STAR HIE Program Applicant Questions and Answers

New Questions and Answers for Week Ending September 4, 2020

  1. Q: How do you submit multiple 424a forms in the application? I only see how to submit one (1), but don’t know how to submit the three (3) required—one for the total cost of the project, one for the first year, and one for the second year.

    A: In order to include additional forms in your application, please utilize the attachments option in your application package on grants.gov.

  2. Q: When filling out the budget narrative within section 5 of the project narrative, do we use the same information for the budget narrative requested in the budget narrative attachment form?

    A: No. Section 5 is a completely separate narrative. Section 5 must provide the proposed levels of effort of the project manager, key personnel, and consultants and describe how they are adequate and appropriate to advance the project in accordance with the timelines. Section 5 should include:

    • An explanation of how the proposed budget supports the proposed project, is reasonable to meet the project’s needs, and is as cost-efficient as possible.
    • An outline of the proposed costs that support all project activities and how the proposed costs support the project activities.
    • A description of how the proposed expenditures align with the project plan at a high level.

    Standard Form 424A is designed to accommodate applications for multiple grant programs. Thus, for purposes of this Program, many of the budget item columns and rows are not applicable. Unless otherwise indicated, the SF 424A should reflect a two-year budget.

    Please refer to Section 5: Budget, Level of Effort, and Justification; Instructions SF-424A, Budget Information for Non-Construction Programs of the NOFO.


Informational Session Questions for Week Ending August 28, 2020

  1. Q: For Milestone 0, does "developing resources" include training (if needed) for personnel working on the program?

    A: Yes. Milestone 0 funding is provided upon award and may be used to meet initial programmatic needs, such as developing resources to conduct initial outreach, education, and/or implementation.

    Please refer to Instructions for SF-424A, Budget Information for Non-Construction Programs, Line 6e: Supplies, which prompts applicants to separately list office, training, research, and other types of supplies.

    Please refer to Program Activities: Milestones and Performance Activities; Milestone 0: Program Support and Engagement Funding in the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO). You may also refer to the Budget Narrative and Justification for non-construction programs.

  2. Q: Can we download the presentation?

    A: Yes, the Information Session slide deck and recording are available in the following link:

    https://www.healthit.gov/topic/onc-funding-opportunities/strengthening-technical-advancement-and-readiness-public-health

  3. Q: How are the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) required in Milestone 2 different from the MOU/MOA in Milestone 0?

    A: The initiation of work on the MOU/MOA is expected to begin under Milestone 0. Per Milestone 2, within six (6) months of receiving the Notice of Grant Award (NGA), recipients must submit to ONC a MOU, MOA, or Notarized Agreement from the state, tribal, local, territorial (STLT) public health authority(ies)/agency(ies) that is necessary for achieving the goals of program. Note that the public entities described here may be broader than strictly governmental agencies. ONC and recipients will work collaboratively on defining the appropriate agency(ies)/authority(ies) for which documentation of engagement is required.

    Please refer to Program Activities: Milestones and Performance Activities; Milestone 0: Program Support and Engagement Funding and Milestone 2: Documentation of Engagement with Public Health Agency/Authority (and Health Information Exchange(s)) in the NOFO. You may also refer to the Budget Narrative and Justification for non-construction programs.

  4. Q: Is the Health Information Exchange (HIE) Attestation a formal document or will a letter attesting to being an HIE suffice?

    A: This competitive NOFO is limited to only United States-based HIE entities. This includes non-profit HIEs or for-profit HIEs. Applicants must provide an attestation that the applicant is a HIE or Health Information Network (HIN) as defined in 45 CFR 171.102.

    Please refer to Section C: Eligibility Criteria in the NOFO. Also refer to Section E: Application Review Information/Screening Review for further information.

  5. Q: Are all these necessary documents available in Workspace at grants.gov?

    A: Yes. All the necessary standard forms are available as part of the application package on www.grants.gov. Any attachments outside of those forms are the responsibility of the applying organization.

  6. Q: Can these funds be used to support EHR connection procurement or integration build-out fees for underserved organizations?

    A: The STAR HIE program provides an opportunity to strengthen and expand the ability of HIEs to support public health agencies in communities and states. There is a clear need for new data and new approaches for public health programs, including approaches made possible by modern computing. For example, case investigation and contact tracing can be augmented by new data and new approaches to better identify the sources of a disease and help prevent additional outbreaks.

    The project narrative provides the most substantive information regarding the proposed project in a clear and concise manner. To that end, the project narrative must address the elements articulated in the Program Description/Purpose sections of this NOFO. The project narrative must also factor in and align with the Performance Activities/Program Milestones and Merit Review Evaluation criteria presented in this NOFO (e.g., organizational experience, past performance, etc.).

    Please refer to Program Description/Purpose, Project Narrative; Performance activities/Program Milestones and Merit Review Evaluation criteria presented in this NOFO.

  7. Q: Are HIEs who are part of a public health agency able to participate in this funding opportunity?

    A: Yes. This NOFO seeks to strengthen the HIE services available to public health agencies.

    This Program will build upon previous and existing Federal investments in HIEs. It also will leverage work done by the industry to advance HIE services for the benefit of public health. The result of this would be improved linkages between public health agencies and the services that HIEs are well situated to provide. These services include, but are not limited to, establishing or updating:

    • Services that benefit public health registries;

    • Connectivity services that benefit a public health agency; and/or

    • Data services that benefit a public health agency.

    Applicants must propose activities that benefit a public health agency.

    Please refer to Section A: Program Description/Purpose of the Funding Opportunity; Purpose; Section C: Funding Opportunity Award Information; Program Approach and Program Activities.

  8. Q: What line item in the SF-424A do we put consultant and/or subcontract labor costs?

    A: If the applying organization will have sub contracts, the proposed amount being charged to the project must be entered under the contractual cost category on the SF-424a. The breakdown of labor charges must be broken down in the narrative.

    Please use the template for Sample Budget and Narrative Justification for Completing SF424A of the NOFO to submit your narrative.

  9. Q: Can these funds be utilized to support existing work between HIE and Public Health Agencies? Or it is ear marked for new opportunities only?

    A: Yes. This program will build upon previous and existing Federal investments in HIEs. It also will leverage work done by the industry to advance HIE services for the benefit of public health.

    Please refer to Section A: Program Description/Purpose of the Funding Opportunity; Purpose.

  10. Q: By "service area" do you mean geographical area of service?

    A: Yes. Service area is the geographical area of service.

    Please refer to Section B: Funding Opportunity Award Information; Key Award Parameters.

  11. Q: How does a new company become an HIE member?

    A: This competitive NOFO is limited to only United States-based HIE entities. This includes non-profit-HIEs or for-profit HIEs. Applicants must provide an attestation that the applicant is a HIE or HIN as defined in 45 CFR 171.102. Applicants must also demonstrate the strength and extent to which they possess strong collaborator involvement and partnerships in order to meet the goals of the program. Eligible applicants are encouraged to include letters of support or commitment confirming support for the project (should it be funded) made by other collaborating organizations and agencies.

    Please refer to Section C: Eligibility Criteria in the NOFO. Also refer to Section E: Application Review Information/Screening Review for further information.

  12. Q: Do we need a separate budget and SF-424A for each year of the 2-year Period of Performance? The NOFO references providing a Budget Narrative for each year and a combined one.

    A: Yes. You will need to submit a cumulative narrative and SF-424A that reflects total cost of the project, and a narrative and SF-424a for each year of the project.

  13. Q: Can you define "cannot profit?”

    A: Under 45 CFR. 75.216(b), no Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) funds may be paid as profit to any recipient even if the recipient is a commercial organization. An organization receiving funds by way of this cooperative agreement is unable to generate a profit from these funds that would result in income generated for the organization during the period of performance. This would include but not be limited to: membership fees, fees charged to outside entities to attend functions hosted by applicant organization, or overhead/profit fees in budgets. Recipients are not able to make a profit on activities funded by the cooperative agreement per federal requirements.

  14. Q: What type of contract is being considered for this NOFO (e.g., Firm Fixed Price (FFP), Time and Materials, or Cost Reimbursable)?

    A: This funding opportunity is to award a cooperative agreement. None of the above mentioned vehicles would be applicable for this opportunity.

  15. Q: Will applications be considered that support health information exchange (verb) efforts to support public health interoperability, or only those that come from or utilized HIE/HIOs (noun)? There are many innovative solutions being worked on and implemented providing standards-based exchange capabilities to public health that would benefit from this support.

    A: This is a limited competition. It is limited to United States-based health HIE entities. This includes non-profit HIEs or for-profit HIEs. Entities may enter into multi-organizational and/or regional agreements to apply to this NOFO.

    Eligible applicants are encouraged to include Letters of Support or Letters of Commitment confirming support for the project (should it be funded) made by other collaborating organizations and agencies.

    Please refer to Section C: Funding Opportunity Award Information. Additionally, refer to the Project Narrative Section 4: Collaborator Involvement, Partnerships, and Sub-recipients; Letters of Commitment or Support section on in the NOFO.

  16. Q: If fewer than five (5) awards are made, might ONC award more money to fewer awardees?

    A: No. Funding will be provided at the levels indicated in the NOFO.

  17. Q: Would ONC be willing to share information about webinar participants so that organizations interesting in partnering might be able to locate one another?

    A: ONC is unable to provide that information publicly in order to preserve the integrity of the application process.

  18. Q: Can we use grant funds to support access to online HIE web clinical portals for public health personnel?

    A: The activities proposed within applications to this NOFO must include investments in health information technology (health IT). Health IT refers to the use of information and communication technologies in caring for patients, tracking diseases and protecting public health, conducting research, and improving the health of individuals and populations. For example, health IT would include software that enables a public health entity to properly match a patient to data in a system by comparing the initials, name, date of birth, or address to the name associated with the data. As another example, award recipients may buy or build the software systems required for connecting demographic information to a patient and identifying disparities within populations or cohorts. Along these lines, the cooperative agreement may also cover necessary testing and monitoring of technical capabilities to ensure ongoing successful implementation.

    Please refer to Section A: Program Description/Purpose of the Funding Opportunity; Program Activities.

  19. Q: There is a milestone (3), but it is not listed for funding. Is Milestone (3) a non-monetary milestone?

    A: Funding will be released pursuant to all milestones established by each award. Upon successful completion of Milestones 0, 1, 2, and 3, subsequent funding will then be released for Milestones 4, 5 and 6.

    Please refer to Milestones and Performance Activities in the NOFO.

  20. Q: To what extent is ONC seeking "solutions" that are portable and replicable to other HIEs and public health agencies? Or is it acceptable to propose solutions that are applicable to a particular HIE and to a specific public health agency?

    A: The STAR HIE program will leverage work done by the industry to advance HIE services for the benefit of public health. The result of this would be improved linkages between public health agencies and the services that HIEs are well situated to provide. These services include, but are not limited to, establishing or updating:

    • Services that benefit public health registries;

    • Connectivity services that benefit a public health agency; and/or

    • Data services that benefit a public health agency.

    ONC expects recipients to complete a sustainability plan to ensure the ongoing success and replicability of efforts to strengthen and expand the ability of HIEs to support public health agencies. Recipients are encouraged to consult with partners/stakeholders in the development of the plan.

    Please refer to Section A: Program Description/Purpose of the Funding Opportunity; Purpose in the NOFO. Additionally, refer to Milestone 6: Completed Sustainability Plan.

  21. Q: From an EHR vendor perspective, will these HIEs be standardized to ensure a multi- interface that is universal in nature?

    A: The STAR HIE Program will leverage work done by the industry to advance HIE services for the benefit of public health. The result of this would be improved linkages between public health agencies and the services that HIEs are well situated to provide. These services include, but are not limited to, establishing or updating:

    • Services that benefit public health registries;

    • Connectivity services that benefit a public health agency; and/or

    • Data services that benefit a public health agency.

    Please refer to Section A: Program Description/Purpose of the Funding Opportunity; Purpose in the NOFO.

  22. Q: Is the plan to have these HIEs be regional or state level? And avoid HIEs on a medical facility level?

    A: This program seeks to respond to the needs facing public health agencies by leveraging the unique abilities and characteristics of HIEs. These include, for example, the following:

    • HIEs are often state, local, or regional entities, with a strong understanding of and experience with local health care environments, including policies dictating data use for public health agencies.

    • HIEs facilitate competition within the healthcare system by acting as trusted third parties who work with otherwise competitive healthcare entities.

    Additionally, they must clearly demonstrate that the organizational and personnel capabilities of the applicant support its ability to demonstrate strong understanding of and experience with state, tribal, local, and/or territorial healthcare environments, including policies dictating data use for public health.

    Applicants must also must fully describe the ways in which the project could be applicable to and/or relevant to other communities, states, and/or territories.

    Please refer to Section A: Program Description/Purpose of the Funding Opportunity; Purpose. Also refer to sections 3 and 6 of the Project Narrative.

  23. Q: Can these funds be used to support EHR connection procurement or integration build-out fees for underserved organizations?

    A: Funding for the STAR HIE Program will leverage work done by the industry to advance HIE services for the benefit of public health. The result of this would be improved linkages between public health agencies and the services that HIEs are well situated to provide. These services include, but are not limited to, establishing or updating:

    • Services that benefit public health registries;

    • Connectivity services that benefit a public health agency; and/or

    • Data services that benefit a public health agency.

    Please refer to Section A: Program Description/Purpose of the Funding Opportunity; Purpose in the NOFO.

  24. Q: Does the primary applicant need to be a certified HIE?

    A: This competitive NOFO is limited to only United States-based HIE entities. This includes non-profit HIEs or for-profit HIEs. Applicants must provide an attestation that the applicant is a HIE or HIN as defined in 45 CFR 171.102. Applicants must also demonstrate the strength and extent to which they possess strong collaborator involvement and partnerships in order to meet the goals of the Program. Eligible applicants are encouraged to include letters of support or commitment confirming support for the project (should it be funded) made by other collaborating organizations and agencies.

    Please refer to Section C: Eligibility Criteria in the NOFO. Also refer to Section E: Application Review Information/Screening Review for further information.

  25. Q: Are all these necessary documents available in Workspace at grants.gov?

    A: Yes. All the necessary standard forms are available as part of the application package on grants.gov. Any attachments outside of those forms are the responsibility of the applying organization.

  26. Q: Will the $500k awards be paced by Milestone completion? If so, what is the plan?

    A: Yes. Funding will be released pursuant to milestones established by each award. Upon successful completion of Milestones 0, 1, 2 and 3, subsequent funding will then be released for Milestones 4, 5 and 6. Recipients are expected to work with ONC to establish reporting mechanisms to track and monitor progress towards milestones (qualitative and quantitative).

    Please refer to Milestones and Performance Activities, example performance activities are described in the NOFO.

  27. Q: Are partners of public health agencies considered sub recipients for the purpose of federal grant regulations?

    A: That would depend on the work involved to be completed by the proposed partners. The applicant must include a description of how the applicant, if entering into any sub-award relationship as the prime recipient, addresses the sub-recipient arrangements for meeting the programmatic, administrative, financial, and reporting requirements of the grant, including those necessary to ensure compliance with all applicable Federal regulations and policies. Entities may enter into multi-organizational and/or regional agreements to apply to this NOFO. However, one singular entity must be the applicant; act as the responsible agent; submit the application on behalf of all partners, who must provide written documentation affirming the applicant’s role as their agent; and maintain accountability for the proper use of federal funds.

    Please refer to Section 4: Collaborator Involvement, Partnerships, and Sub-recipients in the Project Narrative section of the NOFO; B. Funding Award Information.

  28. Q: How soon after this concludes will we be able to get a link to the recorded version? Or just the PowerPoint/PDF of the slides?

    A: The recorded link, as well as the PowerPoint slides, will be available during the week of August 23, 2020. Please check the funding opportunity page at a later date.

  29. Q: If the technology enabling public health communication (gateway) is a third-party tool from a commercial organization, is it considered an essential collaborator and thus is under the same restrictions for nonprofit/cannot profit from any additional development performed?

    A: Yes the same restriction applies. Applicants must include letters of support or commitment from essential collaborators. Essential collaborators include state, tribal, local, and/or territorial (STLT) public health agency(ies). Any organization that is specifically named to have a significant role in carrying out the project should be considered an essential collaborator such as interstate, intrastate, and regional partners. For any work owned by a third party that was licensed by the recipient under this award, the recipient will assure that said license also reserves for the Government a royalty free, nonexclusive, and irrevocable right to reproduce, publish, or otherwise use the work for Federal purposes and to authorize others to do so.

    The costs of project activities to be undertaken by a third-party contractor should be included in this category as a single line item charge. A complete itemization of the cost comprising the charge should be attached to the budget. If there is more than one contractor, each must be budgeted separately and must have an attached itemization.

    Under 45 CFR 75.216(b), no HHS funds may be paid as profit to any recipient even if the recipient is a commercial organization. Entities may enter into multi-organizational and/or regional agreements to apply to this NOFO.

    Please refer to Letters of Commitment or Support in the NOFO. Additionally, refer to the Project Narrative section of the NOFO.

  30. Q: Are these funds similar to Meaningful Use/Promoting Interoperability funds? If not, what's the clear distinction?

    A: HHS is committed to advancing the secure, interoperable exchange of health information, which is critical to enhancing the health and well-being of all Americans.

    In March 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) (Pub. L. No. 116-136, March 27, 2020) was enacted. The CARES Act responds to the COVID-19 (i.e., coronavirus disease 2019) outbreak and its impact on the economy, public health, state and local governments, individuals, and businesses. The cooperative agreements under this NOFO will be funded through funding from the CARES Act.

    Please refer to Program Description/Purpose of the Funding Opportunity; Background.

  31. Q: My state is currently finishing up the procurement of a single state-wide HIE. The vendor selected will have been operating as an HIE in at least two states for five years. The award will be decided upon shortly, well before the end of the two-year award window. May the state apply for this funding opportunity prior to a signed contract?

    A: This is a limited competition. It is limited to United States-based HIE entities. This includes non-profit HIEs or for-profit HIEs. Applicants must provide an attestation that the applicant is a HIE or HIN as defined in 45 CFR 171.102. Applicants must also demonstrate the strength and extent to which they possess strong collaborator involvement and partnerships in order to meet the goals of the program. Entities may enter into multi-organizational and/or regional agreements to apply to this NOFO.

    Please refer to Section C: Funding Opportunity Award Information.

  32. Q: I am seeking funding for research that examines the communication behaviors in the context of improving the prevention of disease spread. Research on those affected by COVID-19 shows the pervasive disparities observed among African American, Latino, and lower income communities in the Chicago Metropolitan area. This research focuses on how information about COVID-19 was informally and formally communicated within varying communities, the source and quality of that information, and the culturally specific patterns of communication. With this information, can you tell me if this type of study would be considered with the COVID-C3-20-002 grant?

    A: This competitive NOFO is limited to only United States-based HIE entities. This includes non-profit HIEs or for-profit HIEs.

    This program seeks to respond to the needs facing public health agencies by leveraging the unique abilities and characteristics of HIEs. The program has the following objectives:

    • Build innovative HIE services that benefit public health agencies.

    • Improve the HIE services available to support communities disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Applicants must propose activities that benefit a public health agency.

    Public health agencies are vital to support healthy and resilient communities. It is important that public health agencies have access to timely and accurate data in order to make decisions on how, when, and where to implement services in order to improve community health outcomes.

    Please refer to Section A. Program Description/Purpose.

  33. Q: Are these funds available to pass to underserved or rural area practices for procurement of an EHR to support or build out connection integrations?

    A: Funds will leverage work done by the industry to advance HIE services for the benefit of public health. The result of this would be improved linkages between public health agencies and the services that HIEs are well situated to provide. These services include, but are not limited to, establishing or updating:

    • Services that benefit public health registries;

    • Connectivity services that benefit a public health agency; and/or

    • Data services that benefit a public health agency.

    Please refer to Section A: Program Description/Purpose of the Funding Opportunity; Purpose in the NOFO.

  34. Q: Can we still be considered even though we did not submit a Notice of Intent?

    A: Yes. Although not required, applicants were strongly encouraged to submit a non-binding e-mail notice of intent to apply for this funding opportunity. This notice of intent will assist ONC in planning for the application review process.

    Please refer to Section B: Funding Opportunity Award Information; Key Dates; Notice of Intent.

    New Questions and Answers for Week Ending August 28, 2020

  35. Q: Our state department of health has received inquirers from several organizations concerning the STAR HIE Program. Can our state department of health support more than one applicant? If yes, should we have one MOU for all the organizations or should we have one for each?

    A: Yes. Entities may enter into multi-organizational and/or regional agreements to apply to this NOFO. However, one singular entity must be the applicant; act as the responsible agent; submit the application on behalf of all partners, who must provide written documentation affirming the applicant’s role as their agent; and maintain accountability for the proper use of federal funds.

    The MOU ensures that recipients are actively and adequately engaging appropriate public health officials on all efforts throughout the period of performance.

    Please refer to the Executive Summary and the Program Description/Purpose of the NOFO.

  36. Q: Can work plans be presented as tables? If so, do tables have to be double-spaced?

    A: Yes. The Project Narrative and Budget Narrative sections of the application must be double-spaced, on 8-1/2” X 11” plain white paper with 1” margins on all sides, and use either Cambria or Times New Roman font size of not less than 11 point. Smaller font sizes may be used to fill in the Standard Forms, exhibits, and figures, though all text in forms, exhibits, and figures must not be smaller than 8 point font.

    Please refer to Section D: Application and Submission Information of the NOFO.

  37. Q: Are participation fees an allowable expense under the ONC STAR HIE NOFO? Specifically, would it be acceptable to pay HIE Participation Fees for new HIE members during the project period?

    A: No.

  38. Q: Page 21 of the application package, form SF-LLL states the “applicant organization must sign the disclosure form” and the workspace indicates it is mandatory. The Grant.gov lobbying form is to disclose lobbying activity. We have not engaged in lobbying activities, so we are not sure how to meet the requirement to submit this form. Can you please advise?

    A: In the event that your organization does not participate in lobbying activities as defined, please input N/A and sign the SF-LLL form. This form must still be included as part of your application.

    Additional information regarding each of these documents is further provided. Form SF-LLL, Disclosure of Lobbying Activities, contains the name and address of lobbying registrants. Please note that a duly authorized representative of the applicant organization must sign the disclosure form. Failure to complete and sign the form may result in civil penalties ranging from $10,000 to $100,000.

    Please refer to Section D: Application and Submission Information; Application Package of the NOFO.

  39. Q: Section 5: Budget, Level of Effort, and Justification: Is the Sample Budget and Narrative Justification the same narrative required for Section 5? Or is Section 5 a completely separate narrative?

    A: No. Section 5 is a completely separate narrative.

    Section 5 must provide the proposed levels of effort of the project manager, key personnel, and consultants and describe how they are adequate and appropriate to advance the project in accordance with the timelines. Section 5 should include:

    • An explanation of how the proposed budget supports the proposed project, is reasonable to meet the project’s needs, and is as cost-efficient as possible.

    • An outline of the proposed costs that support all project activities and how they support them.

    • A description of how the proposed expenditures align with the project plan at a high level.

    Standard Form 424A is designed to accommodate applications for multiple grant programs. Thus, for purposes of this Program, many of the budget item columns and rows are not applicable. Unless otherwise indicated, the SF 424A should reflect a two-year budget.

    Please refer to Section 5: Budget, Level of Effort, and Justification; Instructions SF-424A, Budget Information for Non-Construction Programs of the NOFO.

  40. Q: If a subcontractor does not have a current indirect cost rate agreement approved by the Department of Health and Human Services or another federal agency, would they not be allowed to place indirect costs in their budget?

    A: Per 2 CFR 200.414 (f), in addition to the procedures outlined in the appendices in paragraph (e) of this section, any non-Federal entity that has never received a negotiated indirect cost rate, except for those non-Federal entities described in Appendix VII to Part 200—States and Local Government and Indian Tribe Indirect Cost Proposals, paragraph D.1.b, may elect to charge a de minimis rate of 10% of modified total direct costs (MTDC), which may be used indefinitely. As described in § 200.403, costs must be consistently charged as either indirect or direct costs, but may not be double charged or inconsistently charged as both. If chosen, this methodology once elected, must be used consistently for all Federal awards until such time as a non-Federal entity chooses to negotiate for a rate, which the non-Federal entity may apply to do at any time.

  41. Q: We currently have nothing to disclose, but there is no option for N/A. I’m required to include a name of the “Individual Performing Services” in section 10.b. Is there a way to comply with the mandatory form and pass validations if we have nothing to report?

    A: Please input N/A in either Section 10.A. or 10.B. and provide the name of the signatory entity.

  42. Q: When I am on the View Grant Opportunity page you have an Apply and Subscribe button. However my Apply button is greyed out. After watching videos, this is the way we need to apply. Can you help me?

    A: For any grants.gov related issues, please contact the grants.gov helpdesk at 1-800-518-4726 or support@grants.gov.

    Q: Please discuss Section E, Application Review Information, for the Program as follows: The Merit Review process is currently grouped into five (5) areas, each with an associated number of points (weights). This approach appears to favor and/or bias an “existing” rather than a more “transformative” approach to the issues involved. As an example, Section (3) - which provides for 40 points - underscores a bias for “existing” and “past” work as a pre-requisite. Moreover, Sub-section (3.4) underscores “existing physicians on staff with subject matter expertise in health IT…”. Given that other and similar large-scale national digital interoperability projects (in other industries) have already proven successful outcomes, are these past “best-in-class” approaches, expertise and experience options in this Program (i.e., leveraging “lesson learned” vs. “re-inventing the wheel approach”)? Given above, please discuss your flexibility in transforming these current five areas to include best-in-class/proven approaches not recognized under the current point structure of section E.

    A: Per section B of the Notice of Funding opportunity, this competitive NOFO is limited to only United States-based HIE entities. This includes non-profit HIEs or for-profit HIEs.

  43. Q: For the state, tribal, local, and territorial (STLT) requirement, are there any recommended points of contact? We currently don't have a connection point. Our proposal will be for a number of states, as we have networks in their geographies. Thanks for the consideration here.

    A: Applicants must include letters of support or commitment from essential collaborators. Essential collaborators include STLT public health agency(ies). Any organization that is specifically named to have a significant role in carrying out the project should be considered an essential collaborator such as interstate, intrastate, and regional partners. Applicants are encouraged to include letters of support or commitment confirming support for the project (should it be funded) made by other collaborating organizations and agencies. At a minimum, the letter must explain the support for or commitment to the project.

    See Appendix E for an example letter.

    Please refer to the Project Narrative section of the NOFO.

  44. Q: The deadline for NOFO submission is September 1, 2020, but what is the time?

    A: The deadline for the STAR HIE NOFO submission is September 1, 2020 at 05:00 PM EST.

  45. Q: We are concerned that we are submitting the application as an entity and may not be properly identified as a qualified HIE during the initial review process. Do we need to take initial steps to ensure we are properly identified as an HIE in our application?

    A: This competitive NOFO is limited to only United States-based HIE entities. This includes non-profit HIEs or for-profit HIEs. Applicants must provide an attestation that the applicant is a HIE or HIN as defined in 45 CFR 171.102.

    Please refer to Section C: Eligibility Criteria in the NOFO. Also refer to Section E: Application Review Information/Screening Review for further information.


Questions and Answers for Week Ending August 21, 2020

  1. Q: An applicant has healthcare data experience and technical expertise building SOC2/HIPAA compliant and secure infrastructure for healthcare organizations, but the applicant is not technically an HIE. How does one obtain this status?  Can one obtain this status as part of the cooperative agreement and Milestone 0 / work plan?

    A: This competitive NOFO is limited to only United States-based health information exchange (HIE) entities. This includes non-profit-HIEs or for-profit HIEs. Applicants must provide an attestation that the applicant is a Health Information Exchange or Health Information Network as defined in 45 CFR 171.102. Please refer to Section C: Eligibility Criteria in the NOFO. Also refer to Section E: Application Review Information/Screening Review for further information.

    A: Milestone 0: Program Support and Engagement Funding is provided upon award and may be used to meet initial programmatic needs only. Please refer to the details in Section A. Milestone and Performance Activities in the NOFO.

  1. Q: What do you recommend is the best action to take if the applicant cannot attest to HIE at the current moment, but has innovative technologies that could help the HHS meet its objectives and otherwise be a competitive applicant?

    A: This competitive NOFO is limited to only United States-based health information exchange (HIE) entities. This includes non-profit-HIEs or for-profit HIEs. Applicants must provide an attestation that the applicant is a Health Information Exchange or Health Information Network as defined in 45 CFR 171.102. Applicants must also demonstrate the strength and extent to which they possess strong collaborator involvement and partnerships in order to meet the goals of the program.  Eligible applicants are encouraged to include letters of support or commitment confirming support for the project (should it be funded) made by other collaborating organizations and agencies.

    Please refer to Section C: Eligibility Criteria in the NOFO. Also refer to Section E: Application Review Information/Screening Review for further information.

  1. Q: Can the Letter of Support from the state, tribal, local, or territorial (STLT) public health agency be obtained as part of the cooperative agreement and Milestone 0 / work plan?

    A: Applicants for this funding opportunity are required to include a Letter of Support or Letter of Commitment from respective STLT public health agency(ies) in their application. The letter should describe their level of involvement in the program.

    Milestone 0: Program Support and Engagement Funding is provided upon award and may be used to meet initial programmatic needs only. For example, within six (6) months of receiving the Notice of Grant Award (NGA), recipients must submit to ONC a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), or Notarized Agreement from the STLT public health agency(ies) and/or emergency management agency(ies) (e.g., public health preparedness program), that are necessary for achieving the goals of program. The initiation of work on this MOU/MOA may begin under Milestone 0.

    Please refer to the details in Section A. Milestone and Performance Activities in the NOFO.

  1. Q: What do you recommend is the best action to take if the applicant cannot obtain a letter of support at the current moment, but has innovative technologies that could help the HHS meet its objectives and otherwise be a competitive applicant?

    A: Applicants for this funding opportunity are required to include a Letter of Support or Letter of Commitment from respective STLT public health agencies in their application. The letter should describe their level of involvement in the program.

    Eligible applicants are encouraged to include Letters of Support or Letters of Commitment confirming support for the project (should it be funded) made by other collaborating organizations and agencies.

    Please refer to the Letters of Commitment or Support section on in the NOFO.

  1. Q: Page 21 of the NOFO states that “a separate budget narrative/justification is also required for each potential year of grant funding requested.”  Given that the proposed budget period is 09/30/2020 to 09/30/2022, does this mean that two separate budget narratives/justifications must be submitted?  Also, does this requirement apply only if 33% of a project’s total budget falls under a contractual expense, or in all cases?

    A: An applicant must submit a budget that reflects the proposed costs that cover the entire period of performance. To that end, applicants must submit a total of 6 attachments:

    • A cumulative SF -424a (Budget worksheet) and supporting narrative to reflect the proposed costs for the entire period of performance;
    • An SF-424a (Budget worksheet) and supporting narrative to reflect proposed costs for the first year of the award;
    • An SF-424a (Budget worksheet) and supporting narrative to reflect proposed costs for the second year of the award; and
    • Budget worksheets and narratives are required in all cases.

    Please refer to the Project Narrative Section 5: Budget, Level of Effort, and Justification; Budget Narrative; Form SF-424A, Budget Information for Non-Construction Programs.

  1. Q: Will a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number be required in this application? One of our team members recently came across some information about DUNS numbers being phased out. Appendix A. in the NOFO references that our DUNS is required in field 8c of SF424.

    A: Applicants must have a Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number. A DUNS number can be obtained via http://fedgov.dnb.com/webform and typically takes 1 to 2 business days. Please plan accordingly.

    Please refer to Section D: Application and Submission Information in the NOFO.

  1. Q: With respect to “multi-organizational” agreements, can HIE entities submit proposals for the STAR HIE Program that include non-HIE entities as part of a multi-organizational agreement or do all organizations in the multi-organizational agreement need to be HIE entities?

    A: Yes. HIE entities may include non-HIE entities as part of the multi-organizational agreement. This is a limited competition. The awardee must be a United States-based health information exchange (HIE) entity. This includes non-profit HIEs or for-profit HIEs. Entities may enter into multi-organizational and/or regional agreements to apply to this NOFO. However, one singular entity must be the applicant; act as the responsible agent; submit the application on behalf of all partners, who must provide written documentation affirming the applicant’s role as their agent; and maintain accountability for the proper use of federal funds.

    Applicants must also demonstrate the strength and extent to which they possess strong collaborator involvement and partnerships in order to meet the goals of the program. Eligible applicants are encouraged to include letters of support or commitment confirming support for the project (should it be funded) made by other collaborating organizations and agencies.

    Please refer to Section 4 in the NOFO. Collaborator Involvement, Partnerships, and Subrecipients. Refer to Section B: Funding Award Information.

  1. Q: If HIE entities can submit with non-HIE partners, can those partners be private sector companies or can the funds be used to contract with private sector companies to enhance the value of the HIE with respect to the goals of the NOFO?

    A: Yes. Eligible entities may enter into multi-organizational and/or regional agreements with private sector companies. However, one singular entity must be the applicant; act as the responsible agent; submit the application on behalf of all partners, who must provide written documentation affirming the applicant’s role as their agent; and maintain accountability for the proper use of federal funds. The awardee must be a United States-based health information exchange (HIE) entity. This includes non-profit HIEs or for-profit HIEs.

    For all applicant submissions, the final award decision will be made by the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology taking into consideration several factors such as the results of the merit review process, results of the pre-award risk assessment, compliance with programmatic and grants management requirements; the reasonableness of the estimated costs, available funding, geographical dispersion, program priorities, and the likelihood that the proposed project will result in the benefits expected.

    Please refer to Section 4 in the NOFO. Collaborator Involvement, Partnerships, and Subrecipients.  Refer to Section B: Funding Award Information.

  1. Q: Can an organization serve as an applicant on more than one submission? Each submission would have a separate approach and geographic focus: One submission would focus on a major metropolitan region hard hit by COVID-19. One submission would support a national collaborative driving standards for interoperability across sectors.

    A: No. Organizations cannot serve as the applicant on more than one submission.

  1. Q: If an entity serves as the applicant on one submission, may that same entity (or a related entity) also serve as a subcontractor on submissions by other HIE applicants in other parts of the country?

    A: An entity may apply as the applicant on one submission and apply as a sub-contractor on another.

    However, for all applicant submissions, the final award decision will be made by the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology taking into consideration several factors such as the results of the merit review process, results of the pre-award risk assessment, compliance with programmatic and grants management requirements, the reasonableness of the estimated costs, available funding, geographical dispersion, program priorities, and the likelihood that the proposed project will result in the benefits expected.

    Entities may enter into multi-organizational and/or regional agreements to apply to this NOFO. However, one singular entity must be the applicant; act as the responsible agent; submit the application on behalf of all entities involved, who must provide written documentation affirming the applicant’s role as their agent; and maintain accountability for the proper use of federal funds.

    Please refer to Section D. Application and Submission Information and Section E. Application Review Information in the NOFO for all applicant submissions.

  1. Q: We are a technology vendor interacting with multiple HIEs. If we are listed on several HIE applications, will that impact their eligibility? In other words, do we need to restrict our partnership to just one (1) HIE in this application process?

    A: No. This will not impact the eligibility of the applicant. Entities may enter into multi-organizational and/or regional agreements to apply to this NOFO. However, one singular entity must be the applicant; act as the responsible agent; submit the application on behalf of all entities involved, who must provide written documentation affirming the applicant’s role as their agent; and maintain accountability for the proper use of federal funds.

    The final award decision will be made by the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology taking into consideration several factors such as the results of the merit review process, results of the pre-award risk assessment, compliance with programmatic and grants management requirements, the reasonableness of the estimated costs, available funding, geographical dispersion, program priorities, and the likelihood that the proposed project will result in the benefits expected.

  1. Q: Can the applicant name someone outside the organization and not employed by the applicant as the Program Director? The intention was to contract the management of the project activities with another organization to leverage some of their expertise in this area.

    A: Yes. This NOFO requires that applicants demonstrate a clear delineation of the roles and responsibilities of project staff, consultants, and collaborating organizations. This would specify who would have day-to-day responsibility for key tasks such as leadership of the project; project monitoring of tasks; technical and policy work; and conducting outreach efforts.

    Please refer to Section 2. Approach, Work Plan, and Program Activities; Section 3. Organizational and Technical Capabilities and Section 5. Budget Level of Effort and Justification.

Content last reviewed on September 1, 2020
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