FAA Air Transportation Centers of Excellence

Secretary of Transportation's RAISE (Recognizing Aviation and Aerospace Innovation in Science and Engineering) Awards

The Secretary of Transportation, through the Federal Aviation Administration, is announcing the fourth-annual competition to recognize students with the ability to demonstrate unique, innovative thinking in aerospace science and engineering. There are two divisions within the competition: a high school division and a university division (both undergraduate and graduate together). The submission period begins on March 28, 2016. Submissions must be sent by 11:59 pm Pacific daylight time on April 20, 2016. The rules for this competition will be available at http://www.challenge.gov

FINAL Solicitation Released (December 21, 2015)

COE for Technical Training and Human Performance

The Solicitation is available below as are the presentations from the Public Meeting.

Most notable:

  • Qualified institutions of higher education must declare their intention to submit proposals via email to Patricia.Watts@faa.gov by January 15, 2016. (see Page 7)
  • UPDATE - CLOSING DATE EXTENDED: Proposals must be submitted by: 3:00 PM Eastern Standard Time on Tuesday, March 1, 2016. Proposals must also be received by Grants.gov by the same deadline. Instructions for proposal preparation and submission are located on Pages 15 through 19.
  • Written questions regarding proposal preparation may be submitted throughout the competitive process via email to Patricia.Watts@faa.gov. (see Page 15) Other than the COE Program Director, FAA employees MAY NOT DISCUSS or TAKE QUESTIONS regarding technical issues, the competitive process, COEs or the COE for TTHP related matters.

The FAA COE Program Office will review all submissions as received. Universities submitting a proposal in advance of the closing date will have an opportunity to provide further clarifications as needed prior to the final due date.

The Grants.gov opportunity is located at: http://www.grants.gov/view-opportunity.html?oppId=281493

In accordance with Public Law 101-508, the FAA plans to competitively select a Center of Excellence for Technical Training and Human Performance within the next year. The COE will be a geographically disbursed consortium of the FAA, university partners and their affiliates selected by the FAA Administrator. Through this COE, the FAA intends institutions of higher learning to conduct research and related activities expected to result in recommendations for innovative solutions centered on training and human performance throughout the aviation community. The COE will enhance the FAA's research efforts by providing access to the various talents of nationally recognized academic training and human performance research scientists. This effort is in support of the FAA's mission to provide the safest, most efficient airspace in the world.

The FAA will initially issue cooperative agreements to the selected university team members and specific projects will be defined and funded through matching grants over the life of the COE. In accordance with Public Law 101-508, the COE is responsible for matching all funds granted to establish, operate and conduct related research, and may contract with others as appropriate. Following the COE competitive process, the FAA sponsor may also generate requirements that would be supported through contract tasks awarded by the FAA to the COE member universities for FAA purpose.

  • The extent to which the needs of the State in which the applicant is located are representative of the needs of the region for improved air transportation services and facilities.
  • The demonstrated research and extension resources available to the applicant to carry out this section.
  • The ability of the applicant to provide leadership in making national and regional contributions to the solution of both long-range and immediate air transportation problems.
  • The extent to which the applicant has an established air transportation program.
  • The demonstrated ability of the applicant to disseminate results of air transportation research and educational programs through a statewide or region-wide continuing education program.
  • The projects the applicant proposes to carry out under the grant.

Questions and Answers from the Public Meeting and ongoing thereafter will be posted each Friday. Return to this tab weekly for updates.

COE for Technical Training and Human Performance

Questions and Answers

Posted: 1 March 2016

Q-25: Is it public information what teams are competing for the COE?

A-25: No. The COE Program Office treats the information regarding the number of proposals and those submitting as Procurement Sensitive. Therefore, my Office does not make this information available throughout the FAA or to the public. The information is limited to those who have a 'need to know' and to those within my chain- of-command.

Q-24: What is your best guess on a selection timeframe?

A-24: We are hopeful for a selection and announcement by June. This would allow ample time to negotiate new cooperative agreements and to award funds in FY 16. However, the selections are made at a high level and such decisions can take longer. At this time, we anticipate a selection this fiscal year in time to award funds to enable a September establishment.

Q-23: We have reviewed the Grants.gov application package, and there are mandatory yellow fields in the budget and personnel detail forms contained within the package. In our experience with Grants.gov, the system will not allow submission of the online application package if we leave those fields blank. Should we fill in the mandatory yellow fields with placeholders (e.g., N/A and zeroes for budgets), or should we go ahead and fully fill out the Grants.gov budget and personnel detail forms?

A-23: Fill in the yellow fields with placeholders.

Q-22-1: (With respect to IDIQ Contracts) Will research and training tasks and projects be received through the IDIQ?

A-22-1: Yes.

Q-22-2: If yes - How will they be awarded (e.g., to the COE, direct to a combination of Core COE universities, direct to one Core COE university)?

A-22-2: The sponsor will meet with our Acquisition organization following selection of the team. At that time, they will determine the specifics regarding the prime recipient(s).

Q-22-3: What is the fiscal and administrative responsibility of the Lead University for tasks and projects, depending on the method of award?

A-22-3: The responsibilities of the Lead will depend on the role of the Lead University when the contract terms are defined. In the grant vehicle, all core members receive direct funding and have a direct relationship with and responsibility to the FAA. The Lead University will receive copies of reports and will track expenditures as agreed upon with the team members.

Q-21: Page 22 of the Final Solicitation references the COE Policy Guide. Where is this document located?

A-21: This document will be provided to the team selected at the time of the announcement.

Q-20: The provided budget forms list year one's dates as 9/1/16-9/30/17 and year two as 10/1/17-10/30/18 (i.e., 13 months each). Are these the correct budget periods for Year 1 and Year 2 for management of the COE?

A-20: Yes.

Q-19: On solicitation Pg. 18, Volume II: 5) Anticipated Research and Related Budget and 6) Research and Related Federal and Non Federal Budget Form indicate the need to submit budget forms. Do the budget forms need to be included in both Volume I and Volume II?

A-19: No. R&R Budget and R&R Federal and Non Federal Budget Forms are to be submitted in Volume II for the Management and Fiscal section. Budget narratives and forms (optional) may accompany the proposed projects in Volume I, see page 7 of the Final Solicitation.

Q-18: We are a small business partner on one of the teams. Are there any FAA restrictions to COE for Technical Training and Human Performance funds being awarded to private industry via the prime?

A-18: No. Sub-awards are made to COE affiliates based on task requirements. Once selected, the new COE team will prepare proposals in response to a list of specific tasks which will be based on the capabilities of the members and the requirements of the FAA at the time. Proposals may reflect the need to make sub-awards to others as appropriate throughout the period of COE performance and show an ability to generate matching contributions within each Phase of the cooperative agreement over the life of the Center.

Q-17: Is it possible to make changes to our team after providing our intent to submit an application listing the members and affiliates?

A-17: Yes.

Q-16: The solicitation indicates on Page 17, E, Section 2 – The Management Plan, "4): The attached budget form may be used." Does this mean applicants are able to modify the existing form?

A-16: Yes.

Q-15: To clarify response from the Answer to Question #11:
Who qualifies to serve on the advisory board executive committee? COE core team members only; and/or any representative from the entire team such as COE core team, affiliate academic members, affiliate industry members, and/or affiliate federal or state agency members?

A-15: Yes. With the exception of FAA employees who may attend meeting as observers only but are prohibited from membership on such a body, voting, directing or guiding the activities of any such board or council in any way.

Q-14: Do you have a recommended or desired format for the CVs of the key personnel? Based on the language in the solicitation, it seems the CV consists of two pages plus a list of relevant publications which could be multiple pages. Is this interpretation correct?

A-14: Yes, your interpretation is correct; a two page CV with unlimited pages for publications is suggested. There is no desired format.

Q-13: As an industry provider looking to partner with academia, I am interested in the structure of the grants themselves; specifically what is typically allowable and not allowable from a cost perspective (profit and G&A for example).

A-13: In accordance with OMB guidance, we typically allow universities and subs to bill for costs associated with those items or services which have a direct impact on the COE work to be accomplished and the specific COE. Specifics should be discussed with the fiscal officer located at the university with which you plan to affiliate.

Q-12: We would like to include a company/university in our proposing team because of their unique capability in stated topic areas, particularly as it relates to team training in aviation. I couldn't find anything in the solicitation specifically prohibiting foreign participation, but before we include them on our team, please advise if this is possible.

A-12: You may include in your proposal a foreign entity as an affiliate member and state clearly the unique contribution this member would make to your COE team. The U.S. universities are the 'core' COE members; therefore, all FAA funds are awarded directly to the U.S. academic team. Once selected, the Core university members receive matching in-kind or monetary contributions or they may make sub-awards to others as appropriate and as agreed upon.

Q-11: I want to gain some clarity on the definitions of Core members vs. COE Affiliates.


  1. COE Core members are those universities who will enter into a cooperative agreement with the FAA and have a direct relationship with the Agency. These universities will be the direct recipients of all FAA COE awards and they may sub award to others as necessary and as agreed upon. The Core group members also are generally responsible for designating the COE University Lead, making decisions with regards to future COE governance, developing policies in support of COE operations and management, and other related activities.
  2. Affiliate members may support project tasks or engage in any COE activity as deemed appropriate by the members; receive funds through sub awards from Core members or others; or provide matching contributions. Affiliate roles are defined and proposed by each COE team. Affiliates may serve as individual subject-matter-experts, they may be representatives of industry, state or local governments, or academia; they may receive or provide funds and matching contributions to the COE, or generate contributions from others.
  3. The Affiliates may be elevated by the COE Core Team to Core Member status over time and this action would enable such a university to have a direct relationship with the FAA through a cooperative agreement. Initially, however, they do not have this relationship with the Agency and we will not have a direct / financial relationship with these entities until agreements are in place.
  4. There may also be a case where a greater number of universities receive direct funding from the FAA through a COE cooperative agreement, and the members have determined that a smaller team would more effectively serve on an Executive Committee. This group would then be responsible for determining policies, procedures, governance, and overseeing COE activities.

Please Note: All funds sub awarded, matching contributions provided, and activities conducted by Core or Affiliate members, with or for the COE, are reported and monitored.

Q-10: Under a COE contract, as either a prime or a vendor, what are the rules for taking profit or charging fees?

A-10: The COE will initially be funded under OMB Uniform Guidance regulations through the grant vehicle. Once the COE is established, the FAA sponsor will begin the process to execute a COE contract award. The details of allowable charges should be discussed with the fiscal officer at the lead university and the university Core member with whom one plans to affiliate.

Q-9: The COE must match 100% of the FAA-provided grant funds within each cooperative agreement period…FAA encourages that tasks be matched as they are funded" (Solicitation pg. 21). Is it correct that all funds are matched at 100% throughout the life of the award (e.g. ongoing or each year, per task)?

A-9: All funds awarded to establish, operate and conduct related research are subject to the congressionally required matching contributions. These obligations must be met within each five-year Phase of the COE cooperative agreement. As stated, the FAA encourages, but does not require, universities to show matching sources and values or amounts with each specific proposal as we understand that it is not always possible to generate matching contributions for all tasks. Therefore, we allow: excess match generated by some projects to be applied to other projects; universities to share contributions across a COE if mutually agreed upon; some level of matching flexibility throughout Phase I. However, by year four of operations, the COE individual members must begin to show a full match, in cash or in kind, to satisfy the total amount expended prior to Phase I close out and prior to entering into a Phase II COE agreement.

Q-8: Can you clarify the eligibility requirements of the match? For example, do we understand correctly that the match includes the value of resources such as research facilities, research equipment/technology, and research personnel? Can you help direct me to any FAA COE agency budget "match" requirement documents with these details?


  1. OMB provides specific guidance regarding matching contributions. The university fiscal officers are your most trusted sources of interpretation of this language. The following link will provide access to the newly published OMB Uniform Guidance, see Section 200.306 which contains cost sharing and matching requirements and provides details specific to grant awards: http://bit.ly/1olHSB5.

  2. Applications should contain letters of support or other documentation to verify commitments of matching contributions from non-federal entities who are aligned with your proposing COE team.

Q-7: "Contracts - once the COE is operational, the OPI may begin the process to award contract tasks for the benefit of the agency without further competition" (Solicitation pg. 21)

Q-7-1: Does FAA view any potential conflict of interest between FAA and any COE member and/or affiliate (e.g. "industry partner") in participation in the COE? For example, will team members be excluded from eligibility for future contract opportunities in areas of similar or same scope for technical training or human factors?

A-7-1: Team members will not be excluded from eligibility for future grants or contract opportunities when participating in a COE as a Core or Affiliate member.

The FAA may, however, be likely to determine that it is more efficient to award future work to members might be within the scope of the COE through the funding vehicles already in place at that time, grant or contract. Tasks outside the specific scope of the COE will continue to be funded using the standard contract or grant vehicles as needed, and may continue to be awarded to both COE members and non-members.

Q-7-2: Will there be both contracts issued directly by OPI to the COE agency as well as outside of this funding vehicle?

A-7-2: Yes; however, the FAA establishes COEs on behalf of the Administrator and makes a 5-to 10-year commitment to work with this team in support of topic areas defined in the Final Solicitation. To that end, the Agency expects to seek assistance from the COE as a first option to satisfy requirements specified in the Final Solicitation.

Q-6: How much support for the management of the COE is provided by the FAA? I've heard different figures, but want to be clear on this point.

A-6: Prior to selection, previous FAA sponsors have not stated a specific amount that would be available to support the management of a COE as the cost to manage the team would depend on various factors. The unique geographic distribution of the group (required by P.L. 101-508) impact the factors to be considered which include: the need to have the team travel to FAA Headquarters for one meeting; meetings during the first year and twice a year thereafter at campus locations or industry sites; the costs projected to manage the team of a particular size; the costs associated with monitoring and overseeing research and related activities, and coordinating and collaborating across the U.S. etc. These projected costs have generally been developed and submitted in the proposal by the Lead University.

Q-5: We understand that universities serve as both COE Core Members and participate in research projects. It is it correct that they are not just limited to the functions of COE governance, developing policies related to COE operations and management? Can COE members (e.g. SME or researcher) also be selected to participate in the implementation of research projects per FAA request?

A-5: Absolutely, yes.

Q-4: Are 2-year institutions able to serve as COE Members and have a direct relationship with the FAA?

A-4: Yes.

Q-3: Are Core team members limited to university, college, or industry partners?

A-3: Yes. The Core team members must be U.S. universities in order to have a direct relationship with the FAA. There is no limit to the size of COE team Core members, or size or complexity of Affiliate members.

Q-2: What is the appropriate Affiliate member role for a federal or state agency?

A-2: A federal or state agency or entity may work with the COE in various ways. Activities may include, but are not limited to:

  • providing support to the COE members by awarding funds directly to each for required work;
  • providing matching contributions and/or working jointly on COE projects with the FAA and COE members and affiliates at a location to be defined and mutually agreed upon;
  • serving on the COE Advisory Board or reviewing research conducted or planned, etc.

Q-1: There are references to forms in the Solicitation for budget submission and a grid. Where might these be located?

A-1: The forms are being sent to the university leads expressing their intention to submit a proposal.

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FAA Announces New Center of Excellence

July 15, 2015

AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

NOTICE OF INTENT TO ESTABLISH AN AIR TRANSPORTATION CENTER OF EXCELLENCE: Following a Notice of Public Meeting to discuss the FAA Center of Excellence (COE) for Technical Training and Human Performance, the FAA will make available a Solicitation.

SUMMARY: In Fiscal Year 2016, the FAA will form a COE for Technical Training and Human Performance. The COE will be a consortium of the FAA, university partners, and private industry affiliates selected by the FAA Administrator to work collectively on issues of mutual interest and concern. Prior to the Public Meeting, a Draft Solicitation will be available. This document will describe fully the areas to be included in the COE and the requirements of the FAA COE Program. Additionally, the FAA will discuss COE and technical requirements at the Public Meeting to be conducted on October 21-22, 2015 in Arlington, VA. The Draft Solicitation will be discussed at that time, and a period of public comment will follow. The FAA will accept suggestions and revise the Draft Solicitation in an attempt to issue a Final Solicitation by December 2015. Potential applicants are encouraged, but are not required, to attend the Public Meeting.

Download the Full Announcement

Future of Air Traffic Training Starts Now

Controllers receive instruction at the FAA Academy's ERAM lab.

As the FAA builds a Workforce of the Future, the agency has announced its intent to establish a new center of excellence (COE) focused on training and human performance for the men and women who will be running the air traffic systems of tomorrow.

The National Airspace System is modernizing by leaps and bounds through the application of NextGen technology and procedures, and training for controllers and technicians must keep pace.

"The onset of NextGen will bring significant changes to the specialized skills required to use and maintain systems in the NAS," said Administrator Michael Huerta. "To prepare for these modern systems, the FAA must modernize the way it develops, maintains, and administers training in proportion to the systems themselves."

"We've been working for several years to come to understand the state of our technical training curriculum and understand how to modernize that," said David Boone, the ATO's deputy vice president for safety and technical training. The old system of traveling to remote locations for instructor-led training with PowerPoint presentations has become inefficient and outmoded, he noted. "The state of the art has changed," he added. "We want to leap frog ahead instead of continuing to make incremental improvements."

The FAA wants to take advantage of evolutions in teaching, such as part-task trainers, modeling, immersive human-in-the-loop simulation, or adaptive learning technologies that are standard in other technical workforces. FAA databases that store employee information, student performance, curriculum materials, and training requirements need to be linked and centralized to provide the analytics for a national training program.

The FAA is reaching out to academia through its highly successful Centers of Excellence program to research best practices in this "blended" approach to teaching and learning. The program aims to promote enhancements within aviation by establishing close linkages between education and research activities.

"Academia can offer a range of expertise in the science of delivering learning to students," said Boone. "The resources from this partnership can offer capabilities we don't have within the FAA."

But the agency's controllers and technicians will continue to have input into the curriculum. Hands-on experience – especially in the case of FAA technicians – will continue to be a requirement, as well.

The COE Program Office has published a notice for the COE public meeting scheduled for Oct. 21-22 in the Washington, D.C. area. A final solicitation for the COE is expected to be issued in December, with a selection slated to occur next May.

Among the areas to be explored are how technical training is conducted and how advancements could be applied in the aviation environment. Also being researched are new training technologies, such as course content development, mobile learning, delivery and management systems, and integration of simulation capabilities. The FAA also wants to understand how the curriculum is analyzed and managed as well as ways to improve techniques to manage learner data.

Human factors will also be examined, such as changes in learner expectations and academic best practices for training a new generation of learners.

The ATO is funding the COE at $1 million annually for five years, with the selected research group matching that amount at a minimum of one to one.

For additional information about the COE public meeting, the FAA COE Program, and other FAA COEs, see www.faa.gov/go/coe or contact Patricia Watts, FAA COE Program director.

FAA Selects Mississippi State University Team as Center of Excellence for Unmanned Aircraft Systems

FAA News Release, 8 May 2015

WASHINGTON – After a rigorous competition, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has selected a Mississippi State University team as the FAA's Center of Excellence for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (COE UAS). The COE will focus on research, education and training in areas critical to safe and successful integration of UAS into the nation's airspace.

The team brings together 15 of the nation's leading UAS and aviation universities that have a proven commitment to UAS research and development and the necessary resources to provide the matching contribution to the government's investment.

"This world-class, public-private partnership will help us focus on the challenges and opportunities of this cutting-edge technology," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "We expect this team will help us to educate and train a cadre of unmanned aircraft professionals well into the future."

The COE research areas are expected to evolve over time, but initially will include: detect and avoid technology; low-altitude operations safety; control and communications; spectrum management; human factors; compatibility with air traffic control operations; and training and certification of UAS pilots and other crewmembers, in addition to other areas.

"This team has the capabilities and resources to quickly get up and running to help the FAA address the demands of this challenging technology over the next decade," said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

The FAA expects the COE will be able to begin research by September 2015 and be fully operational and engaged in a robust research agenda by January 2016.

Congress appropriated $5 million for the five-year agreement with the COE, which will be matched one-for-one by the team members.

In addition to Mississippi State University, the other team members include: Drexel University; Embry Riddle Aeronautical University; Kansas State University; Kansas University; Montana State University; New Mexico State University; North Carolina State University; Oregon State University; University of Alabama, Huntsville; University of Alaska, Fairbanks; University of North Dakota; and Wichita State University.

The FAA will determine the relationship between the new COE and the six UAS sites the FAA announced last year once the new team develops detailed research plans. The FAA expects COE flight testing to occur at one or more of the existing test sites.

Congress mandated that the FAA establish the COE under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014. Like university think tank partnerships, the agency's Centers of Excellence bring together the best minds in the nation to conduct research to educate, train and work with the FAA toward solutions for aviation-related challenges.

FAA-Sponsored Student R&D Pays Off for Space Payloads

Left to right – Ken Davidian, Kyle Thurmond and Nick Demidovich present Thurmond's payload prototype at the 18th Annual FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference in Washington, D.C.

Recognized by the FAA, a Center of Excellence for Commercial Space Transportation graduate student conducting research at the University of Central Florida presents his work at the 18th FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference and is recognized in FAA Focus. Read the full article.

Funding Opportunity

The Transportation Research Board has issued requests for proposals for the following Airport Cooperative Research Program projects:

ACRP Project 02-49: Addressing Significant Weather Impacts on Airports

Items of Interest

Call for Papers: ICRAT 2016

Following the success of its six previous editions, the Federal Aviation Administration and EUROCONTROL are jointly organizing the 7th edition of the International Conference on Research in Air Transportation (ICRAT), which is to be held the week of June 20, 2016 at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

The Call for Papers and Submission Instructions are available here.

FocusFAA Article: Center of Excellence Will Help Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integrate Safely

The use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in civil airspace raises many technical, policy and procedure questions. To better understand how the aircraft can be integrated into the National Airspace System, the FAA is setting up a center of excellence (COE). Download the Article

Meet Kyle Smith: USAF Lieutenant, STEM student, aviation problem-solver

Photo of Secretary Foxx meeting Lt. Kyle SmithThe Secretary's RAISE Award, an aviation innovation challenge, asks the best and brightest minds from American high schools, colleges, and universities to help us manage our limited airspace more safely and efficiently, and this year's winning submission from USAF Lieutenant Kyle Smith promises to do exactly that.

One man, one idea, and millions of air travelers who could benefit...

Read more:
Meet Kyle Smith: USAF Lieutenant, STEM student, aviation problem-solver
USAF Officer Contributes to Commercial Aviation Safety

COE Announces Selection of a New COE for Alternative Jet Fuels & Environment Read More » (MS Word)

DOT Sr. Procurement Officers visit the FAA Technical Center

From left: Andrea Simao, Ryan Forman, Kathy Greer, Ellen Shields, and Gregory Cate at the Tech Center Patricia Watts, director of the FAA's Air Transportation Centers of Excellence program, hosted a group of DOT senior acquisition executives for a tour of the William J. Hughes Technical Center. The group – (from left) Andrea Simao, Ryan Forman, Kathy Greer, Ellen Shields, and Gregory Cate, executive deputy director of the DOT's Senior Procurement Executive Office – oversees 91 grants programs, awarding $600B annually within the DOT, and provides guidance and fiscal direction to the two Centers programs, the RITA University Transportation Centers and the FAA Centers of Excellence.

DOT & FAA Grant Applicants - Re System for Award Management (SAM)

NOTICE - Waiting until the last minute to register in the System for Award Management (SAM) is never a good idea — especially for those registrants who hope to apply for an open grant opportunity on Grants.gov — but we see it all the time. Potential grant applicants are encouraged to register in SAM as soon as they see an interesting Grants.gov opportunity notice.

Title 2 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) requires prime applicants and recipients, excepting individuals, of Federal financial assistance to register in SAM and maintain an active SAM registration with current information at all times during which they have an active Federal award or an application or plan under consideration by an agency pursuant to 2CFR Subtitle A, Chapter I, and Part 25 (75 FR 5672).

A report (MS Excel)shared with IAE by the Grants.gov program office at HHS shows the number of grant opportunities closing over the next three months along with the projected number of respondents. It identifies the opportunity number, allowing you to know where the opportunity was issued.

The SAM Quick Start Guide for New Grantees (PDF)is also posted on the home page of Grants.gov along with a recorded SAM grantee webinar. Those who have not already done so should include language in your Grants.gov opportunity announcements to begin the SAM registration process as soon as possible.