Government of Georgia Strategic Communications Program

Government of Georgia Strategic Communications Program

Announcement Type:             Cooperative Agreement
Deadline for Applications:                  May 19, 2017
AECCA                                              $250,000

Eligibility

Eligibility is limited to non-profit/non-governmental organizations, universities and educational institutes, and private sector entities. Applicants must have demonstrated expertise in strategic communications, government public relations, social media, marketing, etc. Knowledge of the Georgian government structure and operations, the media space, and the economic environment to establish relationships with Georgian government organizations, practitioners, and private sector businesses will be favored.

Cost Sharing or Matching

This program does not require cost sharing; however, in-kind contributions will be favorably considered.

Other Special Eligibility Criteria

None

Contact Information

For questions relating to Grants.gov, please call the Grants.gov Contact Center at 1-800-518-4726.

On program requirements of this solicitation, contact Grants Program Coordinator at the Public Affairs Section, U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia, at TbilisiGrants@state.gov.

 

Executive Summary

The Public Affairs Section (PAS) of the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia is pleased to announce an open competition for assistance award through this Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for a Government of Georgia Strategic Communications Program. The Public Affairs Section (PAS) invites international strategic communications expert groups, non-profit/non-governmental organizations, university and educational institutes, and private sector entities to submit proposals for an 18-24 month project to improve strategic communications capacity  in the Georgian Government, and improve/develop national and municipal governments communications skills.  The main goal of this effort is to improve official messaging promoting Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration with Georgian public.

First this project is meant to strengthen and develop strategic communications units in the Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, State Ministry of Euro-Atlantic Integration, and the Office of Prime Minister and further promote an integrated approach to implementation.  Second – to foster strategic communications skills and abilities among Georgian Government public affairs officials; develop government practitioners’ skills in effectively countering disinformation and misinformation in the media space;  build an efficient communication network of local and national government officials; provide the framework for a governmental environment of consistent and coordinated strategic communications, analyzing issues proactively through a communication and advanced planning lens.

PAS will award up to U.S. $250,000 for this 18-24 month project.

  1. PROGRAM OVERVIEW

In an effort to improve official messaging promoting Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration with Georgian publics, the Georgian government made a decision confirmed through the Prime Minister to develop its strategic communications capacity.

To date, the Government of Georgia created strategic communications units in four key agencies:  the Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, State Ministry of Euro-Atlantic Integration, and the Office of Prime Minister, which is the formal lead.  The latter is working to elaborate the appropriate organizational structure, staffing, and most importantly ways of coordinating with each other on such important topics as unified messaging.  Standardizing the structures of their various units is one of the top priorities seeking the most effective means to help Georgia counter the trend of misinformation.

For more background information on strategic communications in Georgia please see:

Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia www.mes.gov.ge

Law of Georgia on Higher Education

Objectives

This project aims to increase strategic communications capacity , structure and staffing in four key government agencies, provide the framework for a governmental environment of consistent and coordinated strategic communications, analyzing issues proactively through a communication and advanced planning lens;  improve skills and abilities among Georgian Government officials; develop government practitioners’ skills in effectively countering disinformation and misinformation in the media space; build an efficient communication network of local and national government officials. This goal will be achieved through a series of strategic communications programs aimed to increase strategic communications capacity in the Georgian Government.  To support this goal it is important to achieve efficiency and accuracy in the internal Government of Georgia public affairs structure and share best practices on developing media discipline.  The project has the following overall objective: design and implement customized, cohesive series of training course for different target groups in the Georgian Government.

Develop strategic communications capacity and foster strategic communications and skills among Georgian government decision-makers and practitioners and, with an emphasis on the need for coordination between them.

Train government officials at the decision-making level to acquire the skills and ability to develop a master plan and an implementation agenda.  Train mid-level government officials  (25-30 participants per session) in skills including public information distribution via social and traditional media, optimization, issue management and planning, coordination and consistency, advanced planning, crisis media engagement, public relations work, and marketing concepts.

To facilitate the knowledge transfer to practitioners through hands-on, dynamic workshop-based sessions utilizing simulations and case-studies for the purpose of learning best practices of evolving strategic communications techniques and tools.

  • To develop government practitioners skill in working in or with all areas of the media space
  • Focus attention on developing skills in countering media disinformation and misinformation
  • Encourage a proactive instead of reactive communications strategy by increasing government ability to be proactive and transparent and exploit the multiplier effect of multi-platform media
  • Encourage government to consider ethnic minorities need for accessible information in their own language
  • Foster public relations skills by focusing on a professional public image and utilizing multiple channels to maximize the impact of strategic communication messaging and minimize the impact of misinformation
  • To further develop a network between ministries and local governments for the purpose of efficient communication, coordinated messaging, and policy planning and execution.

U.S. Embassy Involvement:  The U.S. Embassy will identify program participants with close cooperation and advice from the Government of Georgia.

Expected Results

The program is intended to develop strategic combinations capacity in the Georgian Government under the leadership of the Prime Minister’s office; improve strategic communications skills and foster an efficient communications network among Georgian Government officials. Specifically, the program will teach strategic communications, public relations, multi-media, and marketing skills, among others, for the purpose of supporting an environment of consistent and coordinated strategic communications and developing the Georgian Government’s ability to counter misinformation and disinformation in the media space.

  • To develop strategic communications skills program consisting of monthly workshop-based sessions for Georgian Government officials, focusing on practitioners over decision-makers and inviting municipal officials to take part after the first cohort completes the program.
  • To provide Georgian Government officials with background knowledge about ongoing rise of misinformation and disinformation in traditional and social media and work with officials to develop the knowledge and tools to combat this trend.
  • To develop an efficient and consistent communications network among ministries and municipal governments.
  • To develop the Government’s ability to have a proactive, transparent, and professional media presence.
  • Funding Priorities

The Public Affairs Section (PAS) of the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia seeks to fund an effective, innovative, and sustainable project to develop  strategic communications capacity in the Georgian Government and increase skills among Georgian Government officials.

III. ELIGIBILITY Requirements

Eligibility is limited to non-profit/non-governmental organizations, universities, educational institutes, and private sector entities.
In-kind and/or cash contributions is not required but will be considered favourably.

  1. APPLICATION AND SUBMISSION INFORMATION

Award Period: 18-24 months upon applicant’s program design (with possible extension).

Award Amount: $250,000 pending funding availability.

Application Submission Process:  Applicants must submit proposals electronically on grants.gov.

Application Deadline: All applications must be submitted in electronic form in addition to or instead of the hard copies on or before May 19, 2017 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard time.

Applications submitted after 11:59 p.m. will not be eligible for consideration.  If receipt of application in not confirmed within two days, please contact TbilisiGrants@state.gov.

Telegraphic or fax applications are not authorized for this NOFO and will not be accepted. The total size of each attachment should not exceed 3 MBs.  Every page of the proposal must be numbered.  The application must have a table of contents.  Large graphic files are discouraged.  The format of any attachments must be in Microsoft Word, Excel or PDF.  Attached files should be printable on US letter size paper (8½ x11”).

Application Content:  Applicants must follow the RFP instructions and conditions contained herein and supply all information required.  Failure to furnish all information or comply with stated requirements will result in disqualification from the competition.  Applicants must set forth full, accurate, and complete information as required by this RFP.  The penalty for making false statements in proposals to the USG is prescribed on 18 U.S.C.1001.

Section 1 – Application for Federal Assistance (SF-424):

Please see the attached information and application form under the Category “Additional Resources” 

Section 2 – Executive summary (maximum 2 pages): 

The executive summary is limited to two pages in length.  It must provide a summary of the identified need, proposed activities, and expected results.

Section 3 – Project Goals/Implementation Plan (maximum 10 pages):

The applicant must specify the proposed activities that will be undertaken to achieve the goals and objectives of this NOFO.  The proposed activities should be described in sufficient detail to show how objectives and goals will be met.  The narrative should be brief, concise and provide a clear description of what the applicant proposes to do, where, why, when, how and by whom.

This section should also include a structured monitoring and evaluation plan or matrix that will demonstrate how success will be measured against objectively verifiable performance indicators.  The matrix should also include: sources/means for verification, risks and assumptions for goals and objectives, and expected results and activities.

Section 4 – Organizational Capability (maximum 2 pages): 

Applications must include a clear description of the applicant’s organizational and management structure, and previous experience with similar projects.  In addition to information about the organization as a whole, this section must also identify the proposed management structure and staffing plan for the proposed project.  Describe any partnerships, consortia, or coalitions arranged between the applicant and the beneficiary organization(s).

Section 5 – Appendices:

The proposal submission must include the two appendices listed below:

Budget (Required) – the budget must identify the total amount of funding requested, with a breakdown of amounts to be spent in the following budget categories: personnel (salary, wages, honoraria); fringe benefits if any; international and domestic travel; materials; equipment, if any; supplies; office /classroom rental; Georgian participants costs, if any (stipends, travel, etc.); other direct and indirect costs, etc.  Include a budget with an accompanying budget narrative which provides in detail the total costs for implementation of the program your organization is proposing.  Detailed budget notes and supporting justification of all proposed budget line items should be included.  In addition, a summary of the budget must be submitted using Standard Form SF-424A.  This form can be found under the category “Additional Resources” on the top of this page.

Applicants that have a Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate Agreement with the U.S. Government should submit the latest copy.

Resume (Required) – a resume, not to exceed 3 pages in length, must be included for the proposed key staff person, such as the Project Director. If an individual for this type of position has not been identified, the applicant may submit a one-page position description, identifying the qualifications and skills required for that position, in lieu of a resume.

Letters of Intent (Optional) – Public Affairs Section (PAS) recommends that U.S. applicants identify in advance the Georgian partner(s) and recommends submitting letters of intent together with the proposal. Georgian applicants should identify key invited experts who will help to implement the project.  The letters must identify the type of relationship to be entered into (formal or informal), the roles and responsibilities of the applicant in relation to the proposed project activities, and the expected result of the cooperation.  Please note that these are not letters of support, and should only be included for those organizations that will play an active role in the project, including those that receive financial support through the project budget.  The individual letters cannot exceed 1 page in length, and applicants are limited to submitting up to 5 letters per proposal.

  1. AWARD SELECTION CRITERIA

Evaluation Criteria:  Applicants should note that the following criteria (1) serve as a standard against which all proposals will be evaluated, and (2) serve to identify the significant matters that should be addressed in all proposals.  The USG will award grants to the applicants whose offers represent the best value to the USG on the basis of technical merit and cost.

Each application will be evaluated by a review committee of the Department of State and Public Affairs Section, U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia and other experts, as appropriate.  The evaluation criteria have been tailored to the requirements of this NOFO.

Program Strategy and Approach,  and Implementation Plan (50 points): Applicants should demonstrate

(a) good understanding of the issue; clear definitions of the program and a vision of what will be accomplished at the end the agreement; (b) clarity of proposed objectives; (c) technical soundness of approach, including clarity in scope and focus of activities to be carried out; feasibility of achieving results and objectives; (d) detailed analysis of potential obstacles, risks and problems that could be encountered during the project implementation; (e) local partnership commitments and optimum utilization of Georgian organizations and Georgian expertise in program implementation; (f) clarity of expected achievements/outcomes of the project, and a brief description of the proposed monitoring and evaluation plan.

The review panel will be viewing the implementation plan in terms of how well it addresses the overall relevance of the goals and objectives, feasibility of the proposed activities and their timeline for completion, and the extent to which the impact of the project will continue beyond the conclusion of the funding period.

Organizational Capability (30 points): Proposals should demonstrate the applicant’s ability to develop and implement a Government of Georgia Strategic Communications Program. Applicants must demonstrate how their managerial, programmatic and technical capacity and past experience will enable them to achieve the stated goals and objectives; and provide a strategy to ensure the smooth and effective implementation of program activities.  In addition, applicants should describe how they will collaborate with Georgian partner organization(s) to meet the project goals.

Appendices (20 points):

Budget:  Costs shall be evaluated for realism, control practices, and efficiency.  The review committee must determine that the costs paid for this award are reasonable, allowable, and allocable to the proposed project activities.  This will consist of a review of the budget to determine if the overall costs are realistic for the work to be performed, if the costs reflect the applicant’s understanding of the allowable cost principles established by OMB Circular A-21 and if the costs are consistent with the program narrative.

Resume: The review committee will consider the appropriateness of the selected project director in view of the role and responsibility that person will play in guiding the project through implementation to completion.  Position descriptions submitted in lieu of a resume will be reviewed for the appropriateness of the qualifications and skills identified.

CVs for trainers if any (Preferred)

Letters of Intent from cooperating partners (Optional): Please provide any available letter(s) from any U.S. or Georgian partner organizations regarding their intention to partner in this project.

  1. AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION

Award Notices:  The grant award shall be written, signed, awarded, and administered by the Grants Officer.  The Grants Officer is the Government official delegated the authority by the U.S. Department of State Procurement Executive to write, award, and administer grants and cooperative agreements.  The assistance award agreement is the authorizing document and will be provided to the Recipient through either mail or facsimile transmission.  Organizations whose applications will not be funded will also be notified in writing.

Anticipated Time to Award:  Applicants should expect to be notified of the final decision within 90 days after the submission deadline.  Following this, the Public Affairs Section (PAS) of the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia staff will provide information at the point of notification about the requirements for the final application, which may include revisions to the activities.  The final applications will not be subject to further competition, but must incorporate any suggested changes made by the Public Affairs Section (PAS) of the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Applicants should be aware that there may be a delay between the time that applications are submitted and awards are made.  Successful applicants can expect to receive their first tranche of grant funds no later than September 2017.  This delay is primarily due to the extensive clearance process that must be undertaken prior to grant awards being made.

Issuance of this NOFO does not constitute an award commitment on the part of the Government, nor does it commit the Government to pay for costs incurred in the preparation and submission of proposals.  Further, the Government reserves the right to reject any or all proposals received.

Reporting Requirements:  Grantees are required to submit quarterly program progress and financial reports throughout the project period.  Progress and financial reports are due 30 days after the reporting period.  Final programmatic and financial reports are due 90 days after the close of the project period.  Progress reports at a minimum should be submitted via electronic mail to an address to be provided in the award.

VII. Disclaimer

If a proposal is selected for funding, the Department of State has no obligation to provide any additional future funding in connection with the award.  Renewal of an award to extend the period of performance is at the total discretion of the Department of State.