Frequently Asked Questions

During each solicitation, this section will be updated as questions arise. Technical questions on the Foundant application system can be found at the end of the page.

Application Questions

How long is the Grant Period?

The grant period is for two years, and application budgets should clearly demonstrate how the funding will support the project over two years. If sufficient matching funds are not available, applicants may apply for a one year grant, and should clearly indicate in the application that it is for one year.

Who Can Apply?

Federal regulations require that at least 55% of funds be available for “capital projects that are 'traditional' Section 5310 projects.” Eligible sub-recipients are private non-profit organizations; a state or local government authority that is approved by a state to coordinate services for seniors and individuals with disabilities; or certifies that there are no nonprofit organizations readily available in the area to provide the service.”

Eligible recipients of the remaining up to 45% include “a state or local governmental authority, a private nonprofit organization, or an operator of public transportation that receives a Section 5310 grant indirectly through a recipient.”

Is attending a Pre-application Conference mandatory?

Yes. Pre-application conferences are held for agencies to learn more about the application process, the selection process, and to ask any questions they may have about the programs or prospective projects. Prospective applicants are required to attend a pre-application conference in order to apply for funding.

What is the Application Deadline?

Applications must be input into COG’s grant management software system by 2:00 pm ET on November 3, 2017. Incomplete applications will not be considered for funding. For questions related to the grant management software system, please contact Sergio Ritacco at sritacco@mwcog.org  or 202.962.3232 or 202.962.3212 (TDD). Allow seven working days for preparation of alternative material. For questions about solicitation and eligibility, please contact Lynn Winchell-Mendy at lmendy@mwcog.org or 202.962.3253.

When will funding decisions be made and, if awarded a grant, when can I expect my project to start?

The Selection Committee will meet in November and December 2017 to recommend projects for funding. The Transportation Planning Board (TPB) will be asked to approve recommended projects at its January or February 2018 meeting. TPB staff will then notify agencies in writing that their projects have been selected for funding and awardees will have approximately 30 days from the date of the written award notification to complete and submit the required Federal Transit Administration (FTA) documents, such as the Certifications and Assurances and Title VI assurances.

FTA must approve the grant projects before the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) can enter into a grant agreement with the applicant. FTA approval can take four to eight months.  Following FTA approval and the signing of the sub-grant agreement between MWCOG and the recipient, projects can begin, perhaps in March 2019.

This Federal program reimburses grantees for pre-approved budget items: grantees must submit monthly invoices documenting what was spent on the approved budget and will be reimbursed generally within 30 days of submitting an invoice. 

In addition to monthly invoices and progress reports, quarterly progress and financial reports are required. Reimbursement is contingent upon complete and timely submission of invoices and reports. Grantees will also be required to submit annual performance measures reports. A reporting schedule will be provided to all grantees with the award notification letter. Final grant reports should include project evaluations and provisions for ongoing funding and operation of the program or service.

Will the Enhanced Mobility funding amounts be distributed evenly among the jurisdictions?

Funding is not distributed by jurisdiction, but in response to project proposals. Projects will be selected competitively based on how well they respond to the unmet needs identified in the Coordinated Plan. Special consideration will be given to project proposals that address a regional need.

Does the certification need to be notarized, or can it just be witnessed?

It can just be witnessed.

Do the Certifications and Assurances need to be included with the application, or are they to be filled out once a project has been awarded?

The Certifications and Assurances do not need to be included with the application. They will only be required of applicants whose projects are selected for funding. Please see FTA's FY2017 Certifications and Assurances.

Awardees will have 30 days from the date of the written award notification to complete the Certifications and Assurances and the Title VI Assurance.

Do the Certifications and Assurances apply to every program within my agency, or just those that receive FTA funding?

Just those that receive FTA funding.

Can agency funds that pay for the salary of an individual who will be managing an Enhanced Mobility grant be counted towards the required match?

Yes, provided the source of the funds used to pay the salary dollars is an eligible source of match (an ineligible source is other Federal DOT funds), and the application describes the portion of the time and dollar amount dedicated to the activity, including how the labor costs directly relate to the implementation of the Enhanced Mobility grant. Applicants should ensure the portion of the staff time dedicated to the Enhanced Mobility grant would not be used to match another grant.

Could you provide more detail on what is considered Capital and Operating?

FTA Circular 9070.1G  provides guidance on what activities are considered Capital and Operating.

Operating Expenses (see Page I-4): “…those costs necessary to operate, maintain, and manage a public transportation system. Operating expenses usually include such costs as driver salaries, fuel, and items having a useful life of less than one year.”  Operating activities can also include taxi vouchers, providing an aid on a vehicle, and providing shuttle or bus service.

Capital Expenses are described on pages III-10 through III-12. They can include the acquisition of vehicles, vehicle rehab, vehicle equipment, preventative maintenance, computer hardware and software, dispatch systems, lease of equipment under certain conditions, contracted transportation services, and support for mobility management and coordination among public transportation and other human service agencies such as short-term planning to implement coordinated services and individualized travel training.

What is Mobility Management as defined by FTA?

FTA Circular 9070.1G includes the following definition of Mobility Management: “Consists of short-range planning and management activities and projects for improving coordination among public transportation and other transportation service providers…Mobility management does not include operating public transportation services.”  Qualifying mobility management activities are considered “Capital” under FTA requirements and the Federal match is 80%.  In order to determine if an activity qualifies as Mobility Management, please contact TPB staff.

Do I need to fill out both the Capital/Mobility Management and Operating budget template if my application includes both Capital/Mobility Management and Operating activities?

Yes, if your agency is applying for Capital/Mobility Management and Operating activities, a Capital/Mobility Management budget AND an Operating budget need to be submitted as two separate budgets. Please ensure you include the two budget uploads.

If my agency coordinates with another agency on providing rides to clients of both agencies using one vehicle, is that considered mobility management and therefore eligible for a 20% match rather than the 50% match for an operating project?

In this case, the actual provision of the service  (e.g. driver salary and fuel) would be an operating cost under FTA rules and subject to the 50% match, but the administrative costs required to allow for the sharing of vehicles with other non-profit agencies is considered mobility management and is therefore eligible for the 20% match.

Source: Page III-11 in FTA Circular C 9070.1G   Enhanced Mobility of Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities Program Guidance

Can my agency apply only for Capital or Operating assistance?

Yes, agencies can apply for Capital, Operating, or both. Note: Qualifying mobility management activities are considered “Capital” under FTA requirements since the Federal match is the same (80%).

Does the Mobility Management budget need detailed information?

Yes, line items must be added to the budget template in Excel describing each activity. Applicants should call TPB staff to find out if their proposed Mobility Management line item qualifies for the Mobility Management match of 80% based on Federal rules.

Does each budget line item needs to be divided between the Federal share and local share (80/20 for Capital or Mobility Management and 50/50 for Operating) or just the total?

Each budget line item needs to be broken out between the Federal and local share; the total budget cannot be the only item divided between Federal and local share.  Please contact Lynn Winchell-Mendy with any questions.

Are we required to hold a public hearing in order to receive funds under the Enhanced Mobility Grant Program?

COG/TPB does not require your agency to hold a public hearing in order to apply for the Enhanced Mobility program; however, your governing agency may require this. Should an applicant receive an Enhanced Mobility grant for an activity that would require public input under FTA’s Title VI Circular, such as a change to fixed-route bus service, the awardee would be responsible for ensuring that those requirements are met.

How does the FTA define Older Adults?

The new circular maintains the same definition for Older Adults as age 65 and older.

If the application includes scalability scenarios, does it need to include Letters of Commitment?

Letters of Commitment for the scalability scenarios do not need to be included with the application. If the application is awarded a grant it would be requested then.

Can we overmatch in one budget category and compensate by not showing match in another?

No, match has to be line item by line item. For example, a $20,000 salary line item for a Mobility Management budget must have $4,000 as its match. There can be no overmatching.

If my agency purchases transportation services under a contract or lease, rather than acquire and operate my agency’s own vehicles, is the matching requirement 20% or 50%?

FTA rules under the Enhanced Mobility program allow for a 20% match for the acquisition of contracted transportation services. The FTA circular states that “Both capital and operating costs associated with contracted service are eligible capital expenses.  Funds may be requested for contracted services covering a time period of more than one year.”

Source: Page III-11 in FTA Circular C 9070.1G   Enhanced Mobility of Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities Program Guidance

Is fuel an eligible Capital cost? What about preventive maintenance?

No, fuel and gas are not eligible Capital costs but are considered an Operating cost. Preventive maintenance of a vehicle or equipment on a vehicle (ramp, GPS, etc.) are eligible Capital costs.

How important is it to justify each line item in a budget?

It is very important to explain the need for each line item and how it will help your agency directly provide the services proposed.

 

Technical Questions

How do I save my application?

Foundant’s grant management system allows users to save a draft application and pick up where one leaves off.  To save your progress, please ensure to click the “Save Application” button at the end of the site. If you leave the site before hitting “Save Application” you will lose your progress.

How do I pick-up where I left off?

Return to the site’s log-in screen (https://www.grantinterface.com/Common/LogOn.aspx?eqs=y0IvNTomAgXlHvL4ew01gA2). After you log-in you will return to the “Applicant Status Page” and the draft application link will appear below the Organization’s contact information. Click on “Edit Application” to continue working.

How do I know if my attachment is saved in the application?

Questions requiring an uploaded file will have an “Upload a file” button. Click on “Upload a file,” select the locally saved file, and click “Open.” The file will upload into the application and the filename will appear. At this point the file is saved in the application. You can click on the file to ensure it is the version you selected. You can also remove the file by hitting the red “X” and confirming your intention to delete the file saved on the application.

If my agency would like to submit more than one application do we have to create two separate accounts in TPB’s Foundant system?

If the person leading each project is different and the proposed activities differ significantly, each person should register for an account in the Foundant system and two separate applications should be submitted independent of each other. However, each application should speak to how the proposed activities in each grant are mutually supportive.

How do we submit an application on behalf of more than one agency and jurisdiction?

If several agencies and jurisdictions are partnering on one application, the lead agency should complete the application, with a person in the lead agency as the registered user.

Can more than one person be given permission to fill out an application in the Foundant system?

No, Foundant only allows one registered user for each application. However, the registered user could share the login and password with individual(s) they wish to help develop the application.