U.S. Code of Federal Regulations

Regulations most recently checked for updates: Sep 29, 2022

§ 1940.956 - State rural economic development review panel.

(a) General. In order for a State to become or remain an eligible State, the State must have a rural economic development panel that meets all requirements of this subpart. Each designated State will establish a schedule whereby the panel and Rural Development will coordinate the submission, review, and ranking process of preapplications/applications. The schedule will be submitted to the Under Secretary for concurrence and should consider the following:

(1) Timeframes should assure that applications selected for funding from the current FY's allocation of funds can be processed by Rural Development and funds obligated prior to the July 15 pooling established in § 1940.961(c) of this subpart;

(2) Initial submission of preapplications/applications from Rural Development to the panel and any subsequent submissions during the first year;

(3) How often during each FY thereafter should Rural Development submit preapplications/applications to the panel for review and ranking;

(4) Number of working days needed by the panel to review and rank preapplications/applications;

(5) Number of times during the FY the panel will submit a list of ranked preapplications/applications to Rural Development for funding consideration;

(6) Consider the matching of available loan and grant funds to assure that all allocated funds will be used;

(7) How to consider ranked preapplications/applications at the end of the FY that have not been funded; and

(8) How to consider requests for additional funds needed by an applicant to complete a project that already has funds approved; i.e., construction bid cost overrun.

(b) Duties and responsibilities. The panel is required to advise the State Director on the desirability of funding applications from funds available to the State from designated rural development programs. In relation to this advice, the panel will have the following duties and responsibilities:

(1) Establish policy and criteria to review and evaluate area plans and to review and rank preapplications/applications. (i) Area plan. The panel will develop a written policy and criteria to use when evaluating area plans. The criteria to be used when evaluating area plans will assure that the plan includes, as a minimum, the technical information included in § 1940.959 of this subpart. The criteria will be in sufficient detail for the panel to determine that the plan is technically and economically adequate, feasible, and likely to succeed in meeting the stated goals of the plan. The panel will give weight to area-wide or regional plans and comments submitted by intergovernmental development councils or similar organizations made up of local elected officials charged with the responsibility for rural area or regional development. A copy of the policy and evaluating criteria will be provided to Rural Development.

(ii) Applications. The panel will annually review the policy and criteria used by the panel to evaluate and rank preapplications/applications in accordance with this subpart. The panel will assure that the policy and criteria are consistent with current rural development needs, and that the public has an opportunity to provide input during the development of the initial policy and criteria. The Governor will provide a copy of the initial policy and criteria established by the panel when submitting evidence of eligibility in accordance with § 1940.954 of this subpart. Annually, thereafter, and not later than September 1 of each FY, the State coordinator will send the Under Secretary evidence that the panel has reviewed the established policy and criteria. The State coordinator will also send the Under Secretary a copy of all revisions.

(A) The policy and criteria used to rank applications for business related projects will include the following, which are not necessarily in rank order:

(1) The extent to which a project stimulate rural development by creating new jobs of a permanent nature or retaining existing jobs by enabling new small businesses to be started, or existing businesses to be expanded by local or regional area residents who own and operate the businesses.

(2) The extent to which a project will contribute to the enhancement and the diversification of the local or regional area economy.

(3) The extent to which a project will generate or retain jobs for local or regional area residents.

(4) The extent to which a project will be carried out by persons with sufficient management capabilities.

(5) The extent to which a project is likely to become successful.

(6) The extent to which a project will assist a local or regional area overcome severe economic distress.

(7) The distribution of assistance to projects in as many areas as possible in the State with sensitivity to geographic distribution.

(8) The technical aspects of the project.

(9) The market potential and marketing arrangement for the projects.

(10) The potential of such project to promote the growth of a rural community by improving the ability of the community to increase the number of persons residing in the community and by improving the quality of life for these persons.

(B) The policy and criteria used to rank preapplications/applications for infrastructure and all other community facility-type projects will include the following which are not necessarily in rank order:

(1) The extent to which the project will have the potential to promote the growth of a rural community by improving the quality of life for local or regional residents.

(2) The extent to which the project will affect the health and safety of local or regional area residents.

(3) The extent to which the project will improve or enhance cultural activities, public service, education, or transportation.

(4) The extent to which the project will affect business productivity and efficiency.

(5) The extent to which the project will enhance commercial business activity.

(6) The extent to which the project will address a severe loss or lack of water quality or quantity.

(7) The extent to which the project will correct a waste collection or disposal problem.

(8) The extent to which the project will bring a community into compliance with Federal or State water or waste water standards.

(9) The extent to which the project will consolidate water and waste systems and utilize management efficiencies in the new system.

(2) Review and evaluate area plans. Each area plan submitted for a local or regional area will be reviewed and evaluated by the panel. After an area plan has been reviewed and evaluated in accordance with established policy and criteria:

(i) The panel will accept any area plan that meets established criteria unless the plan is incompatible with any other area plan for that area that has been accepted by the panel; or

(ii) The panel will return any area plan that is technically or economically inadequate, not feasible, is unlikely to be successful, or is not compatible with other panel-accepted area plans for that area. When an area plan is returned, the panel will include an explanation of the reasons for the return and suggest alternative proposals.

(iii) The State coordinator will notify the State Director, in writing, of the panel's decision on each area plan reviewed.

(3) Review and rank preapplications/applications. The panel will review, rank, and transmit a ranked list of preapplications/applications according to the schedule prepared in accordance with paragraph (a) of this section, and the following:

(i) Review preapplications/applications. The panel will review each preapplication/application for assistance to determine if the project to be carried out is compatible with the area plan in which the project described in the preapplication/application is proposed, and either:

(A) Accept any preapplication/application determined to be compatible with such area plan; or

(B) Return to the State Director any preapplication/application determined not to be compatible with such area plan. The panel will notify the applicant when preapplication/applications are returned to the State Director.

(ii) Rank preapplications/applications. The panel will rank only those preapplications/applications that have been accepted in accordance with paragraph (b)(3)(i)(A) of this section. The panel will consider the sources of assistance and related activities in the State identified by the designated agency. Applications will be ranked in accordance with the written policy and criteria established in accordance with paragraph (b)(1)(ii) of this section and the following:

(A) Priority ranking for projects addressing health emergencies. In addition to the criteria established in paragraph (b)(1)(ii) of this section, preapplications/applications for projects designed to address a health emergency declared so by the appropriate Federal or State agency, will be given priority by the panel.

(B) Priority based on need. If two or more preapplications/applications ranked in accordance with this subpart are determined to have comparable strengths in their feasibility and potential for growth, the panel will give priority to the applications for projects with the greatest need.

(C) If additional ranking criteria for use by a panel are required in any designated rural development program regulation, the panel will give consideration to the criteria when ranking preapplications/applications submitted under that program.

(iii) Transmit list of ranked preapplications/applications. After the preapplications/applications have been ranked, the panel will submit a list of all preapplications/applications received to the State coordinator. The list will clearly indicate each preapplication/application accepted for funding and will list preapplications/applications in the order established for funding according to priority ranking by the panel. The list will not include a preapplication/application that is to be returned to the applicant in accordance with paragraph (b)(3)(i)(B) of this section. The State coordinator will send a copy of the list to the State Director for further processing of the preapplication/application in accordance with § 1940.965 of this subpart. Once the panel has ranked and submitted the list to Rural Development and the State Director has selected a preapplication/application for funding, the preapplication/application selected will not be replaced with a preapplication/application received at a later date that may have a higher ranking.

(4) Public availability of list. If requested, the State coordinator will make the list of ranked preapplications/applications available to the public and will include a brief explanation and justification of why the project preapplications/applications received their priority ranking.

(c) Membership - (1) Voting members. The panel will be composed of not more than 16 voting members who are representatives of rural areas. The 16 voting members will include the following:

(i) One of whom is the Governor of the State or the person designated by the Governor to serve on the panel, on behalf of the Governor, for that year;

(ii) One of whom is the director of the State agency responsible for economic and community development or the person designated by the director to serve on the panel, on behalf of the director, for that year:

(iii) One of whom is appointed by a statewide association of banking organizations;

(iv) One of whom is appointed by a statewide association of investor-owned utilities;

(v) One of whom is appointed by a statewide association of rural telephone cooperatives;

(vi) One of whom is appointed by a statewide association of noncooperative telephone companies;

(vii) One of whom is appointed by a statewide association of rural electric cooperatives;

(viii) One of whom is appointed by a statewide association of health care organizations;

(ix) One of whom is appointed by a statewide association of existing local government-based planning and development organizations;

(x) One of whom is appointed by the Governor of the State from either a statewide rural development organization or a statewide association of publicly-owned electric utilities, neither of which is described in any of paragraphs (c)(1)(iii) through (ix);

(xi) One of whom is appointed by a statewide association of counties;

(xii) One of whom is appointed by a statewide association of towns and townships, or by a statewide association of municipal leagues, as determined by the Governor;

(xiii) One of whom is appointed by a statewide association of rural water districts;

(xiv) The State director of the Federal small business development center or, if there is no small business development center in place with respect to the State, the director of the State office of the Small Business Administration;

(xv) The State representative of the Economic Development Administration of the Department of Commerce; and

(xvi) One of whom is appointed by the State Director from among the officers and employees of Rural Development.

(2) Nonvoting members. The panel will have not more than four nonvoting members who will serve in an advisory capacity and who are representatives of rural areas. The four nonvoting members will be appointed by the Governor and include:

(i) One from names submitted by the dean or the equivalent official of each school or college of business, from colleges and universities in the State;

(ii) One from names submitted by the dean or the equivalent official of each school or college of engineering, from colleges and universities in the State;

(iii) One from names submitted by the dean or the equivalent official, of each school or college of agriculture, from colleges and universities in the State; and

(iv) The director of the State agency responsible for extension services in the State.

(3) Qualifications of panel members appointed by the Governor. Each individual appointed to the panel by the Governor will be specially qualified to serve on the panel by virtue of the individual's technical expertise in business and community development.

(4) Notification of selection. Each statewide organization that selects an individual to represent the organization on the panel must notify the Governor of the selection.

(5) Appointment of members representative of statewide organization in certain cases. (i) If there is no statewide association or organization of the entities described in paragraph (c)(1) of this section, the Governor of the State will appoint an individual to fill the position or positions, as the case may be, from among nominations submitted by local groups of such entities.

(ii) If a State has more than one of any of the statewide associations or organizations of the entities described in paragraph (c)(1) of this section, the Governor will select one of the like organizations to name a member to serve during no more than one established time period. Thereafter, the Governor will rotate selection from among the remaining like organizations to name a member.

(d) Failure to appoint panel members. The failure of the Governor, a Federal agency, or an association or organization described in paragraph (c) of this section, to appoint a member to the panel as required under this subpart, shall not prevent a State from being determined an eligible State.

(e) Panel vacancies. A vacancy on the panel will be filled in the manner in which the original appointment was made. Vacancies should be filled prior to the third panel meeting held after the vacany occurred. The State coordinator will notify the State Director, in writing, when the vacancy is filled or if the vacancy will not be filled.

(f) Chairperson and vice chairperson. The panel will select two members of the panel who are not officers or employees of the United States to serve as the chairperson and vice chairperson of the panel. The term shall be for 1 year.

(g) Compensation to panel members - (1) Federal members. Except as provided in § 1940.960 of this subpart, each member of the panel who is an officer or employee of the Federal Government may not receive any compensation or benefits by reason of service on the panel, in addition to that which is received for performance of such officer or employee's regular employment.

(2) NonFederal members. Each nonfederal member may be compensated by the State and/or from grant funds established in § 1940.968 of this subpart.

(h) Rules governing panel meetings - (1) Quorum. A majority of voting members of the panel will constitute a quorum for the purpose of conducting business of the panel.

(2) Frequency of meetings. The panel will meet not less frequently than quarterly. Frequency of meetings should be often enough to assure that applications are reviewed and ranked for funding in a timely manner.

(3) First meeting. The State coordinator will schedule the first panel meeting and will notify all panel members of the location, date, and time at least seven days prior to the meeting. Subsequent meetings will be scheduled by vote of the panel.

(4) Records of meetings. The panel will keep records of the minutes of the meetings, deliberations, and evaluations of the panel in sufficient detail to enable the panel to provide interested agencies or persons the reasons for its actions.

(i) Federal Advisory Committee Act. The Federal Advisory Committee Act shall not apply to any State rural economic development review panel.

(j) Liability of members. The members of a State rural economic development review panel shall not be liable to any person with respect to any determination made by the panel.