Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Request for Proposals: Promoting the Freedom of Expression and the Free Flow of Information through Technology.
The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) announces a Request for Proposals from organizations interested in submitting proposals to support technologies that will maximize freedom of expression and the free flow of information and ideas through minimizing the success of repressive technologies in censoring and silencing peaceful expressions of political, religious, and ideological views on the Internet. These technologies should be either Internet-based technologies that can directly counter Internet censorship tools, or mobile technologies that circumvent Internet censorship by disseminating information through other media. Proposed activities should promote Internet freedom in restricted environments, including the Middle East and Asia.
PLEASE NOTE: DRL strongly urges applicants to access immediately www.grants.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 PROPOSAL PROGRAM OBJECTIVES:
Proposals should clearly address one or more of the following areas:
Tested technology: Proposals should support advanced technologies to operationally defeat or circumvent such censorship. The technologies should have demonstrated survivability against various blocking and/or monitoring mechanisms (e.g., IP address blacklisting, malicious domain name redirecting, network content filtering, limiting bandwidth, etc.). Additionally, the technologies should have a successful history of use by a significant number of users in restricted environments.
Proven promotion capacity and outreach: Proposals should outline the means (e.g., radio, television, telephone, postal mail, e-mail, social networks, etc.) through which the technology will be promoted to rapidly develop and expand the user base. Proposals should also detail how the applicant will notify users of censorship countermeasures and new anti-censorship tools and services.
Services: Proposals should detail instructional activities, if needed, connected to the distribution and promotion of anti-censorship technologies, and/or outline how information on existing tools could be distributed and updated.
User support: Proposals should demonstrate how the applicant will support users in the face of complex technical issues and security problems arising in restricted environments.
Privacy: Proposals should include practices for keeping users’ personally-identifiable information secure.
Geographic reach: Regional or multi-country program proposals are encouraged. The availability of services in local languages should be addressed.
Expertise: Proposals should demonstrate the applicant’s understanding of Internet censorship mechanisms and experience in working with information distribution in restricted environments. Proposals should demonstrate the applicant’s operational and technological ability to respond quickly to new censoring mechanisms.
PROGRAM INDICATORS AND TARGETS:
Proposals should demonstrate the ability to measure the applicable indicators below that would be relevant to the proposed program. The proposal should also demonstrate the ability to measure the overall desired target goal, which is increased access to uncensored information in restricted/repressive environments.
(1) Number of visits per month
(2) Number of unique users per month
(3) Number of page views per month
(4) Most visited domain names
(5) Number of calls or text messages per month
(6) Average length of calls
Proposals should conform to DRL’s posted Proposal Submission Instructions, available at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/p/c12302.htm.
Applicants must include the following in the proposal submission:
1. Table of Contents that lists proposal contents and attachments (if any)
2. Completed and signed SF-424, SF-424a and SF424b, as directed on grants.gov
3. Executive Summary (one page, double-spaced in 12 point Times New Roman font in Microsoft Word) that includes:
a) the target country(ies),
b) name and contact information for the project's main point of contact,
c) the project's objectives and expected results,
d) a one-paragraph statement of work,
e) the total amount of funding requested, program length and how the project isinnovative, sustainable, and will have a demonstrated impact.
4. Proposal Narrative (Not to exceed ten (10) pages, single-spaced, 12 point Times New Roman font in Microsoft Word, at least one-inch margins) to include:
a) A detailed monthly timeline that includes target dates for completion of each of the proposed project activities;
b) Proposed short and long-term project goals including an explanation of how program activities support each goal;
c) Roles and responsibilities of primary staff;
d) A comprehensive evaluation plan that includes outputs and outcomes and both qualitative and quantitative targets for each. Evaluation plans must be included in the narrative and/or as attachments.
5. Detailed Budget in Excel spreadsheet format, which includes three (3) columns including DRL request, any cost sharing contribution, and total budget (see below for more information on budget format). Costs must be in USD.
6. Budget Narrative (Not to exceed 6 pages) that includes an explanation for each line item in the Excel spreadsheet, as well as the source and description of all cost share offered.
7. Attachments (may include a monitoring/evaluation plan; letters of support; CVs of key personnel) may not exceed 5 pages.
8. If your organization has a negotiated indirect cost rate agreement (NICRA) and includes NICRA charges in the budget, your latest NICRA must be sent as a PDF file. 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.
9. Number all pages, including budget and addenda.
10. Format all pages to standard 8 ½ x 11 paper with a minimum of 1-inch margins.
An organization may submit no more than two (2) proposals. Proposals that do not meet the requirements above may not be considered.
Organizations must also fill out and submit SF-424 and SF-424B forms as directed on www.grants.gov. Please fill out the highlighted yellow fields and use the following specific information for the below fields:
1. Type of Submission: Application
2. Type of Application: New
5b. Federal Award Identifier: Please enter zeros or leave blank.
17. Please enter approximate start/end dates for the project.
18. Please enter the estimated amount from the proposal under “Federal” and any cost-share under “Applicant.” Otherwise, use zeros.
19. Please enter “c”
The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor’s Human Rights and Democracy Fund (HRDF) supports innovative, “venture capital” 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. DRL funds 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. DRL projects must also not duplicate or simply add to efforts by other entities.
Please make special note that 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 bulk of project activities must take place in-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 on commercial law or economic development will also not be rated as competitive.
DRL anticipates making $14,800,000 available from FY 2008 Democracy Fund/Human Rights and Democracy Fund to support projects that address DRL objectives outlined above. The Bureau anticipates making 2-10 awards in amounts of $1,500,000 - $13,800,000 to support program and administrative costs required to implement these programs.
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), a comparable organization headquartered internationally, or an international organization. Universities are also eligible.
* Have demonstrated experience administering successful projects, with regard to the above proposal program objectives and in challenging country/regional program environments. 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.
* Have existing, or the capacity to develop, active partnerships with in-country organization(s).
* Organizations may form consortia and submit a combined proposal. However, one organization should be designated as the lead applicant.
Review criteria include:
1) Quality of Program Idea
Proposals should be responsive to the solicitation and exhibit originality, substance,precision, and relevance to the Bureau's mission. The bureau typically does not fund continuation programs but innovative, stand-alone programs.
2) Program Planning/Ability to Achieve Long and Short Term Goals
A relevant work plan should demonstrate substantive undertakings and 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. Applicants should also provide a monthly timeline of project activities.
3) Multiplier Effect/Sustainability
Proposed programs should address long-term institution building with an emphasis onmoving towards sustainability, garnering other donor support, or demonstratingcapacity-building results.
4) Program Evaluation Plan
Programs should demonstrate the capacity for engaging in impact assessments and providing long and short-term goals with measurable outputs and outcomes. Projects that propose an independent evaluation with a clear plan will be deemed highly competitive 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. Proposals should demonstrate the applicant’s understanding of Internet censorship mechanisms and experience in working with information distribution in restricted environments. Proposals should demonstrate the applicant’s operational and technological ability to respond quickly to new censoring mechanisms. Proposed personnel and institutional resources should be adequate and appropriate to achieve the project's goals. Roles and responsibilities of primary staff should be provided.
6) Cost Effectiveness
The overhead and administrative components of the proposal, including salaries and honoraria, 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, US-based costs should be kept to a minimum. Cost sharing is strongly encouraged and is viewed favorably by DRL reviewers.
DEADLINE AND SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS
Applicants must submit proposals using www.grants.gov by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) on May 2, 2008. DRL will not accept proposals 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, that someone really is who they claim to be.
The credential provider for www.grants.gov 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 through Grants.gov 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. After your organization registers with the CCR, you must wait approximately 3-5 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.
No exceptions will be made for organizations that have not completed the necessary steps to post applications on www.grants.gov.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, CONTACT
For questions related to proposal submissions, please contact James Viray at 202-647-3663 or VirayJA@state.gov or Ramiro Martinez at 202-261-8008 or MartinezRA@state.gov.