observing System and the national HFR network, and they enable us to contribute to stakeholder needs regional and nationally. However, the obligations also reduce the money that can be distributed to our observing community via proposals.  If CeNCOOS receives funds of $2.5M/yr, which is close to our current funding level and is the middle of the funding range described in the FFO, we expect to make available about $1.2 M/yr for projects contributed by individuals and teams of investigators, which would likely support 5-15 sub-awards. These projects will be chosen from submitted expressions of interest.  Expressions should align with the four CeNCOOS strategies of long term measurements, publicly accessible data portal, assimilated coupled ocean physical-biogeochemical ecosystem models, and products for decision-makers.  See the CeNCOOS Strategic Plan for more details on our mission, vision, and strategies. The data portal strategy, in addition to real-time observing networks, seeks to synthesize and make available existing data that help us understand patterns of variability and change in the region. Additional potential activity topics can relate to core competencies identified in the strategic plan, and to priority issues in the region (including but not limited to ecosystem and MPA monitoring, fisheries, hypoxia and ocean acidification, harmful algal blooms, climate variability, coastal inundation, and water quality).  A CeNCOOS coast-wide networked approach is encouraged for all projects.

Proposal Process

The process to develop the regional association proposal is summarized here and detailed in linked documents below.  A Governing Council sub-committee will review submitted expressions of interest in a process guided by the framework for decision-making and memorandum of agreement.  The Governing Council will determine which expressions to include in our proposal, and these authors will then be asked to contribute more details on their proposed project to include in the full proposal. The proposal duration is five years, however the inclusion of short-term projects will be considered.  Important deadlines are detailed in the timeline included below. Only projects that submit EOIs will be eligible for inclusion in the full proposal.
 
The uncertain funding level described in the IOOS FFO makes this opportunity challenging for potential CeNCOOS investigators. To avoid raising false expectations, this paragraph expands on the constraints of the IOOS Regional Association FFO. Regional proposals in response to the FFO are expected to describe the capacity achieved at multiple funding levels of $1.5M, 2.5M, and 4M/yr.  The current CeNCOOS 5-year proposal (FY 2010 – FY2015) was accepted at a $4M/yr funding level, but has been significantly de-scoped each year to approximately $2.3M a year.  Additionally, funding each year is contingent upon availability of funds from Congress and satisfactory performance. As noted above, the FFO describes many required activities, including the support of high frequency radar, data management, and data and program integration activities. In the past these activities have totaled $1.3M/yr, therefore, if we receive funding at the $2.5M level, $1.2M/yr will be available for sub-awards outside of these core activities.  In addition, the Framework for Decision-Making states our commitment to maintain existing capabilities which are currently supported with sub-awards, further limiting resources for new awards. In evaluating projects the Governing Council will follow the Framework for Decision-Making in order to achieve the distribution of sub-award funding that best meets our region’s needs. New projects will compete most effectively under the $4M funding scenario; a limited number of new projects will receive funds unless support over $2.5M is provided by IOOS. While not all EOIs will be selected for funding under the IOOS grant, we encourage submission of EOIs that meet CeNCOOS goals and align with core objectives so that those projects can be considered given potential IOOS funding increases or potential additional funding opportunities. Our long-term vision is to grow CeNCOOS to the $4M funding level with diverse support (including state, private, and foundation funding) to provide opportunities to support valuable applied science that cannot be accommodated in the RA proposal.  
 

Related Documents

Federal Funding Opportunity
Strategic Plan
Framework for Decision-making
CeNCOOS 2011-2015 proposal
 

Instructions for Submitting an Expression of Interest

EOIs should be 1-2 pages in length and include: principals and organizations involved; a description of the proposed project; a statement of how the proposed activity relates to the CeNCOOS mission; the objectives, outcomes, deliverables, and end users for the project; anticipated costs and timeline; relationship to current CeNCOOS funding or activities if appropriate; and existing and potential funding sources other than core CeNCOOS funds from the IOOS Program. Resubmittals from previous years are acceptable as long as they are marked as such. EOI submissions from the 2014 call will also be evaluated for inclusion in this proposal.  Submitters from that call are not required to re-submit for evaluation as part of this process.  However, new projects or revisions of previously submitted EOIs are welcome.

EOI are due before April 18, 2015
 
Sections to be included in expressions of interest
a. Project Name/Title
b. Primary Contact (name, address, phone, fax, e-mail)
c. Recipient Institution
d. Other Investigators (name, affiliated institution or agency)
e. Brief Project Summary including objectives and intended benefits
f. Partners
 

Timeline

March 18: EOI distributed
April 18: EOI due
May 8: EOI evaluated by Executive Committee and program office, draft proposal outline written based on EOI input
May or June: in-person Governing Council meeting to discuss proposal, decide on projects to be included, and assign writing team
May/June: begin writing proposal; directly after the meeting
June 15 (at latest): included PIs are notified
July 15: All sub-award budgets due to respective accounting departments
Aug. 1: All budgets/accounting packets due to MBARI
Aug 31: Proposal due

Submissions and questions regarding the above call should be sent to CeNCOOS Program Manager Aric Bickel at abickel@mbari.org
 
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