PS20-2001 NOFO FAQs
1. Does the 20 page narrative limit include the laboratory component?
Yes, descriptions of activities for the laboratory portion of the application should be included in the project narrative, which is limited to 20 pages overall. Please refer to the “Content and Form of Application Submission” section of the NOFO, which begins on page 32, for instructions on what should be included in the project narrative.
2. Is the laboratory work plan supposed to be a different format than the prevention & control work plan?
Both work plans are very similar in terms of content; however, they should be completed as separate documents. Applicants may use the example layouts, found at https://www.cdc.gov/tb/education/SampleWorkPlans.htm, if desired. Alternatively, applicants may choose to format their required work plan in a different manner, as long as it contains all of the required elements for each strategy.
3.What data should be included in the data management plan?
The data management plan should cover any public health data generated or collected using funds from the CoAg, including surveillance data and program planning and monitoring data. Datasets that are produced by third parties (e.g., vital statistics data) and simply used by the TB program should not be included in the data management plan.
4. When is OMB approval needed for data sources covered in the data management plan? Does OMB approval apply to state entities?
Any data provided to CDC as part of this CoAg must be collected with Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act; however, CDC is responsible for securing OMB approval, not the applicants.
5. The funding estimator found on the CDC website indicates that our jurisdiction will receive less funds in FY 2020 than we did in FY 2019. Should we budget for level funding in this case?
Page 36 of 67 of the NOFO outlines the guidance for using the funding estimator calculator, further illustrated on the TB Resource page. Use the funding estimator amount to build your budget in the application. Further details about the budget will be provided after the application deadline of September 5, 2019.
6. What is the requirement regarding use and submission of the Aggregated Reports for Program Evaluation (ARPE) – Targeted Testing form?
Jurisdictions with 150 TB cases or more per year are required to implement a targeted testing and treatment program. Aggregate numbers are required to be reported on the targeted testing tab of the ARPE form. This is the same form that includes the contact investigation tab. The form should be submitted by March 31st of each year, the same schedule as the contact investigation report. Low morbidity jurisdictions (less than 150 TB cases per year) are encouraged to also implement a targeted testing and treatment program and report data on the ARPE form, using the targeted testing tab.
7. Are letters of support a required part of the application?
No, letters of support are not required as part of this NOFO.
8. What are the page limits for the program evaluation plan, HRD plan and lab section?
The program evaluation plan, HRD plan, and laboratory sections should be included under the “Approach” heading in the application. The 20 page limit for the project narrative encompasses all of the headings indicated on page 33. Those headings include: Background, Approach, Applicant Evaluation and Performance Measurement Plan, Organizational Capacity, and Work plan. Within the overall 20 page project narrative limit, there are no specific length requirements for program evaluation, HRD and laboratory sections.
9. Where should I describe my human resource development plan in the application?
The HRD plan should go under strategy five in the approach section.
10. For the HRD plan, are we supposed to report on HRD activities from last year and the first six months of this year, or does that go into the Annual Performance Report (APR)?
Human resource development (HRD) activities should be reported in the APR, not the HRD plan that you will include with this application.
11. What is the link to the TB NOFO webpage?
12. Will the rules or structure of the new 2020-2024 TB CoAg impact the ability for a jurisdiction to contract for lab services?
No, if you currently contract for laboratory services, the new CoAg will not change or impact that ability.
13. Could you please provide a bit more detail about the formulation and implementation of a plan for the elimination and interruption of transmission of tuberculosis?
Data and modeling show that U.S. progress toward TB elimination has slowed over recent years, and that the current national strategy (i.e., focusing mainly on interrupting the spread of TB disease) will not alone lead to TB elimination in this century. Meeting the U.S. TB elimination goal will require an added focus on testing and treating high-risk persons with latent TB infection (LTBI) to prevent them from developing TB disease. CDC estimates that up to 13.0 million people in the United States have LTBI and over 80% of U.S. TB cases result from longstanding, untreated LTBI. Accordingly, even if jurisdictions do not have the full capacity to implement targeted testing and treatment programs at the moment, CDC expects all recipients to begin thinking through a plan and formulate a written strategy to address these issues, given the state/local context. CDC also expects that each recipient involve relevant stakeholders/the community in the development of the strategy. Please note that the Elimination Plan is not due as part of the 2020 NOFO application; recipients will have the entire first funding year to work on the plan and consult with CDC colleagues (if desired).
14. Will current TB co-ag recipients have a closeout report due in March 2020 for 2018/2019?
The close out report for the project period of 2015-2019 is due in March 2020. Emphasis should be placed on annual performance for year 4 (2018) and year 5 (2019). Laboratory workload and turnaround time data for the period of performance from January 1, 2018 through December 31, 2018 and from January 1, 2019 through June 30, 2019, should still be submitted. Refer to Slide 19 at the following link, for more information: https://www.cdc.gov/tb/education/pdf/NOFO.pptxppt icon.
15. Should the application be submitted to grants.gov instead of to grantsolutions.gov.
Access grants.gov for the application package. Once the application is built in grants.gov and submitted, the application will automatically transfer to GrantSolutions for processing at CDC. The application will be accessible in GrantSolutions thereafter, and for the duration of the performance period.
16. Do applicants need to identify all of the outcomes listed in the logic model within their Approach section?
The logic model is part of the approach section, and cascades throughout the application. Applicants should identify outcomes that will be achieved by the end of the project period. Although you must “address” all short-term, intermediate, and long term outcomes, you should “achieve” outcomes highlighted in bold font in the logic model. You will further explain how you will achieve these outcomes in the work plan, which should align with NTIP and Lab TAT performance targets.
17. If my jurisdiction contracts for lab services, will the lab funding be based on the amount of specimens the contracted lab processes specifically for my jurisdiction, or the total number of specimens the contracted lab processes overall?
Laboratory funding will be based only on the number of specimens that come from your jurisdiction.
18. For the lab portion of the application, should element two address deficiencies in element one, or should they be completely different?
Element One goals, objectives, and activities should reflect how the laboratory proposes to improve national benchmark turnaround time recommendations for specimen receipt, acid-fast bacilli (AFB) smear, identification (ID) of MTBC, drug susceptibility testing (DST), and nucleic acid amplification testing (NAAT).
Element two goals, objectives, and activities should reflect how the laboratory will improve laboratory efficiency and quality assurance through the monitoring of their laboratory-specific data. This element may involve collaboration among the TB laboratory and safety/quality assurance manager to determine how the laboratory can improve the quality of testing based on data the laboratory produces. For example, some laboratories will use the APHL Self-Assessment Tool to review their laboratory’s workflow and testing algorithm and best practices. Laboratories may also monitor their workload and results at scheduled dates to determine if there are areas within the laboratory that can be improved including contamination rates, false-positive results, efficiency of test result reporting, etc.
19. Can element three of the lab work plan include improving performance for laboratories in our jurisdiction, even if we don’t contract with or manage them?
Element three should include any collaboration with partners to ensure optimal use of laboratory services and timely flow of information. This element could include scheduling conversations, meetings, or educational opportunities with other laboratories within the state on best practices for TB testing such as specimen collection guidelines, importance of timely specimen submission and result reporting (could include examples on how best to improve turnaround time of results for various test methods), and laboratory algorithms. Collaboration could also include providing educational documents on some of these topics to laboratories across the state.
20. What is the difference between what should be described in the narrative and work plan for strategy three (program planning, evaluation, and improvement) vs. in the narrative section titled “applicant evaluation and performance measurement plan?”
The narrative portion titled “applicant evaluation and performance measurement plan” should describe how the applicant will collect performance measures, use these measures in program evaluation, and use evaluation findings for continuous program improvement, along with key partners and data sources. This is standard language for CDC Notice of Funding Opportunities. This specific NOFO states that performance measures for national TB program objectives are outlined under the National TB Indicators Project (NTIP), and that these performance measures should be used by applicants\recipients to identify programmatic areas in need of improvement. Each program is expected to evaluate why they are not performing well in those identified areas and use the findings for program improvement through identification and implementation of remediation plans. The process of collection of data for the NTIP performance measures should be described in the application, in order to meet the requirements of the Evaluation and Performance Measurement Plan.
The narrative and work plan for strategy three should discuss the program evaluation plan for the first year of the award, which includes the background for the program evaluation focus area and the rational for selecting this focus area by identifying which NTIP indicator or other data source was used to select the focus area for program evaluation and improvement. The applicant should describe how findings are intended to be used to improve program performance and the expected impact on program performance. The evaluation plan for the first year should also include the evaluation objectives and\or key evaluation questions, as well as the methods and timelines for data collection and analysis.
21. Should the evaluation and performance measurement plan be one document with two parts – a programmatic focus and a lab focus?
Yes, applicants should submit one plan with two parts. Applicants will also be required to submit a more detailed version of the plan within the first six months of the award. Please note that the laboratory portion should include workload and TAT indicators.
22. For the laboratory organizational/personnel chart, what staff roles should be included?
The laboratory organizational chart should include the name and title for all TB testing personnel, as well as the laboratory TB supervisor/manager, assistant director, and director.
23. Should the laboratory component of my application include a narrative, or is submitting just a work plan acceptable?
The laboratory component of the NOFO application should include a laboratory point of contact (with title, telephone number, and email address), a laboratory organizational chart, an overview of testing algorithms and methods, and the laboratory work plan. A narrative should be submitted for the overview of testing algorithms (a visual testing algorithm may be submitted) and the testing methods performed.
24. When calculating/estimating a budget, what cases should applicants count?
Applicants should use 3-year averages to estimate funding.
25. Does the 20 page limit for the project narrative include the cover page and table of contents page? If so, is a table of contents required?
Yes, a table of contents for the entire submission packet is required. There is no page limit for the table of contents, and it is not included in the project narrative page limit. See page 32, section 8 of the NOFO announcement for more instructions.
26. For the background section, should applicants use the background provided by CDC on page 2-3 of the NOFO, or draft our own language specific to our jurisdiction?
Applicants should include information that is specific to their own jurisdictions.
27. Can applicants submit a “true needs” budget with their application?
No. Applicants must follow the instructions in the NOFO for submitting a budget. A funding estimator tool is provided on the TB NOFO resource page at https://www.cdc.gov/tb/education/funding-opportunity-notice.htm to assist in completing a detailed budget for the first year of funding.
28. In the NOFO, many of the performance progress results refer to “molecular DST.” If NAAT (GeneXpert) is performed, rpoB is technically assessed via a molecular method. Does this count as molecular DST?
For surveillance purposes, CDC does consider a GeneXpert rifampin test to be a molecular DST test.
29. What form should applicants use when planning for aggregate data reporting under Strategy 2c: Targeted testing and treatment of LTBI in high-risk populations?
Applicants should use the Aggregate Reports for Tuberculosis Program Evaluation (ARPE): Targeted Testing and Treatment for Latent Tuberculosis Infection form in the appendix of the ARPE manual, https://www.cdc.gov/tb/publications/pdf/arpes_manualsm1.pdfpdf icon to plan activities for this NOFO.
30. What are budget consultant costs?
This budget category is appropriate to use when hiring an individual who gives professional advice or provides services for a fee and who is not an employee of the grantee organization. All consultants require prior approval from CDC annually. Consultant costs should be listed on the same budget category line as contractual costs. Please refer to the CDC Budget Preparation Guidelines (https://www.cdc.gov/grants/documents/Budget-Preparation-Guidance.pdfpdf icon) to ensure that you submit all required information for approval.
31. Is an annual performance report for the first half of 2019 required with this submission?
No, applicants should not submit any type of performance report with this application.
32. Can you please resend or post the Dear Colleague letter referenced in the informational call slides?
The Dear Colleague letter has been posted to the NOFO resource page:
33. Am I required to restate all of my work plan details about strategy, outcomes, activities, and measures in the narrative part of my application (under the Approach section)?
Applicants should outline outcomes, strategies, and activities in the Approach section narrative. If your Work Plan is more descriptive, then you are not required to duplicate all of the information in the Approach section. It is acceptable to reference the Work Plan in the Approach section.
34. What outcomes should be addressed in the application? Can any of the outcomes wait to be addressed in subsequent APRs or revisions?
The bolded items in the Logic Model represent the Period of Performance outcomes, or measurable outcomes for the overall five-year cooperative agreement. Applicants should describe how these outcomes will be achieved through the Strategies and Activities included in their Approach and Work Plan. Many of the non-bolded outcomes support the bolded outcomes and should be apparent in your application.
35. Is a Surveillance Quality Assurance plan required as part of the application submission process?
The surveillance quality assurance protocol should be submitted annually for the duration of the cooperative agreement. The protocol does not need to be included with the application. The protocol for the first year of the cooperative agreement will be due in 2020.
36. We recently submitted a TB lab evaluation plan to CDC. Do we still need to include an evaluation plan with this application?
The laboratory workload volume and turnaround time data that TB laboratories recently submitted to CDC apply to the current cooperative agreement and included data from 2018 and the first half of 2019. For this application, applicants should develop a laboratory work plan for Elements 1 and 2, which will serve as the laboratory evaluation plan beginning in 2020.
37. What information are applicants required to include in the initial evaluation plan, which is due as part of the application. By what method will applicants/recipients submit the full evaluation that is due within the first six months of the award?
The “Applicant Evaluation and Performance Measurement Plan” section of the NOFO identifies the items at minimum that the initial evaluation and performance measurement plan must describe (see page 18). The more elaborate evaluation plan submitted by recipients six months into the award should be submitted to CDC via www.GrantSolutions.govexternal icon.
38. If our current Evaluation and Performance Measurement Plan covers 2019-2020, is it okay to include the current 2019 objectives in this application’s narrative? Should I describe new PE plan(s) beyond 2020 for this application?
The narrative and work plan for this application should include background about the program evaluation focus area for the first year of the period of performance (2020). It should describe the rationale for selecting the focus area and identify which NTIP indicator or other data source was used. If the program evaluation plan for 2020 builds on efforts completed in 2019, then applicants may explain the 2020 plans in relation to the completed 2019 efforts.
Please note that 2019 program evaluation objectives, methods, findings, and outcomes should be included in your final closeout report for the 2015-2019 cooperative agreement – due March 31, 2020 – and not in this application. The closeout report should cover 2015-2019, with an emphasis on 2018-2019.
For additional information regarding evaluation and performance measurement plans, please see FAQ #20.
39. What are responsibilities of the directly-funded city programs when it comes to responding to the Data Management Plan requirement in the NOFO?
The data management plan requirement for surveillance data does not apply to directly-funded city programs with separate cooperative agreements who report cases to CDC through their state programs; however, any other data they might submit to CDC directly (e.g., ARPE) as part of the cooperative agreement would need to have a data management plan.
40. The NOFO specifies: “12 point font, 1-inch margins, number all pages. This includes the work plan”. However, if applicants use the Excel Template for the work plan it is not possible to include all columns on a single page if adhering to the NOFO specifications. In order to fit all columns on one page, the font and margins are much smaller than requirements specified in the NOFO. Is there an exception to these NOFO instructions when using the provided Excel Template for the work plan?
Applicants may choose to use the example Excel work plans provided by CDC. Since Excel formatting may pose a challenge in terms of meeting font and margin requirements for the narrative section of the application, applicants are permitted to upload Excel format work plans as attachments to their application. If choosing this option, applicants should save the Excel file as PDFs and upload as two separate attachments titled “TB Program Work Plan” and “Laboratory Work Plan.”
41. I plan to use the work plan template in Word and wondering do I need to use Font size 12 in the template table?
If an applicant chooses not to use the example Excel work plans, then their work plans must be included within the project narrative section of the application (i.e., not separate uploaded attachments). In this case, applicants should follow the guidance for completing the project narrative (see page 33 of the NOFO), including the use of 12-point font.
42. Is the more detailed Evaluation and Performance Measurement Plan, including Data Management Plan, due six months from the notice of award or six months from the start of the first budget period?
Six months after the start of the first budget period.