EVEN MORE Questions and Answers for the Smart City Challenge

1.  Can I submit last minute questions on the forms and application requirements to SmartCityChallenge@dot.gov?

Yes, please submit any questions you may have. We will respond promptly.

2.  The Notice of Funding Opportunity provides a link to grants.gov for the Standard Forms. But the website contains a NOTE that the forms are for information only and cannot be submitted with my application.  Can we use copies of these documents on this page for this application, or do we need to go elsewhere on grants.gov to get them?

Yes, you can use the forms from the grants.gov page. You can disregard that NOTE. The USDOT has opted not to require applications be submitted via the grants.gov system and portal. Rather, we ask that you use those forms, and email your application to SmartCityChallenge@dot.gov. Therefore, you may disregard the NOTE in its entirety as it does not apply to the Smart City Challenge opportunity.

You may obtain the Standard Forms from many websites. We provided the grants.gov site as one of many websites housing the forms. It is acceptable for applicants to find the Standard Forms from other websites.

USDOT anticipates your application will consist of an email to SmartCityChallenge@dot.gov with two pdf files attached. One pdf file is the Part 1 Vision Narrative. The second pdf file is the Part 2 Application Standard Forms and Organization Information.

3.  Standard Forms: Part 2 of the Application includes certain Standard Forms (SF). What guidance can you provide regarding completion of the forms?

As stated on pages 31-33 of the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO), the Application Part 2 shall include:

  • (1) The required Standard Forms and;
  • (2) Answers to Organizational Items a through i. (Note item i. was added by NOFO Amendment 1.)

USDOT requests that Applicants complete the required Standard Forms, answer the Organizational Items, and combine the documents into one pdf file for submittal.

Many form fields are self-explanatory, but here are some tips for those that are may not be clear. If a block is not cited here, it is considered self-explanatory.

SF 424:

  • Block 1: Check Application
  • Block 2: Check New
  • Block 3: Input 2/4/2016
  • Blocks 4, 5a, 5b, 6 and 7: Leave Blank
  • Block 10: US Department of Transportation / Federal Highway Administration
  • Block 11: 20.200 Highway Research & Development
  • Block 12: DTFH6116RA00002; Beyond Traffic: The Smart City Challenge
  • Block 13: Leave Blank
  • Block 14: List name(s) of city or cities, county. NO need to attach the map.
  • Block 17: Start date 3/15/2016. End date 9/15/2016.
  • Block 18a and 18g: Enter $100,000
  • Blocks 18b through 18f: Leave Blank.
  • Block 19: Check block c.

SF424A:

  • Block 1a: Input Beyond Traffic: The Smart City Challenge
  • Block 1b: Input 20.200
  • Block 1c: Input $100,000
  • Block 1d through 23 (rest of form): Leave Blank

4.  The SFLLL on grants.gov is not downloadable. What should I do?

You may obtain the Standard Forms from many websites. We provided the grants.gov site as one of many websites housing the forms. It is acceptable for applicants to find the Standard Forms from other websites. Try another site such as https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/grants/sflllin.pdf.

5.  Part 2 Organizational Information, Item f. We are to state any contracts/agreements that have been terminated for convenience of the Government. Does that mean any contract that City government has terminated with another government entity (US DOT)? Or is that any contract the City Government has terminated with any organization?

The intent is for the Applicant to identify any terminations made against the applicant. Not terminations that the City made, but rather terminations made against the City when the City was the performing organization. Enter N/A of none if applicable.

6.  Amendment 1 to the Smart Cities Notice of Funding Opportunity amends the Notice to require (1) acknowledgment of Amendment 1 in the NOFO, and (2) granting permission to release names and vision statement. However, upon reading Section D in the amended NOFO, I cannot find the additional text directing us where and how to incorporate the requested acknowledgement of Amendment 1 and where we should grant permission to release information from our application. Could you please confirm where in the NOFO itself this amendment is located so that we put these components of the application in the proper location?

In your Part 2 Application, applicants are asked to address the items listed on pages 32 and 33 under the title Organizational Information, listed as items (a) through (h). The Amendment 1 added one more item to that list, item (i) which is “A statement to acknowledge receipt of Amendment 1 to the Notice of Funding Opportunity.” You can word the text statement however you wish – for example this would suffice: “The applicant hereby acknowledges receipt of Amendment 1 to the NOFO.” That’s all you need to do to satisfy acknowledgement.

There is no further action needed other than acknowledgment of the Amendment 1. By stating acknowledgement, you are accepting the added new term entitled “9. INTENT TO RELEASE APPLICATIONS AND NAMES OF APPLICANTS.” Acknowledgement of the Amendment 1 means you concur and agree to the new term #9, which tells you out intent. By submitting an application, and acknowledging Amendment 1, you are in effect agreeing to the terms of the NOFO including the new term #9. No other wording or statement is needed other than your acknowledgement (which means acceptance of) Amendment 1.

7.  Page 3 of the NOFO states the application is due by Email to SmartCityChallenge@dot.gov. Is there ANY upload needed on grants.gov for Phase 1 of The Smart City Challenge application?  Are you expecting that even the forms will be scanned and emailed to the above Email address and not to upload forms to grants.gov? 

The application is due entirely by email to SmartCityChallenge@dot.gov. We are NOT using grants.gov for submittal of the application or any portion thereof. We expect the forms to be scanned and emailed to the Smart City email address, and not be uploaded into grants.gov.

8.  Is an applicant required to submit some sort of proof of SAM.gov Registration, or is registration alone sufficient? Do you need them to include some sort of certification or number?

Registration alone is sufficient, no need to submit proof. If selected for award the USDOT will check to ensure SAM registration is active prior to award.

9.  Who do I contact if I have questions on the Vulcan support, and the Mobileye support?

If you have questions regarding the Vulcan and Mobileye support for the Smart City Challenge, please contact them directly at:

10.  Are any regulations waived for the Smart City Challenge demonstration?

No regulations or policies have been waived to date for this planned demonstration. Therefore, applicants are subject to existing regulation and policies. If your proposed demonstration triggers a regulatory requirement, currently it does apply. If you wish to, you are welcome to propose exceptions and deviations as part of your proposed demonstration. Such requests will be evaluated under the Technical Merit criteria along with the application as a whole.

11.  For Cities who are awarded the $100,000, what procurement standards, if any, will be required for hiring consultant help to prepare the final application? 

The $100,000 grant awards will be Fixed Amount grant awards. Under a Fixed Amount grant award the Federal agency awards a fixed amount of funding without regard to actual costs incurred by the grantee. This type of Federal award reduces some of the administrative burden and record-keeping requirements for both the Federal agency and the grantee. Accountability is based primarily on performance and results. Per 2 CFR §200.201, payments are based on meeting specific requirements of the Federal award (such as deliverables, events, milestones). Accountability is based on performance and results, and there is no governmental review of the actual costs incurred by the grantee in performance of the award.

The procurement standards contained in 2 CFR Part 200 are not waived by the use of a Fixed Amount grant award. However, simplified procedures would apply for procurements under the simplified acquisition threshold, currently $150,000. See 2 CFR §200.320, Methods of procurement to be followed.

12.  Are there Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program requirements and subcontracting goals that are to be applied for the Phase 1 and Phase 2 awards?

There are no defined DBE quantitative goals for the awards. However the following regulatory requirements do apply:

13.  Is the city allowed to team-up with an international/foreign agency (university, company, providers, etc.) for the Smart City Challenge? Or should it be an agency based in US?

There is no exclusion or restriction on team members being foreign companies or organizations.

14.  To whom do we address letters of interest or commitment?

We have not prescribed to whom letters should be addressed, so it’s up to the applicant to decide. “To Whom It May Concern” would suffice.

15.  What parameters define a "dense urban population for a mid-sized American city?" What density per square mile is sought?

No specific numerical density per square mile has been cited. Rather, the desired characteristic is described in the Notice of Funding Opportunity as “a dense urban population typical for a mid-sized American city.” It’s up to applicants to describe why their density meets that desired characteristic as phrased.

16.  Can funding in Phase 2 award be used for participant fees or incentives?

Regulation does not restrict using Federal funds for incentives for citizens to use transit. Costs incurred under Federal grants are subject to the Cost Principles contained in 2 CFR Part 200 Subpart E Cost Principles. Generally, costs must be necessary and reasonable for the performance of the Federal award.

17.  Will awards be direct awards, or through the States?

The USDOT FHWA’s Office of Acquisition and Grants Management intends to enter into direct awards with the selected applicants. For the $100K awards, payments will be based on meeting specific requirements of the Federal award, such as submittal of deliverables and progress reports. There will be no governmental review of the actual costs incurred by the awardee in performance of the Phase 1 award.

18.  Do the Buy America Act requirements apply to the Smart City Challenge?

Yes, FHWA’s Buy America requirements apply to the Smart City Challenge. These requirements mandate the use of domestic steel or iron in steel or iron manufactured products acquired with Title 23 funds unless a waiver is granted. Determining the applicability of FHWA’s Buy America requirements to a particular product requires a fact-specific evaluation of the products. For example, FHWA’s Buy America requirements do not apply to manufactured products, but do apply to those that are considered predominantly steel or iron manufactured products. FHWA will work with any successful applicant on compliance with FHWA’s Buy America requirements.

19.  Do the FHWA Buy America Act requirements apply to manufactured products?

No. FHWA has a long-standing waiver on the application of Buy America to manufactured products (see http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/programadmin/contracts/112583.cfm). In the waiver, issued together with FHWA’s Buy America rules, FHWA explained that Buy America did not apply to manufactured products where it was very difficult to identify the various components and to trace their origin (examples mentioned included traffic controllers, signal controllers, electrical equipment).  Smart City Challenge awards will apply the FHWA Buy America Act requirements.

20.  Do the FHWA Buy America Act requirements apply to vehicles?

Yes. However, FHWA will work with any successful applicant on compliance with FHWA’s Buy America requirements including seeking a waiver if the purchase of a vehicle is included in the scope of work.

21.  How granular do the proposed projects and budget plan need to be?

The Phase 1 application is intended to be a high-level vision and does NOT require a detailed budget. If invited into Phase 2, a detailed approach and budget will be required.

22If a mid-sized city is not selected as a finalist, can the $50 million be adjusted based on size of the recipient?

No.

 23.  Is this competition open to Canadian cities and provincial transportation agencies? 

No, the prime applicant must be a US applicant. They can partner with a US city on a border transportation issue.  

24. Can a city subaward all or a portion of the grant funds to private entity?

Yes.

25.  Would the USDOT require the selected Smart City to own and maintain the infrastructure that is being implemented with the $40,000,000?

No, there is no such requirement.

26.   Is there a template for the commitment letter for vendors to provide to cities?

No template exists. Typically such a letter acknowledges and confirms an organization’s intent to be part of a team, is submitted on that organization’s letter head and signed by someone able to commit the organization. The letter expresses intent to commit only. Actual commitment requires contractual arrangements to be made later in the event of award. A letter of commitment gives us evidence of planned intended team members.

Updated: Friday, October 7, 2016
Submit Feedback >