DRL Applied Research and Evaluation Fund: Political Party Support amid Restricted Political Competition

DRL Applied Research and Evaluation Fund: Political Party Support amid Restricted Political Competition

Project Description

The U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) announces an open competition for organizations interested in submitting applications for projects that develop, apply, test and disseminate evidenced-based methods to support the following goal: Contribute to building a portfolio of evidence to further identify democracy and rights program strategies that are effective, in an effort to improve program relevance and impact.


DRL is working to advance evidence generating projects in order to improve the success of political party assistance programs in closed, closing, and restrictive operating environments.

The project should employ four phases that (1) builds its evidence base by reviewing existing research and literature; (2) conducts original research that produces a use-oriented research paper, two-page summary and a draft toolkit of evaluation methods for political party assistance programming in restrictive environments; (3) applies, tests and validates the toolkit in the field; and (4) facilitates dissemination and learning from these products with key audiences.

By doing so, DRL aims to advance the following objective: Political party assistance policies and programs are informed by systematic evidence, ensuring accountability to stakeholders and improving the relevance and impact for their constituencies.

Research Team Requirements

  • Competitive applications will propose an expert team consisting of one senior team lead researcher, which should include at minimum two mid-level researchers. Applicants should consider team structures that incorporate researchers or staff with direct experience that shape the research, application and testing conducted in countries selected for this project. However, there is flexibility to propose an alternative staffing structure with proper justification if the applicant deems it is more appropriate.

  • All programs should aim to have impact that leads to reforms and have the potential for sustainability beyond DRL resources. This may be operationalized through a strong dissemination plan for utilizing research products created for knowledge sharing, among other methods. DRL’s preference is to avoid duplicating past efforts by supporting new and creative approaches. This does not exclude from consideration projects that improve upon or expand existing successful projects in a new and complementary way.

  • DRL is committed to advancing equity and support for underserved and underrepresented communities. In accordance with the Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Underserved Communities, programs should implement strategies for integration and inclusion of individuals/organizations/beneficiaries that can bring perspectives based on their religion, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, sex characteristics, national origin, age, genetic information, marital status, parental status, pregnancy, political affiliation, or veteran’s status. Programs should be demand-driven and locally led to the extent possible.

  • DRL requires all programs to be non-discriminatory and expects implementers to include strategies for nondiscrimination of individuals/organizations/beneficiaries based on race, color, religion, sex, gender identity, gender expression, sex characteristics, sexual orientation, pregnancy, national origin, disability, age, genetic information, marital status, parental status, political affiliation, or veteran’s status.

  • Competitive proposals may also include a summary budget and budget narrative for six additional months following the proposed period of performance, indicated above. This information should indicate what objective(s) and/or activities could be accomplished with additional time and/or funds beyond the proposed period of performance.

    Federal Award

    Primary organizations can submit 5 applications in response to the NOFO. If an applicant chooses to submit multiple applications to this NOFO, it is the responsibility of the applicant to demonstrate the competitiveness and uniqueness of each application.

    The U.S. government may: (a) reject any or all applications, (b) accept other than the lowest cost application, (c) accept more than one application, and (d) waive irregularities in applications received.

    The U.S. government may make award(s) on the basis of initial applications received, without discussions or negotiations. Therefore, each initial application should contain the applicant’s best terms from a cost and technical standpoint.

    The U.S. government reserves the right (though it is under no obligation to do so), however, to enter into discussions with one or more applicants in order to obtain clarifications, additional detail, or to suggest refinements in the project description, budget, or other aspects of an application.

    DRL anticipates awarding either a grant or cooperative agreement depending on the needs and risk factors of the program. The final determination on award mechanism will be made by the Grants Officer. The distinction between grants and cooperative agreements revolves around the existence of “substantial involvement.” Cooperative agreements require greater Federal government participation in the project.

    If a cooperative agreement is awarded, DRL will undertake reasonable and programmatically necessary substantial involvement. Examples of substantial involvement can include, but are not limited to:

  • Active participation or collaboration with the recipient in the implementation of the award;

  • Review and approval of one stage of work before another can begin;

  • Review and approval of substantive provisions of proposed sub-awards or contracts beyond existing Federal policy;

  • Approval of the recipient’s budget or plan of work prior to the award.

  • The authority for this funding opportunity is found in the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended (FAA).

    Eligible Applicants

  • DRL welcomes applications from U.S.-based and foreign-based non-profit organizations/nongovernmental organizations (NGO) and public international organizations; private, public, or state institutions of higher education; and for-profit organizations or businesses. DRL’s preference is to work with non-profit entities; however, there may be some occasions when a for-profit entity is best suited.

  • Applications submitted by for-profit entities may be subject to additional review following the panel selection process. Additionally, the Department of State prohibits profit to for-profit or commercial organizations under its assistance awards.

  • Profit is defined as any amount in excess of allowable direct and indirect costs. The allowability of costs incurred by commercial organizations is determined in accordance with the provisions of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) at 48 CFR 30, Cost Accounting Standards Administration, and 48 CFR 31 Contract Cost Principles and Procedures.

    How to Apply

    For more information and job application details, see; DRL Applied Research and Evaluation Fund: Political Party Support amid Restricted Political Competition

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