Public Health Informatics & Technology (PHIT) Workforce Development Program Applicant Questions and Answers

Answers to questions submitted by applicants will be posted here. Responses to applicant questions will be updated weekly.

New Questions and Answers for Week Ending July 16, 2021

  1. Q: The NOFO states the lead should be HBCU, TCU, HIS, AANAPISI, or other MSIs with an existing computer science, information science, biomedical technology, public health, health informatics, or similar program.... what if we are trying to develop this program ?
    A: This NOFO provides funding to build upon existing expertise and grow the capacity at MSIs to train underrepresented minorities in public health informatics and technology. This funding opportunity also allows for institutions who are able to develop a program that falls in line with any of the above mentioned programs to apply and potentially receive funding to do so. The NOFO has been updated to clarify eligibility on this point. Please see the eligibility requirements on page 12 of the NOFO.
  2. Q: Is an evaluator (critical friend model) an allowable expense?
    A: Additional information is needed on this model and associated expenses to make a determination if it is an allowable expense.
  3. Q: In terms of the letters of support, who should they be addressed to?
    A: Letters of Support should be addressed to the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, Micky Tripathi.
  4. Q: We understand that all recipients are expected to participate in a Community of Practice convened by ONC. Will our consortium participants also be expected to participate?
    A: Lead applicants and any institution providing training will be expected to participate in the Community of Practice.
  5. Q: Will competitive preference be offered to proposals that structure MSIs with terminal degree programs as lead applicants?
    A: All proposals will be examined against the evaluation criteria set forth in the NOFO.
  6. Q: What is ONC's expectations regarding the # of persons to be placed in paid internships per year and by the end of the cooperative agreement?
    A: ONC expects that collectively over 4,000 individuals will be trained across all selected recipients by the end of the cooperative agreement. ONC has not pre-determined the number of people that are to be placed in paid internships each year of the program.
  7. Q: What is ONC's expectations regarding the # of persons to be placed in jobs per year and by the end of the cooperative agreement?
    A: ONC has not pre-determined the number of people that are to be placed in paid employment opportunities each year of the program.
  8. Q: For college and graduate programs that may not graduate their students within the four years of the cooperative agreement, what measure should be used to report performance?
    A: Performance will be measured by the number of students trained by the end of the four-year period of performance.
  9. Q: Must those who are funded for training complete all of their education by the end of the 4-year period? We want to embed a minor in an undergraduate program and some may not be fully done with their studies and, for example, want to finish a bachelor’s degree.
    A: In order for the training to count towards the 4,000 person goal, the training must be completed by the end of the four-year period. However one of the goals of the PHIT Workforce Development program is to Implement or expand training, certification and degree programs in informatics and data science at minority serving institutions, and it is expected that the education and training programs created through this funding will continue once federal funding ceases.
  10. Q: Can a proposal have multiple PIs (i.e., the kind of MPIs that are allowed on NIH proposals)?
    A: There can be multiple PIs, however, one needs to be identified as the main point of contact on the notice of award.
  11. Q: Doing some simple math, your plan to spend $75M to train 4000 people averages out to $18,750 per student trained.
    • Is your budgeting preference for applicants to budget about this much per student, e.g., a proposal to train 100 students would budget $1.87M?
      A: We are asking applicants to prepare their budgets based on their estimated costs..
    • And are these costs total costs, i.e., inclusive of direct and indirect costs?
      A: Yes, these costs would include direct and indirect costs.
  12. Q: I have a question about the Lead Organization. The University of Massachusetts Medical School is not considered a minority serving institution (MSI). A potential consortium partner, University of Massachusetts Boston does have this designation, but does not have the infrastructure in place to be the Lead on this type of program. Is the Medical School eligible to apply as the Lead as long as we have a consortium partner who is designated as an MSI?
    A: Please see question #2 previously answered in the FAQs for week ending July 9, 2021.
  13. Q: Can MSIs not listed in the list provided in the announcement (the ones here: https://www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov/assets/PDF/2020_Minority_Serving_Ins…), be also considered MSI and be part of the grant?
    A: Please see question #35 previously answered in the FAQs for week ending July 9, 2021.
  14. Q: What are the expectations about role of consortium members?
    A: Please see the Program Components section in NOFO regarding consortium members.
  15. Q: Do we have to use ONC curriculum or it is a guideline? We already have existing courses which cover the Public Health material.
    A: ONC’s curriculum is a guideline/resource and not a requirement.
  16. Q: Would it be possible to schedule a call with the Program Officer?
    A: In the spirit of transparency, direct conversations during an open application period are not an ONC practice. Please submit any questions you have and we will address them on this open forum.
  17. Q: Our consortium is proposing an online certificate program with local paid internship positions. However, your answer to one of the FAQ states:
    "Institutions or their consortium will be expected to provide their own online learning platform if they propose to teach students through that modality. It is anticipated that much of the training/education will take place via in-person classes."
    Does this mean that there is no interest in online asynchronous delivery of didactic content?

    A: No, our response on the FAQ is that each institution will provide their own online learning platform. ONC will not provide the platform.
  18. Q: We are partnering with colleges that offer Associate degrees, I know that these community colleges cannot be lead organizations, but would we be able to recruit students from these colleges to enroll in the certificate program if they have an associate degree or is the training only meant for those students with a Bachelor or higher degree?
    A: Yes, you are able to recruit students from these colleges to enroll in the certificate program.
  19. Q: Is there a specific format that needs to be followed for key staff CVs?
    A: There is no specific format for CVs. Please submit your key staff CVs as attachments. CVs will not count towards the number of narrative pages.
  20. Q: Should references/bibliography be a separate attachment (from the project narrative)? If yes, does the page count of the bibliography count toward the 25-page limit for the project narrative?
    A: Yes, references/bibliography should be a separate attachment. This attachment will not count towards the 25 page limit for the project narrative.
  21. Q: Are hyperlinks allowable in the project narrative?
    A: Yes.
  22. Q: Would you please confirm the IDC rate for The PHIT Workforce Development Program, Assistance Listings (CFDA) Number 93.355?
    A: The IDC rate varies by institution and what they had approved by their cognizant government agency. Any institution applying IDC rates to their proposed budget must submit their current IDC rate approval documents with their application.
  23. Q: Is this considered a training grant?
    • Page 16 of the NOFO states “Indirect costs on HHS Federal awards for training are limited to a fixed rate of eight percent of modified total direct costs” If this is a training grant, are we required to request 8% maximum, or should we use our fully negotiated rate?
      A: No, this is not solely considered as a training grant.
  24. Q: Are entities that do not have a negotiated F&A rate allowed to request the de minimis 10% F&A rate?
    • On Page 16 it is stated they are allowed to do so per Uniform Guidance, however on page 38 it is stated that only entities that meet the following conditions are allowed to request indirect costs: “Indirect charges may only be requested if: (1) the applicant has a current indirect cost rate agreement approved by the Department of Health and Human Services or another federal agency; or (2) the applicant is a state or local government agency.”
      A: Yes, institutions who do not have or never had an IDC /F&A rate approved can apply the 10% de minimis rate.
  25. Q: For the requirement to submit proof of non-profit status, does this apply to the primary applicant only? Or should we include proof of non-profit status for the consortium organizations as well?
    A: This would apply to the primary applicant.
  26. Q: I have a question regarding forms. I wanted to verify what resume or curriculum vitae form would be acceptable to accompany the application for the funding opportunity which reads:
    • Key Staff: Include key staff and key partner staff resumes or curriculum vitae (CV). These documents are not included in the page limit.
      To meet the form requirement for this application, may we use the CV that is submitted to NIH and NSF, through the Scien-CV site, located at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sciencv/ ?
      We would like to use the NIH form, if you will find it acceptable. Kindly advise so we may put our application together appropriately.

      A: Please submit all resumes/CVs using the attachment option on grants.gov
  27. Q: Can a for-profit company be the lead applicant of a consortium that includes an MSI, a local health department, and a community-based organizations?
    A: A for-profit entity can serve as a lead applicant. However, this entity must be an institution for higher learning, a college or university as indicated in the NOFO. Furthermore, for-profit entities are limited in their use of any income associated with the program. See the section titled program income for further details.
  28. Q: Can a for-profit company be part of the consortium if the lead applicant is an MSI?
    A: Yes.
  29. Q: Are multiple principal investigators allowed? Both would be PI with different responsibilities but only one would be contact PI.
    A: A: There can be multiple PIs, however, one needs to be identified as the main point of contact on the notice of award.
  30. Q: Is it suggested that we upload proposed job descriptions for key staff in addition to resumes?
    A: This can be done at the applicant’s discretion.
  31. Q: If we are considering including developing and instituting a dual enrollment course for local high schools, would be able to include tuition for the high school students to take the course as an allowable cost?
    A: This program is not applicable to high school students.
  32. Q: Are community colleges that offer any bachelor's degrees eligible to apply as a lead applicant?
    A: Community colleges are not eligible to apply as a lead applicant.
  33. Q: Are individuals with disabilities considered as members of a population for special focus under this opportunity? If not, will there be another opportunity for funding to help ensure there are opportunities for this population to benefit from similar investment?
    A: Individuals with disabilities are not a focus of this program. However, ONC welcomes all individuals to participate in this program. The focus of this program is to diversify the public health informatics and technology workforce and to increase the number of underrepresented minority professionals.
  34. Q: Section C, “Eligibility Information”, ‘Eligible Applicants section states:
    "This funding opportunity is open to accredited colleges and universities with terminal degrees in the United States."
    Could you explain what is meant by, "with terminal degrees." If the college awards B.A. or B.S. would the college be eligible? Do the faculty and researchers serving as PIs and Co-PIs need PhDs or MDs?

    A: Please see question #20 in the FAQs for the week ending July 2, 2021 for the first part of this question. Secondly, ONC does not have requirements on the credentials of faculty and researchers serving as PIs and Co-PIs.
  35. Q: Can an industry-related nonprofit organization write letters of support for more than one university applicant?
    A: More information is needed to provide a response to this question. Do you mean letter of commitment to participate in the consortium?
  36. Q: For key personnel – is there a limit (or preferred limit) to the number of pages for their vitas? And do you have a template for the vitas?
    A: There is no page limit for CVs submitted. Please upload them as attachments to the application.
  37. Q: Will you confirm that we can budget for the payment of students/health care professionals stackable health care credential fees?
    A: No.
  38. Q: On page 7 of the announcement, under Training, it says “This program may also offer career advancement for a limited number of incumbent public health practitioners.. “ Will you please define “limited number”? For example, is there a maximum percentage of the individuals served in the project that can be public health practitioners?
    A: ONC has not determined a maximum percentage, however, preference is for non-incumbent public health professionals to participate.
  39. Q: As per the eligibility section from the funding announcement, a non-MSI should be able to qualify to submit the application as the lead as long as a consortium member is listed as a MSI in the list that was provided (see below).
    “Non- HBCU, TCU, HSI, AANAPISI, or other MSIs may also apply but must include at least one of these types of institutions as a consortium member. A current list of institutions with that designation is available at https://www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov/assets/PDF/2020_Minority_Serving_Institutions.pdf
    Given that the line preceding the above paragraph reads as follows: “the lead applicant in the consortium should be an HBCU, TCU, his, AANAPISI, or other MSIs with an existing computer science, information science, biomedical technology, public health, health informatics, or similar program.”; we would like to make sure that indeed as a non-MSI we qualify as lead applicant.
    CUNY SPH is not included in the MSI list provided; however, we are a CUNY school and we will partner with other CUNY schools that are listed as MSIs, namely:
    • CUNY Brooklyn College
    • Queens College
    • Queensborough Community College
    • CUNY Borough of Manhattan Community College
    • CUNY Bronx Community College
    • CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice
    • CUNY Lehman College
    • CUNY, Hostos Community College
    • CUNY Medgar Evers College
    • CUNY York College
    Would you kindly confirm that this consortium arrangement makes us eligible as lead applicant?
    A: Yes, as long as MSIs are participating in your consortium, you are eligible as a lead applicant.

New Questions and Answers for Week Ending July 9, 2021

  1. Q: The grant proposal aligns with the home care industry. Is eligibility limited to Universities only or is there a possibility for home care agencies to apply as well?
    A: This funding opportunity is open to accredited colleges and universities with terminal degrees in the United States. A home care agency can participate as a member of the consortium.
  2. Q: I was wondering if only minority serving institutions (MSI) are eligible to apply for the following RFA?
    https://www.healthit.gov/topic/onc-funding-opportunities/public-health-informatics-technology-phit-workforce-development
    I work at Johns Hopkins University, but JHU is not considered an MSI. Will JHU be eligible to apply for this funding opportunity?

    A: Non-MSIs may also apply but must include at least one MSI as a consortium member.
  3. Q: The NOFO (p 5) mentions developing career services mentorships, and the sample Letter of Intent (p 48) mentions faculty mentorship, but no further detail is provided. Is this a required activity and, if so, can you provide more information?
    A: Faculty mentorship is not a required activity.
  4. Q: Is the Budget narrative to be included in the narrative, or uploaded as a separate narrative after the budget?
    A: There is a section in the narrative that requires a high-level overview of the budget and how funds will be spent. The high-level overview of the budget should be no more than 4 pages, as outlined on page 14 of the NOFO. There is also a separate budget component where the applicant will be required to complete a budget worksheet (SF-424a) and provide a separate supporting narrative to those proposed costs. An example of a budget narrative can be found in Appendix D, on page 44 of the NOFO. This separate component does not count as part of the narrative.
  5. Q: Is the budget narrative limited to four pages or, since ONC requires a detailed budget narrative for each period of performance up to four years, is each period of performance limited to four pages?
    A: There is a section in the narrative that requires a high-level overview of the budget and how funds will be spent. The high-level overview of the budget should be no more than 4 pages, as outlined on page 14 of the NOFO. There is also a separate budget component where you will be required to complete a budget worksheet (SF-424a) and provide a separate supporting narrative to those proposed costs. An example of a budget narrative can be found in Appendix D, on page 44 of the NOFO. This separate component does not count as part of the narrative.
  6. Q: The RFP states that the lead applicant in the consortium should be an HBCU, TCU, HSI AANAPISI, or other MSIs with an existing computer science, information science, biomedical technology, public health, health informatics, or similar program. Do these programs need to be terminal degree programs such as an AS, AAS, or Bachelors degree? Do these programs need to play a key role in the project?
    A: To meet the eligibility requirement, the lead applicant must offer or confer a terminal degree, such as a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate at their institution. However, it is not necessary for the institution to offer a terminal degree for each of the above-mentioned majors to be eligible.
  7. Q: What qualities do you consider as qualifications for someone for a degree training? 
    A: It is up to each applicant to determine the qualities to qualify someone for a degree or a training program.
  8. Q: What is the duration of the training?
    A: It is up to each applicant to determine the duration of training under the program.
  9. Q: Is it going to be handled online?
    A: It is up to each applicant to determine the mode of training offered to their students.
  10. Q: Are you going to involve members from all continents to train the 4,000 in public health disciplinary approach?
    A: This funding opportunity is only applicable to U.S.-based institutions (including U.S. territories).
  11. Q: My university was designated by the Dept. of Education as an HSI. I am trying to determine our eligibility to lead a consortium in an application for the following funding opportunity:
    ARP-PHIT-21-001
    Public Health Informatics & Technology Workforce Development Program (The PHIT Workforce Development Program)
    In the Notice for this opportunity, it states that "the lead applicant in the consortium should be an HBCU, TCU, his, AANAPISI, or other MSIs with an existing computer science, information science, biomedical technology, public health, health informatics, or similar program."
    Was "his" meant to be "HSI"? If not, would my university be eligible to serve as lead since we are an HSI?

    A: Yes, that was a typo. It should read, “HSI”. Hispanic serving institutions are eligible to apply as a lead applicant.
  12. Q: If not, can community colleges be a consortium member?
    A: Yes, a community college can participate as a consortium member.
  13. Q: if a community college that offers a terminal degree be eligible to lead a consortium, even if that terminal degree is not in the field of Health IT? Or does a community college need to offer a terminal degree in a Health IT field to be eligible to be a lead applicant?
    A: Community Colleges are not eligible to be a lead applicant, but can participate in the consortium.
  14. Q: Can specific EHR vendors be collaborators in the hands-on training?
    A: Yes, it is up to each applicant to determine partners who will participate in the consortium.
  15. Q: Our team is preparing a proposal in response to the ONC PHIT Workforce Development Program funding announcement (No. 93.355). Are there any budgetary guidelines for the distribution of student stipends versus faculty time and other expenses? For example, does a specific percentage of the overall budget need to be designated for student stipends?
    A: We are not requiring a specific percentage to be designated to student stipends. Organizations may submit their proposals and budgets on what their programs would look like based on the information provided in the NOFO.
  16. Q: Apart from paid internships, does the grant allow tuition assistance for students if the strategy is to establish a new graduate program to increase the number of health professionals trained in informatics and technology?
    A: Funding cannot be used to pay for students’ tuition. Funding can be used as stipends for internships.
  17. Q: I am supporting a faculty team that may be submitting an application to this program. We’ve had a few budget related questions we hope can be clarified:
    • Are personnel salaries subject to the current EL II cap of $199,300?
      A: While ONC does not have a cap on salaries, please ensure that any personnel charges made to the award are in line with average U.S. rates for that particular position and that costs are reasonably applied to the award.
    • Are participant support costs (student stipends, tuition/fee remission, travel stipends, etc.) allowed? If so, would the current NRSA FY2021 levels be the appropriate allocation basis?
      A: Student stipends are an allowable charge as indicated in the NOFO. NRSA levels are applicable to research grants, and therefore would not apply to these awards. Applicants are to reasonably apply stipends as they would according to their institution's policies and procedures.
    • Is annual cost-of-living escalation allowed? (on faculty salaries)
      A: This is an allowable charge if that is built into faculty benefits per the applicant’s institutional policies and procedures.
  18. Q: In the section for eligibility, I would like to have further clarification on the section highlighted.
    May I confirm that the lead applicant is not required to be an MSI as long as there is a consortium member that has the designation as an MSI?

    A: Correct
    More specifically, Minnesota State University Mankato is not listed, however, we partner with 2-year community colleges to help students finish a 4-year degree. Some of these partners are MSIs. Is Minnesota State University Mankato allowed to be the lead applicant if one or more of the MSI community colleges are part of the consortium?
    A: Yes
  19. Q: Is there a specific target audience like undergrad training vs graduate level? Based on the roles defined in the announcement (contact tracer, social workers, etc.) seems more targeting undergrad education, but there are some roles like epidemiologist that could be at the MS level?
    A: It is up to each applicant to determine their target audience, including undergraduate vs. graduate level.
  20. Q: Are associate degrees considered terminal degrees?
    A: No, associate degrees are not considered terminal degrees.
  21. Q: Are community colleges eligible to lead?
    A: No
  22. Q: Is it acceptable to partner with a prominent Children’s Hospital that works with minority and underserved populations and provides free care as needed?
    A: Yes. The Hospital can participate as a member of your consortium.
  23. Q: Can certificate programs be offered at the community college level?
    A: Yes.
  24. Q: For the trainees, do they need to pay anything (such as tuition for the, degree or certificate training) to be trained?
    A: Students may be charged tuition and fees to participate in the educational/training program.
  25. Q: Out of 4000 trainees what is the expected split between undergraduate/graduate students? Also, are expected numbers of degree-seeking vs. certificate vs. other programs such as minors?
    A: The split between undergraduate and graduate students, and degree vs. certificate participants has not been pre-determined by ONC.
  26. Q: Can you further define “other local non-profit/clinical providers”? Does this include hospitals?
    A: This can include but is not limited to community-based organizations such as community health centers, rural health clinics, behavioral health providers, and/or other local nonprofit/clinical providers as mentioned in “Section A - Program Components” within the NOFO.
  27. Q: Are scholarships for students admitted to a training program an allowable cost?
    A: Funding cannot be used to pay for students’ tuition. Funding can be used as stipends for internships.
  28. Q: Are auxiliaries (501C3) for Universities allowed to apply on behalf of the institution?
    A: More information is required in order to answer this question.
  29. Q: Can this grant be used to fund tuition?
    A: Funding cannot be used to pay for students’ tuition. Funding can be used as stipends for internships.
    Refer to 45 CFR, Part 75, §75.466.
  30. Q: Can grant funds be used to support scholarships to cover the cost of program tuition, fees, and books?
    A: Funding cannot be used to pay for students’ tuition. Funding can be used as stipends for internships.
  31. Q: What are restrictions on the use of budget?
    A: Please review “Funding Restrictions” in Section D of the NOFO.
  32. Q: Can funding be used to pay for students' tuition to complete required courses for a minor or certificate in addition to providing funding for internships?
    A: Funding cannot be used to pay for students’ tuition. Funding can be used as stipends for internships.
  33. Q: For the trainees, do they need to pay anything (such as tuition for degree or certificate training) to be trained?
    A: For students being trained, each institution is to apply their usual and customary tuition/fees for course offerings.
  34. Q: Is charging a tuition fee for a professional certificate program allowed as part of the sustainability of the program?
    A: Yes, charging tuition and fees is allowable for sustainability purposes.
  35. Q: If my institution is not listed on the provided list (www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov/assets/PDF/2020_Minority_Serving_Institutions.pdf) are we disqualified from applying? How is MSI designation obtained?
    A: The list of MSIs is based on 2020 data from the U.S. Department of Education. If your institution does not meet the criteria to be designated as an MSI, you are still eligible to apply as long as your consortium includes at least one MSI member.
  36. Q: Are community colleges considered to be eligible to work in this consortium if they have a health information technology program?
    A: Community colleges may be members of the consortium.
  37. Q: What is allowable in support for trainees in this program (tuition and support) vs. what is allowable for faculty/mentorship/administrative oversight?
    A: 45 CFR, Part 75, sections 75.420 through 75.475 lists costs that are allowable and not allowable as an expense on an HHS Federal award.
  38. Q: Can the funding be used to support part of faculty or health department staff's salary?
    A: Salaries for staff or faculty working on this project are an allowable expense if those individuals are part of the project and written into the budget.

New Questions and Answers for Week Ending July 2, 2021

  1. Q: Could you explain the latter part of this sentence (below)? It seems there may be a word missing around “…in the training program and beyond…”
    “Finally, the curriculum should be culturally responsive and designed in a way that meets the needs of the local health care agencies and sets students up for success in the training program and beyond other colleges and universities to participate in this program, as well as other students and members of the community.”

    A: This was a typo. The sentence should have read:
    “…in the training program and beyond. ONC encourages other colleges and universities to participate in this program, as well as other students and members of the community.”
  2. Q.  I believe grants.gov indicates the close date is August 11th. Is that correct?
    A: Yes – the due date is August 11.
  3. Q: Where can we get a copy of the list of Minority Serving Institutions?
    A: The list of Minority Serving Institutions can be found at the following link: https://www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov/assets/PDF/2020_Minority_Serving_Institutions.pdf 
  4. Q: Regarding the NOFO's definition of Applicant Eligibility, what are some examples of terminal degrees that you expect lead applicants (higher education institutions) to offer? Would Associates degrees (for example at the community college level) count as terminal degrees? Are associate degrees considered terminal degrees (this relates to eligibility)? Do you think a community college would be an appropriate lead applicant? 
    A: Terminal degrees are bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees.  We are not considering associate degrees as terminal degrees. Community colleges are not eligible to apply as a lead applicant.
  5. Q: Will the consortium be a consortium of awardees?
    A: Each selected recipient will form an individual consortium of partnerships including, but not limited to: 1) representatives from state, local, or county health departments; and 2) community-based organizations such as community health centers, rural health clinics, behavioral health providers, and/or other local nonprofit/clinical providers. Applications will be accepted from colleges and universities that propose to expand or establish their own programs, and/or that have entered into arrangements to provide training at or through use of faculty of, or courses offered by, multiple institutions of higher education.
  6. Q: Must the MSI be the lead institution? Or can any institution of higher education be lead as long as MSIs are included in the consortia?
    A: In order to diversify the public health informatics and technology workforce and to increase the number of underrepresented minority professionals, the lead applicant in the consortium should be an HBCU, TCU, HSI, AANAPISI, or other MSIs with an existing computer science, information science, biomedical technology, public health, health informatics, or similar program. Non- HBCU, TCU, HSI, AANAPISI, or other MSIs may also apply but must include at least one of these types of institutions as a consortium member. 
  7. Q: Can an institution be a member of more than one consortium?
    A: No. Each institution must commit to one consortium. 
  8. Q: Will the program include access to virtual online EHR platforms for participants and instructors? Also, given the variety of EHR platforms, what guidance or focus should applicants follow in terms of the curriculum to prepare participants?
    A: ONC will not provide access to a virtual online EHR platform.  Please visit the “Approach” section of the NOFO to read more about the curriculum. 
  9. Q: Also, will colleges be expected to provision their own online learning platforms (e.g. Blackboard/Canvas/Moodle/other), or will the PHIT program expect/provision a common learning platform for all awardees programs and their instructors/participants for progress tracking?
    A: Institutions or their consortium will be expected to provide their own online learning platform if they propose to teach students through that modality.  It is anticipated that much of the training/education will take place via in-person classes.
  10. Q: Is cost share required?
    A: Cost share is not required for this cooperative agreement.
  11. Q: The language in the NOFO reads as if payments to recipients will be performance based.  Is this true?  If so, would a recipient be denied payment for work performed towards a specific goal if they fall short of meeting the goal/proposed benchmarks? Please clarify the payment structure.
    A: Payments will be tracked against the progress of the project milestones. Payments will be based on costs incurred against the project, as budgeted in your proposed budget submitted with your application.  Once ONC approves the budget documents and deems them sufficient, those will be the costs for which you can request payment as you execute on your project milestones. 
  12. Q: Terminal degree in what discipline? We have a computer science master's program. Are we eligible?
    A: A qualifying institution with computer science master’s program would be eligible to apply for this program.
  13. Q: In terms of consortium development, do members in a specific consortium have to be all from the same state?
    A: Consortium members do not have to be in the same state.
  14. Q: Will applicants need to also include in the application a plan for sustaining the paid part of the internships. Or can internships be nonpaid after the award period ends? And will awardees need to sustain the same number of internships as they had during the grant period?
    A: The most competitive applications will have a plan for sustaining the entire program after federal funds cease.
  15. Q: Will there be another opportunity to apply after the initial August 11, 2021 deadline?
    A: No.
  16. Q: Can a non-MSI University be the lead submitting agency as long as they have a partner MSI? That was not clear from the eligibility slide.
    A: Yes, non-MSIs can apply as the lead applicant entity as long as they include at least one MSI as a member of their consortium.
  17. Q: 30 awards @ $10M per award = $300M...  only $75M available?
    A: ONC is allowing up to 30 awards be made with an award amount of up to $10 million. 
  18. Q: Will each consortia need to have an internal program evaluation component?
    A: The Performance Goals section of the NOFO describes the information that should be tracked to measure individual awardee performance.  All awardees will be expected to participate in an ONC-directed program evaluation.
  19. Q: Will the ONC-directed national program evaluation be competed separately? If so, when?
    A: The ONC-directed national program evaluation will be managed separately from the NOFO. Selected recipients will be expected to cooperate with the ONC-directed national program evaluation.
  20. Q: Regarding eligibility criteria that MSI must currently award a terminal degree in one or more of the NOFO areas of interest. What do you consider a 'terminal degree' - masters? only doctorate level degree?
    A: For the purpose of this program, terminal degrees are Bachelor, Master, and Doctorate degrees.
  21. Q: The previous workforce program included funding for curriculum development, which all sites were able to use. That curriculum now needs major update. Do you plan to fund curriculum development explicitly? The last program also included a National Training and Dissemination Center. Do you plan to have such a center for this program?
    A: This opportunity does not provide separate funding specifically targeted to update the curriculum developed under the previous ONC Workforce program. Please see the Program Components section, within Section A of the NOFO, which describes “Curricula Development.” The PHIT Workforce Development program does not include a National Training and Dissemination Center.
  22. Q: Can organizations submit multiple proposals and receive more than one award?
    A: Organizations can not submit more than one application. Each organization can only receive one award.
  23. Q: Can a not-for-profit hospital be the primary applicant?
    A:  A not-for-profit hospital cannot be the primary applicant.
  24. Q: Does the program allow hiring a full-time project manager?
    A:  A full-time project manager would be an allowable expense.
  25. Q: Are there requirements for citing sources, i.e., do we need to add footnotes or a bibliography?
    A: It is recommended citing resources to validate what is being stated in the application.
  26. Q: What cost items are not allowed?
    A:  45 CFR, Part 75, §75.420 through §75.475 lists costs that are allowable and not allowable as an expense on an HHS Federal award.
  27. Q: Are there matching or cost sharing requirements?
    A:  Matching or cost sharing are not required.
  28. Q: While the font size can be less than 11 but no smaller than 8 font size, can tables be single spaced?
    A: Yes, tables can be single spaced.
  29. Q: Is there a minimum number of organizations needed to comprise a consortia?
    A: The minimum number of organizations needed to comprise a consortia is three:  an MSI, a health department, and a community-based organization.
  30. Q: Are non-profit organizations eligible to submit with MSIs as members of their consortium?
    A: Yes, non-profit organizations are eligible to submit with MSIs as members of their consortium.
  31. Q: Can private health care providers be allowed to participate in the consortium?
    A: Private health care providers may be allowed to be members of the consortium.
  32. Q: Do you need a representative from every career/program listed on the team?
    A: It is not necessary to list a representative from every career/program listed on the team.
  33. Q: Is there a target number of trained individuals per each award based on the 4,000 total target?
    A: ONC has not identified a specific number of trained individuals per award/consortium.  The overall goal of the program is to train at least 4000 individuals over the four-year period of the program.
  34. Q: When we speak about increasing the number of students trained, could that be measured by enrollment and/or increased completion rates?
    A: Success will be measured by the number of students that complete the program, not just the number that enroll in the program.
  35. Q: Does the sustainability section need to provide supporting letters from potential employers for future graduates employment opportunities, following end of project when stipends from grant support will not be available?
    A: Support letters from potential employers are not required but may strengthen the application if included.
  36. Q: Proposal requirements specify paid internships as part of the training program.  May funds from the grant award be utilized to fund student stipends for this purpose?
    A:  Yes.  Stipends are an allowable cost.
  37. Q: Do applicants have to describe how paid internships will be sustained after the funding period--is this a requirement?
    A: Yes, this must be part of the sustainability plan. 
  38. Q: Is participation in professional events/memberships a permissible expense?
    A: Yes, this would be an allowable expense if it is in line with the purpose of the Federal award.
  39. Q: Are there benefits to having consortium members located in a variety of states and/or regions?
    A: Applications should identify appropriate consortium members based on their individual needs and resources. 
  40. Q: So are the individual applicants supposed to form the Consortium before the letter of intent?
    A: Applications must include letters of intent from proposed consortium members.  The consortium does not have to be finalized at the time of the application.
  41. Q: Must the MSI member of the consortium grant the degree or may a non-MSI higher ed member grant the degree?
    A: A non-MSI member of the consortium may grant a degree or certificate.
  42. Q: Is a non-profit children's hospital which provides care to underserved populations and draws from a multi-state population be acceptable to include as a partner organization?
    A: Yes, this type organization would be acceptable to include as a partner organization.
  43. Q: No tribal college in Montana offers a terminal degree, would affiliation of a tribal college with a non-MSI terminal degree granting institution be sufficient to meet this requirement? 
    A: Yes.
  44. Q: Are there matching or cost sharing requirement?
    A: There are no matching or cost sharing requirements.
  45. Q: How many consortia are allowed per state?
    A: ONC has not placed a limit on the number of awards that will be issued per state. 
  46. Q: What part does location play in making awards?
    A: Several factors are taken into consideration 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.
  47. Q: Can consortium members change after the July intent doc is submitted?
    A:  Yes.  This notice of intent due in July, is to gauge the potential applicant audience and estimate how many applications we will be receiving to process. Please note that separate letters of intent are required for each proposed consortium partner as part of your application due August 11. Please see page 7 of the NOFO, under the section titled “consortium development”.
  48. Q: I work for a Hispanic Serving Institution Community College and we have two baccalaureate degrees in Bachelor of Applied Technology in Computer and Information Technologies and Bachelor of Applied Technology in Medical and Health Services Management. Will that make us eligible to apply?
    A: Yes, your organization would be eligible to apply.
  49. Q: Can a not for profit hospital be the primary applicant?
    A:  No, hospitals cannot be a primary applicant, but can be a partner organization. 
  50. Q: Would funds support train the trainer models?
    A: More information and context is needed to understand and respond to this question. 
  51. Q: Is a non-profit children's hospital which provides care to underserved populations and draws from a multi-state population be acceptable to include as a partner organization?
    A: Yes.
  52. Q: What indirect rate is allowed in your budget?
    A: Negotiated indirect cost rates are an allowable cost.
  53. Q: Do we need to have a consortium formed BEFORE submitting the proposal? Or can the Consortium be developed and formed in the 1st year of the project?
    A: Consortiums can be formed after award.  Please note that separate letters of intent are required for each proposed consortium partner as part of your application due August 11. Please see page 7 of the NOFO, under the section titled “consortium development”.
  54. Q: "Stipends are allowable costs." Would that be to fund paid internships, thus should be reflected in submitted budget information?
    A: Yes, the budget should reflect all proposed costs associated with your project.
  55. Q: Are there any guidelines on internship placement in this opportunity?
    A: The NOFO describes paid internships that may include hands-on learning at health departments, public health-focused non-profits, private institutions, or clinical provider locations. Members of each applicant’s consortium will be key in identifying internship opportunities for program participants.
  56. Q: How many consortia are allowed per state?
    A: There is no limitation on the number of consortia allowed per state. 
  57. Q: Does the sustainability section need to provide supporting letters from potential employers for future graduates employment opportunities, following end of project when stipends from grant support will not be available?
    A: Letters of support from potential employers are not required but would strengthen your application.
Content last reviewed on July 22, 2021
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