Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
November 7, 2013


Questions and Answers from the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP Office) webcast to provide information about the Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 Solicitation: Request for Statements of Interest (RSOI) from NGOs.

ELIGIBILITY

Q. Who is eligible to apply for funding?

A. U.S.-based non-profit and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), foreign NGOs, and institutions of higher education are eligible to apply for funding under this solicitation. On a limited basis, for-profit organizations are also eligible to apply; however, they may not take a profit from grant-funded activities.

Public International Organizations (PIOs) are not eligible to apply under this solicitation. Foreign governments are not eligible to apply, although governments may be beneficiaries of funded programs, provided that funding does not pay salaries of government agency personnel and that such assistance is not restricted by U.S. law or policy.

Q. Why are PIOs not eligible to apply?

A. The TIP Office will continue working with its PIO partners and has separately identified projects for which PIOs are best-suited to implement.

The TIP Office will invite select PIOs, based on their demonstrated areas of expertise, to submit proposals for specific projects. The TIP Office will send these invitations on a rolling basis as funding is available.

Q. Although PIOs are not eligible to apply for funding under the current solicitation, we are receiving a number of requests to partner with eligible organizations. Is there anything barring PIOs from being a partner organization to a qualifying primary applicant?

A. There is nothing barring any PIO from being a partner organization to a qualifying primary applicant.

If an NGO, institution of higher education, or for-profit organization proposes partnership with a PIO, it should be referenced in their SOI. The TIP Office encourages SOIs that demonstrate strong partnerships, and in the second stage of competition, applicants selected to submit full proposals are encouraged to submit letters of intent to cooperate.

Q: How can a for-profit business receive a grant from the TIP Office?

A: On a very limited basis, the TIP Office has provided grants to for-profit entities. These organizations do not make any profit from the funds provided. The Department of State’s Office of the Procurement Executive must provide additional approval for grants that are awarded to for-profit entities.

Q. Are small businesses, as defined by the U.S. government, eligible to apply?

A. Yes, but as with for-profit organizations, small businesses may not take a profit from grant-funded activities.

Q. Are local municipal entities in the United States eligible to apply for this particular funding opportunity?

A. A municipal entity would not be eligible for consideration unless properly classified as an NGO, institution of higher education, or a for-profit organization.

Q. As a for-profit company applying for funding, we do not plan to make a profit in carrying out our project, but base our time in country on the standard per diem allowance for that country. Is this allowable?

A. For-profit entities interested in submitting a SOI to the TIP Office may not generate a profit from grant-funded activities. If a SOI from a for-profit applicant is selected for the second stage of competition, applicants must submit a signed letter stating that no profits will be gained from grant activities.

Grantees are permitted to use project funds for work in-country in accordance with per diem allowances as regulated by the federal government.

Q. Can organizations that currently receive funds from the TIP Office apply for additional funding under this solicitation?

A.
Yes, but only to propose projects which address the country-specific requirements listed in the RSOI.

Q. Can an organization receiving funding from the State Department or from another government agency, related or un-related to TIP, apply?

A. Yes. The eligibility requirements for applying to this solicitation do not restrict applicants based on other sources of funding from the United States government, including funding from other bureaus within the Department of State.

LOGISTICS

Q. How much funding does the TIP Office have for FY 2014?

A. FY 2014 funds have not yet been appropriated by Congress. All awards under this announcement are pending the appropriation of funds.

Q. How much money will be allocated to each region or country?

A. The final amount allocated for each country and region will depend on the quality of applications received and on the nature of the proposed activities.

Q. Will there be any funding opportunities in countries not listed in the RSOI?

A. The only direct funding available to non-profits, NGOs, institutions of higher education, and for-profit entities will be through this solicitation. SOIs submitted for projects that do not address the country-specific requirements listed in the RSOI will be rejected during the technical review process.

As funding becomes available, PIOs will be invited to submit proposals for work in other TIP Office-identified countries and/or regions. We encourage PIOs to partner with NGOs to build local capacity and foster sustainability. Additionally, U.S. embassies are eligible to request funding for short-term training and technical assistance (T/TA) projects to address gaps in anti-TIP efforts and capitalize on government will.

Q. What are the expected funding dates?

A. The TIP Office expects to award grant funds to successful applicants no later than September 30, 2014.

Q. How much funding was awarded in FY2013?

A. Last year, the TIP Office received applications from NGOs requesting more than $95 million in funding – an amount that far exceeds the available foreign assistance appropriation level. By the end of the FY 2013 competition for funding, we awarded a total of 35 grants worth over $19 million. Detailed information about our FY13 awards is available at: http://www.state.gov/j/tip/intprog/index.htm.

Q. Where can I find specifics regarding previously funded projects?

A. Applicants are encouraged to look to our website, http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/other/index.htm, for information on TIP Office-funded projects for prior years.

Q. Please explain why some countries were not selected for funding consideration.

A. Our foreign assistance priorities and funding decisions are guided by the trends and country-specific recommendations in the annual Trafficking in Persons Report. The 2013 TIP Report is posted on our website at: http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/2013/index.htm.

The process of selecting countries for funding is very difficult and is done in consultation with other offices within the Department of State. The number of countries listed in the RSOI is restricted due to the limited amount of funding administered by our office. Please note that we will accept SOIs only for countries named in the solicitation.

Q. Can an organization propose to work domestically with refugees from one of the selected countries?

A. Foreign assistance funds can only be used to fund projects outside of the United States. Therefore, SOIs focused on internal U.S. programs cannot be considered.

Q. Can an organization apply to work in more than one country?

A. This solicitation is for bilateral programs only, with the exception of the named regional research priorities. The TIP Office will only consider SOIs for the countries and program areas as they are identified in the solicitation; no regional programs which incorporate multiple countries from the RSOI will be considered.

Each NGO may apply to work in more than one country, but each country is a stand-alone project. In other words, if an NGO anticipates working in three separate countries with three separate projects, the NGO must submit three separate SOIs. Because some trafficking in persons is transnational, it is possible that, for example, a project in Country X may include some contacts with the source country, but the primary project is in Country X.

Q. Can an organization apply for a grant that addresses one or more of a country’s identified needs, or must that organization propose to address all of the identified needs listed in the RSOI to receive full consideration? For example, we are a small group of anti-trafficking experts, and we may only address one of the listed requirements from the RSOI for the country we propose to work in.

A. The TIP Office is only interested in SOIs that address one or more of the country-specific requirements listed in the RSOI. SOIs for projects taking place in countries that are not identified in this solicitation or that do not address a priority objective for an identified country will be rejected during the technical review process.

Applicants are encouraged to address these objectives with innovative and effective proposals. To receive serious consideration, proposals must also be realistic; the amount requested and the proposed duration should be consistent with the scope of the project. Strong SOIs address objectives that are attainable and consistent with the organization’s strengths and country-specific experience.

Q. Can a U.S.-based organization administer a program and related funds in a foreign country without a current presence in that country? And, if so, must the organization have a permanent presence in the country during the award?

A. Any NGO is eligible to submit a SOI for work in any of the countries listed in the RSOI. The TIP Office cannot advise applicants on the content of their proposals or provide suggestions regarding proposals. SOIs will be evaluated based on the criteria listed in the RSOI.

Q. Is there a limit to the number of SOIs that can be submitted by a single applicant?

A. No, there is no limit. Organizations are permitted to submit multiple applications; however, the TIP Office intends to provide funding to a wide range of qualified, capable organizations that do well in the competitive review. Those who submit multiple applications are reminded to tailor each application to their organization’s particular strengths and country-specific experience.

Q. Do J/TIP grantees who conduct research retain publication rights to the reports produced as the result of their project? (asked 11/7/13)

A. Yes, grantees retain publication rights for the reports and studies developed during the project. Information about policy concerning research grants and publication rights can be found in OMB Circular A-110.36, “Intangible Property,” http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/circulars_a110/#36:

(a) The recipient may copyright any work that is subject to copyright and was developed, or for which ownership was purchased, under an award. The Federal awarding agency(ies) reserve a royalty-free, nonexclusive and irrevocable right to reproduce, publish, or otherwise use the work for Federal purposes, and to authorize others to do so.

CONTENT

Q. Can an organization submit a proposal that includes countries not listed in the RSOI?

A. SOIs for projects that are located in or focus on countries not identified in this solicitation or that do not address a country-specific requirement for an identified country will be rejected during the technical review process.

Q. Do I need to submit a complete budget at the time of submitting the SOI?

A. No, only a total amount of funding in U.S. dollars is requested. No budget categories are required or requested for the SOI. If cost share is offered, then a total for cost share should also be provided. All cost figures must be in U.S. dollars.

Q. Does the award ceiling of $750,000 include indirect costs?

A. Yes. All costs requested, including indirect costs, must be included in this amount.

Q. Are organizations eligible to receive indirect funds?

A. Regarding indirect costs, organizations without a Negotiated Indirect Cost Recovery Agreement (NICRA) agreement are required to account for these expenses as direct costs, in detail, when submitting a budget. Organizations with NICRA agreements may account for indirect costs as a lump sum for the relevant percentage of funding as permitted by the NICRA.

Q. If an applicant proposes a partnership with government, civil society, another NGO or a PIO, does the partnership agreement have to be finalized or in writing at the time of the SOI application?

A. No, partnerships that are referenced in a SOI do not need to be formal or in writing at the time the SOI is submitted. Proposed partnerships should be referenced in the SOIs to ensure that they are considered in the review. The TIP Office encourages SOIs that demonstrate strong partnerships, and in the second stage of competition, applicants that are selected to submit full proposals are encouraged to submit letters of intent to cooperate.

Q. Can an organization submit a letter of intent?

A. Please review the solicitation carefully to ensure that your application meets the requirements for a SOI, which may not be the same as a letter of intent. The solicitation provides a detailed description of what needs to be included in the SOI.

Q. Can an organization’s project be focused on providing services in a government-run shelter [as an example], as opposed to running its own shelter?

A. Yes, as long as the project attends to the country-specific requirements listed in the RSOI. Proposed partnerships should be referenced in the SOI to ensure they are considered in the review process. During the review process, the TIP Office will evaluate SOIs based on how effectively they address the requests explicitly outlined in the solicitation. The TIP Office encourages innovative and effective proposals to address these issues.

Q. Is a certain country eligible for the research priority in the RSOI dealing with East Asia? What countries are eligible for the research priorities? (Asked 10/19/13)

A.
Each research priority has its own specifications that J/TIP will use to determine the eligibility of an application.

If an application responding to the first research priority deals with a country or countries in East Asia and is concerned with the prevalence of human trafficking in the seafood industry, including aquaculture, it will be considered eligible for this solicitation.

Likewise, if an application responding to the second research priority proposes doing research in “Mexico and the Northern Triangle on forced organized crime activities, such as selling and/or transporting drugs, and committing murder, etc.,” it will be considered eligible for this solicitation.

Finally, if an application for the third research priority proposes “a regional or global study that illustrates best practices in TIP data collection, using cross-cutting examples from various countries,” it will be considered eligible for this solicitation.

Please note that for all SOIs, including research, projects taking place in countries or regions that are not identified in this solicitation or that do not address the requirements listed in the RSOI for an identified country or region will be rejected during the technical review process.

Q: We would like to do a research proposal that “illustrates best practices in TIP data collection, using cross-cutting examples from various countries” as listed in the RSOI. However, your solicitation mentions that you are only interested in projects that respond to the priority countries and regions listed in the solicitation. Does that mean that our application for this research priority has to be limited to countries and regions listed previously in the RSOI? (Asked 10/23/13)

A.
J/TIP has requested proposals for a regional or global study on best practices in TIP data collection; the actual regions or countries covered by a study responding to this research priority are at the discretion of the applicant. Applicants to this research priority are not limited to the 15 countries listed earlier in the RSOI.

If an application responding to the first research priority deals with a country or countries in East Asia and is concerned with the prevalence of human trafficking in the seafood industry, including aquaculture, it will be considered eligible for this solicitation.

If an application responding to the second research priority proposes doing research in “Mexico and the Northern Triangle on forced organized crime activities, such as selling and/or transporting drugs, and committing murder, etc.,” it will be considered eligible for this solicitation.

We would like to reiterate that for all SOIs, including research, projects taking place in countries or regions that are not identified in this solicitation or that do not address the requirements listed in the RSOI for an identified country or region will be rejected during the technical review process. The guidelines for the 15 countries listed in this solicitation are for applicants proposing bilateral projects in those countries to address one or more of the country-specific requirements. Applicants to the research priorities must follow the guidance provided for research projects. The research priorities have their own specifications that are not related to the 15 countries listed earlier in the RSOI.

Q. Can we submit applications for a country that borders one of the 15 countries identified in the RSOI, provided that it improves the situation in the country that is actually in the RSOI? (Asked 10/27/13)

A.
This solicitation is for bilateral programs only, with the exception of the named regional research priorities. The TIP Office will only consider SOIs for the countries and program areas as they are identified in the solicitation. Thus, SOIs for projects taking place in countries that are not identified in this solicitation or that do not address a priority objective for an identified country will be rejected during the technical review process. An application responding to our country-specific requirements in a certain country would have to propose to work in that country, not a neighboring country.

APPLICATION SUBMISSION

Q. What does an application include?

A. To ensure fairness, all applicants will have an equal chance to describe their proposed project. Detailed information on formatting requirements and more can be found in the solicitation. The Application Package must include:

1. Standard Forms 424 and 424B (Completed; Instructions provided)

2. Two-page Statement of Interest

  • In English, all in 12 Point font (Times New Roman)
  • Amount of funding requested in U.S. dollars. Cost share amount in U.S. Dollars, if it is proposed.
  • No budget categories are requested or required.

Please do not submit additional documents. No additional documents will be reviewed.

Please be sure to specifically designate the country you propose to work in on number 14 of the SF 424.

Q. We are experiencing difficulty requesting a DUNS number.

A. For information and assistance with DUNS numbers, please contact the Help Desk via phone at 866-705-5711 or via email at govt@dnb.com. In your message, provide your contact information and a brief description of the problems you are experiencing.

Q. If an organization proposes a partnership with another organization, do all parties need to obtain a DUNS number, or only the applicant?

A. For the purpose of filling out the SF 424s and submitting an application, the only DUNS number required is that of the applicant – the principle organization which is requesting funding.

Organizations proposing partnership or sub-grant agreements in their SOIs are advised that their partners may obtain a valid DUNS number in anticipation of selection for funding, as this information may be required for sub-grant agreements.

Q. When are applications due?

A. Applications are due on November 18, 2013 by 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST).

Q. Is there any difference between submitting applications to www.grantsolutions.gov versus www.grants.gov? Should applicants submit applications to both?

A. Applicants should not submit a SOI to both websites. While we will accept SOIs via either website, the TIP Office encourages applicants to use www.grantsolutions.gov. Applicants should be aware that www.grantsolutions.gov requires a DUNS number to submit an application, while Grants.gov requires both a DUNS number and a current CCR registration, which takes approximately 3-5 business days (for U.S.-based NGOs) to obtain and must be renewed annually. Regardless of the website used, all applicants are encouraged to initiate applications early in the application development process and to submit completed applications early to allow time to address any technical difficulties that may arise.

Q. What should I do if I encounter difficulty in using the www.grantsolutions.gov or www.grants.gov websites?

A. For assistance with GrantSolutions.gov please contact Customer Support at help@grantsolutions.gov or 1-800-577-0771 (toll charges for international callers) or 1-202-401-5282. Customer Support is available 8 AM – 6 PM EST, Monday – Friday, except for federal holidays. Please note that October 14, 2013 is a federal holiday and the help line will be closed.

For assistance with Grants.gov, please contact the Contact Center at support@grants.gov or call the Contact Center at 1-800-518-4726 (toll charges for international callers). The Contact Center is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, except federal holidays. Please note that October 14, 2013 is a federal holiday and the help line will be closed.

Q. On www.grants.gov in addition to the SF-424s, the application requires a Mandatory Project Narrative. Is this the SOI or an additional document?

A. Applicants should upload their SOI in this section of the application. Please do not submit additional documents.

COMPETITIVE REVIEW

Q. How does the TIP Office decide which SOIs to fund?

A. All SOIs received will first undergo a technical review. Those SOIs which pass the technical review are forwarded to the relevant U.S. embassy for review and comment. This information is then taken into consideration by a regional interagency review panel composed of experts on human trafficking programming and the relevant region. Panel recommendations are then submitted and reviewed by the Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

Q. Please clarify the role of U.S. embassies in the 2014 competitive review process.

A. All U.S. embassies have been informed of the FY 2014 solicitation and the embassies in the selected countries have been encouraged to post information about the solicitation on their websites. Embassies will review and comment on proposed projects that meet the technical requirements.

To preserve the fairness and integrity of the competitive process, please do not contact embassy personnel regarding your application. All questions regarding the status of applications may be directed to Zach Winters (WintersZ@state.gov) or Chelsea Lord (LordC@state.gov).

Q. How many applicants do you expect to invite to submit a full proposal?

A. We are not certain of the number that will be invited to submit full applications in stage two of the competitive process. The decision will be made after review of the SOIs. However, this is a two-stage competition; not all applicants selected to submit a full proposal will be selected for funding.

Q. When do you expect to notify applicants if they are requested to submit a full proposal?

A. We expect to notify applicants in the spring that their SOI was selected for the second stage of competition. Applicants will have 30 days from notification to submit a full proposal.

Q. What does the TIP Office require for full proposals?

A. Applicants that are evaluated highly in the first stage of the competitive review (SOI process) will be invited to submit full proposals. At that time, selected applicants will receive additional information about the second stage requirements.

Q. Where can I get additional advice about preparing the SOI or full application?

A. The TIP Office makes every effort to ensure a fair, transparent, competitive grants process. In keeping with this commitment, we cannot advise applicants on the content of their proposals or provide suggestions regarding proposals.

No one from the Office, or any other Department of State office or bureau, including Embassy personnel, is permitted to advise you on the content of your application. Persons with questions about the requirements of the solicitation may contact Chelsea Lord (LordC@state.gov) or Zach Winters (WintersZ@state.gov).