September 25, 2013

Note: The deadline for this Request for Statements of Interest has passed.


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
BUREAU OF DEMOCRACY, HUMAN RIGHTS AND LABOR


Department of State

Public Notice

Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Request for Statements of Interest: China Programs

SUMMARY

The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) announces a Request for Statements of Interest (SOIs) from organizations interested in submitting proposals for projects that support the bureau’s policy priorities of fostering democracy and human rights in China. This solicitation does not constitute a formal Request for Proposals: DRL will invite select organizations that submit SOIs to expand their ideas in full proposals at a later date.

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

REQUESTED STATEMENT OF INTEREST PROGRAM OBJECTIVES

DRL seeks to fund projects that will have a direct and lasting impact by promoting reforms and structural changes that take advantage of changing social and political dynamics in China. High preference will be given to cutting edge, entrepreneurial program concepts that are responsive to emerging trends in Chinese society.

DRL invites organizations to submit statements of interest outlining program concepts and organizational capacity to manage projects that will advance DRL policy priorities in the following areas:

Rule of Law: Encourage legal reform in support of human rights and support implementation of existing laws; support public interest law, capacity development for legal actors, and development of the legal profession; bolster criminal defense and access to legal services for underserved and vulnerable populations; support measures to help China implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Civil Society: Build the capacity of non-governmental entities; reform or establish underlying systems and institutions in the nonprofit sector that support civil society development; enhance cross-sector collaboration and support the development of domestic funding systems for NGOs; promote advocacy for the human rights of LGBT people.

Religious Freedom: Encourage space for religious organizations to provide social services and conduct advocacy as a means of demonstrating the value of religious pluralism and social harmony.

Labor Rights: Bolster the ability of workers, including migrant workers, to advocate for improved working conditions and respect for fundamental labor rights, including freedom of association; promote genuine collective bargaining at the enterprise or sectoral level; test the space for workplace democracy/representation, where possible by taking advantage of provincial and sub-provincial government policies with regard to 1) the free election of trade union leaders at the enterprise level, 2) participation by elected worker representatives in enterprise-level collective bargaining, and/or 3) the formation of democratically elected labor-management committees within enterprises.

Public Participation: Develop processes and methodologies to improve the quality and scope of citizen input into government decision-making.

Accountability and Free Expression: Increase government transparency and promote systems of accountability; bolster press freedom, media reform, and journalism; expand the space for free expression through new media mechanisms.

Where applicable, projects should demonstrate the capacity to include persons with disabilities in programming.

TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS

An organization may submit no more than two (2) SOIs of two (2) pages each. SOIs that do not meet the requirements of the announcement may not be considered. SOIs that request less than the award floor or more than the award ceiling will be deemed technically ineligible.

For all application documents, please ensure that:

  1. All pages are numbered,
  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.

SOIs must include:

1) Brief description of the organization, including the organization’s mission statement and previous work in China. Due to page limitations, a general organizational history is not recommended. Information should clearly demonstrate an institution’s record and capacity and may include previous grant management experience, whether funded through private or United States Government resources.

2) Description of how the project supports DRL’s policy priorities and how the project is innovative, sustainable, and does not duplicate current efforts.

3) Project description, including project duration and objectives. Outputs and outcomes should also be provided. Outputs and outcomes should clearly link to project objectives and include target benchmarks. Please include the appropriate “Standardized Program Structure” Program Area(s) and Element(s) to be addressed. More information on the Standardized Program Structure and Definitions is available at http://www.state.gov/f/c24132.htm and http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/141836.pdf

4) Brief statement on the methodology to be used in the project evaluation.

5) An estimated budget figure. The budget should include intended: Primarily Headquarters-Based Costs, Primarily-Field Based Costs, Indirect Costs, and Cost-Share. Please note that while a detailed budget is not requested at this time, organizations invited to submit full proposals must not exceed the estimated SOI budget figure.

Organizations must also fill out and submit SF-424 and SF-424B forms as directed on www.grants.gov or www.grantsolutions.gov.

Please use the following guidelines for completing the SF-424:

1. 1. Type of Submission: Application

2. 2. Type of Application: New

3. 5b. Federal Award Identifier: Please enter zeros or leave blank

4. 8a. Please enter name of applicant (organization)

5. 8b. Please enter the organization’s EIN or TIN number

6. 8c. Please enter the organization’s DUNS number (without dashes)

7. 8d. Please enter the organization’s address

8. 8f. Please enter the name, telephone number and e-mail address of the primary contact person for this SOI

9. 9. Please select type of applicant from pull down list

10. 11. The CFDA number is 19.345

11. 12. Please enter the Funding Opportunity Number (similar to DRL-07-GR-018-MW-010101) and Title (similar to Global Request for Statements of Interest).

12. 15. Please enter descriptive title of project

13. 16a. Please enter congressional district of applicant organization

14. 16b. Please enter N/A or zeros

15. 17. Please enter the approximate start and end dates of the proposed activities

16. 18. Please enter the amount requested from the USG under “Federal,” any cost-share under “Applicant,” fill in the total, and otherwise use zeros.

17. 19. Please enter “c”

18. 20. Complete as indicated

21. Complete as indicated

Please fill in the following fields of the SF-424B:

Page 2 - Complete applicant organization and title of authorized official sections.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor’s Human Rights and Democracy Fund (HRDF) supports innovative programs that uphold democratic principles, support and strengthen democratic institutions, promote human rights, and build civil society in countries and regions of the world that are geo-strategically important to the United States. HRDF funds projects that have the potential to have an immediate impact leading to long-term sustainable reforms. Projects should have the potential for continued funding beyond HRDF resources. HRDF projects must not duplicate or simply add to efforts by other entities.

DRL will not consider projects 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 bulk of project activities must take place in the requested country and last between 1 and 3 years. U.S.-based activities, study tours, scholarships or exchange projects will not be deemed competitive. Projects that have a strong academic, research, conference, or dialogue focus will not be deemed competitive. DRL strongly discourages health, technology, or scientific projects unless they have an explicit component related to the requested program objectives listed above. Projects that focus exclusively on commercial law or economic development without clearly demonstrating the link to the DRL policy priority areas articulated above will also not be rated as competitive.

Approximately $4,700,000 in HRDF funds from the FY 2013 Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act are available for China programs. To support direct and indirect costs required for implementation, the Bureau anticipates making awards in amounts of $400,000 - $1,500,000 for human rights, rule of law, and civil society programs in the priority areas listed above. SOIs that request less than the award floor or more than the award ceiling will be deemed technically ineligible.

APPLICANT/ORGANIZATION CRITERIA

Organizations submitting SOIs must meet the following criteria:

* Be a non-profit organization meeting the provisions described in Internal Revenue Code section 26 USC 501(c)(3). Applicants in the process of registration must submit proof that they are seeking non-profit status from the Internal Revenue Service at the time of SOI submission. Should the applicant be selected for a grant award, funding will be contingent upon 501(c)(3) status; or

* Be a U.S. university or research institution meeting the provisions described in Internal Revenue Code section 26 USC 501(c) (3); and

* Have demonstrated experience administering successful projects, preferably targeting the requested country and/or region, or a similarly challenging program environment. 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; and

* Have existing, or the capacity to develop, active partnerships with organization(s) in the target country and/or region.

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

REVIEW PROCESS

The Bureau will review all SOIs for eligibility. Eligible SOIs 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 technical authority for assistance awards resides with the Department’s Grants Division.

DRL will solicit for full proposals based on an evaluation of how the SOI meets the solicitation review criteria, U.S. foreign policy objectives, and the priority needs of DRL. A State Department Review Committee will evaluate proposals submitted under this request. Standard review criteria include:

1) Quality of Program Idea

SOIs should be responsive to the solicitation and appropriate in the country/regional context, and should exhibit originality, substance, precision, and relevance to the Bureau's mission of promoting human rights and democracy. The bureau prioritizes innovative, stand-alone programs. In countries where similar activities are already taking place, an explanation should be provided as to how new activities will not duplicate or merely add to existing activities.

DRL strives to ensure its programs advance the rights and uphold the dignity of the most at risk and vulnerable populations, including women, people with disabilities, racial and ethnic minorities, religious minorities, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. To the extent possible, organizations should identify and address considerations to support these populations in all proposed program activities and objectives.

2) Program Planning/Ability to Achieve Objectives

A strong SOI will include a clear articulation of how the proposed program activities contribute to the overall program objectives and demonstrate substantive undertakings and the logistical capacity of the organization. Objectives should be ambitious, yet measurable and achievable. SOIs should address how the program will engage relevant stakeholders.

3) Multiplier Effect/Sustainability

SOIs should clearly delineate how elements of the program will have a multiplier effect and be sustainable beyond the life of the grant. A good multiplier effect will have an impact beyond the direct beneficiaries of the grant (e.g. participants trained under a grant go on to train other people, workshop participants use skills from a workshop to address local concerns that are relevant to a wider national audience). A strong sustainability plan may include demonstrating continuing impact beyond the life of a project or garnering other donor support after DRL funding ceases.

4) Program Evaluation Plan

SOIs should demonstrate the capacity for engaging in impact assessments and providing objectives with measurable outputs and outcomes. Projects that propose an external evaluation with a clear 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. SOIs should demonstrate an institutional record of successful democracy and human rights 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.

6) Cost Effectiveness

DRL strongly encourages applicants to clearly demonstrate program cost-effectiveness in their SOI submissions, including examples of leveraging institutional and other resources.

Cost-sharing is the portion of program cost not borne by the sponsor. DRL encourages cost-sharing, which may be in the form of allowable direct or indirect costs and offered by the applicant and/or in-country partners. Applicants should consider all types of cost-sharing. Examples include the use of office space owned by other entities; donated or borrowed supplies and equipment; (non-federal) sponsored travel costs; waived indirect costs; and program activities, translations, or consultations conducted by qualified volunteers. The values of offered cost-share should be reported in accordance with (the applicable cost principles outlined in) OMB Circular A-110 (Revised) Subpart C (23) “Cost-sharing or Matching.” Other federal funding does not constitute cost-sharing.

The recipient of an assistance award must maintain written records to support all allowable costs that are claimed as its contribution to cost-share, as well as costs to be paid by the Federal government. Such records are subject to audit. In the event the recipient does not meet the minimum amount of cost-sharing as stipulated in the recipient’s budget, the Bureau’s contribution will be reduced in proportion to the recipient’s contribution.

DEADLINE AND SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS

Applicants must submit SOIs using www.grants.gov or www.grantsolutions.gov by 11:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) on Friday, November 1. DRL will not accept SOIs submitted via email, the U.S. postal system, FedEx, UPS and similar delivery companies, or courier. Faxed documents will not be accepted at any time.

Please note: In order to safeguard the security of applicants’ electronic information, www.grants.gov utilizes a credential provider. It is the process of determining, with certainty, the applicant organization’s credentials.

The credential provider is Operational Research Consultants (ORC). Applicants MUST register with ORC to receive a username and password, which you will need to register with www.grants.gov 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 on behalf of your organization.

Each organization will need to be registered with the System for Award Management (SAM, formerly Central Contractor Registry or CCR) and you will need to have your organization's DUNS number available to complete this process. After your organization registers with SAM (SAM.gov), you must wait approximately 3-5 business days before you can obtain a username and password. This may delay your ability to submit your SOI. Therefore, DRL strongly urges applicants to begin this process well in advance of the submission deadline.

No exceptions will be made for organizations that have not completed the necessary steps to submit applications on www.grants.gov or www.grantsolutions.gov.

Direct all questions regarding www.grantsolutions.gov registration and submission to:
GrantSolutions Customer Support
Contact Center Phone: 888-577-0771
Business Hours: Monday – Friday, 8AM – 6PM Eastern Standard Time
Email: help@grantsolutions.gov

Direct all questions regarding www.grants.gov registration and submission to:
Grants.gov Contact Center
Phone: 1-800-518-4726
Business Hours: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Email: support@grants.gov

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

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

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 SOIs will appear on www.grants.gov, www.grantsolutions.gov, and DRL’s website, www.state.gov/j/drl.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, CONTACT

For questions related to SOI submissions please contact Arnila Santoso (santosoah@state.gov), 202-261-8020; or Mike Weber (weberma1@state.gov), 202-632-2070.

Once the SOI 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.