Request for Proposals

Evaluation of the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund’s Small Watershed Grant Program

Posted: November 17, 2017

Requesting OrganizationNational Fish and Wildlife Foundation, 1133 15th Street NW, Suite 1000, Washington, DC 20005.  Contact: Annamarie Lopata, Senior Evaluation Officer, 202-595-2613, Annamarie.lopata@nfwf.org​

OVERVIEW

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) seeks a qualified contractor to analyze and evaluate the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund’s Small Watershed Grants Program. The successful offeror will be selected through a competitive process. This Request for Proposals (RFP) invites qualified individuals or entities to submit proposals including a description of their understanding of the scope of work, technical approach and associated timeline, staff qualifications and relevant experience, and budget. The expected period of performance for this evaluation is approximately 12 months. Only one award will be made for this contract.

PROGRAM BACKGROUND

NFWF manages the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Small Watershed Grant (SWG) program through a cooperative agreement with EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program Office, in concert with funding from a number of other federal, corporate, and foundation partners, with an explicit focus on furthering the established goals and outcomes of the Chesapeake Bay Program partnership. The purpose of the SWG Program is to promote community-based efforts to develop conservation strategies to protect and restore the diverse natural resources of the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed. It targets restoration actions in priority watersheds where opportunities exist to simultaneously improve water quality, restore fish and wildlife habitat, and recover species. It also advances the use of green infrastructure in urban landscapes. 

Since 2005, NFWF has awarded over $45 Million in SWG grants. More than 400 grants were awarded to about 150 organizations from 2005 to 2017. Award amounts ranged from $5,000 to $1,200,000; the average was $110,000.

For more background information, visit NFWF’s website: http://www.nfwf.org/chesapeake/Pages/home.aspx​

CONTRACT SCOPE

A 2007 evaluation commissioned by NFWF reviewed SWG program performance and made recommendations for improvements, which NFWF and EPA adopted. The purpose of the current contract is to evaluate how SWG program performance and grantee capacity has changed in response to those recommendations. It will also assess the outcomes of on the ground restoration projects over time. The evaluation will cover all grants awarded between 2005 and 2017. It may also include a small number of grants awarded between 2000 and 2004 that were not covered by the prior evaluation.1

Draft evaluation questions are provided below. The selected contractor will refine and finalize the evaluation questions, with the consensus of NFWF and EPA partners.

Draft Evaluation Questions

  1. ​What types of restoration projects did grantees implement between 2005 and 2017?​
    1. Have the restoration projects been maintained over time?
    2. What habitat and water quality outcomes have stemmed from these projects and how can they benefit fish and wildlife?
  2. How has SWG grantee capacity to implement conservation and restoration projects changed over time? 
    1. Have restoration projects and practices increased in size, scale, complexity and/or impact?
  3. ​How effective have SWG-funded activities been at increasing grantees’ technical capacity for implementing Chesapeake Bay watershed restoration projects? 
    1. What role have the changes NFWF and EPA made based on the 2007 evaluation played?
    2. What other factors have likely played a critical role in increasing this capacity?
  4. ​Has increased technical capacity among SWG grantees benefitted non-grantee partners? How so? 
    1. ​How have technical approaches and lessons-learned been shared with non-grantee partners?  
    2. What resources have been provided to support capacity building and project replication to non-grantee partners (e.g. funding presentations at conferences)?
  5. To what extent are SWG investments contributing to the development of regional scale partnerships and projects? Which SWG investments have been most effective for partnership building?

NFWF will provide the selected contractor with the following information and support: 

  • ​Records of grant awards and grantee information
  • Grant-award project reports
  • Grantee reported outcome data and metrics, including:
    • ​Water quality improvements (Lbs. of phosphorus, nitrogen, and sediment reductions)
    • Use of green infrastructure (e.g. acres with BMPs and similar metrics)
    • Riparian and stream habitat improvements (e.g. miles of habitat restored, stream miles opened and similar metrics)
    • Land management and other habitat improvements (e.g. acres with BMPs, acres restored, and similar metrics)
  • ​Other technical reports, including: 
    • ​Evaluation reports and response plans associated with the 2007 SWG program evaluation
    • Quality Assurance Project Plans for applicable restoration projects
    • Monitoring protocols for water quality projects 
  • ​Other relevant Program products as requested (e.g., logic model, project selection criteria, etc.)
  • Assistance facilitating collaboration with individual project lead investigators

ANTICIPATED DELIVERABLES

The final contract deliverables will include a draft report, a final report with recommendations, and a final presentation. The evaluator should also expect to present the preliminary evaluation results to NFWF, EPA, and members of an advisory commission that has been assembled to provide support and feedback for this evaluation. 

CRITERIA FOR COMPETITIVE APPLICATIONS

Proposals will be evaluated and scored on the following criteria.  Statements should be single-spaced in Word format or a searchable PDF, with a minimum 11 point font, and should not exceed the indicated page or word limits. Contact information should be clearly stated and include primary contact person, company name, mailing address, phone number, email address, website, Federal Tax ID and DUNS number.

Offerors should organize their Proposals based on these sections:

  • ​Understanding of the Scope of Work. The Scope of Work must demonstrate an understanding of the goals of the evaluation and the activities involved. It should also demonstrate an understanding of the Small Watershed Grants program and its relationship to Chesapeake Bay Recovery efforts. 

​​Page limit: 1 page. Weight: 10%

  • ​​​Technical Approach.  The proposed technical approach for conducting the evaluation should clearly describe the proposed evaluation methods in detail for each of the research questions. The section must demonstrate that those methods are robust and appropriate for conducting the evaluation and address any areas of complexity or uncertainty associated with answering the research questions. 

​​Page limit: 5 pages. Weight: 15%

  • ​​Qualifications of Proposed Personnel.  The section should clearly describe which evaluation tasks each member of the team will conduct and how their training and experience provide the requisite experience to do so successfully. The proposal should also describe relevant professional experience in the following areas:  
    • evaluation study design and implementation, including experience using the research methods proposed for this evaluation; experience conducting surveys should be addressed directly
    • experience working with federal, state, and local governmental agencies, national and local NGOs involved with conservation; experience working with local governments and the agricultural community should be addressed directly
    • an understanding of nutrient and sediment pollution reduction methods and fish and wildlife conservation practices sufficient to be able to ground truth reported outcomes of a sample of grant projects; and 
    • conducting and disseminating research involving humans as subjects
​​​​Page limit: none. Weight: 15%
  • ​​Record of Past Performance/References.  The Proposal should identify at least three past engagements conducting similar evaluations for NFWF or other organizations, identifying the offeror’s quality of work, timeliness, and cost control. The cumulative statement of past performances should not exceed 5 pages. Attach a copy of a previously conducted evaluation final report. The Statement should include names, postal and email addresses, and telephone numbers of points of contact for the referenced engagements. If the offeror anticipates retaining subcontractors for this task, information should be provided that demonstrates their past performance as well. 
​Page limit: 5. Weight: 15%
  • ​​Written and Verbal Communication Skills. The final contract deliverables will include a draft report, a final report with recommendations, and a final presentation. The evaluator should also expect to present the draft evaluation results to NFWF, EPA, and members of an advisory commission that has been assembled to provide support and feedback for this evaluation. This section should directly address your experience presenting complex information to a non-technical audience both in writing and verbally. This section should also include a description of how you will communicate with NFWF and program stakeholders and report on progress, results, and deliverables.  
​Page limit: none. Weight: 20%
  • ​​Budget. The proposed budget should itemize items in sufficient detail to enable reviewers to evaluate the appropriateness of the entire funding request. You must use attached Contractor Budget Template​
​Weight: 15%
  • ​​Schedule.  The Contract Period of Performance is expected to begin in early 2018 and last for about 12 months. In order to avoid schedule over-runs we are asking Offerors to propose a project schedule that is appropriate to complete the tasks outlined in the RFP.  The schedule should delineate work on key tasks and identify draft and final deliverable dates.  
​Page limit: none. Weight: 10%
  • ​​Corporate Capability. The offeror shall provide proof of financial stability in the form of an income statement and balance sheet.  

ELIGIBLE OFFERORS/CONFLICT OF INTEREST

Eligible offerors are institutions of higher education, other nonprofits, commercial organizations, international organizations, and local, state, and Indian tribal governments.  Only one award will be made for this project.  If multiple institutions are involved, they should be handled through sub-contracts.

By submitting a Statement of Qualifications in response to this solicitation, the offeror warrants and represents that it does not currently have any apparent or actual conflict of interest, as described herein.  In the event an offeror currently has, will have during the life of the contemplated contract, or becomes aware of an apparent or actual conflict of interest, in the event an award is made, the offeror must notify NFWF in writing in the Statement of Qualifications, or in subsequent correspondence (if the issue becomes known after the submission of the Statement of Qualifications) of such apparent or actual conflicts of interest, including organizational conflicts of interest.  Conflicts of interest include any relationship or matter which might place the contractor, the contractor’s employees, or the contractor’s subcontractors in a position of conflict, real or apparent, between their responsibilities under the award and any other outside interests, or otherwise.  Conflicts of interest may also include, but are not limited to, direct or indirect financial interests, close personal relationships, positions of trust in outside organizations, consideration of future employment arrangements with a different organization, or decision-making affecting the award that would cause a reasonable person with knowledge of the relevant facts to question the impartiality of the offeror, the offeror’s employees, or the offeror’s future subcontractors in the matter.  Upon receipt of such a notice, the NFWF Contracting Officer will determine if a conflict of interest exists and, if so, if there are any possible actions to be taken by the offeror to reduce or resolve the conflict.  Failure to resolve conflicts of interest in a manner that satisfies NFWF may result in the proposal not being selected for award.  

By submitting a Statement of Qualifications in response to this solicitation, the offeror warrants and represents that it is eligible for award of a contract resulting from this solicitation and that it is not subject to any of the below circumstances:

Has any unpaid Federal tax liability that has been assessed, for which all judicial and administrative remedies have been exhausted or have lapsed, and that is not being paid in a timely manner pursuant to an agreement with the authority responsible for collecting the tax liability, where the awarding agency is aware of the unpaid tax liability, unless the agency has considered suspension or debarment of the corporation and made a determination that this further action is not necessary to protect the interests of the Government; or

Was convicted (or had an officer or agent of such corporation acting on behalf of the corporation convicted) of a felony criminal violation under any Federal or State law within the preceding 24 months, where the awarding agency is aware of the conviction, unless the agency has considered suspension or debarment of the corporation and made a determination that this further action is not necessary to protect the interests of the Government; or

​Is listed on the General Services Administration’s, government-wide System for Award Management Exclusions (SAM Exclusions), in accordance with the OMB guidelines at 2 C.F.R Part 180 that implement E.O.s 12549 (3 C.F.R., 1986 Comp., p. 189) and 12689 (3 C.F.R., 1989 Comp., p. 235), “Debarment and Suspension, ” or intends to enter into any subaward, contract or other contract using funds provided by NFWF with any party listed on the SAM Exclusions in accordance with Executive Orders 12549 and 12689. The SAM Exclusions can be found at https://www.sam.gov/portal/public/SAM/​.

PROPOSAL SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS AND DEADLINES (SUBJECT TO CHANGE)

​​Nov. 17, 2017
​Request for Proposals released.
​​Dec. 1, 2017​​
​Deadline for questions about the RFP to NFWF. ​

​Offerors sh​ould submit questions regarding this RFP via email to Annamarie Lopata (annamarie.lopata@nfwf.org). NFWF will ​post all the questions and responses to all questions so that all offerors have access to them at the same time. In order to provide equitable responses, all questions must be received by NFWF no later than 5:00 PM EST on December 1, 2017.

NFWF will post the questions submitted regarding the RFQ and responses on the NFWF Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund website at http://www.nfwf.org/chesapeake/Pages/home.aspx​

​Dec. 15, 2017​​
​Proposals must be emailed to Annamarie Lopata (anna​marie.lopata@nfwf.org) by 5:00 PM EST on December 15, 2017.​
Statements must ​be provided in Word format or searchable PDF with a font size no smaller than 11 pt.
​​January 2018
​Interviews with selected finalists and contract awarded.​


 1​The 2007 evaluation reviewed a total of 201 grants awarded to 125 grantees, all funded between 2000 and 2004 and completed by May 2006.
​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​