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Frequently Asked Questions

Funding Opportunity Announcement: Building Capacity of the Public Health System


 

General

What is the purpose of this new capacity building assistance funding opportunity announcement (FOA)?

The purpose of this new FOA is to ensure the provision of capacity building assistance for governmental and nongovernmental components of the public health system to optimize the quality and performance of public health systems, the public health workforce, public health data and information systems, public health practice and services, public health partnerships, and public health resources.

The new FOA represents an emphasis on supporting recommended infrastructure needs of the public health system and creates a more concrete framework for capacity building assistance outcomes.

How do I access the full funding opportunity announcement (FOA)?

The FOA, Building Capacity of the Public Health System to Improve Population Health through National, Nonprofit Organizations—financed in part by PPHF 2013 (PPHF-2013) (CDC RFA OT13-1302), is accessible on Grants.gov.

Section I of the FOA states "this announcement is only for non-research activities supported by CDC." How are you defining research?

See Distinguishing Public Health Research and Non-research [PDF - 137KB].

When are applications due?

Application packages must be SUCCESSFULLY submitted to Grants.gov no later than March 7, 2013, 11:59 pm (EST). Extensions to the due date will NOT be granted. CDC encourages applicants to ensure all Grants.gov errors are resolved and all application packages are submitted as early as possible.

The FOA refers to an “Initial Base-Funding Competition” and a “Secondary CIO (Centers/Institute/Offices)-Funding Competition” for CDC-wide public health projects.  How will this process work?

This FOA is structured to provide funding to awardees using two competitions:

  • For the Initial Base-Funding Competition (Phase II), applicants will submit applications to provide capacity building assistance to target populations.  An objective review panel will evaluate complete applications according to the criteria listed in the FOA (section E-1).  The applications will be compiled and reviewed according to the category for which applicants submitted their applications.
  • For the Secondary CIO-Funding Competition (Phase IV), applicants that are awarded funds in the Initial Base-Funding Competition will be eligible to submit proposals in response to a range of CDC-wide public health projects that represent public health disciplinary areas and cross-cutting disciplines or topics. A review panel will be convened to evaluate proposals submitted in response to CDC-wide capacity building assistance projects. The applications will be compiled and reviewed according to the category and CIO project for which applicants submitted proposals. In the event a technical review is more efficient (i.e., if there is one proposal for a particular project), the technical review will be held in place of an objective review. 

When will an announcement be made about selected applicants and awards?

  • Initial Base-Funding Competition (Phase II) award announcement: Between April 2013 and May 2013
  • Secondary CIO-Funding Competition (Phase IV) award announcement: Between July and August 2013

Will recipients be required to reapply each year for funding?

No, there will not be a reapplication process each year. The project period for this FOA is five years. Applicants who are successfully awarded funds are required to submit Annual Performance Reports, which serve as continuation applications.

Will there be informational conference calls about the FOA?

Yes, informational conference calls will be held on January 29, 2013 at 1:00p.m. (EST) and January 31, 2013 at 4:00p.m (EST). A copy of the presentation and script will be available on the FOA main page. Questions received during the conference call will be logged on this page.

How can people ask questions about the FOA and about the capacity building assistance initiative?

Submit all inquiries to OSTLTSPartnershipFOA@cdc.gov.

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Definitions and Terminology

What do you mean by target population?

For the purposes of this FOA, target population refers to state, tribal, local, or territorial public health agencies, professional affiliations, and other components of the public health system that the applicant selects for the provision of capacity building assistance (CBA) activities. The target populations will be divided into the following categories:

  • Category A: Governmental Public Health Departments—This category is focused on meeting the priority CBA needs of one of the following health department types: state, tribal, local, or territorial.
  • Category B: Workforce Segments across Governmental Public Health Departments—This category is focused on meeting the priority CBA needs of one workforce segment across multiple health department types: state, tribal, local, and territorial.
  • Category C: Nongovernmental Public Health Components—This category is focused on meeting the priority CBA needs of one type of nongovernmental professional constituency or other component of the public health system.

What is a public health system?

For the purposes of this FOA, the public health system is defined as “activities undertaken within the formal structure of government and the associated efforts of private and voluntary organizations and individuals” (IOM, 1988). 

What is capacity building assistance (CBA) for public health?

For the purposes of this FOA, CBA is defined as “technical assistance, training, information sharing, technology transfer, materials development, or funding that enables an organization to better serve customers or to operate in a more comprehensive, responsive, and effective manner” (CDC, 2000, p. S17). 

CBA can be provided through

  • Information collection, monitoring, synthesis, packaging, and dissemination
  • Technology transfer (identifying effective public health laws and policies, interventions, and program practices, and assisting to adapt these to the field)
  • Training for skills development
  • Technical or expert consultations and services

CBA can be facilitated through several formats such as training institutes, seminars and workshops, computer-assisted training, e-learning strategies (e.g., podcasting, webinars, and long distance training), in-person or telephonic expert consultations, peer-to-peer mentoring, train-the-trainer approaches, and customized training.

Can you clarify what you mean by baseline numbers in this FOA?

Baseline numbers are numerical targets proposed by applicants for the first year that will be used as the standard for improvement in subsequent years. Baseline numbers will be established by the applicants and will be used to measure the extent to which the desired program outcomes are achieved during each project year and for the entire project period.

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Eligibility

What are the eligibility requirements for this FOA?

In order to be eligible, organizations must meet ALL of the following requirements:

  • Nonprofit 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(6) IRS status (other than institutions of higher education)
  • National scope and/or reach as evidenced by organization’s articles of incorporation, bylaws, or board resolution

Public health charge or mission as indicated by organization’s articles of incorporation, bylaws, or board resolution

Are nonprofits that are not designated as 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(6) organizations eligible to apply?

No, nonprofits that are not 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(6) organizations are not eligible to apply for this FOA. See “What are the eligibility requirements for this FOA?”

Are for-profit organizations eligible for funding under this FOA?

No. For-profits are not eligible to apply for this FOA. See “What are the eligibility requirements for this FOA?”

Is there a limit on how long a nonprofit organization has to exist before applying for this FOA?

No, there is no limit on how long a nonprofit organization must exist before applying for this FOA. However, applications will be evaluated according to their relationship and prior work experience with the target population proposed, organizational capacity, and the quality of the proposed work plan and evaluation strategy (see Part II, Section E of the FOA).

Do I need to submit proof of my organization’s nonprofit status?

Yes, an organization will need to submit proof of nonprofit status. The applicant must provide evidence of federally assigned 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(6) status designation by submitting a copy of the current, valid Internal Revenue Service (IRS) determination letter. Evidence must be submitted by uploading this documentation in Grants.gov under “Other Attachment Forms.” The document should be labeled “Proof of Nonprofit Status.”

What is admissible as evidence of a public health mission?

The applicant organization must include evidence of national scope of work and of public health charge or mission. Articles of incorporation, board resolution, or by-laws are acceptable forms of evidence.

The applicant must also provide evidence of federally assigned 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(6) status designation by submitting a copy of the current, valid Internal Revenue Service (IRS) determination letter. Evidence must be submitted by uploading this documentation in Grants.gov under “Other Attachment Forms.” Each document should be labeled (i.e., Proof of National Scope of Work, and Proof of Public Health Mission).

Are organizations already receiving funding or applying for other funding from CDC eligible to apply?

Yes, organizations that are already receiving funding or applying for other CDC funding are eligible to apply. Applicants may propose work that is complementary to or builds upon prior work. However, the work proposed for this program should not duplicate work for which the organization is currently receiving or applying for other CDC funding.

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Letters of Intent

Do applicants have to submit a letter of intent?

Yes, each applicant must submit a letter of intent for each stand-alone application (up to two). The purpose of this letter is to inform CDC that your organization is interested in applying for funding for this FOA, OT13-1302.

When is the letter of intent due?

The required letter must be submitted via email attachment to OSTLTSPartnershipFOA@cdc.gov by February 4, 2013.

The letter must include the following information:

  • Name of applicant organization
  • Project director’s name, address, telephone number, and email address
  • Primary application point of contact’s name, address, telephone number, and email address (if different from above)
  • Number and title of this funding opportunity
  • Category of the applicant’s target population

Brief description of the target population that will be impacted by the proposed project

What methods are acceptable for delivery of the letter of intent?

The letter must be submitted via email attachment to: OSTLTSPartnershipFOA@cdc.gov

Do letters of intent need to be printed on the applicant’s letterhead?

Yes, letters of intent should be printed on the applicant’s letterhead and submitted via email attachment

Our organization missed the letter of intent deadline or submitted a late letter of intent. Are we still eligible to apply?

An organization that submits a late letter of intent is no longer eligible to apply.

Is it acceptable to submit a letter of intent without submitting an application?

Yes. Submitting a letter of intent does not obligate an organization to submit an application.

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Application Process

When are applications due?

Applications are due March 7, 2013, 11:59 pm (EST) on Grants.gov.

Where can I find the FOA?

Interested applicants should visit Grants.gov to obtain a copy of the FOA.

We missed the initial informational conference call. Is it still possible to apply?

Yes, interested organizations are still able to apply if they missed the informational conference call. Visit the FOA website to review the presentation and script used for the call and other application resources.

Can an organization submit multiple applications?

Organizations may submit no more than two stand-alone applications total. Each application must identify one target population. If two applications are submitted, each application must identify a distinct target population within a single category or across two different categories. For example, an organization could submit two applications for target populations within Category A to include one for state health departments and one for local health departments. Or, an applicant could submit two applications to include one from Category A for territorial health departments and one from Category C for community health centers.

Is it possible to have two lead organizations on a proposal? Do they both have to meet the eligibility requirements?

No, it is not possible to have two lead organizations on a proposal.

An applicant wants to provide capacity building assistance (CBA) to a state health department and specific professionals working within that health department type. Do they apply for Category A or B?

The applicant would apply for Category A.

Our organization serves professional constituencies that are part of governmental and nongovernmental components of the public system. Which category should we apply for?

Because you serve a mixed population with a specific goal, you may apply for Category C, or you may submit two applications, one for Category B and another for Category C, addressing each population respectively.

Does the FOA require collecting the baseline data before being considered for the CDC program funding?

Yes, applicants are required to provide initial baseline and data sources in the Project Narrative and Work Plan submitted as part of the application. As described in Section D-10 of the FOA, activities and outcomes should be converted into SMART objectives, with a special emphasis on creating objectives for the outcomes. Quantitative baselines should be provided for each objective which aspires to an increase or decrease in measure targets over time.

Does the lobbying administrative requirement (AR-12: Lobbying Restrictions) apply to this FOA?

Yes, AR-12 applies to this FOA. To view brief descriptions of relevant provisions, see Section F-2 of the FOA and the Additional Requirements page on the CDC’s Procurement and Grants Office (PGO) website.

In the downloaded application there is a page that requires "Lobbying Registrant" information. The organization is not a registered lobbyist. What should go in that field?

“Not Applicable”

Should the project narrative section of the grant application include citations and references?

Applicants are expected to include citations and references. References should be submitted as an additional attachment (See Part II, Section H of the FOA).

What additional attachments (appendices) are acceptable as part of the application?

Below is a list of attachments for applicants to upload as part of their Grants.gov application. Attachments must be PDF files. Applicants may not attach documents other than those listed below; if applicants do so, the documents will not be reviewed.

  • Project Abstract          
  • Project Narrative
  • Budget Narrative
  • CDC Assurances and Certifications
  • Work Plan
  • Table of Contents for Entire Submission
  • References/Citations
  • Resumes/CVs
  • Letters of Support
  • Organizational Charts
  • Non-profit Organization IRS Status Forms, If Applicable
  • Indirect Cost Rate, If Applicable
  • Proof of Non-Profit Status
  • Proof of National Scope of Work
  • Proof of Public Health Mission

Is it permissible to upload attachments to the application as a group or should they be uploaded separately?

As specified in the FOA, applicants are required to upload sections of the FOA separately.

What is the total length of the application and page limitations?

While there will be slight variations on application lengths, page limitations for sections of the application and awardee reports are listed below (where relevant).

Application Attachments

  • Project Abstract (D-9): Maximum 2 paragraphs         
  • Project Narrative (D-10): Maximum 18 pages
  • Budget Narrative
  • CDC Assurances and Certifications (D-5)
  • Work Plan (D-10): Maximum 25 pages
  • Table of Contents for Entire Submission (D-7): No page limit
  • References/Citations (D-10): Maximum 3 pages
  • Resumes/CVs
  • Letters of Support
  • Organizational Charts
  • Non-profit Organization IRS Status Forms, If Applicable
  • Indirect Cost Rate, If Applicable

Awardee Reports

  • Annual Performance Report (F-3): Maximum 35 pages
  • Final Performance Report and Financial Report (F-3): Maximum 40 pages
  • Administrative Reporting (F-3): No page limit

What is the word count limitation for the Project Abstract Summary section?

While the Project Abstract Summary is not subject to a word count limitation, it is limited to two paragraphs.

Section D-10 of the FOA makes reference to a 25-page Work Plan and a 35-page Evaluation and Performance Management Plan. Please clarify these application requirements.

The Work Plan, which can be up to 25 pages and is submitted by all applicants, is a detailed work plan for the first year of the award and a high-level plan for subsequent years. Applicants must name this file “Work Plan” and upload it as a PDF file on Grants.gov.

The Evaluation Plan, which can be up to 35 pages and is submitted by awardees, is a more detailed evaluation and performance plan. This more detailed plan should be developed by awardees with support from CDC as part of the first-year project activities.

Does the 18-page maximum for the Project Narrative include the Budget Narrative?

No, the 18-page maximum for the Project Narrative does not include the Budget Narrative. TheBudget Narrative will be uploaded to Grants.gov as a separate file titled “Budget Narrative.”

How do we complete form SF–424?

See instructions for completing form SF-424 [PDF - 41KB]

Are applicants required to submit conflict of interest lists or current and pending supportforms for this application?

Applicants are not required to submit conflict of interest lists as part of the application. Letters of support should be uploaded as part of the Grants.gov applications as a PDF file.

Is it acceptable for a bona fide fiscal agency to apply on behalf of another agency or agencies?

Yes, it is acceptable for a bona fide fiscal agency to apply on behalf of another agency or agencies. However, this is an exception and all applicant organizations must meet the eligibility criteria listed in the FOA.

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Recipient Activities

Is there a limit to the number of activities an applicant can propose?

No. Applicants are not limited to the number of capacity building activities provided to the target population.

We would like to provide capacity building assistance (CBA) to an organization that does work outside the United States. Is this activity eligible under the FOA? 

Applicants successfully awarded funds in Phase II will qualify to submit proposals for CIO-funded projects (Phase IV), which may include limited CBA to international public health agencies where there is a benefit to US public health efforts or to the US public health system.

In Part II, Section A-2, CDC describes specific strategies for applicants to focus on.  Do applicants have to select a minimum number of strategies to work on?

There is no minimum or maximum number of strategies that applicants have to select from. Each of the strategies listed in Part II coincides with one or more of the overall program outcomes. As mentioned in the FOA, applicants are required to address two or more of the program outcomes.

What are the different strategies for recipient activities?

Awardees will provide capacity building assistance to their target population(s) using the following program strategies:

  • Public Health Systems and Organizational Improvement
    • Activities to identify infrastructure and system needs and steps to make improvements.
    • This strategy includes assessments, studies, and stakeholder analyses, among others, to identify infrastructure and system needs.
  • Public Health Workforce
    • Activities to enable the target population to improve workforce public health competencies and improve upon workforce retention.
    • This strategy includes activities to identify current competency needs; implementation of evidence-based strategies such as leadership institutes; and promotion of internships, fellowships, and postgraduate programs.
  • Public Health Data and Information Systems
    • Activities to increase the use of data and information systems that use state-of-the-art technology, and are better integrated across the public health system.
    • This strategy includes activities to improve the collection, interpretation, and dissemination of health data about populations and sharing such information across jurisdictions.
  • Public Health Practice and Services
    • Activities to strengthen the target population’s ability to deliver essential public health services in a comprehensive manner.
    • This strategy includes activities to assist agencies with identifying, prioritizing, and reallocating program resources to optimize services.
  • Public Health Partnerships
    • Activities to improve the ability of the target population   to develop and maintain diverse and results-driven partnerships.
    • This strategy includes activities to build and maintain partnerships at various levels.
  • Public Health Resources
    • Activities designed to improve provision of public health resources, such as assessment tools, publications, educational materials, and evaluation tools that are readily accessible by the public.
    • This strategy includes activities to improve the communication of public health information, evidence-based science, and national recommendations.

Can the FOA funds be used to provide capacity building assistance (CBA) to the lead applicant/organization?

No, the role of organizations successfully awarded under this program will be to serve as CBA providers to governmental public health agency types or other components of the public health system.

Do all proposed activities need to be evidence-based? If so, what type of criteria should be used to identify evidence-based strategies?

This program asks that applicants justify their CBA plan according to the best evidence of CBA needs for their target population. Best evidence includes published literature, results from studies, applicants’ knowledge of their target population, and other credible sources.

Are there specific training requirements for applicants who receive awards?

No, applicants who receive awards are not required to complete or have completed specific training requirements.

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Goals/Outcome Measures

What are the intended outcomes of this funding opportunity announcement (FOA)?

The applicant’s capacity building assistance (CBA) program is expected to demonstrate measurable progress among governmental and non-governmental components of the public health system toward at least two of the following outcomes:

  • Increased adoption of new or proven business improvements that lead to management and administrative efficiencies or cost savings
  • Increased availability and accessibility of continuing education and training focused on public health competencies and new skills, including the use of experience-based internships and fellowships
  • Increased incorporation of core public health competencies into employee position descriptions and performance evaluations
  • Increased integration of state-of-the-art technology into data collection and information systems
  • Increased implementation of evidence-based public health programs, policies, and services
  • Improved capacity to meet nationally established standards, such as those for health department accreditation
  • Establishment and maintenance of diverse public health partnerships for meaningful cooperation and achievement of evidence-based public health strategies and interventions, such as CDC’s Winnable Battles
  • Improved quality, availability, and accessibility of public health education, training, and evaluation tools and resources

How many of the outcomes are applicants required to address?

As described in Part II, Section A-2 of the FOA, applicants are expected to design programs that demonstrate measurable progress among governmental and non-governmental components of the public health system toward at least two of the outcomes.

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Reviewing and Scoring

Where can I find the review process criteria?

Section E-1 of the FOA describes the scoring criteria for applicants. See “How will the applications be scored?”

What is the review process for this competition?

Final funding determinations will be based on application scores from the objective review (and technical review) panels, as well as consideration for CDC funding preferences.

  • Phase I Review: All eligible applications will be initially reviewed for completeness by the CDC’s Procurement and Grants Office (PGO) staff. In addition, eligible applications will be jointly reviewed for responsiveness by PGO and CDC’s Office for State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support. Incomplete applications and applications that are non-responsive to the eligibility criteria will not advance to Phase II review. Applicants will be notified if the application did not meet eligibility and/or published submission requirements. 
  • Phase II (Initial Base Funding) Review: An objective review panel will evaluate complete and responsive applications according to the criteria listed in the “Criteria” section of the FOA. The applications will be compiled and reviewed according to the category for which applicants submitted their applications. Applicants will be notified electronically if the application did not meet eligibility and/or published submission requirements 30 days after the completion of Phase II review.
  • Phase III Review: In addition, the following factors may affect the funding decision during Phase II (Initial Base-Funding Competition) Review:
    • Preference to avoid duplication of CBA services to the same target populations.
    • Preference may be given to the funding of applicants that propose to provide CBA services to target populations not served by higher ranking applicants.
    • Preference will be given to ensure funding of organizations that provide CBA services to target populations not duplicated in other CDC funding mechanisms.

CDC will provide justification for any decision to fund outside of ranked order of scores.

Final funding determinations will be based on application scores from the objective review panels and consideration for CDC’s funding preferences.

  • Phase IV (Secondary CIO Funding) Review: Applicants that are successful in Phase II (Initial Base-Funding) Review and are awarded funds will be eligible to participate in the Phase IV (Secondary CIO-Funding) Review for CDC-wide public health projects. Eligible awardees will receive an application packet detailing the Phase IV (Secondary CIO-Funding) application submission process upon receipt of the Phase II (Initial-Base Funding) Notice of Award. The awardees may choose to submit stand-alone applications in response to a range of CBA projects that represent public health disciplinary areas and cross-cutting disciplines and/or topics. CIO-funded projects may also include limited CBA to international public health departments where there is a benefit to U.S. public health efforts or to the U.S. public health system. The applications will be compiled and reviewed according to the category and CIO project for which applicants submitted proposals. In the event a technical review is more efficient (i.e., there is one proposal submitted for a particular CIO project), the technical review will be held in place of an objective review.

Final funding determinations will be based on application scores from the objective review (and technical review) panels.

CDC will provide justification for any decision to fund outside of ranked order of scores.

What are CDC’s funding preferences for this FOA?

The following factors may affect the funding decision during Phase II (Initial Base-Funding Competition) Review:

  • Preference to avoid duplication of CBA services to the same target populations.
  • Preference may be given to the funding of applicants that propose to provide CBA services to target populations not served by higher ranking applicants.
  • Preference will be given to ensure funding of organizations that provide CBA services to target populations not duplicated in other CDC funding mechanisms.

CDC will provide justification for any decision to fund outside of ranked order of scores.

Final funding determinations will be based on application scores from the objective review panels and consideration for CDC’s funding preferences.

How will the applications be scored?

As described in the “Criteria” section, applications will be scored as follows:

  • Approach (55 points)
    • Background (15 points)
    • Work Plan (40 points)
  • Organizational Capacity of the Applicant to Execute the Approach (30 points)
    • Organizational Capacity (10 points)
    • Relationship with Target Population (10 points)
    • Project Management/Staffing Plans (10 points)
    • Budget and Budget Narrative (Reviewed, but not scored)
  • Evaluation and Performance Measurement (15 points)

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Awards and Funding

How many awards will CDC make?

The number of awards differs per category.

  • Category A will fund up to 8 organizations
  • Category B will fund up to 10 organizations.
  • Category C will fund up to 10 organizations.

What will the range of funding be for each award?  

The amount of funding awarded to applicants will vary depending on the category they apply to.
Approximate funds per fiscal year

  • Category A: $36 million
  • Category B: $15 million
  • Category C: $9 million

Approximate total project period funding

  • Category A: $180 million
  • Category B: $75 million
  • Category C: $45 million

Note:

  • These amounts include funding in both the Initial Base-Funding Competition (Phase II) and the Secondary CIO-Funding Competition (Phase III).
  • These amounts include both direct and/or indirect costs and are an estimate subject to the availability of funds. Cost sharing and matching funds are not required for this program.
  • Throughout the project period, CDC’s commitment to continuation of awards will depend on the availability of funds, evidence of satisfactory progress by the recipient (as documented in required reports), and the determination that continued funding is in the best interest of the federal government and the people of the US.

What is the ceiling of yearly individual award range?

The ceiling of individual award range is

  • Category A: up to $18 million
  • Category B: up to $8 million  
  • Category C: up to $3 million

(These amounts are subject to the availability of funds)

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Budget

What are the anticipated award dates?

  • Initial Base Funding: July 1, 2013
  • Secondary CIO-Funding: September 1, 2013

Is there any provision to award non-funded applicants at a later date?

Yes, CDC’s Procurement and Grants Office retains approved but non-funded applications for one year should additional funding become available.

Is it possible to have only a portion of an application funded?

Yes. Funding availability determines how much of an applicant’s proposed plan receives funding.

Are there any caps on indirect cost percentages?

Indirect cost percentages are determined by the Division of Cost Allocation at the Department of Health and Human Services. These caps will be stated in the Notice of Award that CDC’s Procurement and Grants Office sends to successfully awarded applicants.

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