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Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Programs Including HRDF
Proposal Submission Instructions (PSI) 2008

Proposal Submission Instructions (PSI) 2008

Updated: June 2008


PLEASE NOTE: The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) revised its PSI in June 2008. As there are currently two versions of the PSI, please refer to the solicitation to ensure that your organization uses the appropriate PSI.

Technically eligible submissions are those which: 1) arrive electronically via www.grants.gov by the designated due date before 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST); 2) have heeded all instructions contained in the solicitation document and Proposal Submission Instructions (PSI), including length and completeness of submission; and 3) do not violate any of the guidelines stated in the solicitation and this document.

The information contained herein is to assist you as a general reference for completion of the proposal submission. It is the sole responsibility of the applicant to ensure that all of the material submitted in the grant application package is complete, accurate, and current.

As of October 1, 2005 the State Department requires proposals be submitted electronically via www.grants.gov.

Please note: In order to safeguard the security of applicants’ electronic information, www.grants.gov utilizes a credential provider to ensure that we can determine, 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 3 business days before you can obtain a username and password.

PLEASE be advised that completing all the necessary steps for obtaining a username and password from www.grants.gov can take two full weeks. 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. Please access www.grants.gov for the necessary information.

Faxed, couriered, or emailed documents will not be accepted at any time. Applicants must follow all formatting instructions in the applicable request for proposals (RFP) and these instructions.

DRL strives to ensure each application receives a balanced evaluation by the DRL Review Committee. Review criteria are often tailored to the solicitation and can be found in the Request for Statements of Interest/Full Proposals. All proposals for a given solicitation are reviewed against the same criteria, which are all equally weighted. Panelists review each proposal individually against the criteria, not against competing proposals.

In most cases, the DRL Review Committee includes representatives from DRL, the appropriate Regional Bureau, as well as USAID Washington. In addition, DRL requests feedback on the proposals from the appropriate U.S. Embassies and USAID Missions for the panelists’ consideration. Panelists may make conditions and recommendations on any given proposal in order to enhance the proposed program. At the end of discussion on a proposal, the Committee votes on recommending the proposal for the DRL Assistant Secretary’s approval.

For further information on the DRL grants process, please see the DRL website: http://state.gov/g/drl/p/c23187.htm. Given the limited nature of DRL funds and the frequent receipt of a large number of competitive proposals, DRL provides the following guidance.


For all application documents, please ensure:
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. Completed and signed SF-424, SF-424a and SF424b, as directed on grants.gov.

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

3. Executive Summary (not to exceed one [1] page in Microsoft Word) that includes:

a) the target country(ies),
b) name and contact information for the project’s main point of contact,
c) a one-paragraph “statement of work” or synopsis of the program and its expected results,
d) a concise breakdown of the project’s objectives and activities,
e) the total amount of funding requested and program length, and
f) a brief statement on how the project is innovative, 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, Budget Narrative or NICRA. Applicants may submit multiple documents in one Microsoft Word file, i.e. Table of Contents, Executive Summary, Proposal Narrative, and Budget Narrative in one file or as separate, individually-submitted files. Submissions should address the specific criteria outlined in the solicitation, which may include:

a) An explanation of why the program meets the HRDF mandate. Proposals should clarify how the program is innovative and necessary in the country. This may include how program methods are creative or approach an issue in a new and unique way. Moreover, 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 on to existing activities.
b) Demonstrated Program Planning. The program plan should clearly describe the proposed objectives and activities, demonstrating clear linkages between activities and objectives. If applicable, proposals should identify local partners, target areas for activities, target participant groups or selection criteria for participants, purpose/criteria for subgrants, among other pertinent details. Where appropriate, applicants may include back-up plans if the program or components of the program are not able to be implemented as initially conceived.
c) Multiplier Effect and Sustainability. The proposal should demonstrate how the program will include elements of sustainability and achieve lasting impact.
d) Institution’s Record and Capacity. The organization should briefly describe any experience it has in the target country and/or similar experience elsewhere, as well as specific and relevant program successes which demonstrate the organization’s record and capacity. Given the page limitations, it is recommended applicants avoid including general organizational history.

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 applicants order the budget narrative as presented in the detailed budget. Primarily Headquarters- and Field-based personnel costs should include a clarification on the roles and responsibilities of key staff. In addition, it is recommended that budget narratives address the overall cost-effectiveness of the proposal, including any cost-share offered (see below for more information on cost-sharing and cost-effectiveness).

6. Detailed Line-Item Budget (preferably in Microsoft Excel or similar spreadsheet format) that includes three [3] columns including DRL request, any cost sharing contribution, and total budget (see below for more information on budget format). Costs should be in USD.

7. Attachments (not to exceed seven [7] pages total, preferably in Microsoft Word) that include the following in order:

  1. Pages 1-2: Monitoring and Evaluation Plan (see below for more information on this section).
  2. Page 3: Short bios of key program personnel that highlight relevant professional experience. Given the limited space, CVs are not recommended for submission.
  3. Page 4: Timeline of the overall proposal. Components should include activities, evaluation efforts, and program closeout.
  4. Page 5-7: Additional optional attachments. Attachments may include further timeline information, letters of support, memorandums of understanding/agreement, 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 NICRA 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 proposal involves subgrants to organizations charging indirect costs, and those organizations also have a NICRA, please submit the applicable NICRA as a .pdf file (see below for more information on indirect cost rate).

Note: To ensure all applications receive a balanced evaluation, the DRL Review Committee will review the first page of the requested section up to the page limit and no further. DRL encourages organizations to use the given space effectively.

Organizations must also fill out and submit SF-424, SF-424A, and SF-424B forms as directed on www.grants.gov.
Please fill in the highlighted yellow fields and use the following guideline for the SF-424:
  1. Type of Submission: Application
  2. Type of Application: New
5b. Federal Award Identifier: Please enter zeros or leave blank
8a. Please enter name of applicant (organization)
8b. Please enter the organization’s EIN or TIN number
8c. Please enter the organization’s DUNS number
8d. Please enter the organization’s address
8f. Please enter the name, telephone number and e-mail address of the primary contact person for this proposal
9. Please select type of applicant from pull down list
11. The CFDA number is 00.000
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).
15. Please enter descriptive title of project
16a. Please enter congressional district of applicant organization
16b. Please enter N/A or zeros
17. Please enter the approximate start and end dates of the proposed activities
18. Please enter the amount requested from the USG under “Federal,” any cost-share under “Applicant,” fill in the total, and otherwise use zeros.
19. Please enter “c”
20. Complete as indicated
21. Complete as indicated

Please fill in the highlighted yellow fields of the SF 424A with information from your proposed budget.

Please fill in the highlighted yellow fields of the SF-424B:
Page 2 - Complete applicant organization and title of authorized official sections.

Organizations should be familiar with OMB Circulars A-110 (Revised) 22 CFR 145 (Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals and Other Nonprofit Organizations), A-122/A-21 (Cost Principles for Nonprofit Organizations; Indirect Costs), and A-133/A-128 (Audits of Institutions of Higher Education and Other Nonprofit Organizations) on cost accounting principles. For a copy of the OMB circulars cited, please contact Government Publications or download from http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/circulars/index.html.

The recipient's proposal should include the cost of an audit that:
1) complies with the requirements of OMB Circular No. A-133, "Audits for Institutions of Higher Education and Other Nonprofit Institutions";
2) complies with the requirements of American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Statement of Position (SOP) No. 92-9, "Audits of Not-for-Profit Organizations Receiving Federal Awards";
3) Complies with AICPA Codification of Statements on Auditing Standards AU Section 551, "Reporting on Information Accompanying the Basic Financial Statements in Auditor-Submitted Documents," where applicable. When U.S. Department of State is the largest direct source of Federal financial assistance (i.e., the cognizant Federal Agency) and indirect costs are charged to Federal grants, a supplemental schedule of indirect cost computation is required.
4) Organizations that receive more than $500,000 in U.S. government funds are required to have an A-133 audit.

The audit costs shall be identified for: the audit of the basic financial statements, and supplemental reports and schedules required by A-133.

An organization with a negotiated indirect cost rate agreement (NICRA) negotiated with a cognizant federal government agency other than the U.S. Department of State should include a copy of the cost-rate agreement. Applicants should indicate in the proposal budget how the rate is applied and if any of the rate will be cost-shared. DRL generally does not pay indirect costs against participant expenses, but each case may vary. Organizations claiming indirect costs should have an established NICRA. If subgrantees are claiming indirect costs, they should have an established NICRA that is also submitted with the proposal package.

Complete proposals will include a detailed plan on how the project’s impact and effectiveness 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. Successful monitoring and evaluation depend on the following:

  • setting objectives that are clear, specific, attainable, measurable, results-focused, and placed in a reasonable time frame;
  • linking program activities to stated objectives;
  • developing key performance indicators that measure realistic progress towards the objectives.

A performance indicator is an observable measurement related to the achievement of a stated objective. Two types of performance indicators are outputs and outcomes. Findings on outputs and outcomes should both be reported.

Outputs are products and services delivered from the program activities, often stated as an amount. Output data show the scope or size of project activities, but they cannot replace information about progress towards outcomes or the project’s impact. Outputs may include the number of people trained or the number of seminars conducted. An example of a program output: train 100 civil society organization members in organizational fundraising.

Outcomes, in contrast, represent the specific, realistic results of a project and are usually measured as an extent of change. Outcomes may include progress toward expected program objectives or other results of the program. For example, a program’s objective could be to increase the participation of female candidates in elections. One outcome of the program would be that after receiving training, women run and win seats in the Parliament.

The Bureau recommends that applicants include a clear description of the methodology and data collection strategies/tools to be employed (e.g. pre- and post-surveys, interviews, focus groups) and, where feasible, samples of evaluative tools such as draft survey questionnaires. The Bureau expects that the grantee will track participants or partners as appropriate and be able to respond to key evaluation questions, including satisfaction with the program/training, information learned as a result of the program/training, changes in attitude and behavior as a result of the program, and effects of the program on institutions in which participants work or partner institutions. Applicants should include the monitoring and evaluation process in their timeline.

Overall, the quality of your monitoring and evaluation plan will be judged on how well it incorporates the abovementioned components. Since a quality evaluation should be as objective and unbiased as possible, DRL highly encourages all applicants to include an independent evaluation (e.g., hiring an outside evaluator to assess the program from its inception) as part of their overall monitoring and evaluation plan. Costs for an outside evaluation may be charged to the DRL grant.

Grantees will be required to provide reports with an analysis and summary of their findings, both quantitative and qualitative, in their regular program reports to the Bureau. All data collected, including survey responses and contact information, must be maintained for a minimum of three years and provided to the Bureau upon request. DRL conducts quarterly reviews of all of its programs in order to meet its Performance Assessment Rating Tool (PART) requirements as set by OMB and to ensure grants are being administered and implemented successfully.

Sample Evaluation Plan
Objective 1: To improve journalists’ ability to effectively investigate and report on human rights issues in their country

Performance Indicator
Expected Outcomes
Data Source
1.1 Train journalists on investigative journalism
1. Knowledge of investigative journalism
2. Quality of reporting of human rights issues
3. Number of journalists trained with USG assistance*
1. 5 2-week trainings are held
2. 100 human rights pieces are written
3. 50 journalists trained
1. Journalists have improved investigative reporting skills
2. Journalists’ articles are featured in top international media outlets
1. Pre- and post-survey from participants
2. Content analysis done on articles
3. Information in media outlets
4. Program monitoring and reports

1.2 Develop a training manual on how to report on human rights issues
1. Quality of training manual
2. Usage of the training manual

3. 500 copies of the manuals are distributed
4. 2,000 website hits on the manual
1. Participants use manual as key reference guide
2. Manual is incorporated into journalism curriculum in country
1. Feedback from participants (interviews or focus groups)
2. Website data analysis
3. Program monitoring and reports

*Note: Beginning with FY2008 funds, the Office of the Director of Foreign Assistance (F) requires all DRL programs to report 1-3 standard indicators at the appropriate F Framework Governing Justly and Democratically (GJD) Element level. Therefore, applicants are requested to review the F Framework GJD Indicators and Definitions document and to include 1-3 standard indicators in the Monitoring and Evaluation plan. Please denote these indicators with an asterisk.

F GJD Indicators and Definitions: http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/101763.pdf

DRL strongly encourages applicants to clearly demonstrate program cost-effectiveness in their proposal submissions, including examples of leveraging institutional and other resources. Additional information on cost-effectiveness as a review criterion can be found in the Request for Statements of Interest/Proposals.

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 which 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. The basis for determining the value of cash and in-kind contributions must be in accordance with OMB Circular A-110 (Revised), Subpart C (23) “Cost-sharing or Matching.” 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.

All organizations, including those not offering any cost - sharing, should submit a budget, preferably in Excel or similar spreadsheet format, formatted to include three columns for each line item: DRL funding request, cost – share offered, and total funding. Sources of all cost - share offered in the application should be identified and explained in the budget narrative. When organizations have made a reasonable, good-faith effort to obtain cost sharing or are pursuing avenues to cost share, DRL encourages applicants to note this in the proposal.

Budgets should be arranged according to the format below to clearly delineate cost-share:

DRL Request
Cost Share
A. Personnel

B. Fringe Benefits

C. Travel

D. Equipment

E. Supplies

F. Contractual

G. Construction

H. Other

I. Total Direct Charges (sum A-H)

J. Indirect Charges

K. Total (sum I-J)

Applications will not be considered complete unless they include budgets that respond to the solicitation guidelines. Complete budgets will provide a detailed line-item budget outlining specific cost requirements for proposed activities. A minimum of three columns should be used to delineate the bureau funding request, cost-share by applicant, and total project funding. Complete applications will include a budget narrative to clarify and justify individual line-items (i.e. calculations of how the costs were derived per month or year, their necessity, and overall contribution to the program’s cost-effectiveness).

The three-column proposal line item budget should include the following components, in the suggested format below:
1. Summary Budget
2. Line-Item Budget

DRL Request         
Cost Share                     

a) Primarily Headquarters-Based Personnel

-H.Q.-based project -dedicated staff salary (X months)
X% of $X/yr

-H.Q.-based administrative staff salary (X months)
X% of $X/yr

b) Primarily Field-Based Personnel

-Field-based Country Director salary (x months or year)
X% of $X/yr

-Field-based Program Assistant salary (x months or year)
X% of $X/yr

Subtotal Personnel


a) Primarily H.Q.-Based Fringe Benefits
fringe=X% salary

-H.Q.-based project -dedicated staff fringe (X months)
X% fringe

-H.Q.-based administrative staff fringe(X months)
X% fringe

b) Primarily Field-Based Fringe Benefits
fringe=X% salary

-Field-based Country Director fringe (x months or year)
X% fringe

-Field-based Program Assistant fringe (x months or year)
X% fringe

Subtotal Fringe Benefits


a) Monitoring Travel

-Monitoring Trip: H.Q. to field (X)
$X/RT flight

-Per diem (X days)

b) Field Travel

Activity 1: Workshop

-Staff Travel (# staff)
$X/RT flight/# staff

-Staff Per Diem (X days)
$X/day/# day/# staff

-Participant Travel (# participants)
$X/trip/# pax

-Participant Per Diem (X days)
$X/day/# day/# pax

Activity 2: Town Hall Meeting

-Staff Travel (# staff)
$X/RT flight/# staff

-Staff Per Diem (X days)
$X/day/# day/# staff

-Participant Travel (# participants)
$X/trip/# pax

-Participant Per Diem (X days)
$X/day/# day/# pax

Subtotal Travel


a) Primarily H.Q.-Based Equipment (if applicable)

-H.Q.-equipment (if applicable)

d) Primarily Field-Based Equipment


Subtotal Equipment


a) Primarily H.Q.-Based Supplies (if applicable)

-Printing and Photocopying (X months)
X% of $X/yr

b) Primarily Field-Based Supplies

-Markers and dry erase board

-Telephone (X months)
X% of $X/yr

-Office Supplies (X months)
X% of $X/yr

Subtotal Supplies


a) Subgrants

-Local Subgrantees (X subgrants)

b) Consultant Fees

-Media Specialist/Honoraria (X days/hours)

-Independent M & E specialist

-Translation Fees (X pages)

Subtotal Contractual



a) Other Direct Costs

-Field Office Rent (X months)
X% of $X/mo

Subtotal Other

(Sum of A-H Subtotals)


a) Indirect Costs/NICRA (X% of costs)

Subtotal Indirect Charges


Note: This budget is designed to serve as an example of the format for complete budget submissions and is NOT exhaustive. Individual line items included in each applicant’s budget should reflect specific program activities. (pax = participants)

Before grants are awarded, the Bureau reserves the right to reduce, revise, or increase proposal budgets in accordance with the needs of the Bureau’s program and availability of funds.

Please include the applicant organization name, title and duration of the project, and the following:
  1. Personnel
  2. Fringe Benefits
  3. Travel
  4. Equipment
  5. Supplies
  6. Contractual
  7. Construction
  8. Other
  9. Total direct charges (sum a – h)
  10. Indirect Charges
  11. Total


A. Personnel – Identify staffing requirements by each position title and brief description of duties. For clarity, please list the annual salary of each position, percentage of time and number of months devoted to the project. (e.g., Administrative Director: $30,000/year x 25% x 8.5 months; calculation: $30,000/12 = $2,500 x 25% x 8.5 months = $5,312.).

B. Fringe Benefits - State benefit costs separately from salary costs and explain how benefits are computed for each category of employee - specify type and rate.

C. Travel - Staff and any participant travel:

  1. international airfare
  2. in-country travel
  3. domestic travel in the U.S., if any
  4. per diem/maintenance: includes lodging, meals and incidentals for both participant and staff travel. Rates of maximum allowances for U.S. and foreign travel are available from the following website: http:/www.policyworks.gov/. Per diem rates may not exceed the published U.S. government allowance rates; however, institutions may use per diem rates lower than official government rates.

Please explain differences in fares among travelers on the same routes: e.g., project staff member traveling for three weeks whose fare is higher than that of staff member traveling for four months. Please note that all travel, where applicable, must be in compliance with the Fly America Act.

D. Equipment – please provide justification for any equipment purchase/rental, defined as tangible personal property having a useful life of more than one year and an acquisition cost of $5000 or more.

E. Supplies - list items separately using unit costs (and the percentage of each unit cost being charged to the grant) for photocopying, postage, telephone/fax, printing, and office supplies (e.g., Telephone: $50/month x 50% = $25/month x 12 months).

F. Contractual
a) Subgrants. For each subgrant/contract please provide a detailed line item breakdown explaining specific services. In the subgrant budgets, provide the same level of detail for personnel, travel, supplies, equipment, direct costs, and fringe benefits required of the direct applicant.
b) Consultant Fees. For example lecture fees, honoraria, travel, and per diem for outside speakers or independent evaluators: list number of people and rates per day (e.g., 2 x $150/day x 2 days).

G. Construction – Due to the nature of DRL programs, construction costs are not applicable.

H. Other - these will vary depending on the nature of the project. The inclusion of each should be justified in the budget narrative.

J. Indirect Charges - See OMB Circular A-122, "Cost Principles for Non-profit Organizations"

  1. If your organization has an indirect cost-rate agreement with the U.S. Government, please include a copy of this agreement. This does not count against submission page limitations.
  2. If your organization is charging an indirect rate, please indicate how the rate is applied--to direct administrative expenses, to all direct costs, to wages and salaries only, etc.
  3. Do not include indirect costs against participant expenses in the Bureau budget, as it generally does not pay for these costs.

Cost Share/Cost-Effectiveness - Explanation of contributions should be included, whether cash or in-kind. Assign a monetary value in U.S. dollars to each in-kind contribution. If the proposed project is a component of a larger program, identify other funding sources for the proposal and indicate the specific funding amount to be provided by those sources. In addition, it is recommended that budget narratives address the overall cost-effectiveness of the proposal, including leveraging of institutional or other resources.

The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor will consider budgeted line-items for the following:

  • § Independent evaluations to assess the project’s impact (costs must be built into the overall original budget proposal and must be reasonable);
  • Costs associated with an internal evaluation conducted by the grantee (costs must be built into the overall original budget proposal and must be reasonable).
  • Visa Fees and Immunizations associated with program travel.

The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor does not pay for the following under any circumstances:

  • Publication of materials for distribution within the U.S.;
  • Administration of a program that will make a profit;
  • Expenses incurred before or after the specified dates of the grant (unless prior approval received);
  • Projects designed to advocate policy views or positions of foreign governments or views of a particular political faction;
  • Entertainment expenses, including alcoholic beverages.
  • Contingency funds.

The Bureau Review Committee Panels may make conditions and recommendations on proposals to enhance proposed programs. Conditions and recommendations are to be addressed by the applicant before approval of the award. To ensure effective use of limited DRL funds, conditions or recommendations may include requests to increase, decrease, clarify and/or justify costs.

Once the Request for Statements of Interest or Request for Proposals deadline has passed, State Department staff in DC and overseas at U.S. Embassies/Missions may not discuss competing proposals with applicants until the review process has been completed.

--  Proposal Submission Checklist 2008 [Get Acrobat Reader PDF version   ]

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