Frequently Asked Questions: Pre-Proposal Solicitation for Sustainable Transportation and Communities Projects for Fiscal Year 2023-2024
- Sustainable Communities & Climate Protection Program
- Sustainable Communities
- Policy & Research Briefs
- Project Solicitation
- Pre-Proposal FAQs
- Technical Feasibility, Cost-effectiveness, and Policy Strategies for Reducing Embodied Carbon in Building Materials
- White Paper: Toxic Air Contaminant Emissions from Fossil Gas Appliances in California
- Regional Propane and Woodburning Utilization in Commercial and Residential Buildings across California
- Impacts of Telecommuting and Remote Services on Transportation, Land Use, And Climate Change
- Sustainable Communities Strategies Evaluation Process Update
- Guidance and Best Practices for Development of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Vehicle Miles Traveled Mitigation Banks or Exchanges
- Developing an Equity Evaluation Framework for Place-Based, Community-Scale Mobility Investments
- Evaluate the Potential Quantification of Community Garden Project Benefits
- Quantification Methodology Development for Air Filtration, Microgrid, and Electric Bicycle Incentive Projects
- Housing Solutions for Climate and Equity
- Regional Plans & Evaluations
- Regional Plan Targets
- SB 150 Data Dashboard
- Active Transportation
Proposal Selection and General Questions
How many pre-proposals are selected for each project?
Only one pre-proposal per project is selected to be developed into a full proposal. CARB staff will notify applicants not selected and will provide feedback to all applicants.
Why only racial equity and not age or gender equity?
CARB has previously funded various projects that require disaggregation by age, gender and race. The new racial equity requirements reflect the agency’s increased focus on addressing environmental justice issues which place a disproportionate burden on Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. CARB will continue to consider the disproportionate impact of racist transportation and housing policies on underserved communities and the health impacts of exposure to pollutants on sensitive groups. Moving forward, CARB is committed to including research questions related to racial equity and social justice in more research projects.
What is the selection process for a pre-proposal to move on to the full proposal stage?
Review panels of topic experts and practitioners are assembled for each project. Review panels consist of relevant CARB program staff, and in some instances, staff from other public agencies that CARB frequently collaborates with. The pre-proposals and scoring criteria are distributed to the assigned reviewer panelists. After the panel has reviewed the pre-proposals, they will meet to share scores and compare comments on the merits of each pre-proposal. The panel will decide, based on the highest scoring pre-proposal, which team will be selected to develop a full proposal. All applicants will be notified whether they have been selected or not. Feedback from the review panel will be provided in this notification. The winning team will be given further instructions on developing the full proposal.
What happens after the pre-proposal stage?
Once the winning applicant submits the full proposal with a university-approved budget, CARB staff and other stakeholders will review these documents. For research projects, these documents will also be reviewed by CARB’s Research Screening Committee. They may accept the proposal as is or may request changes. Once any requested changes are made, the proposal is routed internally at CARB for approval (to the Sustainable Transportation and Communities Division management, Administrative Services Division, and Executive Office). For any research projects that have a remote conflict of interest with a CARB Board member, these must be approved by CARB’s Board. For projects over $150,000 (and some below that threshold), these must also be approved by the Department of General Services (DGS). The university will also have to sign the contract before it is countersigned by CARB or DGS. The contract needs to be executed prior to the end of the relevant fiscal year or the funds revert to the state. Work on the project can only commence once the contract is executed, typically between February and June.
Why are California State University (CSU) and University of California (UC) academics specifically requested to submit pre-proposals?
CARB is required by the California Health and Safety Code, Section 39704, to consider the expertise of the California State University or University of California systems when awarding contracts.
Budget and Contracting
Does the maximum allowable budget include direct and indirect costs?
There are likely additional indirect costs associated with each listed subcontractor, is that correct? What are the rules for indirect cost for subcontractor and if it's different for in-state versus out-of-state groups?
The prime contractor will be able to charge indirect costs on up to $25,000 of each subcontractor. The exception is that UC’s typically do not charge overhead on any UC subcontractors. It is likely that each subcontractor will have their own indirect costs and we would ask that they provide the 25% indirect cost rate that the university is also providing.
What are the rules for calculating indirect cost, and are they the same for contractors and subcontractors?
The rules for calculating indirect cost would be the same for our contractors and subcontractors. Indirect costs are based on the Modified Total Direct Costs (MTDC). MTDC is the total direct cost less tuition/fee remission, rent, equipment, and the portion of each subcontract exceeding $25,000.
Is there a limit to how much of the budget can be allocated to private subcontractors?
Typically, private subcontracting is limited to 25% of the total direct cost or $50,000, whichever is less. However, private subcontracting can be up to 50% but the university needs to do a competitive bid or the university needs to justify why the expertise within the subcontract cannot be found within the UC or CSU systems so that CARB staff can write an attestation memo. The prime contractor must be responsible for the majority of the work and should be receiving at least half of the total direct costs of the project. If the Department of General Services does not agree with the content of the attestation memo, it is possible that the entire contract may not be approved.
My project budget will allocate more than 25% of the budget to a subcontract, and the solicitation instructions say that this requires “justification for why the expertise within the subcontract is not currently available within the UC or CSU system.” What do I need to provide to CARB to convey this justification in the pre-proposal?
The pre-proposal should include a brief, informal description of this justification (not to be counted toward the five-page page-limit). If the project is selected to proceed to the full proposal stage, CARB will request more details.
Do members of a project advisory committee need to be subcontractors?
Advisory committees can be an important mechanism for providing project direction and feedback, especially for projects involving community engagement. In order to provide a clear mechanism to pay for the service, CARB staff recommend having a subcontract with each advisory committee member.
For contracts that will pursue a competitive bid for a private subcontractor—at what stage of the proposal development process should this occur?
Applicants planning to do a competitive bid may do so at any time during the proposal stage, after the pre-proposal has been selected.
Does the office of contracts and grants at my institution need to review pre-proposals?
That is not a requirement for the pre-proposal phase. Once a pre-proposal is selected for development into a full proposal, then the selected applicants must have the proposal reviewed and approved by their respective university’s contracts and grants office. This will enable the correct salaries, overhead rates, etc., to be included in the budget.
Will the budget summary that we submit be a binding budget, meaning we will be held to the exact amounts for each category if CARB invites us to apply for the full application?
The budget can be adjusted once the pre-proposal is selected to be developed into a full proposal. There are no specific limitations on changes (and CARB staff do expect some because the pre-proposal does not have to be approved by Sponsored Projects Office). However, if there are large changes to the budget, it would be best to discuss them with the staff managing that project on CARB’s side in the time period allotted for between pre-proposal selection and the proposal due date to ensure there are no surprises.
Does the 25% overhead limit for UCs/CSUs apply to subcontractors that are not part of the UC/CSU system?
No, there is not an overhead limit for subcontractors. However, total cost of the project is a factor in proposal evaluation. In addition, when CARB receives overhead rates in excess of 25% for subcontractors that are not competitively bid, a letter is sent notifying the proposers requesting that a 25% overhead rate be used. This practice reflects the no-bid contracts and flexible terms and conditions provided to contractors and their subcontractors.
Is non-resident tuition eligible in the proposed budget?
Yes, it is eligible.
What is the length of the contracts?
Most research projects are 24-36 months long, where the last 6 months are used to review and edit the draft final report. White papers are typically 12-18 months long.
Can researchers from a CSU lead a project?
Yes, any researcher from a CSU or UC can lead a project as a principal investigator.
Can we include a researcher from a private university on the research team?
Yes, as long as that researcher is a sub-contractor and the principal investigator is from either a UC or CSU university, the team can include researchers from the private sector, including NGOs or community advocacy groups.
If I plan to collaborate with a researcher at a university that is not a UC or CSU, is this researcher considered a “private subcontractor”?
Yes, research collaborators at universities outside of the UC and CSU system would be considered “private subcontractors,” and are thereby subject to budgetary limitations as stated in the solicitation.
Do we have to sign up on Empower Innovation in order to apply for a proposal?
No, that is not a requirement, but we are encouraging researchers looking for collaborators to leverage Empower Innovation as a valuable tool.
Do we need to respond to all tasks listed in the Statement of Work?
The most competitive proposals will respond to all listed tasks.
Does the five-page limit include curriculum vitae, cultural humility/competency statements, and reference list?
No, the five-page limit is only for the technical description of methods proposed to address the solicitation objectives.
How do we prove in the application that we have assembled a multidisciplinary team?
Please provide the curriculum vitae or statement of qualifications for the entire team. If you are collaborating with a new researcher (new to the principal investigator, or new to CARB), this can be described more fully in the description of relevant experience section.
Is there a page limit on the CV section or relevant experience section? What should be included in the relevant experience section?
There is no page limit. This can be approached in different ways. The team may briefly describe (1-2 paragraphs) what the most relevant experience the team has related to the objectives of the project and optionally provide a table listing current or recently completed projects with columns for project title, funding agency, funding level, current status or start and end dates.
Should letters of support be included in the pre-proposal?
If you are able to get letters of support, particularly for community engagement or if you are receiving in-kind support for equipment or other deliverables, please do. These can be included as part of the relevant experience section and or as attachments to the cultural humility/competency statement and will not be counted toward the five-page limit.
If I have relevant research experience but little experience with community engagement, how can I get community support?
We recommend putting together a multidisciplinary team and including a community advocate as a co-principal investigator or subcontractor to round out the needed experience.
What are the various components required for the pre-proposal?
All the requirements are included in the pre-proposal template, so we encourage you to follow that. Below is a table that helps clarify some of these requirements.
Please use budget form provided in template
CV or Statement of Qualification
No limit, include all key personnel on team
Informal justification for private subcontractors above 25% of budget or $50,000
Cultural Competency/humility Statement (Varies by project)
Discuss prior engagement efforts and lessons learned from those experiences;
In the context of the proposal: