Proposal Submission Instructions (PSI) 2008
Updated: June 2008
PROPOSAL SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS
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.
PROPOSAL REVIEW PROCESS
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.
TECHNICAL FORMAT REQUIREMENTS
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:
a) the target country(ies),
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.
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).
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).
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:
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.
OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET (OMB) CIRCULARS
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.
PROGRAM MONITORING AND EVALUATION
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.
Objective 1: To improve journalists’ ability to effectively investigate and report on human rights issues in their country
*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
COST – SHARING AND COST – EFFECTIVENESS
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:
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
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.
1. SUMMARY BUDGET:
Please include the applicant organization name, title and duration of the project, and the following:
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.
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 does not pay for the following under any circumstances:
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.