Billing Code: 8230 - 01

Business for Russia

ACTION: Notice - Request for Proposals

SUMMARY: The Russia/Eurasia Division of the Office of Citizen Exchanges of the United States Information Agency's Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs announces an open competition for an assistance award program. Public or private non-profit organizations meeting the provisions described in IRS regulation 501 (c) (3) may apply to conduct at least three five-week, U.S.- based internship programs for Russian business people and local government officials. A minimum of ten Russian participants must be included in each internship cycle. Programs may not begin any earlier than March 1995. Pending the availability of funds, the program may be extended through December 1997.

This program is a continuation of a pilot project conducted in 1994 and seeks to provide Russian business people with knowledge of a market economy and promote a supportive business environment for the participants upon their return to Russia. The participants will be recruited, through an open and competitive process, from selected regions of Russia and will begin arriving in the United States in March 1995.

Overall grant making authority for this program is contained in the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961, as amended, Public Law 87-256, also known as the Fulbright-Hays Act.

The purpose of the Act is "to enable the Government of the United States to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries...; to strengthen the ties which unite us with other nations by demonstrating the educational and cultural interests, developments, and achievements of the people of the United States and other nations....and thus to assist in the development of friendly, sympathetic and peaceful relations between the United States and the other countries of the world."

Programs and projects must conform with Agency requirements and guidelines outlined in the Application Package. USIA projects and programs are subject to the availability of funds.

ANNOUNCEMENT NAME AND NUMBER: All communications with USIA concerning this announcement should refer to the above title and reference number E/P-95-15.

DATES: Deadline for proposals: All copies must be received at the U.S. Information Agency by 5 p.m. Washington, D.C. time on Friday, October 14, 1994. Faxed documents will not be accepted, nor will documents postmarked on October 14 but received at a later date. It is the responsibility of each applicant to ensure that proposals are received by the above deadline.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kathie Guroff or Gene Draschner, Office of Citizen Exchanges (E/PN), Rm. 216, U.S. Information Agency, 301 4th Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20547, telephone: (202) 401-6884, fax: (202) 260-0437, internet addresses: KGUROFF@USIA.GOV, EDRASCHN@USIA.GOV to request an Application Package, which includes more detailed award criteria; all application forms; and guidelines for preparing proposals, including specific criteria for preparation of the proposal budget. Please specify USIA Program Officers Kathie Guroff or Gene Draschner on all inquiries and correspondences. Interested applicants should read the complete Federal Register announcement before addressing inquiries to the Office of Citizen Exchanges or submitting their proposals. Once the RFP deadline has passed, the Office of Citizen Exchanges may not discuss this competition in any way with applicants until after the Bureau proposal review process has been completed.

ADDRESSES: Applicants must follow all instructions given in the Application Package and send only complete applications to: U.S. Information Agency Ref.: E/P-95-15 Office of Grants Management, E/XE, Room 336 301 4th Street, S.W. Washington, D.C. 20547

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION Pursuant to the Bureau's authorizing legislation, programs must maintain a non-political character and should be balanced and representative of the diversity of American political, social, and cultural life. "Diversity" should be interpreted in the broadest sense and encompass differences including but not limited to race, gender, religion, geographic location, socio- economic status, and physical challenges. Applicants are strongly encouraged to adhere to the advancement of this principle.

Overview: The "Business for Russia" program has been developed in full partnership with the Russian Government and various Russian organizations. It has been designed as a working partnership between U.S. federal, state, and local governments, NGOs, and private enterprises and their counterpart institutions in Russia. Pending the availability of funds, approximately 1,000 Russian business people and local government officials will be recruited from selected regions of Russia through an open competition coordinated in Russia by an experienced, Moscow-based U.S. grantee organization in conjunction with the Russian government and Russian partner organizations. Participants will be screened for proficiency in English prior to final selection. Operating in accordance with guidelines established by USIA, the recruitment/selection organization will also cooperate with the U.S. Embassy, Peace Corps, American private organizations and businesses, and the Russian government and business organizations to select Russian participants.

This announcement seeks American grantee organizations to organize and implement business internships in the United States that will enhance the Russians' ability to develop their own businesses upon returning to Russia. USIA is interested in proposals that provide a professional business experience and, secondarily, expose the participants to American life and culture. USIA is not interested in programs that are academic in nature; this program is designed to provide practical, hands-on training in the American business environment that can be transferred to the individual's employment situation in Russia.

Participant Profile: Russian participants will be predominantly business managers in existing small or medium-sized firms and entrepreneurs who manage their own businesses, mostly in the 25- 40 age group. A small number of local government officials may also be recruited for participation in the program. All participants will be required to have a working knowledge of English. Depending on the results of this selection process, the Agency may request that the U.S.-based grantee organizations modify the number of individual interns assigned to their local region to meet the demands of the program. The Office of Citizen Exchanges will be responsible for matching interns with the appropriate US host organizations.

Interns will be placed in geographic "clusters" in the U.S. (i.e., areas within two hours' driving time of a central meeting point) in order to maximize local resources and strengthen the effectiveness of all aspects of the training program. Every effort will be made to group the interns by Russian region of origin in order to permit them to share common experiences and to develop networks and professional associations upon their return home. Proposals should explain how the grantee organizations will utilize the cluster to improve Russians' exchange experience.

Programs must comply with J-1 visa regulations. Participants will be covered by the Agency's self-insurance policy.

Proposed budget: Organizations must submit a comprehensive line item budget based on the specific guidance provided in the Budget Guidelines section of the Application Package. Grants awarded to eligible organizations with less than four years of experience in conducting international exchange programs will be limited to $60,000. Allowable costs for the program include the following:

  1. International and domestic air fares; transit costs; ground transportation costs.
  2. Housing. Participants are to be housed with volunteer US homestay families. There are no provisions for reimbursing homestay families for their hosting costs. Participants may be housed in hotels for a maximum of five nights, at a rate not to exceed $100/night.
  3. Per diems. Participants may be compensated for meals and incidental expenses a rate not to exceed $25/day for the duration of the program.
  4. Book and Cultural Allowances. Participants are entitled to a one-time book allowance payment of $150 and a cultural allowance of $100 per person. Accompanying staff are not eligible for these benefits.
  5. Consultants. Consultants may be used to provide specialized expertise or to make presentations. Daily honoraria may not exceed $250/day.
  6. Room rental. Generally not to exceed $250/day.
  7. One working meal per project. Per capita costs may not exceed $15-20 for a lunch and $20-30 for a dinner. The number of invited guests may not exceed the number of participants by more than a factor of two. This includes room rental if applicable.
  8. Administrative costs. The costs necessary for the effective administration of the program, including salaries for grant organization employees; staff travel for local community organizers; benefits and other indirect costs, per detailed instructions in the Application package.
Cost-sharing and enhancement of the basic package provided by USIA is encouraged. The Agency reserves the right to reduce, revise, or increase the proposal budget in accordance with the needs of the program. Please refer to the Application Package for complete budget guidelines.

REVIEW PROCESS

USIA will acknowledge receipt of all proposals and will review them for technical eligibility. Proposals will be deemed ineligible if they do not fully adhere to the guidelines stated herein and in the Application Package. Eligible proposals will be forwarded to panels of USIA officers for advisory review. All eligible proposals will also be reviewed by the budget and contracts offices, as well as the USIA Office of Eastern Europe and the NIS and the USIA post in Russia. Proposals may also be reviewed by the Office of the General Counsel or by other Agency elements. Funding decisions are at the discretion of the USIA Associate Director for Educational and Cultural Affairs. Final technical authority for grant awards resides with the USIA grants officer.

REVIEW CRITERIA

Technically eligible applications will be competitively reviewed according to the following criteria:

  1. Quality of the program idea: Proposals should exhibit originality, substance, precision, and relevance to Agency mission.
  2. Program planning and Ability to Achieve Program Objectives: The proposal should clearly show how the grantee institution will meet the program's objectives. The proposal should include a detailed agenda and work plan that illustrate logistical capacity. The project content should be substantive and the planned execution realistic.
  3. Institutional Ability/Record: Interested institutions should demonstrate their potential for program excellence and/or provide documentation of successful programs. If an organization is a previous USIA grant recipient, responsible fiscal management and full compliance with all reporting requirements from past Agency grants, as determined by USIA's Office of Contracts (M/KG), will be considered. Pertinent evaluation results of previous projects are a part of this assessment.
  4. Thematic and Area Expertise: Proposals should reflect the institution's expertise in the subject area and should address the specific issues of concern facing the Russian Federation.
  5. Project Personnel: Personnel's thematic and logistical expertise should be relevant to the proposed program. Resumes should be suited to the specific proposal and no longer than two pages.
  6. Cross-Cultural Sensitivity: Proposals should show evidence of sensitivity to historical, linguistic, and other cross-cultural factors, as well as appropriate knowledge of Russia's geography, and should show how this sensitivity will be used in practical aspects of the program, such as pre-departure orientations or briefing of American hosts.
  7. Multiplier Effect/Follow-On Activities: Proposed programs should strengthen long-term mutual understanding, to include maximum sharing of information and establishment of long-term institutional and individual ties. Proposals should also reflect an institutional commitment for continued exchange activity beyond the term of the USIA grant.
  8. Cost-Effectiveness/Cost-Sharing: The overhead and administrative components should be kept as low as possible. Costs to USIA per exchange participant should be reasonable, and all items proposed for USIA funding must be necessary and appropriate to achieve the program's objectives. Proposals should maximize cost-sharing through other private sector support as well as direct funding contributions and/or in-kind support from the prospective grantee institution.
  9. Project Evaluation: Proposals should include a plan to evaluate the project's success.
  10. Support of Diversity: Proposals should demonstrate the recipient's commitment to promoting the awareness and understanding of diversity throughout the program. This can be accomplished through documentation (such as a written statement or account) summarizing past and/or on-going activities and efforts that further the principle of diversity within both their organization and their activities.

NOTICE

The terms and conditions published in this RFP are binding and may not be modified by any USIA representative. Explanatory information provided by the Agency that contradicts published language will not be binding. Issuance of the RFP does not constitute an award commitment on the part of the Government. The needs of the program may require the award to be reduced, revised, or increased. Final awards cannot be made until funds have been appropriated by Congress, allocated and committed through internal USIA procedures.

NOTIFICATION

All applicants will be notified of the results of the review process on or about January 16, 1995. Awards made will be subject to periodic reporting and evaluation requirements.

John P. Loiello                                                   
 Date
Associate Director
Bureau of Educational and
         Cultural Affairs
         

Statement of Work / Program Specific Guidelines

BUSINESS FOR RUSSIA, E/P-95-15

OFFICE OF CITIZEN EXCHANGES, RUSSIA/EURASIA DIVISION

The Statement of Work/Program Guidelines apply specifically to the Request for Proposals (RFP) issued by the Office of Citizen Exchange, Russia/Eurasia Division for the "Business for Russia" program. Proposals must conform to the Guidelines stated herein, the Federal Register announcement and other components of the Application Package. Applications not adhering to the conditions set forth herein may be deemed technically ineligible. In any instance that there is a perceived disparity between these Guidelines and the program information supplied in the accompanying Federal Register RFP, the RFP is to be the dominant reference.

I. STATEMENT OF WORK

Grantee organizations will be responsible for:

NOTE: Drafts of all printed materials developed for this program should be submitted to the Agency for review and approval. All official documents should highlight the U.S. government's role as program sponsor and funding source. The Agency requests that USIA receive the copyright use and be allowed to distribute materials as it sees fit.

II. PROGRAM SPECIFIC GUIDELINES

In order to make the most effective use of the limited financial resources available while, at the same time, maintaining a maximum degree of program flexibility, the Office of Citizen Exchanges asks that potential grantee organizations submit proposals for programs involving no fewer than three groups of at least ten Russian interns. Programs are to be conducted between March 1995 and December 1997. At least one group must be received during each of the first two years of the program. Potential grantee organizations in smaller communities that do not have the resources to accommodate these minimum numbers may submit proposals for either smaller or fewer groups. Such proposals must be accompanied by detailed explanations as to why the smaller numbers are necessary and how overall program cost- effectiveness is to be maintained.

Care must be taken to allow sufficient time between programs to adequately prepare for the following group. Organizations proposing to develop programs for additional groups of interns beyond the minimum must demonstrate that they have either allowed for sufficient preparatory time between programs, or that they have the necessary human, physical and financial resources to adequately handle any consequent overlap. All programs must be completed by December 1997.

Recruitment for the "Business for Russia" program will be conducted by an experienced American, Moscow-based organization. Candidates for placement in the U.S. will be provided to the Office of Citizen Exchanges on a rolling basis between September 1994 and December 1996. The first group of finalists, approximately 130, will be selected by December 1994 for arrival in the United States no earlier than March 1995. Additional lists of finalists will follow every three months (March 1995, June 1995, September 1995, December 1995, March 1996, June 1996, September 1996, December 1996) creating a pool of candidates from which interns will be matched with grantee organizations by the Office of Citizen Exchanges. Interns will be assigned based on the following factors: existing ties between the regions of origin of the participants and the locations of the US grantee organizations (e.g. sister city ties), the business interests of the interns and the areas of strength of US grantee organizations, and length of time a given individual has been in the pool.

The Office of Citizen Exchanges will provide grantee organizations with completed applications of the final candidates, including detailed information on their business and personal interests, no later than three months before the start of the program. The grantee organization will have the opportunity to review the assigned candidates and, if necessary, request another applicant. The Office of Citizen Exchanges reserves the right to refuse a requested change if a clearly more appropriate candidate is not available in the pool. Once the list has been finalized, the grantee organization will be responsible for contacting each candidate individually and discussing their needs and interests as well as potential business and homestay placements. Business and homestay placements must be finalized no later than one month before the start of the program. Written information on both the homestays and the business placements, as well as other aspects of the program, must be forwarded to the interns one month prior to the start of the program.

Organizations interested in applying for funding must integrate an evaluation mechanism into their program. The evaluation should include, but not be limited to the following: (1) the effectiveness of the business internship and homestay experience; (2) evaluation of the management and administrative structures of the project at all levels; (3) level of theoretical and practical knowledge gained by all Russians and American participants; (4) perceived impact on business planning, economic performance, and potential for meaningful change in Russia; (5) assessment of overall cost-effectiveness, and (6) impact on local American business community (i.e. changes in perceptions about doing business in Russia.) Personal exit interviews with all Russian participants and American host businesses and families are encouraged.

A proposal's cost-effectiveness -- including in-kind contributions and ability to keep administrative costs low -- is a major consideration in the review process. Cost-sharing may be in the form of allowable direct or indirect costs. The Recipient must maintain written records to support all allowable costs which are claimed as being its contribution to cost participation, 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, Attachment E, "Cost- Sharing and Matching" and should be described in the proposal. In the event that the Recipient does not provide the minimum amount of cost-sharing as stipulated in the Recipient's budget, the Agency's contribution will be reduced in proportion to the Recipient's contribution.

The decision to submit a proposal should not be taken lightly. Competition for USIA funding is always keen. The selection of grantee institutions will depend on program substance; cross- cultural sensitivity; the applicant's familiarity with the substantive issues in the grant proposal; and proven ability to carry out the program successfully. Since USIA grant assistance constitutes only a portion of the total project funding, proposals should list and provide evidence of other anticipated sources of financial and in-kind support. Cost-sharing is strongly recommended; it indicates a commitment on the part of the prospective grantee institution to the project.

The Agency reserves the right to reduce, revise, or increase the proposal budget in accordance with the needs of the program.

PROPOSAL CONTENTS

Applicants should take care to submit a carefully written proposal that describes their program in a convincing and comprehensive manner. Applicants should relate the proposal to the criteria set forth in the solicitation and the Statement of Work as clearly as possible, since there is no opportunity for applicants to meet with reviewing officials. Proposals should address succinctly, but completely, the elements described below and must follow all format requirements. Proposals should include the items highlighted in these Guidelines in the following numerical and/or alphabetical order outlined.

Executive Summary

In one double-spaced page, provide the following information about the project:

1.   Name of organization/participating institutions
          2.   Beginning and ending date of the program
          3.   Proposed theme 
          4.   Nature of activity
          5.   Funding level requested from USIA, total program
               cost, total cost-sharing from applicant and other
               sources   
          6.   Scope and Goals
                    a. Number and description of participants
                    b. Wider audience benefitting from program
                    (overall impact)
                    c. Geographic diversity of program, both US
                    and overseas
                    d. Fields covered                  
                    e. Anticipated results (short and long-term)
                    

Narrative

Within 20 double-spaced, single sided pages, provide a detailed description of the project addressing the areas listed below.

          1.   Vision (statement of need, objectives, goals,
               benefits)
          2.   Participating Organizations
          3.   Program Activities (advertisement, recruitment,
               orientation, academic component, cultural program,
               participant monitoring)
          4.   Program Evaluation
          5.   Follow-on
          6.   Project Management
          7.   Project Direction
          8.   Work Plan/Time Frame
          

Additional Material to be Submitted

          1.   Letters of Endorsement
          2.   Calendar of Activities/Itinerary
          3.   Other
          

Technical Format Requirements

          1.   Submit the original, signed cover sheet
          2.   Provide 9 copies of the proposal package
          3.   Include double-spaced, single-sided executive
               summary and narrative
          4.   Provide proposal budget per guidelines in the
               Application Package
          5.   Submit all necessary information (Application
               cover sheet, required forms, additional
               information)
          6.   Number all pages, including budget and addenda,
               and provide a Table of Contents
          7.   Use 8 1/2" x 11" paper for entire proposal package
          
Optional--Provide proposal on DOS formatted disk; this must be accompanied with a memo explaining software used.

REVIEW PROCESS

Proposals are reviewed for adherence to legal and budgetary requirements by USIA offices responsible for these functions. For program content and cost-effectiveness, the review is conducted by an advisory, grant-review panel composed of USIA officers. Additional USIA officers, including geographic area personnel, also review proposals for feasibility as well as potential for short- and long-term impact. The Associate Director of Educational and Cultural Affairs approves conferring the assistance award (grant or cooperative agreement) to an applicant. Final technical authority for assistance awards resides with an Agency Grants Officer.

In addition, panels review proposals according to the following criteria:

  1. Quality of the program idea: Proposals should exhibit originality, substance, precision, and relevance to Agency mission.
  2. Program planning and Ability to Achieve Program Objectives: The proposal should clearly show how the grantee institution will meet the program's objectives. The proposal should include a detailed agenda and work plan that illustrate logistical capacity. The project content should be substantive and the planned execution realistic.
  3. Institutional Ability/Record: Interested institutions should demonstrate their potential for program excellence and/or provide documentation of successful programs. If an organization is a previous USIA grant recipient, responsible fiscal management and full compliance with all reporting requirements from past Agency grants, as determined by USIA's Office of Contracts (M/KG), will be considered. Pertinent evaluation results of previous projects are a part of this assessment.
  4. Thematic and Area Expertise: Proposals should reflect the institution's expertise in the subject area and should address the specific issues of concern facing the Russian Federation.
  5. Project Personnel: Personnel's thematic and logistical expertise should be relevant to the proposed program. Resumes should be suited to the specific proposal and no longer than two pages.
  6. Cross-Cultural Sensitivity: Proposals should show evidence of sensitivity to historical, linguistic, and other cross-cultural factors, as well as appropriate knowledge of Russia's geography, and should show how this sensitivity will be used in practical aspects of the program, such as pre-departure orientations or briefing of American hosts.
  7. Multiplier Effect/Follow-On Activities: Proposed programs should strengthen long-term mutual understanding, to include maximum sharing of information and establishment of long-term institutional and individual ties. Proposals should also reflect an institutional commitment for continued exchange activity beyond the term of the USIA grant.
  8. Cost-Effectiveness/Cost-Sharing: The overhead and administrative components should be kept as low as possible. Costs to USIA per exchange participant should be reasonable, and all items proposed for USIA funding must be necessary and appropriate to achieve the program's objectives. Proposals should maximize cost-sharing through other private sector support as well as direct funding contributions and/or in-kind support from the prospective grantee institution.
  9. Project Evaluation: Proposals should include a plan to evaluate the project's success.
  10. Support of Diversity: Proposals should demonstrate the recipient's commitment to promoting the awareness and understanding of diversity throughout the program. This can be accomplished through documentation (such as a written statement or account) summarizing past and/or on-going activities and efforts that further the principle of diversity within both their organization and their activities.

APPLICATION SUBMISSION

The complete application, including the original and 9 copies, should arrive at USIA NO LATER than 5:00 pm Washington, D.C. time on October 14, 1994. Send the material to:

          U.S. Information Agency
          Ref: E/P-95-15
          Office of Grants Management, E/XE, Room 336
          301 Fourth Street, S.W.
          Washington, D.C.  20547
          
For further information on the proposal for the program, or questions regarding the guidelines, call Kathie Guroff or Gene Draschner, Office of Citizen Exchanges (E/PN), Rm. 216, U.S. Information Agency, 301 4th Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20547, telephone: (202) 401-6884, fax: (202) 260-0437, internet addresses: KGUROFF@USIA.GOV, EDRASCHN@USIA.GOV.