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Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Request for Proposals: Transitional Justice Global Initiative

March 7, 2014


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: Transitional Justice Global Initiative

PLEASE NOTE: DRL strongly urges applicants to access immediately in order to obtain a username and password. It may take up to a week to register with Please see the section titled “DEADLINE AND SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS” below for specific instructions.


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

Transitional Justice Global Initiative (up to $750,000 available)

Background and Introduction:

Around the world, there is an increasing call for justice, truth, and reconciliation in countries where legacies of gross human rights violations cast a shadow on transitions from repressive regimes to participatory and democratic forms of governance. Transitional justice processes can help to achieve these goals through mechanisms that ensure accountability, serve justice, uncover and record the truth, provide remedies and reparations to victims and those who mourn them, reform institutions, and promote healing and reconciliation. Impunity and lack of accountability perpetuate the legacy of a painful past, exacerbate the fragility of peace and reconciliation processes, and obstruct the development of a democratic society. Through the reform of institutions, acknowledging truth of past abuses and meting out justice, transitional justice measures can also restore confidence in functions of the State, and promote the rule of law in accordance with international human rights norms.

To address this need, the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) announces a Request for Proposals (RFP) from organizations interested in implementing projects that will meet new challenges in countries in transition struggling with legacies of or ongoing gross human rights abuses as they unfold on the ground or that will leverage new opportunities as they arise.

This is considered a pilot effort of the Initiative, with the possibility of additional resources in future fiscal years.

Activities of the Transitional Justice Global Initiative

The activities to be administered under the Transitional Justice Global Initiative must utilize a range of restorative and retributive approaches to justice and accountability for gross human rights violations, including truth-telling, reconciliation, memorialization, and other forms of historical memory, reparative justice initiatives, legal processes and institutional reform. The grantee and/or consortium will be expected to efficiently and effectively implement, at times within a matter of weeks, a wide range of program activities, including, but not limited to, documenting human rights abuses for transitional justice purposes; providing technical assistance to and building the capacity of civil society activists/organizations to promote and engage on transitional justice processes; victim’s advocacy activities such as improving access to justice, psychosocial support and trauma mitigation activities; and, forensic analysis and other efforts related to missing and disappeared persons. More specifically, these activities could include, but are not limited to:

  • Use of documentation (including legal documentation), forensic evidence, for use in oral history and related forms of truth-telling through education, media campaigns, and other tools;
  • Activities focused on the use of forensic evidence and other tools to combat impunity, including training and capacity building to use forensic evidence systematically within legal and advocacy processes, through a focus on emblematic human rights cases or other mechanisms.
  • Activities to foster capacity-building, greater coordination, mentorship, and information sharing among civil society organizations in the region or globally, including the development of regional or global networks for information sharing, best practices in the provision of psychosocial services, legal assistance, and/or advocacy activities, reconciliation or memorialization activities and efforts to better integrate victims and their families into processes that provide access to justice and combat impunity.
  • Strategies to engage youth and other marginalized populations in transitional justice and human rights issues addressing legacies of conflict;
  • Strategies to address issues of gender justice, including promoting the participation of women in transitional justice processes;
  • Work through civil society, advocacy, and educational efforts to memorialize and address legacies of large-scale past human rights abuses;
  • Programs that address and support reparative justice processes;
  • Empowering families of victims and survivors of human rights abuses such as forced disappearances, particularly among indigenous people and other vulnerable groups, to combat political and societal marginalization through effective political participation and exercise of civil and political rights, including through advocating for justice and restitution for victims; and,
  • The collection and dissemination of lessons learned and best practice on transitional justice processes across various regions, including the thoughtful and rigorous analysis of applicability of these lessons to new and emerging environments, to assist countries in transition still grappling with gross human rights violations or dealing with their legacy learn from other cases.

The scope of activities that are eligible to be undertaken in this cooperative agreement is broad and meant to cover the complete spectrum of assistance activities that will promote transitional justice. However, there is a particular emphasis on the rapid deployment capacity, particularly with regard to documenting human rights abuses in conflict settings; innovative approaches and projects that build on previous transitional justice initiatives to increase their overall impact; and, promoting learning across regions, in particulate through South-South cooperation. The scope of activities should cover all geographical regions.

Cooperative Agreement for NGO Consortium:

DRL will award a cooperative agreement to a consortium of NGOs with global reach (“Consortium”), with one lead organization serving as the primary recipient/applicant (“Primary Applicant” or “Lead Organization”). One member of the Consortium may implement one program, two or more may work on similar activities separately, or two or more may work jointly. DRL employs this cooperative agreement mechanism in order to provide the Consortium with a pre-approved grant vehicle that allows for rapid response/disbursement of resources when the situation on the ground requires it. Consortium members can be based in the U.S. or in other countries.

The Consortium will work closely with DRL to design in a timely fashion targeted programs that address a myriad of issues in various ways. DRL may approach the Consortium with an idea for a program or the Consortium may propose a program idea to DRL, but the two will work together to design the program that one or more members of the Consortium will implement. Regardless of which party proposes the idea, the Consortium will prepare proposals for each program idea pursuant to the guidelines outlined in the “Technical Requirements for Proposals for Activities Administered under the Transitional Justice Global Initiative” section below, which DRL will review.

Consortium members must demonstrate the following specific areas of expertise: human rights documentation for accountability and transitional justice purposes; capacity to address issues of missing persons, including forensic assistance; memorialization and historical memory; reparative justice; truth-seeking/truth-telling; and, justice and accountability issues. The Consortium must also demonstrate a global reach, the capacity to implement in a time-sensitive manner, and the technical expertise for the broad scope of activities to be undertaken in this cooperative agreement. This includes the capacity to make relatively small grants to local organizations working on these issues. Further, the Consortium must also have the capacity to provide rigorous monitoring and evaluation of activities implemented under the Initiative.

The Primary Applicant will be required to develop a detailed program plan outlining the role and responsibilities of the other partners in the Consortium and how the Consortium will work and consult with DRL. The Primary Applicant should submit a letter of commitment from each partner in the Consortium.

Proposals should allocate requested funding to provide as much direct assistance to the program’s activities as possible and keep overhead costs to a minimum. The Lead Organization shall obtain receipts and/or reimbursement documentation for all expenditures over $10,000 and for those under $10,000 to the extent possible.

The Consortium should ensure that it has a solid reach in all geographic regions and can maintain, through a demonstrated track record, strong relationships with experienced, reliable, local partner organizations across the globe. Strategies to develop stronger contacts to improve the administration of the program can be included, but associated costs must be reasonable and kept to a minimum.

Vetting will be required in accordance with the Department’s standard vetting procedures.


IMPORTANT NOTE: A valid DUNS number AND a CCR (Central Contractor Registration) number ARE BOTH required prior to submitting an application via Organizations should verify that they have a DUNS number or take the steps needed to obtain one as soon as possible. Instructions for obtaining a DUNS and number and CCR Registration can be found at Click "create user account" and sign up for an "individual account." An organization must wait approximately 3-5 business days after registering with the CCR before the organization may obtain a username and password for Organizations should verify these requirements as soon as possible as this may delay the organization's ability to submit a proposal through In addition, CCR registration must be updated annually to maintain a valid registration.

Application packages submitted for this solicitation for the Transitional Justice Global Initiative should conform to DRL’s posted Proposal Submission Instructions (PSI), available at (Applicants must use the Revised PSI dated October 2012.)

For all application documents, please ensure that:

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

2) 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 and 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, or Budget Narrative. Applicants may submit multiple documents in one Microsoft Word file, i.e., Table of Contents, Executive Summary, Proposal Narrative, Budget Narrative, and NICRA in one file or as separate, individually submitted files. Submissions should address five specific criteria:

a) Quality of Program Idea: A proposal should exhibit originality, substance, and precision and should be relevant to the goals and objectives of the.

b) Program Planning/Ability to Achieve Objectives: A strong proposal will include a clear articulation of how the proposed program activities will contribute to the objectives of the program and of the Global Transitional Justice Initiative, 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. A complete proposal should provide a monthly timeline of project activities and 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. The Consortium also should identify and tackle gender considerations and address tolerance in all proposed program activities, and must provide specific means, measures, and corresponding targets to address them. The Consortium should also explain how the program plan addresses the participation and inclusion of people with disabilities. Additionally, the Consortium should describe the division of labor among the direct applicant and any local partners. If applicable, a proposal should identify target areas for activities, target participant groups or selection criteria for participants, and purpose/criteria for sub-grantees, among other pertinent details. If a particular program is to be implemented in a particularly challenging operating environment, the proposal should include contingency plans for overcoming potential difficulties in executing the original work plan.

c) 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.

d) 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 seeking in the M&E Plan, please see the PSI and the DRL Monitoring and Evaluation Primer ( Projects that propose an independent evaluation, including a mid-term and final assessment, with a clear monitoring and evaluation plan will be viewed favorably in this category.

e) Cost Effectiveness: The administrative, including salaries and honoraria, and overhead components of the proposal 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.

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 the budget narrative be ordered the same as 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. Cost share, if included, 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, Memoranda of Understanding/agreements, 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 approved/valid NICRA agreement 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).


Lead Organizations submitting proposals must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a U.S. non-profit organization or a comparable organization headquartered internationally.
  • 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
  • Have existing, or the capacity to develop, active partnerships with in-country entities and relevant stakeholders including industry and non-government organizations.
  • Organizations must form a Consortium and submit a joint proposal. However, one organization must be designated as the Primary Applicant/Lead Organization.
  • 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 on or after October 1, 2003. Please reference for the complete OMB policy directive.


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 three criteria. Review criteria will include:

1) Institution’s Record and Capacity (40%)

The Lead Organization and each member of the Consortium must demonstrate that they have the institutional capability to carry out the work described in the section “Activities of the Transitional Justice Global Initiative.” More specifically and in order of importance, the Lead Organization and Consortium members must demonstrate the ability to a) evaluate country conditions and draw on theory, experience, and lessons learned to design innovative, effective, and workable transitional justice programs drawing from a variety of tools within their respective areas of expertise as new opportunities and challenges unfold on the ground; b) effectively and efficiently manage programs, including the capability to place them in the field quickly with all necessary support and to start program activities rapidly; c) build and maintain relationships with other organizations, including at the local levels, and key stakeholders; and d) monitor and evaluate program implementation, results, and impact, solve problems, and make course corrections when necessary.

2) Technical Understanding (40%)

The Lead Organization and each member of the Consortium must demonstrate their understanding of the activities of the Transitional Justice Global Initiative by describing the technical approaches they each have used or may use when establishing programs within their respective areas of expertise and which, in some cases, are specifically outlined in this RFP. The Lead Organization and Consortium members must a) demonstrate technical soundness of analysis and proposed programmatic strategies, based on knowledge and understanding of their specific area of expertise and lessons learned; b) include innovative approaches and strategies that are responsive to complex political environments and challenges such as working with limited resources; and c) demonstrate understanding of different strategic approaches and programming priorities, including a range of restorative and retributive tools and the special needs of working with marginalized populations, gender issues and youth on transitional justice issues, as determined by varying country contexts.

3) Past Performance (20%)

The past performance of the Lead Organization and each member of the Consortium will be evaluated, as required by section 4 “Proposal Narrative” under “Technical Requirements for Proposals for the Transitional Justice Global Initiative.” This part of the evaluation will focus on a) the quality of programs, including consistency in meeting goals and targets, achievement of clearly defined outputs and outcomes within the projected timeframe of the program, and effectiveness in addressing and learning from problems; b) cost controls, including forecasting costs and accuracy in financial reporting; and c) effectiveness of key personnel.


Applicants must submit proposals using by 11:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Savings Time (EDT) on April 25th 2014. Please note that over the next several months will experience higher than normal application volume due to Recovery Act-related opportunities. DRL will still require applications to be submitted via but will work with applicants who have trouble in the actual submission process.

Several of the steps in the registration process can take several weeks. Therefore, applicants should check with appropriate staff within their organizations immediately after reviewing this solicitation to confirm or determine their registration status with

Please note: In order to safeguard the security of applicants’ electronic information, utilizes a credential provider to confirm, with certainty, the applicant organization’s credentials. The credential provider for is Operational Research Consultants (ORC). Applicants MUST register with ORC to receive a username and password which you will need to register with as an authorized organization representative (AOR). Once your organization’s E-Business point of contact has assigned these rights, you will be authorized to submit grant applications through on behalf of your organization.

Each organization will need to be registered with the Central Contractor Registry (CCR), and you will need to have your organization’s DUNS number available to complete this process. For more information regarding the DUNS number, please visit or call 1-866-705-5711. After your organization registers with the CCR, you must wait approximately three to five business days before you can obtain a username and password. This may delay your ability to post your proposal. Therefore, DRL strongly urges applicants to begin this process on 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

Once registered, the amount of time it can take to upload an application will vary 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 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

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

Direct all questions regarding registration and submission to: Customer Support
Contact Center Phone: 800-518-4726
Business Hours: Monday – Friday, 7AM – 9PM Eastern Standard Time

Applicants have until 11:30 p.m. EDT of the closing date to ensure that their entire application has been uploaded to There are no exceptions to the above deadline. Applications uploaded to the site after midnight of the application deadline date will be automatically rejected by the system and will be technically ineligible.

Please refer to 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 upon the successful submission of an application. Again, validation of an electronic submission via www.grants.govcan 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 at any time. Applicants must follow all formatting instructions in this document and the PSI.

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


The information contained 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 and DRL’s website


For questions related to proposal submissions, please contact Riva Kantowitz at (202) 632-2063 or via email

Once the RFP deadline has passed, U.S. Government officials—including those in the Bureau, the Department, and at embassies/missions overseas—must not discuss this competition with applicants until the entire proposal review process is completed.

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