[bestbits] Fwd: Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor: Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Request for Statements of Interest: DRL Internet Freedom Annual Program Statement

Michael Oghia mike.oghia at gmail.com
Fri Jun 2 01:05:32 EDT 2017

FYI, might be of interest

---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: U.S. Department of State <usstatebpa at subscriptions.fcg.gov>
Date: Fri, Jun 2, 2017
Subject: Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor: Bureau of Democracy, Human
Rights and Labor Request for Statements of Interest: DRL Internet Freedom
Annual Program Statement

Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor: Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and
Labor Request for Statements of Interest: DRL Internet Freedom Annual
Program Statement
06/01/2017 03:54 PM EDT

June 1, 2017


Funding Opportunity # DRLA-DRLAQM-18-004

*I. Requested Objectives for Statements of Interest *

The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) announces a Request
for Statements of Interest (RSOI) from organizations interested in
submitting applications for programs that support Internet freedom. In
support of the U.S. International Strategy for Cyberspace, DRL’s goal is to
protect the open, interoperable, secure, and reliable Internet by promoting
fundamental freedoms, human rights, and the free flow of information online
through integrated support to civil society for *technology*, *digital
safety*, *policy and advocacy*, and *applied research* programs. DRL
invites organizations interested in potential funding to submit SOI
applications outlining program concepts that reflect this goal.

*PLEASE NOTE: *DRL strongly encourages applicants to immediately access
or www.grants.gov
in order to obtain a username and password. *GrantSolutions.gov is highly
recommended for all submissions and is DRL’s preferred system for receiving
applications. * To register with GrantSolutions.gov for the first time,
please refer to the Proposal Submission Instructions for Statements of
Interest, updated June 2017, at: https://www.state.gov/j/drl/p/c12302.htm

The submission of a SOI is the first step in a two-part process. Applicants
must first submit a SOI, which is a concise, 3-page concept note designed
to clearly communicate a program idea and its objectives before the
development of a full proposal application. The purpose of the SOI process
is to allow applicants the opportunity to submit program ideas for DRL to
evaluate prior to requiring the development of full proposal applications.
Upon review of eligible SOIs, DRL will invite selected applicants to expand
their ideas into full proposal applications.

There will be *two deadlines* for submission of SOIs – *July 24, 2017 and
February 12, 2018*. Organizations may submit *up to two (2) SOIs per
deadline*. Organizations that submit applications to the first deadline may
also submit applications to the second deadline, regardless of the outcome
of their previous applications(s).

*SOIs that request less than $500,000 or more than $3,000,000 may be deemed
technically ineligible. *DRL reserves the right to award more or less than
the funds requested, including estimated individual award floor and ceiling
amounts, under such circumstances as it may deem to be in the best interest
of the U.S. government. DRL Internet freedom programs typically run for 1-3
years. On average, successful applicants receive funding about 9 months
from the SOI submission date.


*Priority Regions:*

SOIs focused globally or focused on any region will be considered.
Applications should prioritize work in Internet repressive environments.

SOIs regarding technology development should have clear regional human
rights use-cases or plans for deployment. SOIs focused on digital safety,
advocacy, and research should also have region- or population-specific
goals and priorities that are informed by clear field knowledge and

*Internet Freedom Funding Themes:*

SOIs *must* address one or more of the Internet Freedom Funding Themes:
*technology*, *digital safety*, *policy and advocacy*, and *applied
research*. Each of the Funding Themes is described in detail below.
Applications that do not address the Funding Themes will not be considered

*Areas of Focus:*

Within each of the Internet freedom funding themes, DRL has identified
“areas of focus.” *SOIs do not need to fit into one of these areas to be
considered.* They are provided solely to indicate a subset of areas of
interest for consideration. Applications that do not address one or more of
these “areas of focus” will *not* be penalized nor disqualified from the
competitive process.

*Funding Theme #1: Technology: Uncensored and Secure Access to the Global
Internet *– Development of and support for desktop and mobile technologies
that counter censorship and/or enable secure communications. These tools
should be tailored to the needs of human rights defenders and the acute and
diverse threats they face. The tool design and deployment should be
informed by user-centered design that is focused on these communities, and
these tools should be supported on the platforms (desktop, mobile, etc.)
that these communities most use. Projects may include but are not limited

   - *Development of new technologies* for defeating censorship, for
   maintaining availability of information, for secure communications, for
   privacy protection, and online services, such as email and website hosting,
   with robust defenses against hacking and other attacks.
   - *Improvements to proven technologies* including deployment, expansion,
   adaptation, and/or localization of proven anti-censorship or secure
   communication technologies; and improvement of usability and user
   interfaces to enable broader populations of users to adopt such tools.
   - *Re-usable libraries or platforms *that provide the underlying
   software components that may be used by anti-censorship and secure
   communication tools.

*Areas of Focus:*

   - Scalable and sustainable next-generation anti-censorship and secure
   communication technologies, especially for iOS and other platforms that
   generally have less support for anti-censorship and secure communication.
   - Programs to provide small-grant support and seed funding to promising
   new technologies and tools.
   - Next-generation malware detection and mitigation systems.
   - Mobile applications for real-time near-field or peer-to-peer
   communication, and other measures to mitigate the impact of network

*Funding Theme #2: Digital Safety *– Support, training, and information
resources that contribute to greater digital safety for users in Internet
repressive societies, including civil society, human rights defenders,
journalists, and other vulnerable populations. Projects may include but are
not limited to:

   - *Digital safety skills development* for civil society through
   trainings, organizational security audits, mentorship, local leadership
   development, peer learning and guided practice approaches, employing adult
   learning pedagogies.
   - *Emergency support* to respond to urgent cases and to prevent future
   digital attacks, including harassment and violence against individuals in
   retribution for their online activities.
   - *Resource development and information dissemination* to targeted
   communities to raise awareness of digital threats, encourage best
   practices, and respond to sudden threats to Internet freedom.

*Areas of Focus:*

   - Development of tailored digital safety resources and training
   methodologies for marginalized populations, including women and LGBTI
   - Assessment of the effectiveness of digital safety methodologies and
   interventions, such as ethnographic research, to inform the digital safety
   training community and future interventions.
   - Holistic and proactive training and skill-building programs for human
   rights defenders and vulnerable populations that presents digital safety in
   the larger context of physical security and psychosocial care.
   - Programs to build the capacity of local digital safety trainers and
   foster regional training networks and training opportunities.
   - Targeted, public health-style campaigns to promote digital hygiene and
   increase the adoption of digital safety tools and practices in Internet
   restrictive environments.

*Funding Theme #3: Policy and Advocacy *– National, regional, and
international policy and advocacy efforts that empower civil society to
counter restrictive Internet laws and support policies to promote Internet
freedom in countries where the government has adopted, or is considering
adopting, laws or policies that restrict human rights online. Projects may
include but are not limited to:

   - *Local capacity-building* programs to support the development of
   non-U.S. based civil society organizations to advocate for human rights
   - *Regional coalition-building* efforts to expand networks, increase
   coordination, and develop regional standards to support policies that
   protect and promote Internet freedom.
   - *International engagement* opportunities to increase civil society
   participation in international policy dialogues to support multistakeholder
   engagement and promote Internet freedom at key international forums.

*Areas of Focus:*

   - Initiatives to mainstream Internet freedom and online human rights
   standards into regional and international cybersecurity and cybercrime
   policy-making processes and dialogues.
   - Initiatives to integrate Internet freedom and online human rights
   standards into regional and international trade discussions and engagements.
   - Initiatives to institutionalize Internet policy training and expertise
   in local law firms, legal institutions, and law schools.
   - Coordination mechanisms to link disparate efforts across the full
   range of stakeholder groups to counter the growing trend of network

*Funding Theme #4: Applied Research *– Research efforts to inform and
benefit Internet freedom globally. Research should address technological
and political developments affecting Internet freedom. Projects may include
but are not limited to:

   - Real-time monitoring and analysis of both technical and policy threats
   to Internet freedom. Global assessments of Internet freedom threats,
   opportunities, and trends.

*Areas of Focus:*

   - Cyber-threat intelligence collection and analysis, including data
   forensics, and information-sharing to support human rights defenders and
   civil society.
   - Assessment of the current effectiveness of anti-censorship and secure
   communication tools and techniques to inform the Internet freedom technical
   community and improve approaches to anti-censorship and secure
   - Policy research and legal analysis to increase awareness of Internet
   policy trends and enhance targeted national, regional, or international
   advocacy efforts, such as the human rights implications of Internet
   sovereignty and data localization policies.
   - Analysis of the implications of cutting edge technological
   developments and issues – such as big data, AI learning, network shutdowns,
   and the Internet of things – for Internet freedom and human rights online.

*Key Program Considerations:*

The following list of program considerations is provided as a guide to help
applicants develop responsive, robust program proposals. This list of
considerations will not be used as criteria to evaluate SOI applications.

   - DRL encourages applicants to foster *collaborative partnerships*,
   especially with local organizations in target countries and/or regions,
   where applicable.
   - Applicants are strongly encouraged to *form consortia* for submitting
   a combined SOI—in which one organization is designated as the lead
   applicant—that is designed to forge closer links between complementary
   initiatives and institutional capacities and aims to maximize program
   multiplier effect.
   - DRL strives to ensure its programs advance the rights and uphold the
   dignity of the most *at-risk and vulnerable populations*. At-risk
   populations may include women, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and
   intersex (LGBTI) individuals, members of religious and ethnic minority
   groups, and people with disabilities. To the extent possible, organizations
   should identify and address considerations to support these populations.
   Additionally, where appropriate, programs targeting at-risk populations
   should strive to build their leadership in these thematic areas.
   - For technology development proposals, strong preference will be given
   to *open source technologies* with practical deployment and
   sustainability plans.
   - Consistent with DRL’s venture-capital style approach to Internet
   freedom, projects should have a model for *long-term sustainability*
   beyond the life of the grant. Projects should have the potential to have an
   immediate impact leading to long-term sustainable reforms, and should have
   potential for continued funding beyond DRL resources.
   - DRL prefers *innovative and creative approaches* rather than projects
   that simply duplicate or add to efforts by other entities. This does not
   exclude projects that clearly build off existing successful projects in a
   new and innovative way from consideration.

Activities that are *not* typically considered competitive include, but are
not limited to:

   - Academic research with no immediate application; theoretical
   exploration of technology and/or security issues;
   - Purchases of bulk hardware or bulk licenses for commercial encryption
   or technology products;
   - Technology and tools that dictate or suggest specific content;
   - Technology development without a clear human rights use case in an
   Internet repressive environment, or without a clear threat model and
   understanding of adversarial efforts;
   - Study tours, scholarships or exchange projects;
   - Projects that focus on expansion of Internet infrastructure,
   commercial law or economic development;
   - Projects that focus on a single country rather than a regional or
   global approach.
   - Stand-alone public awareness campaigns and/or public awareness
   campaigns not directly tied to one of the four funding categories listed
   - Projects not sufficiently connected to real-world impact of improving
   Internet freedom environments in any country or region; and,
   - Activities that go beyond an organization’s demonstrated competence,
   or without clear evidence of the ability of the applicant to achieve the
   stated impact.

*II. Eligibility Information*

Organizations submitting SOIs must meet the following criteria:

   - Be a U.S.-based or foreign-based non-profit
   organization/non-governmental organization (NGO), or a public international
   organization; or
   - Be a private, public, or state institutions of higher education; or
   - Be a for-profit organization or business, although there are
   restrictions on payment of fees and/or profits under grants and cooperative
   agreements, including those outlined in 48 CFR 30 (“Cost Accounting
   Standards Administration”), 48 CFR 31 (“Contract Cost Principles and
   Procedures”); and
   - Have existing, or the capacity to develop, active partnerships with
   thematic or in-country partners, entities, and relevant stakeholders
   including private sector partner and NGOs; and
   - Have demonstrable experience administering successful and preferably
   similar programs. DRL reserves the right to request additional background
   information on organizations that do not have previous experience
   administering federal awards. These applicants may be subject to limited
   funding on a pilot basis.

Applicants may *form consortia* and submit a combined SOI. However, one
organization should be designated as the lead applicant with the other
members as sub-award partners.

DRL’s preference is to work with non-profit entities; however, there may be
occasions when a for-profit entity is best suited. For-profit entities
should be aware that its application may be subject to additional review
following the panel selection process, and that the Department of State
generally prohibits profit under its assistance awards to for-profit or
commercial organizations. 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. Program income earned by the recipient must be deducted from
the program’s total allowable costs in determining the net allowable costs
on which the federal share of costs is based.

DRL is committed to an anti-discrimination policy in all of its programs
and activities. DRL welcomes SOI submissions irrespective of an applicant’s
race, ethnicity, color, creed, national origin, gender, sexual orientation,
gender identity, disability, or other status. DRL strongly encourages
applications from organizations working with the most at risk and
vulnerable communities, including women, youths, persons with disabilities,
members of ethnic or religious minority groups, and LGBTI persons

No entity listed on the Excluded Parties List System in the System for
Award Management (SAM)
is eligible for any assistance or can participate in any activities under
an 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 CFR1989
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.

Organizations are not required to have a valid Unique Entity Identifier
(UEI) number – formerly referred to as a DUNS (Data Universal Numbering
System) number – and an active SAM.gov registration to apply for this
solicitation through GrantSolutions.gov. *However, if a SOI is approved,
these will need to be obtained before an organization is able to submit a
full application.* Please note that there is no cost associated with
registration for a UEI or in SAM.gov.

*III. Application Requirements, Deadlines, and Technical Eligibility*

All SOIs must conform to DRL’s posted Proposal Submission Instructions
(PSI) for Statements of Interest, as updated in June 2017, available at

Complete SOI submissions *must* include the following:

1. Completed and signed SF-424 and SF424B, as directed on
GrantSolutions.gov or Grants.gov (please refer to DRL’s PSI for SOIs for
guidance on completing the SF-424); and,

2. Program Statement (not to exceed three [3] pages in Microsoft Word) that

a. A table listing:

i. The target country/countries;

ii. The total amount of funding requested from DRL, total amount of
cost-share (if any), and total program amount (DRL funds + cost-share);

iii. Program length;

b. A synopsis of the program, including a brief statement on how the
program will have a demonstrated impact and engage relevant stakeholders.
The SOI should identify local partners as appropriate;

c. A concise breakdown explicitly identifying the program’s objectives and
the activities and expected results that contribute to each objective; and,

d. A brief description of the applicant(s) that demonstrates the
applicant(s) expertise and capacity to implement the program and manage a
U.S. government award.

Technically eligible SOIs are those which:

1. Arrive electronically via GrantSolutions.gov or Grants.gov by *11:30
p.m. ET on July 24, 2017 and February 12, 2018 under the announcement
titled “DRL Internet Freedom Annual Program Statement,” funding opportunity
number DRLA-DRLAQM-18-004;*

2. Are in English;

3. Heed all instructions and do not violate any of the guidelines stated in
this solicitation and the PSI for Statements of Interest.

For all SOI documents please ensure:

1. All pages are numbered;

2. All documents are formatted to 8 ½ x 11 paper; and,

3. All documents are single-spaced, 12 point Times New Roman font, with
1-inch margins. Captions and footnotes may be 10-point Times New Roman
font. Font sizes in charts and tables can be reformatted to fit within one
page width.

Grants.gov and Grantsolutions.gov automatically log the date and time a
submission is made, and the Department of State will use this information
to determine whether it has been submitted on time. Late submissions are
neither reviewed nor considered unless the DRL point of contact listed in
section VI is contacted prior to the deadline and is provided with evidence
of system errors caused by www.grants.gov
or www.grantsolutions.gov
that is outside of the applicant’s control and is the sole reason for a
late submission. Applicants should not expect a notification upon DRL
receiving their SOI. It is the sole responsibility of the applicant to
ensure that all of the material submitted in the SOI submission package is
complete, accurate, and current. DRL will *not *accept SOIs submitted via
email, fax, the postal system, or delivery companies or couriers. DRL
strongly encourages all applicants to submit SOIs before the deadline to
ensure that the SOI has been received and is complete.

*IV. Review and Selection Process*

The Department’s Office of Acquisitions Management (AQM) will determine
technical eligibility for all SOI submissions. All technically eligible
SOIs will then be reviewed against the same three criteria by a DRL Review
Panel, which includes quality of program idea/inclusivity of marginalized
populations, program planning, and ability to achieve
objectives/institutional capacity. Additionally, the Panel will evaluate
how the SOI meets the solicitation request, U.S. foreign policy goals, and
the priority needs of DRL overall. Panelists review each SOI individually
against the evaluation criteria, not against competing SOIs. To ensure all
SOIs receive a balanced evaluation, *the DRL Review Panel will review the
first page of the SOI up to the page limit and no further*. All Panelists
must sign non-disclosure agreements and conflict of interest agreements.

In most cases, the DRL Review Panel includes representatives from DRL
policy and program offices. In some cases, additional panelists may
participate, including from other Department of State bureaus or offices,
U.S. government departments, agencies, or boards, representatives from
partner governments, representatives from entities that are in a
public-private partnership with DRL, or key outside experts subject to
nondisclosure agreements. Once a SOI is approved, selected applicants will
be invited to submit full proposal applications based on their SOIs. Unless
directed otherwise by the organization, DRL may also refer SOIs for
possible consideration in other U.S. government related funding

The Panel may provide conditions and/or recommendations on SOIs to enhance
the proposed program, which must be addressed by the organization in the
full proposal application. To ensure effective use of limited DRL funds,
conditions and recommendations may include requests to increase, decrease,
clarify, and/or justify costs and program activities.

DRL’s Front Office reserves the right to make a final determination
regarding all funding matters, pending funding availability.

*Review Criteria:*

*Quality of Program Idea/Inclusivity of Marginalized Populations*

SOIs should be responsive to the solicitation, appropriate in the
country/regional context, and should exhibit originality, substance,
precision, and relevance to DRL’s mission of promoting human rights and
democracy. DRL prefers creative approaches that do not duplicate efforts by
other entities. This does not exclude from consideration programs that
improve upon or expand existing successful programs in a new and
complementary way. DRL strives to ensure its programs advance the rights
and uphold the dignity of the most at-risk and vulnerable populations,
including women, youth, people with disabilities, members of racial and
ethnic or religious minority groups, and LGBTI persons. To the extent
possible and appropriate, applicants should identify and address
considerations to support and/or include these populations in all proposed
program activities and objectives. Strong justification should be provided
if the most at-risk and vulnerable populations will not be included in the
proposed activities and objectives. Otherwise, SOIs that do not address the
above will not be considered highly competitive in this category.

*Program Planning *

A strong SOI will include a clear articulation of how the proposed program
activities and expected results (both outputs and outcomes) contribute to
specific program objectives and the overall program goal. Objectives should
be ambitious, yet measurable, results-focused, and achievable in a
reasonable time frame.

*Ability to Achieve Objectives/Institutional Capacity *

SOIs should address how the program will engage relevant stakeholders and
should identify local partners as appropriate. If local partners are
identified, applicants should describe the division of labor among the
applicant and any local partners. SOIs should demonstrate the
organization’s expertise and previous experience in administering programs,
preferably similar programs targeting the requested program area or
similarly challenging environments.

*For additional guidance, please see DRL’s posted Proposal Submission
Instructions (PSI) for Statements of Interest, as updated in June 2017,
available at **http://www.state.gov/j/drl/p/c12302.htm*

*V. Additional Information*

DRL will not consider SOIs that reflect any type of support for any member,
affiliate, or representative of a designated terrorist organization.

Project activities whose direct beneficiaries are foreign militaries or
paramilitary groups or individuals will not be considered for DRL funding
given purpose limitations on funding.

Restrictions may apply to any proposed assistance to police or other law
enforcement. Among these, pursuant to section 620M of the Foreign
Assistance Act of 1961, as amended (FAA), no assistance provided may be
furnished to any unit of the security forces of a foreign country when
there is credible information that such unit has committed a gross
violation of human rights. In accordance with the requirements of section
620M of the FAA, also known as the Leahy law, program beneficiaries or
participants from a foreign government’s security forces may need to be
vetted by the Department before the provision of any assistance.

Organizations should be aware that DRL understands that some information
contained in SOIs may be considered sensitive or proprietary and will make
appropriate efforts to protect such information. However, organizations are
advised that DRL cannot guarantee that such information will not be
disclosed, including pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) or
other similar statutes.

Organizations should also be aware that if ultimately selected for an
award, the Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles and Audit
Requirements for Federal Awards set forth in 2 CFR Chapter 200
(Sub-Chapters A through F) shall apply to all non-Federal entities, except
for assistance awards to Individuals and Foreign Public Entities. Please
note that as of December 26, 2014, 2 CFR 200 (Sub-Chapters A through E) now
applies to foreign organizations, and Sub-Chapters A through D shall apply
to all for-profit entities. The applicant/recipient of the award and any
sub-recipient under the award must comply with all applicable terms and
conditions, in addition to the assurance and certifications made part of
the Notice of Award. The Department’s Standard Terms and Conditions can be
viewed on DRL’s Resources page at: http://www.state.gov/j/drl/p/c72333.htm

The information in this solicitation and DRL’s PSI for SOIs, as updated in
June 2017, is binding and may not be modified by any DRL
representative. *Explanatory
information provided by DRL that contradicts this language will not be
binding.* Issuance of the solicitation and negotiation of SOIs or
applications does not constitute an award commitment on the part of the
U.S. government. DRL reserves the right to reduce, revise, or increase
proposal budgets in accordance with the needs of the program evaluation

This solicitation will appear on www.grants.gov
and DRL’s website http://www.state.gov/j/drl/p/c12302.htm

*Background Information on DRL and general DRL funding*

DRL is the foreign policy lead within the U.S. government on promoting
democracy and protecting human rights globally. DRL supports programs that
uphold democratic principles, support and strengthen democratic
institutions, promote human rights, prevent atrocities, combat and prevent
violent extremism, and build civil society around the world. DRL typically
focuses its work in countries with egregious human rights violations, where
democracy and human rights advocates are under pressure, and where
governments are undemocratic or in transition.

Additional background information on DRL and the human rights report can be
found on www.state.gov/j/drl
and www.humanrights.gov

*VI. Contact Information*

*GrantSolutions.gov Help Desk: *

For assistance with GrantSolutions.gov accounts and technical issues
related to using the system, please contact Customer Support at
help at grantsolutions.gov or call 1-866-577-0771 (toll charges for
international callers) or 1-202-401-5282. Customer Support is available

8:00 AM – 5:00 PM ET, Monday – Friday, except federal holidays.

*Grants.gov Helpdesk: *

For assistance with Grants.gov accounts and technical issues related to
using the system, please call the Contact Center at 1-800-518-4726 or email
support at grants.gov. The Contact Center is available 24 hours a day, seven
days a week, except federal holidays.

See https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/snow-dismissal-
for a list of federal holidays.

For technical questions related to this solicitation, please contact
InternetFreedom at state.gov.

With the exception of technical submission questions, during the
solicitation period U.S. Department of State staff in Washington and
overseas shall not discuss this competition until the entire review process
has been completed and rejection and approval letters have been

*The Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this
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