January 9, 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: Strengthening Implementation of the Convention on the Rights for Persons with Disabilities

I. Requested Proposal Program Objectives

The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) announces a Request for Proposals (RFP) from organizations interested in submitting proposals for projects that will promote and protect the human rights of persons with disabilities.

PLEASE NOTE: DRL strongly encourages applicants to access immediately www.grantsolutions.gov or www.grants.gov in order to obtain a username and password. Please see “DEADLINE AND SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS” below for specific instructions.

DRL invites organizations to submit proposals for programs to conduct the following:

Strengthening Protection of Rights for Persons with Disabilities (approximately $1,000,000, pending availability of funding):

Create a consortium of expert Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs) to provide technical assistance to civil society and governments on the effective implementation and enforcement of legislation to protect and promote the rights of persons with disabilities. U.S. experience in this regard, including development and implementation of: the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other relevant legislation; programs; policies; and practice; will form the basis for guidance to target countries in such areas as: legislative analysis, monitoring implementation, effective enforcement, and coalition-building to advance democratic political processes.

In addition to providing technical assistance, applicants are asked to develop a virtual clearinghouse that advances effective implementation and enforcement of legislation to protect and promote the rights of persons with disabilities, drawing from the extensive U.S. experience in this regard. Applicants are strongly encouraged to refer to, as appropriate, existing clearinghouses and websites such as: Disability.gov (www.disability.gov), GDRL (http://www.widernet.org/egranary/gdrl), National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange (www.miusa.org/ncde), Making it Work (http://www.makingitwork-crpd.org/), and other pre-existing resources as appropriate. The clearinghouse shall include relevant U.S. legislation, regulations, and technical assistance materials, where available, that can be of assistance in the development and implementation of laws and regulations. The clearinghouse shall also include information that documents the role of civil society in the United States, and other countries as appropriate, to work in collaboration with legislative bodies in the development and implementation of relevant legislation.

This consortium will have expertise in the following areas: legal/judicial, electoral processes, political party building, civil society capacity building, public outreach, and U.S. civil rights laws including the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Access Board, etc.

This consortium should be able to work more broadly, but must include Kenya and Tanzania among its target countries. This initiative will be a pilot program and could be expanded beyond the initial scope.

II. Background Information on general DRL funding

DRL supports programs that uphold democratic principles, support and strengthen democratic institutions, promote human rights, and build civil society around the world. Funds are available to support projects that have the potential to have an immediate impact leading to long-term sustainable reforms. Projects should have potential for continued funding beyond DRL resources. Projects must not duplicate or simply add to efforts by other entities.

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 DRL representative. Explanatory information provided by DRL that contradicts this language will not be binding. Issuance of the solicitation does not constitute an award commitment on the part of the Government. DRL 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 http://www.state.gov/j/drl/p/c12302.htm.

III. Eligibility Information:

Organizations submitting proposals must meet the following criteria:

• Be a non-profit organization/non-government organization (NGO), including U.S.-based NGOs, public international organizations, or foreign-based NGOs; or

• Be a non-profit university or research institution; or

• Be a for-profit organization or business, although there are restrictions on payment of fees and/or profits to the prime recipient under grants and cooperative agreements; and

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

• 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.

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 www.sam.gov. Your organization's DUNS number is needed to complete this process.

IV. Application Requirements, Deadline, and Submission Instructions

Proposals must conform to DRL’s posted Proposal Submission Instructions (PSI), as updated in November 2012, available at http://www.state.gov/j/drl/p/c12302.htm.

DRL is committed to the containment of administrative expenses, consistent with overall program objectives and sound management principles. Additional budget guidelines are explained in the PSI. In any cases where the guidelines in the PSI differ from this request, this document takes precedence.


Applicants must submit proposals electronically using www.grantsolutions.gov or www.grants.gov by 11:30 p.m. EST, on Friday, February 14, 2014. DRL will not accept proposals submitted via email, fax, the postal system, or delivery companies or couriers. Applicants may submit more than one application; however, each application should be submitted only once.

All applicants are strongly encouraged to submit applications via www.grantsolutions.gov.

Organizations that have previously used www.grantsolutions.gov do not need to register again. Applicants using www.grantsolutions.gov for the first time should complete their registration as soon as possible. This process must be completed before an application can be submitted. Registration with www.grantsolutions.gov usually occurs directly after an applicant submits their registration. To register with www.grantsolutions.gov, click “Login to GrantSolutions” and follow the “First Time Users” link to the “New Organization Registration Page.” There are different ways to register your organization, click on the link that fits best.

A valid DUNS (Data Universal Numbering System) number and www.sam.gov registration are NOT required for submission of an initial application on www.grantsolutions.gov. If a project is selected for further funding stages, these will need to be obtained.

When uploading the required materials as specified in the application kit, applicants should wait until the upload shows the status as “successful” before moving to the next part of the application kit. Upon completion of a successful application submission, the GrantSolutions system will provide the applicant with a confirmation page indicating the date and time (Eastern Time) of the application submission as well as an official Application Number. This confirmation page will also provide a listing of all items that constitute the final application submission. Please save this page for your records.

Applicants who do not submit applications via www.grantsolutions.gov may submit via www.grants.gov.

Interested organizations using www.grants.gov for the first time should register on the www.grants.gov site to create a new Applicant account as soon as possible because this process must be completed before an application can be submitted. To register with www.grants.gov, follow the “Get registered” link. Organizations that have previously used www.grants.gov do not need to register again.

Each organization will need to be registered on www.sam.gov, 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 www.dnb.com or call 1-866-705-5711. After your organization registers on www.sam.gov, 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 www.grants.gov well in advance of the submission deadline. Completing all the necessary registration steps for obtaining a username and password from www.grants.gov can take more than two full weeks.

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.

Therefore, we strongly recommend that you not wait until the application deadline to begin the submission process

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

It is the responsibility of all applicants to ensure that proposals 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.

V. Review and Selection Process

DRL 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. The Department of State will host a U.S. government interagency review panel to evaluate proposals submitted under this request. Each proposal will be rated along the following six criteria:

1) Quality of Program Idea

Proposals 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, and should provide specific means, measures, and corresponding targets to include them as appropriate.

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. Objectives should be ambitious, yet measurable and achievable. For complete proposals, applicants should also provide a monthly timeline of project activities and a logic model to demonstrate how the program will have an impact on its proposed objectives. 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. 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 the specific roles of 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 and address any operational or programmatic security concerns and how they will be addressed.

3) Multiplier Effect/Sustainability

Proposals 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

Complete proposals should include a detailed plan (both narrative and table) of how the project’s progress and impact will be monitored and evaluated throughout the project. Incorporating a well-designed monitoring and evaluation component into a project is one of the most efficient methods of documenting the progress and potential success of a program. Proposals 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. Proposals 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 Proposal. 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 encouraged, and cost sharing contributions should be outlined in the proposal, budget, and budget narrative.

For additional guidance, please see DRL’s posted Proposal Submission Instructions (PSI), as updated in November 2012, as well as DRL’s Monitoring and Evaluation Primer and Sample Monitoring and Evaluation Plan. All are available at http://www.state.gov/j/drl/p/c12302.htm.

VI. Contact Information

GrantSolutions.gov Help Desk:

For assistance with www.grantsolutions.gov accounts and technical issues related to using the system, please contact Customer Support at help@grantsolutions.gov or call 1-866-577-0771 (toll charges for international callers) or 1-202-401-5282. Customer Support is available 8 AM – 6 PM EST, Monday – Friday, except federal holidays.

Grants.gov Helpdesk:

For assistance with Grants.gov accounts and technical issues related to using the system, please call the Contact Center at 1-800-518-4726 or email support@grants.gov. The Contact Center is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, except federal holidays.

See http://www.opm.gov/Operating_Status_Schedules/fedhol/2012.asp for a list of federal holidays.

For programmatic questions related to this solicitation please contact Ramiro Martinez at MartinezRA@state.gov.

Once the deadline has passed, State Department officials and staff - both in DRL and at embassies overseas - may not discuss this competition with applicants until the entire proposal review process is completed.