On January 18, the US Maritime Administration released the Fiscal Year 2023 Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the Small Shipyard Grant Program. This program awards $20.8 million in federal grants for capital projects and workforce development requests to qualifying small shipyards. Grants are due at 5pm ET on February 27, 2023 and need to be submitted through Grants.gov.
By law, this program has focused traditionally on increasing the efficiency of the over 300 small shipyards throughout the US and its territories. However, there are some changes to the NOFO this year which merit attention by any potential applicant. These include the following:
Additional funding available ($20.8 million): In addition to the $20 million appropriated by Congress in FY2023 ($400k is kept by the agency for administrative fees), $1.2 million in funding from unused FY2019 awards is being made available.
No exception for late applications ‘in the case of unforeseen technical difficulties’: appears that this was a pass given for the first year in which MARAD utilized the electronic submission process via grants.gov. No excuses for late applications this year!
Eligibility - Training projects: designated Domestic Maritime Centers of Excellence receiving FY2023 funds will not be eligible for these grants.
Section 1- updated geographic descriptors: instead of the defined set of federal designations describing special geographic locations, MARAD seeks only general demographic information describing “minority, low income or limited English proficient communities near or potentially impacted by” the proposed project.
Suggested resources: EPA’s EJScreen or DOT’s Transportation Disadvantaged Census Tracts tool. Applicants may also want to consider data from U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics or other relevant federal sources.
Updated selection considerations: last year the agency debuted new Departmental priority considerations regarding project impacts on climate change, racial equity and workplace policies; this year, the notice further refines these concepts and adds one on safety.
Safety: the notice speaks of safety impacts of the project generally, but also references specifically the project’s impact on “the overall safety of the traveling public.”
Racial equity: the notice encourages applicants to address how their project will include an equity assessment.
Climate change/sustainability: this year the notice suggests stating in the application whether the applicant maintains a publicly available emissions inventory.
Workforce development, job quality and wealth creation: this year the notice adds specific use of the term “wealth creation” and suggested application content addressing whether the project will “change hiring policies and workplace cultures to promote the entry and retention of underrepresented populations.”
Section 3- priorities/budget table: this year, the grant notice suggests including a budget table that is more consistent with other Departmental grant applications, including columns for proposed Small Shipyard Grant program funding, non-federal funding, and other federal funding.
Sharing of application information: this year, MARAD explicitly states that “Except for the information properly marked as described in section H of this notice, MARAD states that it may share application information within the Department or with other Federal agencies if the Department determines that sharing is relevant to the respective program’s objectives.”
A reminder to review your application for confidential business information, and treat it appropriately (see #9). Otherwise, it doesn’t take much imagination to consider which federal agencies could access this information, including regulatory agencies.
Altered period of performance: I’m often asked “if I get a grant, how long do I have to finish the project?” While in the past MARAD has assumed a two-year term to complete the project, this notice includes language stating MARAD will determine a period of performance for each award based on the project.
New process for Confidential Business Information: this year, the agency requires including any confidential information in a separate document and appropriate references to it in the application.
Publication of application information: MARAD intends to publish a list of all applicants and funding amounts requested.
The Small Shipyard Grant Coalition created a helpful infographic to keep dates and deadlines front and center in a grant writing process. Additionally, full members of the coalition have access to more detailed policy memos and guidance. Shipyards, vendors and manufacturers can join the Coalition as a full member here.