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Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) - Request for Proposals for Business and Human Rights Programs


February 20, 2013

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Note: The deadline for this Request for Proposals has passed.


Department of State

Public Notice

Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Request for Proposals: Democracy, Human Rights, and Rule of Law for Business and Human Rights.

SUMMARY

The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) announces a Request for Proposals from organizations interested in submitting proposals for projects that promote democracy, human rights, and rule of law on promoting land rights through the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

PLEASE NOTE: DRL strongly urges applicants to access immediately www.grants.gov or www.grantsolutions.gov in order to obtain a username and password. It may take two full weeks to register with www.grants.gov or www.grantsolutions.gov. Please see the section entitled, “DEADLINE AND SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS” below for specific instructions.

REQUESTED PROPOSAL PROGRAM OBJECTIVES

DRL invites organizations to submit proposals outlining program concepts and capacity to manage projects targeting the following issues:

Business and Human Rights Regional, Promoting Land Rights through implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (approximately $500,000 available):

DRL’s goal is to strengthen the capacity of civil society organizations to work on land rights and tenure issues as it relates to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (GPs). DRL seeks proposals that will develop pilot projects in at least two countries within one region that show sector or region-specific best practices for respecting rights related to land tenure using the GPs. Activities may include, but are not limited to the following: (1) Educational workshops for civil society organizations, government(s) and companies on the Guiding Principles and best practices as they relate to land tenure, and (2) Advocacy training for civil society organizations on how to build stakeholder outreach and implement the Guiding Principles into companies’ existing guidelines. The program should enable civil society organizations to network in order to exchange ideas and share lessons-learned and best practices. Program country activities may include, but are not limited to, one or more of the following: the Lower Mekong region, Ghana, Liberia, Colombia and Peru.

Competitive proposals must:

  • include a reasonable cost-share;
  • be multi-stakeholder in nature, thereby, include government(s), companies and civil society in the pilot projects; and
  • demonstrate how program activities will enable target beneficiaries to respond more quickly and effectively to local community needs.

Special consideration will be given to proposals that focus on land tenure rights for marginalized populations, especially projects that target indigenous peoples and women.

Unless otherwise noted, all proposed programs must be for at least 18 months in duration. Proposals must demonstrate awareness of similar USG-supported programming in a given country/region and how the proposed program would complement ongoing efforts. Letters of support from potential subgrantees or program beneficiaries are recommended.

TECHNICAL ELIGIBILITY

Proposals should conform to DRL’s posted Proposal Submission Instructions (PSI), as updated in March 2012, available at http://www.state.gov/j/drl/p/c12302.htm. (For this solicitation, applicants must use the Revised PSI dated March 2012.)

Technically eligible submissions are those which: 1) arrive electronically via www.grants.gov or www.grantsolutions.gov by March 29, 2013 before 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST); 2) heed all instructions contained in the solicitation document and Proposal Submission Instructions (PSI), including length and completeness of submission; and 3) do not violate any of the guidelines stated in the solicitation and this document.

Proposals that do not meet the requirements of the announcement and Proposal Submission Instructions (PSI) may not be considered.

The information contained herein is to assist you as a general reference for completion of the proposal submission. It is the sole responsibility of the applicant to ensure that all of the material submitted in the grant application package is complete, accurate, and current.

For all application documents, please ensure:

1) All pages are numbered, including budgets and attachments,

2) All documents are formatted to 8 ½ x 11 paper, and

3) All Microsoft Word documents are single-spaced, 12 point Times New Roman font, with a minimum of 1-inch margins.

Complete applications should include the following for proposal submission:

1) Completed and signed SF-424, SF-424a (Budget Summary) and SF424b (Assurances), most recent A-133 Audit, and Certifications Regarding Lobbying forms as directed on www.grants.gov and www.grantsolutions.gov.

2) Table of Contents (not to exceed one [1] page in Microsoft Word) that includes a page-numbered contents page, including any attachments.

3) Executive Summary (not to exceed one [1] page in Microsoft Word) that includes:

a) Name and contact information for the project’s main point of contact,

b) A one-paragraph “statement of work” or synopsis of the program and its expected results,

c) A concise breakdown of the project’s objectives and activities,

d) The total amount of funding requested and program length, and

e) A brief statement on how the project is innovative, sustainable, and will have a demonstrated impact.

4) Proposal Narrative (not to exceed ten [10] pages in Microsoft Word). Please note the ten page limit does not include the Table of Contents, Executive Summary, Attachments, Detailed Budget, Budget Narrative or NICRA. Applicants may submit multiple documents in one Microsoft Word file, i.e., Table of Contents, Executive Summary, Proposal Narrative, and Budget Narrative in one file or as separate, individually submitted files. Submissions should address four specific criteria (Quality of Program, Program Planning/Ability to Achieve Objectives, Multiplier Effect/Sustainability, and Institution’s Record and Capacity). Details about these criteria are described in the Review Process section below.

5) Budget Narrative (preferably in Microsoft Word) that includes an explanation/justification for each line item in the detailed budget spreadsheet, as well as the source and description of all cost-share offered. For ease of review, it is recommended that applicants order the budget narrative as presented in the detailed budget. Primarily Headquarters- and Field-based personnel costs should include a clarification on the roles and responsibilities of key staff and percentage of time devoted to the project. In addition, cost-effectiveness is one of the key criteria for rating the competitiveness of a program proposal. Applicants that include cost share in their budget should note that cost share is considered a commitment and that the grantee will be held responsible for meeting the amount of cost share included. It is recommended that budget narratives address the overall cost-effectiveness of the proposal, including any cost-share offered (see the PSI for more information on cost-sharing and cost-effectiveness).

6) Detailed Line-item Budget (in Microsoft Excel or similar spreadsheet format) that contains three [3] columns including DRL request, any cost sharing contribution, and total budget. A summary budget should also be included using the OMB approved budget categories (see SF-424 as a sample). See the PSI for more information on budget format. Costs must be in U.S. Dollars.

7) Attachments (not to exceed seven [7] pages total, preferably in Microsoft Word) that include the following in order:

a) Pages 1-2: Monitoring and Evaluation Plan (see PSI for more information on this section).

b) Page 3: Roles and responsibilities of key program personnel with short bios that highlight relevant professional experience. Given the limited space, CVs are not recommended for submission.

c) Page 4: Timeline of the overall proposal. Components should include activities, evaluation efforts, and program closeout.

d) Page 5-7: Additional optional attachments. Attachments may include additional timeline information, letters of support, memorandums of understanding/agreement, etc. For applicants with a large number of letters/MOUs, it may be useful to provide a list of the organizations/government agencies that support the program rather than the actual documentation.

8) If your organization has a negotiated indirect cost rate agreement (NICRA) and includes NICRA charges in the budget, your latest NICRA should be sent as a pdf file. This document will not be reviewed by the panelists, but rather used by program and grant staff if the submission is recommended for funding. Hence, this document does not count against the submission page limitations. If your organization does not have a NICRA agreement with a cognizant agency, the proposal budget should not have a line item for indirect cost charges. Rather, any costs that may be considered as indirect costs should be included in specific budget line items as direct costs. Furthermore, if your proposal involves sub-grants to organizations charging indirect costs, and those organizations also have a NICRA, please submit the applicable NICRA as a pdf file (see the PSI for more information on indirect cost rate).

Note: To ensure all applications receive a balanced evaluation, the DRL Review Committee will review the first page of the requested section up to the page limit and no further. DRL encourages organizations to use the given space effectively.

APPLICANT/ORGANIZATION CRITERIA

Organizations submitting proposals must meet the following criteria:

* Be a U.S. non-profit organization meeting the provisions described in Internal Revenue Code section 26 USC 501(c) (3) or a comparable organization headquartered internationally, or an international organization.

* Have demonstrated experience administering successful and preferably similar projects. DRL reserves the right to request additional background information on organizations that do not have previous experience administering federal grant awards. These applicants may be subject to limited funding on a pilot basis.

*Be a registered user of http://www.grants.gov and/or www.grantsolutions.gov . NOTE: This process can take up to one month for new organizations so please register early. See additional details below.

* Have existing, or the capacity to develop, active partnerships with in-country entities and relevant stakeholders including industry and non-governmental organizations.

* Organizations may form consortia and submit a combined proposal. However, one organization should be designated as the lead applicant.

* An OMB policy directive published in the Federal Register on Friday, June 27, 2003, requires that all organizations applying for Federal grants or cooperative agreements must provide a Dun and Bradstreet (D&B) Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number when applying for all Federal grants or cooperative agreements in or after October 1, 2003. Please reference: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/fedreg/062703_grant_identifier.pdf for the complete OMB policy directive.

* All organizations applying for Federal grants or cooperative agreements will need to be registered with the Central Contractor Registry (CCR) (http://www.sam.gov/). Your organization's Duns and Bradstreet DUNS number (www.dnb.com) is needed to complete this process. After your organization registers with the CCR, you may obtain a username and password after 3-5 business days.

REVIEW PROCESS

The Bureau will review all proposals for eligibility. Eligible proposals will be subject to compliance of Federal and Bureau regulations and guidelines and may also be reviewed by the Office of the Legal Adviser or by other Department elements. Final signatory authority for assistance awards resides with the Department’s Grants Officer. DRL and the Grants Office reserve the right to request any additional programmatic and/or financial information regarding the proposal.

Proposals will be funded based on an evaluation of how the proposal meets the solicitation review criteria, U.S. foreign policy objectives, and the priority needs of DRL. A Department of State Review Committee will evaluate proposals submitted under this request. Each proposal will be rated along six criteria. Review criteria will include:

1) Quality of Program Idea

Proposals should be responsive to the solicitation and should exhibit originality, substance, precision, and relevance to the Bureau's mission of promoting human rights and democracy.

2) Program Planning/Ability to Achieve Objectives

A strong proposal will include a clear articulation of how the proposed program activities contribute to the overall program objectives, and each activity will be clearly developed and detailed. A relevant work plan should demonstrate substantive undertakings and the logistical capacity of the organization. The work plan should adhere to the program overview and guidelines described above. Objectives should be ambitious, yet measurable and achievable. For complete proposals, applicants should provide a monthly timeline of project activities. Proposals should address how the program will engage relevant stakeholders and should identify local partners as appropriate. If local partners have been identified, the Bureau strongly encourages applicants to submit letters of support from proposed in-country partners. Organizations also should identify and address gender considerations in all proposed program activities, and must provide specific means, measures, and corresponding targets to address them. As appropriate, organizations should also explain how the program plan addresses the participation of people with disabilities and their organizations. Additionally, applicants should describe the division of labor among the direct applicant and any local partners. If applicable, proposals should identify target areas for activities, target participant groups or selection criteria for participants, and purpose/criteria for sub-grantees, among other pertinent details. In particularly challenging operating environments, proposals should include contingency plans for overcoming potential difficulties in executing the original work plan.

3) Multiplier Effect/Sustainability

Proposals should clearly delineate how elements of their program will have a multiplier effect and be sustainable beyond the life of the grant. A good multiplier effect may include but is not limited to, plans to build lasting networks for direct and indirect beneficiaries, follow-on training and mentoring, and continued use of project deliverables. A strong sustainability plan may include demonstrating capacity-building results or garnering other donor support after DRL funding ceases.

4) Program Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Plan

Programs should demonstrate the capacity for engaging in outcome-based evaluations and identify outputs and outcomes to measure how program activities will achieve the program’s strategic objectives. The M&E Plan should include output- and outcome-based indicators, baseline and target for each indicator, disaggregation if applicable, monitoring and evaluation tools, data source/s, and frequency of monitoring and evaluation. For a more detailed explanation of what DRL is looking for in the M&E Plan, please see the PSI and the DRL Monitoring and Evaluation Primer (www.state.gov/g/drl/p/c12302.htm). Projects that propose an independent evaluation, including a midterm and final assessment, with a clear monitoring and evaluation plan will be viewed favorably in this category.

5) Institution’s Record and Capacity

The Bureau will consider the past performance of prior recipients and the demonstrated potential of new applicants. Proposals should demonstrate an institutional record of successful programs, including responsible fiscal management and full compliance with all reporting requirements for past grants. Proposed personnel and institutional resources should be adequate and appropriate to achieve the project's objectives. Roles, responsibilities, and brief bios demonstrating relevant professional experience of primary staff should be provided as one of the main attachments.

6) Cost Effectiveness

The administrative, including salaries and honoraria, and overhead components should be kept as low as possible. All other items should be necessary and appropriate. Given that the majority of DRL-funded programs take place overseas, U.S.-based costs should be kept to a minimum. Cost sharing is strongly encouraged and is viewed favorably by DRL reviewers. For a more detailed description of how DRL evaluates the cost effectiveness of its proposals, please see the PSI.

PROPOSAL SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS

The U.S. Department of State requires proposals be submitted electronically via www.grants.gov or www.grantsolutions.gov.

PLEASE be advised that completing all the necessary steps for obtaining a username and password from www.grants.gov or www.grantsolutions.gov can take two full weeks. DRL strongly urges applicants to begin this process on www.grants.gov or www.grantsolutions.gov well in advance of the submission deadline. No exceptions will be made for organizations that have not completed the necessary steps to post applications on www.grants.gov or www.grantsolutions.gov.

Once registered, the amount of time it can take to upload an application varies depending on a variety of factors including the size of the application and the speed of your internet connection. In addition, validation of an electronic submission via www.grants.gov or www.grantsolutions.gov can take up to two business days. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you not wait until the application deadline to begin the submission process through www.grants.gov and www.grantsolutions.gov.

The www.grants.gov website includes extensive information on all phases/aspects of the www.grants.gov process, including an extensive section on frequently asked questions, located under the "For Applicants" section. DRL strongly recommends that all potential applicants review thoroughly the www.grants.gov website well in advance of submitting a proposal through the www.grants.gov system.

Direct all questions regarding www.grants.gov registration and submission to the Grants.gov Contact Center, www.grants.gov, support@grants.gov, or 1-800-518-4726 (local toll free) 24 hours/day and 7 days/week. For international callers, please use 606-545-5035. IPortal: Top 10 requested help topics (FAQs), Searchable Knowledge Database, self-service ticketing and ticket status, and live web chat available 7:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. EST.

Direct all questions regarding www.grantsolutions.gov registration and submission to:

www.grantsolutions.gov Customer Support
Contact Center Phone: 888-577-0771
Business Hours: Monday – Friday, 8AM – 6PM Eastern Standard Time
Email: help@grantsolutions.gov

Applicants have until 11:59 p.m., Washington, D.C. time of the closing date stated on the solicitation to ensure that their entire application has been uploaded to the www.grants.gov or www.gransolutions.gov site. There are no exceptions. Applications uploaded to the site after 11:59 p.m. of the application deadline date will be automatically rejected by the www.grants.gov / www.grantsolutions.gov system as technically ineligible.

Please refer to the www.grants.gov or www.grantsolutions.gov website for definitions of various "application statuses" and the difference between a submission receipt and a submission validation. Applicants will receive a validation e-mail from www.grants.gov or www.grantsolutions.gov upon the successful submission of an application. Again, validation of an electronic submission via www.grants.gov or www.grantsolutions.gov can take up to two business days. DRL will not notify you upon receipt of electronic applications. Faxed, couriered, or emailed documents will not be accepted. Applicants must follow all formatting instructions in the applicable request for proposals (RFP) and these instructions.

It is the responsibility of all applicants to ensure that proposals have been received by www.grants.gov or www.grantsolutions.gov in their entirety. DRL bears no responsibility for data errors resulting from transmission or conversion processes.

PROPOSAL REVIEW PROCESS

DRL strives to ensure each application receives a balanced evaluation by the Department of State (DOS) Review Committee. The Committee will evaluate how the proposals meet the solicitation request, U.S. foreign policy goals, and the priority needs of DRL overall. Panelists review each proposal individually against the evaluation criteria, not against competing proposals.

In most cases, the Department of State Review Committee includes representatives from DRL, the appropriate DOS regional bureau, as well as USAID Washington. DRL requests feedback on the proposals from the appropriate U.S. Embassies and USAID Missions for the panelists’ consideration. At the end of discussion on a proposal, the Committee votes on recommending the proposal Bureau approval.

Department of State Review Committee panels may make conditions and recommendations on proposals to enhance the proposed programs, which must be addressed by the applicant before further consideration of the award. To ensure effective use of limited DRL funds, conditions or recommendations may include requests to increase, decrease, clarify and/or justify costs and program activities.

For further information on the DRL grants process, please see the DRL website: http://www.state.gov/j/drl/p/index.htm

NOTE: Approved applicants will need to register on www.grantsolutions.gov in order to process final awards. In order to use this portal, please follow the instructions to register on www.grantsolutions.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION

Should you have any questions regarding the solicitation, please feel free to contact

Barbara Paoletti (PaolettiB@state.gov). Once the deadline has passed, State Department officials and staff - both in the Bureau and at embassies overseas - may not discuss this competition with applicants until the entire proposal review process is completed.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Programs that leverage resources from funds internal to the organization or other sources, such as public-private partnerships, will be highly considered. Cost sharing is strongly encouraged, and cost sharing contributions should be outlined in the proposal, budget, and budget narrative.

DRL will not consider proposals that reflect any type of support, for any member, affiliate, or representative of a designated terrorist organization, whether or not elected members of government.

The information in this solicitation is binding and may not be modified by any Bureau representative. Explanatory information provided by the Bureau that contradicts this language will not be binding. Issuance of the solicitation does not constitute an award commitment on the part of the Government. The Bureau reserves the right to reduce, revise, or increase proposal budgets in accordance with the needs of the program evaluation requirements.

This request for proposals will appear on www.grants.gov, www.grantsolutions.gov, and DRL’s website, www.state.gov/j/drl.



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