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Federal Register Summary for week of 6 March

    Agriculture

  • Availability of an Environmental Assessment for a Biological Control Agent for Arundo donax

    AGENCY: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

    ACTION: Notice of availability and request for comments.


    SUMMARY: We are advising the public that the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has prepared an environmental assessment relative to the control of Arundo donax (giant reed, Carrizo cane). The environmental assessment considers the effects of, and alternatives to, the release of a wasp, Tetramesa romana, into the continental United States for use as a biological control agent to reduce the severity of A. donax infestations. We are making the environmental assessment available to the public for review and comment.

    DATES: We will consider all comments that we receive on or before April 6, 2009.

    ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by either of the following methods: Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/ main?main=DocketDetail&d=APHIS-2008-0141 to submit or view comments and to view supporting and related materials available electronically. Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery: Please send two copies of your comment to Docket No. APHIS-2008-0141, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238. Please state that your comment refers to Docket No. APHIS-2008-0141. Reading Room: You may read any comments that we receive on the environmental assessment in our reading room. The reading room is located in room 1141 of the USDA South Building, 14th Street and Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC. Normal reading room hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays. To be sure someone is there to help you, please call (202) 690-2817 before coming. Other Information: Additional information about APHIS and its programs is available on the Internet at http://www.aphis.usda.gov.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. Carmen Soileau, Senior Entomologist, Evaluation and Permitting of Regulated Organisms and Soil, PPQ, APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 133, Riverdale, MD 20737-1237; (301) 734-5055.

    http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/E9-4881.htm

  • Commerce

  • NOAA Coastal and Marine Habitat Restoration Project Grants

    AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

    ACTION: Notice of funding availability under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.


    SUMMARY: NOAA delivers funding and technical expertise to restore coastal and marine habitats. These habitats support valuable fisheries and protected resources, improve the quality of our water, provide recreational opportunities for the public's use and enjoyment, and buffer our coastal communities from the impacts of storms and sea level rise. Projects funded through NOAA have strong on-the-ground habitat restoration components that provide social and economic benefits for people and their communities in addition to long-term ecological habitat improvements. Through this solicitation, NOAA seeks to openly compete funding available for habitat restoration under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Applications should be submitted for any project that is to be considered for this funding, even for those projects put forth to the Federal Government as examples by internal and external restoration partners or submitted as applications to other NOAA competitions. Competition will ensure that the most beneficial restoration projects are selected to realize significant ecological gains (with emphasis on projects that are regionally or nationally significant species and ecosystems), fuel America's near- term economy, and ensure that projects are truly ``shovel-ready.'' Proposals selected for funding through this solicitation will be implemented through a grant or cooperative agreement, with awards dependent upon the amount of funds made available to NOAA for this purpose by Congress. NOAA anticipates that up to $170 million may be available for coastal and marine habitat restoration; typical awards are expected to range between $1.5 million to $10 million. Funds will be administered by NOAA's Office of Habitat Conservation.

    DATES: Applications must be postmarked, provided to a delivery service, or received by http://www.grants.gov by 11:59 PM EDT on April 6, 2009. Use of U.S. mail or another delivery service must be documented with a receipt. No facsimile or electronic mail applications will be accepted.

    ADDRESSES: Electronic applications are strongly encouraged and are available at http://www.grants.gov. Grants.gov requires applicants to register with the system prior to submitting an application for the first time. This registration process can take over a week and involves multiple steps. In order to allow sufficient time for this process, prospective applicants should register as soon as they decide to apply, even if not yet ready to submit an application. If an applicant is having difficulty downloading the application forms from Grants.gov, contact Grants.gov customer support at 1-800-518-4726 or support@grants.gov. If an applicant is having difficulty with Grants.gov, the applicant should contact Craig Woolcott at Craig.Woolcott@noaa.gov, or by phone at 301-713-0174, or by mail at NOAA Fisheries, Office of Habitat Conservation (F/HC3), 1315 East West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Craig Woolcott or Melanie Gange at (301) 713-0174, or by e-mail at Craig.Woolcott@noaa.gov or Melanie.Gange@noaa.gov. Prospective applicants are invited to contact NOAA staff before submitting an application to discuss whether their project ideas are within the scope of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's objectives and NOAA's mission and goals.

    http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/E9-4801.htm

  • Nomination of Existing Marine Protected Areas to the National System of Marine Protected Areas

    AGENCY: NOAA, Department of Commerce (DOC).

    ACTION: Public notice and opportunity for comment on the list of nominations received from Federal, State and territorial marine protected area programs to join the National System of Marine Protected Areas.


    SUMMARY: NOAA and the Department of the Interior (DOI) invited Federal, State, commonwealth, and territorial marine protected areas (MPA) programs with potentially eligible existing MPAs to nominate their sites to the national system of MPAs. The national system and the nomination process are described in the Framework for the National System of Marine Protected Areas of the United States (Framework), developed in response to Executive Order 13158 on Marine Protected Areas. The final Framework was published on November 19, 2008, and provides guidance for collaborative efforts among Federal, State, commonwealth, territorial, Tribal and local governments and stakeholders to develop an effective and well coordinated National System of MPAs (national system) that includes existing MPAs meeting national system criteria as well as new sites that may be established by managing agencies to fill key conservation gaps in important ocean areas.

    DATES: Comment on the nominations to the national system of MPAs are due April 6, 2009.

    ADDRESSES: Comments should be sent to Joseph A. Uravitch, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Protected Areas Center, 1305 East West Highway, N/ORM, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Fax: (301) 713-3110. E-mail: mpa.comments@noaa.gov. Comments will be accepted in written form by mail, e-mail, or fax.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lauren Wenzel, NOAA, at 301-713-3100, ext. 136 or via e-mail at mpa.comments@noaa.gov. An electronic copy of the list of nominated MPAs is available for download at http:// www.mpa.gov.

    http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/E9-4809.htm

  • Environmental Protection Agency

  • EPA Science Advisory Board Staff Office; Request for Nominations of Experts To Augment the Science Advisory Board Exposure and Human Health Committee

    AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION: Notice.


    SUMMARY: The SAB Staff Office is requesting the nomination of experts to augment the Science Advisory Board (SAB) Exposure and Human Health Committee (EHHC) to review updated values for EPA's Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS).

    DATES: Nominations should be submitted by March 23, 2009 per instructions below.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Any member of the public wishing further information regarding this Request for Nominations may contact Dr. Sue Shallal, Designated Federal Officer (DFO), SAB Staff Office, by telephone/voice mail at (202) 343-9977; by fax at (202) 233-0643; or via e-mail at shallal.suhair@epa.gov. General information concerning the EPA Science Advisory Board can be found on the EPA SAB Web site at http://www.epa.gov/sab.

    http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/E9-4348.htm

  • Executive Office of the President

  • Government Contracting

    Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies

    The Federal Government has an overriding obligation to American taxpayers. It should perform its functions efficiently and effectively while ensuring that its actions result in the best value for the taxpayers.

    Since 2001, spending on Government contracts has more than doubled, reaching over $500 billion in 2008. During this same period, there has been a significant increase in the dollars awarded without full and open competition and an increase in the dollars obligated through cost-reimbursement contracts. Between fiscal years 2000 and 2008, for example, dollars obligated under cost-reimbursement contracts nearly doubled, from $71 billion in 2000 to $135 billion in 2008. Reversing these trends away from full and open competition and toward cost-reimbursement contracts could result in savings of billions of dollars each year for the American taxpayer.

    Excessive reliance by executive agencies on sole-source contracts (or contracts with a limited number of sources) and cost-reimbursement contracts creates a risk that taxpayer funds will be spent on contracts that are wasteful, inefficient, subject to misuse, or otherwise not well designed to serve the needs of the Federal Government or the interests of the American taxpayer. Reports by agency Inspectors General, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), and other independent reviewing bodies have shown that noncompetitive and cost-reimbursement contracts have been misused, resulting in wasted taxpayer resources, poor contractor performance, and inadequate accountability for results.

    When awarding Government contracts, the Federal Government must strive for an open and competitive process. However, executive agencies must have the flexibility to tailor contracts to carry out their missions and achieve the policy goals of the Government. In certain exigent circumstances, agencies may need to consider whether a competitive process will not accomplish the agency’s mission. In such cases, the agency must ensure that the risks associated with noncompetitive contracts are minimized.

    Moreover, it is essential that the Federal Government have the capacity to carry out robust and thorough management and oversight of its contracts in order to achieve programmatic goals, avoid significant overcharges, and curb wasteful spending. A GAO study last year of 95 major defense acquisitions projects found cost overruns of 26 percent, totaling $295 billion over the life of the projects. Improved contract oversight could reduce such sums significantly.

    Government outsourcing for services also raises special concerns. For decades, the Federal Government has relied on the private sector for necessary commercial services used by the Government, such as transportation, food, and maintenance. Office of Management and Budget Circular A-76, first issued in 1966, was based on the reasonable premise that while inherently governmental activities should be performed by Government employees, taxpayers may receive more value for their dollars if non-inherently governmental activities that can be provided commercially are subject to the forces of competition.

    However, the line between inherently governmental activities that should not be outsourced and commercial activities that may be subject to private sector competition has been blurred and inadequately defined. As a result, contractors may be performing inherently governmental functions. Agencies and departments must operate under clear rules prescribing when outsourcing is and is not appropriate.

    It is the policy of the Federal Government that executive agencies shall not engage in noncompetitive contracts except in those circumstances where their use can be fully justified and where appropriate safeguards have been put in place to protect the taxpayer. In addition, there shall be a preference for fixed-price type contracts. Cost-reimbursement contracts shall be used only when circumstances do not allow the agency to define its requirements sufficiently to allow for a fixed-price type contract. Moreover, the Federal Government shall ensure that taxpayer dollars are not spent on contracts that are wasteful, inefficient, subject to misuse, or otherwise not well designed to serve the Federal Government’s needs and to manage the risk associated with the goods and services being procured. The Federal Government must have sufficient capacity to manage and oversee the contracting process from start to finish, so as to ensure that taxpayer funds are spent wisely and are not subject to excessive risk. Finally, the Federal Government must ensure that those functions that are inherently governmental in nature are performed by executive agencies and are not outsourced.

    I hereby direct the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in collaboration with the Secretary of Defense, the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Administrator of General Services, the Director of the Office of Personnel Management, and the heads of such other agencies as the Director of OMB determines to be appropriate, and with the participation of appropriate management councils and program management officials, to develop and issue by July 1, 2009, Government-wide guidance to assist agencies in reviewing, and creating processes for ongoing review of, existing contracts in order to identify contracts that are wasteful, inefficient, or not otherwise likely to meet the agency’s needs, and to formulate appropriate corrective action in a timely manner. Such corrective action may include modifying or canceling such contracts in a manner and to the extent consistent with applicable laws, regulations, and policy.

    I further direct the Director of OMB, in collaboration with the aforementioned officials and councils, and with input from the public, to develop and issue by September 30, 2009, Government-wide guidance to:

    (1) govern the appropriate use and oversight of sole-source and other types of noncompetitive contracts and to maximize the use of full and open competition and other competitive procurement processes;

    (2) govern the appropriate use and oversight of all contract types, in full consideration of the agency’s needs, and to minimize risk and maximize the value of Government contracts generally, consistent with the regulations to be promulgated pursuant to section 864 of Public Law 110-417;

    (3) assist agencies in assessing the capacity and ability of the Federal acquisition workforce to develop, manage, and oversee acquisitions appropriately; and

    (4) clarify when governmental outsourcing for services is and is not appropriate, consistent with section 321 of Public Law 110-417 (31 U.S.C. 501 note).

    Executive departments and agencies shall carry out the provisions of this memorandum to the extent permitted by law. This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

    http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/E9-4938.htm

  • The Endangered Species Act

    The Endangered Species Act

    Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies

    The Endangered Species Act (ESA), 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq., reflects one of the Nation's profound commitments. Pursuant to that Act, the Federal Government has long required a process of broad interagency consultation to ensure the application of scientific and technical expertise to decisions that may affect threatened or endangered species. Under that interagency process, executive departments and agencies (agencies) contemplating an action that may affect endangered or threatened species have long been required, except in certain limited circumstances, to consult with, and in some circumstances obtain the prior written concurrence of, the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and/or the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)--the expert agencies that have the primary responsibility to ensure that the ESA is implemented in accordance with the law.

    On December 16, 2008, the Departments of the Interior and Commerce issued a joint regulation that modified these longstanding requirements. See 73 Fed. Reg. 76272. This new regulation expands the circumstances in which an agency may determine not to consult with, or obtain the written concurrence of, the FWS or NMFS prior to undertaking an action that may affect threatened or endangered species. But under the new regulation, agencies may continue the previous practice of consulting with, and obtaining the written concurrence of, the FWS and NMFS as a matter of discretion.

    I hereby request the Secretaries of the Interior and Commerce to review the regulation issued on December 16, 2008, and to determine whether to undertake new rulemaking procedures with respect to consultative and concurrence processes that will promote the purposes of the ESA.

    Until such review is completed, I request the heads of all agencies to exercise their discretion, under the new regulation, to follow the prior longstanding consultation and concurrence practices involving the FWS and NMFS.

    This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person. Agencies shall carry out the provisions of this memorandum to the extent permitted by law and consistent with statutory authorities.

    The Secretary of the Interior is hereby authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.

    http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/E9-4880.htm

  • Health and Human Services

  • Office of Biotechnology Activities; Recombinant DNA Research: Proposed Actions Under the NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant DNA Molecules (NIH Guidelines)

    AGENCY: National Institutes of Health (NIH), PHS, DHHS.

    ACTION: Notice of consideration of a proposed action under the NIH Guidelines.


    SUMMARY: In 2006, the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity, an advisory committee to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, the NIH Director and all Federal entities that conduct/ support life sciences research published a report entitled "Addressing Biosecurity Concerns Related to the Synthesis of Select Agents." The report included a recommendation that the United States Government (USG) "examine the language and implementation of current biosafety guidelines to ensure that such guidelines and regulations provide adequate guidance for working with synthetically derived DNA and are understood by all those working in areas addressed by the guidelines." The USG adopted this recommendation and asked NIH to review the NIH Guidelines for Research with Recombinant DNA (NIH Guidelines) to evaluate whether these guidelines need to be revised to address biosafety concerns for research with synthetic DNA. With the advice of the NIH Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee (RAC), which is responsible for advising the NIH Director on all aspects of recombinant DNA technology, including revisions to the NIH Guidelines, the following proposed changes were developed. As outlined in more detail below, the proposed changes will expand the scope of the NIH Guidelines to specifically cover nucleic acid molecules made solely by synthetic means. The changes apply to basic laboratory research and clinical research. In addition, changes were made to clarify the criteria for determining whether an experiment to introduce drug resistance into a microorganism raises important public health issues such that it must be reviewed by the RAC and approved by the NIH Director. Finally, the proposed amendments speak to the appropriate level of review for recombinant or synthetic experiments involving more than half but less than two-thirds of the genome of certain viruses in tissue culture. These changes were prompted by an increased understanding of the biology of certain viruses that demonstrate there may be biosafety risks with certain viruses that contain less than two-thirds of the viral genome.

    The full document is available at http://oba.od.nih.gov/ biosecurity/pdf/FinalNSABBReportonSynthetic_Genomics.pdf.

    DATES: The public is encouraged to submit written comments on this proposed action. Comments may be submitted to OBA in paper or electronic form at the OBA mailing, fax, and e-mail addresses shown below under the heading FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. All comments should be submitted by May 4, 2009. All written comments received in response to this notice will be available for public inspection in the NIH OBA office, 6705 Rockledge Drive, Suite 750, MSC 7985, Bethesda, MD 20892-7985, weekdays between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.

    http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/E9-4618.htm

  • Request for Nominations of Candidates To Serve on the Board of Scientific Counselors, Coordinating Center for Infectious Diseases (BSC, CCID)

    CDC is soliciting nominations for possible membership on the BSC, CCID. This board provides advice and guidance to the Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Director, CDC, and the Director, CCID, concerning strategies and goals for the programs and research within the national centers; shall conduct peer-review of scientific programs; and monitor the overall strategic direction and focus of the national centers. The board shall also monitor program organization and resources for infectious disease prevention and control.

    Nominations are being sought for individuals who have the expertise and qualifications necessary to contribute to the accomplishment of the board's objectives. Nominees will be selected by the Secretary, HHS, or designee, from authorities knowledgeable in the fields relevant to the issues addressed by the CCID and related disciplines, including: Epidemiology; microbiology; bacteriology; virology; parasitology; mycology; immunology; public health; entomology; bioterrorism threats; clinical medicine; ecology; and from the general public. Federal employees will not be considered. Members may be invited to serve for terms of up to four years.

    Consideration is given to representation from diverse geographic areas, both genders, ethnic and minority groups, and the disabled. Nominees must be U.S. citizens.

    The following information must be submitted for each candidate: Name, affiliation, address, telephone number, e-mail address, and current curriculum vitae.

    Nominations should be accompanied with a letter of recommendation stating the qualifications of the nominee and postmarked by March 20, 2009 to: Harriette Lynch, Coordinating Center for Infectious Diseases, Office of the Director, CDC, 1600 Clifton Road, NE., Mailstop E-77, Atlanta, Georgia 30333, Telephone (404) 498-2726.

    The Director, Management Analysis and Services Office, has been delegated the authority to sign Federal Register notices pertaining to announcements of meetings and other committee management activities for both CDC and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

    http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/E9-4475.htm

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