Evaluations of Public Affairs Foreign Assistance Programs in Georgia

Funding Opportunity Number DOS-GEO-21-008-052821
Deadline for Applications: 07/01/2021
Assistance Listing Number: 19.900 — AEECA/ESF PD Programs
Total Amount Available: $120,000

  1. STATEMENT OF WORK

The Public Affairs Section (PAS) of the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia, is pleased to announce an open competition for evaluations of Public Affairs Foreign Assistance programs in Georgia. U.S. and Georgian non-profit, non-governmental organizations and accredited higher education institutions may submit proposals.

Nature and Purpose of the Evaluation

The purpose of these third-party evaluations is to understand the extent to which programs implemented by the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi influence the attitudes, awareness, and actions of their participants. The three programs the Embassy seeks to evaluate include a non-formal youth journalism program, a professional development program for mid-career professionals in the national security sector, and a media education program for university administrators.

The primary audiences for this evaluation are staff members of the Embassy’s Public Affairs Section, and policy makers at the Embassy and in the European Bureau of the U.S. Department of State. They will use the results for the following purposes:

1) Understand how effectively the current program designs achieve the desired results of building skills, developing attitudes, and increasing awareness among participants;

2) Understand the extent to which participants maintain the skills, attitudes and awareness six months after the program’s completion, or twelve months in the case of teacher training program;

3) Understand the extent to which participants implement activities that make use of the expertise they developed through the program beyond its scope; and

4) Understand the extent to which students taught by alumni of the teacher training program achieve higher teaching outcomes in their classroom the following year.

This evaluations will be a joint effort conducted in collaboration with Embassy staff, program implementers, and selected evaluation partner(s), who will have primary responsibility for survey design, data collection, analysis, and report generation. The evaluation partner will need to address geographic and linguistic barriers in data collection. The program evaluations are expected to take two years to fully complete.  They will include surveys of program participants and control groups before the new cohorts of participants begin activities around October 1, 2021, when the program activities are concluded, and six months after the program ends.  Specific schedules will be developed in consultation between the U.S. Embassy, the program implementor, and the evaluator.

Potential partners may propose to evaluate one or more of the following programs.

Youth Journalism Program

  • Theory of change: Georgia’s diverse religious and ethnic minority (REM) communities are often excluded from social, political, and economic systems that are geared towards ethnic Georgians, making them more vulnerable to malign influences and disinformation.  If we teach English language and multi-media journalism skills to youth in REM communities, they will develop the skills to participate in future education, employment and entrepreneurial opportunities, as well as increasing their skills and interest in civic engagement and educating them about reliable sources of news and information.  These youth will then participate in Georgia’s social, political and economic systems, thereby making them less vulnerable to malign influences and disinformation, and promoting a more inclusive country.
  • Program participants: 75 youth, ages 15-20, from ethnic-Azeri and ethnic-Armenian communities in Akhalkalaki, Ninotsminda, Marneuli, Khuldara, and Kvemo Sarali.
  • Program activities: Each student will participate in approximately 273 hours of structured activities over the course of nine months, including: 129 hours of multi-media storytelling and journalism classes; 24 hours of pitch training; and 120 hours of English lessons.
  • Anticipated Short-Term outcomes: Participants will develop journalism production skills, become more committed to using reliable media sources, develop stronger English language skills, enabling them to communicate and consume media in English.
  • Anticipated Long-Term outcomes: After the program ends, participants will maintain their resilience to disinformation and English language skills.  They will also seek out opportunities to engage with Georgians outside their ethnic minority communities through vocational or higher education, through civil society engagement, or though professional activities.

Evaluation questions: 

  • Does program participation cause changes in knowledge, skills, and attitudes that are aligned with program goals, including:
  • Stronger English-language communication skills?
  • Journalism production and storytelling skills?
  • Greater resilience to disinformation narratives?
  • Do participants maintain those skills and attitudes six months after completing the program?  Are they more likely than non-participants to have:
  • Maintained or furthered their English language skills?
  • Maintained or further developed their resilience to disinformation narratives?
  • Lead or be involved in civic engagement activities, including multi-media storytelling or community journalism?
  • Pursue educational, professional or civil society opportunities that involve Georgians outside their ethnic community?

Sampling:

  • Treatment Group: Program participants (75)
  • Control Group: Non-Participants (75), youth of the same age and from the same communities as participants

National Security Studies Program

  • Theory of change: If we strengthen the professionalism of mid-level government officials by exposing them to Western approaches to public policy development, then they become leaders within their chosen fields and better implement the changes required to achieve Western integration.
  • Program participants: 25-30 mid-level government officials working in roles related to national security.
  • Program activities: Participants attend seminars, participate in discussions, and write opinion papers on non-military aspects of national security.
  • Anticipated short-term outcomes: Mid-career government and non-government representatives learn Western approaches to national security, international relations, economics, and public policy issues to build subject-matter expertise and raise the level of public discourse on critical issues.
  • Anticipated long-term outcomes: Participants advance in their careers and integrate what they have learned in the program into their work, which advances Western integration of Georgia’s national security sector.

Evaluation questions:

  • Does program participation cause changes in knowledge, skills, and attitudes that are aligned with program goals, including a:
  • Stronger commitment to Western integration?
  • Better understanding of Western approaches to national security, international relations, economics, and public policy?
  • Network of professionals within the Georgian National Security establishment who are advancing Western integration?
  • Do participants maintain those skills and attitudes six months after completing the program?  Are they more likely than non-participants to have:
  • Maintained their commitment to Western integration?
  • Made efforts to advance Western integration in their work?
  • Advanced professionally within the National Security establishment?

Sampling:

  • Treatment Group 1: 25-30 participants in the program.
  • Control Group: 25-30 mid-level government officials who were not selected for the program.

Media Education Program

  • Theory of change: If U.S.-based workshops and reciprocal visits/trainings are implemented to help support the professional development and teaching capacity of media educators from Georgia, the Georgian educators will develop the skills and knowledge to help establish an updated, vibrant journalism workforce in Georgia, as well as increase the ability for the country to maintain a free, open press and accountable democracy.
  • Program participants: 18 administrators and educators from Georgian universities with journalism and media education programs.
  • Program activities: Participants will travel to the United States and engage with U.S. media educators on a two-week study tour. US Media professors will pay a reciprocal visit to Georgia to assess the progress of the MEP and provide additional consultations/trainings.
  • Anticipated short-term outcomes: Professional capacity of Georgian media educators will be enhanced by introducing them to best practices of journalism education in the United States, as well as providing hands-on education on emerging media tools, digital platforms, and practices.
  • Anticipated long-term outcomes: Quality of journalism education in Georgian universities will be improved through strengthening existing programs, introducing new courses and creating a community of Georgian media educators who have the skills, knowledge, and attitudes to manage student-centered journalism classes that promote the tenants of a free, open, and unbiased media.

Evaluation questions:

  • Does program participation cause changes in knowledge, skills, and attitudes that are aligned with program goals, including a:
  • Better understanding of contemporary content taught in American journalism schools, including quality textbooks, syllabi samples, effective assignments, and best practices in teaching and learning, especially online course design and delivery?
  • Effective use of the latest teaching methods, laboratories, technologies and digital platforms in journalism education presented by American faculty?
  • Do participants maintain those skills and attitudes six months after completing the program? Are they more likely than non-participants to have:
  • Improved skills and pedagogical knowledge to increase the effectiveness of their teaching through the use of best practices?
  • Better understanding of the concepts of a free press, the First Amendment, and media ethics taught at American universities and exercised by professional journalists in the field?
  • Implemented changes in program structures, curriculum or teaching methods to use American approaches introduced during the program?

Sampling:

  • Treatment Group: 18 program participants
  • Control Group: 18 media educators and administrators who were not selected for the program.
  1. FEDERAL AWARD INFORMATION 

Application Submission: June 1, 2021 to July 1, 2021 11:59 p.m. Georgia Standard Time.
Length of performance period: up to 24 months with possibility of cost extension
Award amounts: The maximum amount of the cooperative agreement is  $120,000 for evaluation of three projects.
Type of Funding: FY20/21 Economic Support Funds under the Foreign Assistance Act
Anticipated program start date: September 2021
Funding Instrument Type: Cooperative Agreement
Program Performance Period: 24 months

CONTACT INFORMATION 

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

Please include Funding Opportunity Number in the email subject line. 

  1. ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION 

Eligible Applicants: 

Eligibility is limited to U.S. and Georgian non-profit/non-governmental organizations, universities and educational institutions.

Other Eligibility Requirements: To be eligible to receive an award, all organizations must have a unique entity identifier (Data Universal Numbering System/DUNS number from Dun & Bradstreet), as well as a valid registration on www.SAM.gov. Please see Section D.4 for information on how to obtain these registrations. 

Cost Sharing or Matching: This program does not require cost sharing, however in-kind financial contributions will be favorably considered.

  1. APPLICATION AND SUBMISSION INFORMATION 

Award Period: 24 months (with possible time/cost extension)
Award Amount: up to $120,000 for all three evaluation of three projects
Application Submission Process: Applicants must submit proposals electronically using TbilisiGrants@state.gov. Include Funding Opportunity Number in the email subject line.
Application Deadline: All applications must be submitted on or before July 1, 2021, 11:59 p.m. Georgia 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. Include Funding Opportunity Number in the email subject line.

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 U.S. letter size paper (8½ x11”). Do NOT send .rar files. 

Application Content: Applicants must follow the NOFO 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 NOFO. The penalty for making false statements in proposals to the USG is prescribed on 18 U.S.C.1001.

The following documents are required:

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

This form can be found on-line at:

http://aopefa.a.state.gov/content.asp?content_id=20&menu_id=68

Mandatory application forms 

  • SF-424 (Application for Federal Assistance – organizations) 
  • SF424A (Budget Information for Non-Construction programs) 
  • SF424B (Assurances for Non-Construction programs) 

Section 2 – Executive Summary: (maximum 2 pages) 

The executive summary is limited to 300 words in length. It must provide a summary identifying the project(s) to be evaluated, proposed activities, and expected results.

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

The proposed activities should be described in sufficient detail to show how objectives and goals outlined in the notice of funding opportunity 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.

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 activities. Besides information about the organization as a whole, this section must also identify the proposed management structure and staffing plan for the proposed project.

Section 5 – Appendices:

The proposal submission must include appendices listed below. Only the appendices listed below may be included as part of the application:

(a) 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 and supplies, if any; travel expenses; 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 on-line at:

http://aopefa.a.state.gov/Content/documents/SF424A-V1.0.pdf

http://aopefa.a.state.gov/Content/documents/SF424Instructions.pdf

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

(b) Resume (Required) – a resume, not to exceed 2 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 1-page position description, identifying the qualifications and skills required for that position, in lieu of a resume.

(c) Unique Entity Identifier and System for Award Management (SAM.gov) – copy of SAM.gov registration.

Required Registrations: 

Any applicant listed on the Excluded Parties List System (EPLS) in the System for Award Management (SAM) is not eligible to apply for an assistance award in accordance with the OMB guidelines at 2 CFR 180 that implement Executive Orders 12549 (3 CFR, 1986 Comp., p. 189) and 12689 (3 CFR, 1989 Comp., p. 235), “Debarment and Suspension.” Additionally, no entity listed on the EPLS can participate in any activities under an award. All applicants are strongly encouraged to review the EPLS in SAM to ensure that no ineligible entity is included.

All organizations applying for grants (except individuals) must obtain these registrations. All are free of charge:

  • Unique entity identifier from Dun & Bradstreet (DUNS number)
  • NCAGE/CAGE code
  • www.SAM.gov registration

Step 1: Apply for a DUNS number and an NCAGE number (these can be completed simultaneously)

DUNS application: Organizations must have a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number from Dun & Bradstreet. If your organization does not have one already, you may obtain one by calling 1-866-705-5711 or visiting http://fedgov.dnb.com/webform

NCAGE application: Application page here: https://eportal.nspa.nato.int/AC135Public/scage/CageList.aspx

Instructions for the NCAGE application process:

https://eportal.nspa.nato.int/AC135Public/Docs/US%20Instructions%20for%20NSPA%20NCAGE.pdf

For NCAGE help from within the U.S., call 1-888-227-2423

For NCAGE help from outside the U.S., call 1-269-961-7766

Email NCAGE@dlis.dla.mil for any problems in getting an NCAGE code.

Step 2: After receiving the NCAGE Code, proceed to register in SAM.gov by logging onto: https://www.sam.gov. SAM registration must be renewed annually.

  1. AWARD SELECTION CRITERIA 

Evaluation Criteria: Applicants should note 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 peer review committee of the Public Affairs Section, U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia and other experts, as deemed appropriate. The evaluation criteria have been tailored to the requirements of this NOFO.

Project Strategy, Approach and Implementation Plan (40 points): Applicants should demonstrate:

(a) good understanding of the issue; clear definitions of the evaluation methodology and a vision of what will be accomplished; (b) technical soundness of approach, including clarity in scope and focus of activities to be carried out; feasibility of achieving results and objectives; (c) detailed analysis of potential obstacles, risks and problems that could be encountered during the project implementation; (d) clarity of expected evaluation report.

The review panel will be viewing the implementation plan in terms of how well it addresses the overall relevance of the goals and objectives and feasibility of the proposed activities and their timeline for completion.

Organizational Capability (40 points): Proposals should demonstrate the ability to develop and implement third-party evaluations of foreign assistance projects. Applicants must demonstrate how their resources, capabilities, and experience will enable them to achieve the stated goals and objectives. In addition, applicants should describe how they will collaborate with PAS and the implementing partner(s) of the project(s) to design and conduct the evaluation.

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.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/circulars_a021_2004 9

http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/textidx?c=ecfr;sid=da0fd6f5ca4807cea49d4792239d6505;rgn=div5;view=text;node=2%3A1.1.2.10.4;idno=2;cc=ecfr

Resume: The review panel 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 the resume will be reviewed for the appropriateness of the qualifications and skills identified.

  1. AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION 

Award Notices: The grant award or co-operative agreement 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 it 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 selected proposal 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 grant agreement, which may include revisions to the activities. The final agreement 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 October, 2018. 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 U.S. government, nor does it commit the U.S. government to pay for costs incurred in the preparation and submission of proposals. Further, the U.S. 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.

Recipients will be required to submit financial reports and program reports. The award document will specify how often these reports must be submitted. All recipients must submit a formal report to the Grants Officer upon completion of the project. The report should discuss what was done, whether the project was successful from the applicant’s perspective and how it might be improved in the future. Copies of video materials, CDs, and other video and audio aids generated during the implementation of the project attesting to the success of the grant activities are welcome.

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. The Department of State reserves the right to award more or less than the funding indicated as is deemed in the best interest of the U.S. Government.

VIII. OTHER INFORMATION 

Guidelines for Budget Justification 

Personnel and Fringe Benefits: Describe the wages, salaries, and benefits of temporary or permanent staff who will be working directly for the applicant on the program, and the percentage of their time that will be spent on the program.

Travel: Estimate the costs of travel and per diem for this program, for program staff, consultants or speakers, and participants/beneficiaries. If the program involves international travel, include a brief statement of justification for that travel.

Equipment: Describe any machinery, furniture, or other personal property that is required for the program, which has a useful life of more than one year (or a life longer than the duration of the program), and costs at least $5,000 per unit.

Supplies: List and describe all the items and materials, including any computer devices, that are needed for the program. If an item costs more than $5,000 per unit, then put it in the budget under Equipment.

Contractual: Describe goods and services that the applicant plans to acquire through a contract with a vendor. Also describe any sub-awards to non-profit partners that will help carry out the program activities.

Other Direct Costs: Describe other costs directly associated with the program, which do not fit in the other categories. For example, shipping costs for materials and equipment or applicable taxes. All “Other” or “Miscellaneous” expenses must be itemized and explained.

Indirect Costs: These are costs that cannot be linked directly to the program activities, such as overhead costs needed to help keep the organization operating. If your organization has a Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate (NICRA) and includes NICRA charges in the budget, attach a copy of your latest NICRA. Organizations that have never had a NICRA may request indirect costs of 10% of the modified total direct costs as defined in 2 CFR 200.68.

“Cost Sharing” refers to contributions from the organization or other entities other than the U.S. Embassy. It also includes in-kind contributions such as volunteers’ time and donated venues.

Alcoholic Beverages: Please note that award funds cannot be used for alcoholic beverages.

  1. FEDERAL AWARDING AGENCY CONTACTS 

If you have any questions about the grant application process, please contact: TbilisiGrants@state.gov

Include Funding Opportunity Number in the email subject line.