(a) Incomplete or non-responsive applications will not be evaluated. Applicants may revise their applications and re-submit them prior to the published deadline if there is sufficient time to do so.
(b) After all applications have been evaluated using the evaluation criteria and scored in accordance with the point allocation specified in the announcement for program funding, a list of all applications in ranked order, together with funding level recommendations, will be submitted to the Chief or designee.
(c) Unless supplemented in a APF, applications for grants for VPA-HIP will be evaluated using the criteria listed in this section. The distribution of points to be awarded per criterion will be identified in the APF.
(1)Benefits. The application will be evaluated to determine whether and to what extent the project's anticipated outcomes promote improvement of public access for wildlife-dependent recreation and intended environmental benefits.
(2)Project description and feasibility. The application will be evaluated on the extent and quality to which the applicant demonstrates a reasonable approach to the project, sufficient resources to complete the project, and a capability to complete the project in a timely manner.
(3)Widespread acceptance and maximizing participation of landowners. The application will be evaluated based on the applicant's plan for encouraging the participation of owners and operators of privately-held farm, ranch, and forest land, and for engaging the public users. Additionally, the extent to which the applicant has identified and established relationships with the partners necessary to achieve the project's goals will be evaluated.
(4)Appropriate wildlife habitat. The application will be evaluated to determine whether the applicant demonstrates expertise in providing technical assistance with respect to establishing and maintaining appropriate wildlife habitat on public access land.
(5)Strengthening wildlife habitat for lands under a USDA conservation program. The application will be evaluated to determine whether the project proposes to provide incentives to increase public hunting and other recreational access on land enrolled under a USDA conservation program.
(6)Additional private, Federal, State, or tribal government resources. The application will be evaluated to determine the extent to which the support letters provided by other organizations involved with the project demonstrate specific and quantified commitments to the project. Applications that demonstrate additional resources will receive more points, all else being equal, than those that do not.
(7)Making available the location of enrolled land. The application will be evaluated to determine how the project proposes to make available to the public the location of the land enrolled.
(8)Performance evaluation criteria. The application will be evaluated to determine whether the applicant has included outcome-based performance measures.
(9)Administrative capabilities. The application will be evaluated to determine whether the grant applicant has a track record of administering the project or, in the absence of a track record, the capacity to administer the project. Applicants that have demonstrated capable financial systems and audit controls, personnel and program administration performance measures, and clear rules of governance will receive more points than those not evidencing this capacity.
(10)Delivery. The application will be evaluated to determine whether the applicant has a track record in implementing public access or similar programs or, in the absence of an actual track record, the capacity to implement a public access program. The applicant's potential for delivering an effective public access program and the expected effects of that program will also be assessed.
(11)Work plan and budget. The work plan will be reviewed for detailed actions and an accompanying timetable for implementing the components of the application. Clear, logical, realistic, and efficient plans will result in a higher score. Budgets will be reviewed for completeness and whether and to what extent additional resources were committed by Federal, State, or tribal government, and private resources.
(12)Qualifications of those performing the tasks. The application will be reviewed to determine if key personnel have appropriate knowledge, skills, and abilities with respect to wildlife-dependent recreation including hunting or fishing on privately-held farm, ranch, and forest land, funds control, grants management, performance monitoring and evaluation, or other activities relevant to the success of the proposed public access program.