Responses to Questions about the RFQ for Monitoring Support

Responses to Questions about the RFQ for Monitoring Support
Posted: 9/25/17

Thank you for your interest in supporting NFWF’s efforts to monitor its conservation outcomes! We received several questions about the Request for Qualifications​ issued on September 12, 2017. Responses to all questions that were received by September 22 are provided below. Similar questions from multiple offerors were combined into a single response. 

Reminder: Statements of Qualification are due on October 13, 2017.
 

Questions about Anticipated Activities (section 3)

  1. Is it possible that selected contractors will have the opportunity to design and implement national or regional monitoring programs to assess broad-scale and cumulative effects of NFWF-funded conservation initiatives? Or, alternatively, are contracts primarily awarded for the monitoring relatively small-scale projects?
    NFWF anticipates working with contractors to design and implement monitoring frameworks to measure the impact of conservation actions on species at multiple scales, including project-level and regional/landscape scales.

  2. In general, will contractors be able to initiate monitoring efforts before management is implemented to allow for a before-after comparison?
    Maybe. It will depend on the conservation outcomes being sought by a particular program and the monitoring approach being used to measure them. This will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

  3. Our organization has a large base of volunteer members which we frequently use for collecting monitoring data.  Does the use of volunteer citizen scientists fall under the scope of this RFQ?
    NFWF has not traditionally used citizen science to monitor the outcomes of its programs. It is unclear whether citizen science will be used in the future.

  4. Might contractors be hired to host and manage some or all of the data collected by multiple entities, including other NFWF contractors, using standard protocols, from numerous NFWF-designated monitoring locations?
    No. Data management and storage are not anticipated activities under this RFQ.

  5. Will you consider groups that collect specimens for archiving in collections? They would be collected to either verify identification (voucher species) or to analyze them for parasites and diseases. They would be collected and dealt with humanely according to our strict regulations and the data would be made available to any interested parties.
    No. Archiving specimens is not an anticipated activity under this RFQ.

​​Questions about areas of expertise (section 4)

  1. What species will be a focus for NFWF for this RFQ?
    There is not a pre-defined set of species for this RFQ. Focal species will be identified as needs for monitoring plans emerge. In some cases, contractors from the pre-qualified pool may help NFWF identify the focal species for a conservation program. NFWF’s conservation programs seek to protect species in many ecosystems and address challenges in oceans and coasts, forests and grasslands and freshwater environments. For more about the conservation programs and the species they protect see http://www.nfwf.org/whatwedo/programs/Pages/home.aspx.

  2. Does the RFQ apply to specific NFWF conservation programs, or is the request to provide support across all of NFWF?
    NFWF anticipates that most of the contracts will support monitoring for specific conservation programs, however contracts may also be issued to develop monitoring plans across a set of programs. Specific programs have not yet been identified but we do anticipate working in the areas listed in Section 5 of the RFQ (Regional Focus).  However, that is a preliminary list and could change. Any NFWF program that needs contractor support to design and implement a monitoring program over the next 3 years may use the pool of pre-qualified contractors.

  3. What is the reason birds are listed as separate from wildlife?  
    NFWF is actively engaged in a variety of bird conservation initiatives and also uses birds as focal species in its other conservation programs. Specialized expertise in this area is being sought to determine how they are responding to conservation actions. 

  4. For expertise in Wildlife, is the statement “dispersion models” supposed to be “dispersal models”?
    Yes. The RFQ should say: Wildlife, including terrestrial wildlife and pollinators, using transect surveys, camera trap surveys, dispersal models, geospatial data and related methods

  5. The RFQ calls out pollinators. Which pollinators are a focus for NFWF?  
    At the current time, NFWF focuses on Monarchs. NFWF may incorporate other pollinators into its programs in the future, but has not identified the specific ones it might focus on.  

  6. What habitat modeling approaches does NFWF use or foresee using?  What level of statistical analyses does NFWF employ?
    NFWF’s use of habitat modeling is varied across landscapes and highly dependent on available data for an area.  NFWF often uses spatial data and models established by our partners or funds the data collection and model development.  In-house planning is often informed by GIS analyses incorporating species distribution models and biodiversity and species rarity analyses.  Habitat modeling or analysis often depends on standard NLCD data, but in certain places in the East, land cover data as fine as 1m x 1m resolution may be available from partners. Moving forward, NFWF may also start using habitat models to measure the outcomes of its work. The opportunities to do this and the technical approaches to be used will depend on the goals of the conservation program as well as the data available and its quality.

  7. The RFQ makes several references to being pre-qualified in a specific area or multiple areas. Can a contractor respond to all RFQ areas by building a team/identifying our existing consultants across all technical expertise areas?
    Organizations and individuals who meet the required qualifications listed in Section 6 of the RFQ may apply to be pre-qualified in multiple areas, e.g. wildlife and birds or any other combination of specialties. Questions and answers about the use of subcontractors are listed below in the section on eligible offerors. 

  8. Our expertise includes much of what you have listed. Would it be better to put together a big list of our capabilities that attempts to incorporate all of the applicable items listed, with less detail, or would it be better to propose engagement in more specific projects/ regions, with greater detail regarding methods?
    You should include all areas of expertise for which your organization wishes to be pre-qualified in your 10-page submission. You should provide enough information for NFWF to evaluate the organization against the selection criteria identified in the RFQ.  

​Questions about focal geographies (section 5) 

  1. Are there any known specific focal geographic and topical areas that will be evaluated?
    The RFQ identifies the areas of the country where NFWF anticipates needing contractor support for outcome monitoring in the near future. However, that is a preliminary list and could change. Specific programs have not yet been identified and any NFWF programs that need support to design and implement monitoring programs over the next 3 years may use the pool of pre-qualified contractors.

  2. Should we align our geographic expertise with your specific programs, as well as the eight specific regions that you mention in the RFQ as near-term priorities? What about larger cross-cutting biogeographic classifications like bioregions and flyways?
  3. Please identify all regions of the country where you have expertise as well as cross-cutting regions (bioregions, flyways or others). It would be helpful for you to identify where your expertise aligns with the regions identified in the RFQ and/or other NFWF programs. 

​Questions about required qualifications (section 6)

  1. Should we detail our past experience as an organization, or focus on the past experience of the individuals who would be doing the work, regardless of whether they were employees of our organization at the time? Or both?
    Both, with an emphasis on the experience of the individuals who would be doing the work. Their experience does not need to be limited to the time that they have been employed by your organization. All relevant experience from the past 2-5 years, should be included.

  2. Does the past experience have to be in a contractor capacity, or can it be internally- or grant-funded?
    All relevant experience from the past 2-5 years, whether as a contract or in some other capacity, should be included. 

  3. Should we be issued an award, can team members (e.g., subcontractors) be added at a later time to address specific task needs?
    Organizations and individuals will be pre-qualified based on the expertise they currently have, whether in-house or through existing contractual relationships. If a pre-qualified contractor adds expertise, e.g. through a merger, or loses expertise they should notify NFWF of the change. NFWF will review the situation to determine whether the organization remains qualified in the previously identified areas or in new areas.   

​Questions about the submission requirements (section 7)

  1. Does the 10-page limit include key staff resumes/CVs?
    No. Resumes should be added as an appendix but brief biographies for the key staff should be included in the 10-page submission.

  2. Does the ten page limit include cover page, table of contents, and requested appendices?
    No.

  3. In addition to the resumes and annual report, is there any information in the submission requirements that may be attached as an appendix (e.g., rate fee structure table)?
    No. All other information should be included as part of the 10-page submission.

  4. If responders anticipate submitting their qualifications for multiple technical expertise/services and/or in multiple geographies, do all of those qualifications need to be shown in 10 pages, or is it possible to submit separate 10 page proposals for each service line, or geography?
    All areas of expertise must be included in a single 10-page document. 

  5. Would you prefer that we submit our qualifications as a stand-alone entity, or as a formal team with some of our solo, academic, or small business partners? If solo, would it be appropriate to briefly list past partners or those with whom we have discussed partnering, and then encourage them to submit separately and to mention us?
    You may submit qualifications as a single entity or as a team (e.g. lead organization with subcontractors). If you submit qualifications as a stand-alone entity your submission will be reviewed based on your qualifications only. You are welcome to encourage other organizations to apply, but their qualifications will be reviewed separately.  If you are submitting qualifications as a team with individuals from multiple organizations, NFWF will be looking for some assurance that the qualifications of the proposed team will be consistent during the 3-year period covered by this RFQ. 

  6. Please describe the level of detail you are seeking for the "fee structure" requested.  
    A fee schedule is adequate for the qualification phase.  Additional detail will be required should future bids be requested. Include fully inclusive hourly rates and job titles for individuals that may support the provided services

  7. Please clarify what "non-profit discounts" means.
    Please note if you discount your standard fee structure for non-profit clients.

  8. Given the broad scope of work, please confirm that NFWF is not seeking a budget to be included with the Contractor’s submission at this time.
    That is correct. 

  9. Can we use NFWF as a reference?
    Yes. Please include the names of the individuals you worked with.

Questions and Answers about eligible offers and conflict of interest (section 9)

  1. Can university research labs apply for this or is this only for independent contractors and consulting firms?
    Universities, individuals, nonprofits, commercial organizations, international organizations, authorized federal entities, and local, state and Indian tribal governments are all eligible.

  2. As a post-doc, can I be the primary contact person? I plan on being here for the life of the contract (3 years) and meet all of the required qualifications.
    Yes, if you are authorized by your organization to submit the Statement of Qualifications.

  3. Are you interested in other individuals beyond your mailing list?
    Yes. On the day the RFQ was posted to its website NFWF sent an email to individuals and organizations it was aware of to let them know about this opportunity. However the RFQ is open to all eligible entities (see above) and we encourage everyone who is interested to submit a Statement of Qualifications.

  4. Are respondents allowed to include teaming partners (i.e., subcontractors, outside vendors, or individual consultants) in their submittals?
    Yes. Please indicate if the partners are currently under contract and available for the full period of qualification.  As expertise is a key component in the selection process, NFWF will be looking for some assurance that the qualifications of the proposed team will be consistent over the next 3 years.

  5. If we are currently working on NFWF projects as a prime and/or sub-consultant, does that conflict us out of the role as conservation monitoring consultant?  If selected by NFWF as a conservation monitoring consultant, would our firm be conflicted out of pursuing future NFWF projects?
    Organizations that receive NFWF funds are not categorically excluded from this RFQ or future opportunities. In such situations, NFWF and the organization would need to work out a solution to manage any real or perceived conflict of interest.

  6. What does “authorized federal entities” refer to?
    While NFWF is a nonprofit organization, potential funding for contracts may include federal assistance funds. “Authorized federal entities” refers to those entities that are authorized to receive funds from another federal entity. Please check with your organization to determine if it is authorized.  

​Questions about the selection criteria and selection process (sections 8 and 10)

  1. How will the selection process will work?
    All Statements of Qualification that are received by the October 13th deadline will be reviewed by a panel of NFWF staff against the requirements outlined in the RFQ.  All offerors will be notified whether or not they are included in the pool after the review process.

  2. How many pre-qualified contractors does NFWF anticipate including in its pool?
    NFWF has not set a limit on the size of the pool of pre-qualified contractors. Ideally, the pool will include multiple organizations and individuals in each area of expertise and each focal region.

  3. How will contractors for individual projects be determined and how will task orders be awarded?
    Once NFWF identifies a specific need for support, bids will be requested and evaluated from pre-qualified entities with technical expertise that aligns with the scope of work. NFWF will also ask the organization to confirm that they still have expertise for which they were pre-qualified.  

  4. Will the award be issued as a contract or grant?
    Awards will be issued to pre-qualified organizations or individuals as contracts. To be clear, no awards are being made directly through this RFQ and being selected for the pool does not guarantee that you will receive a contract from NFWF. 

  5. Is there an anticipated start date for the period of performance?
    NFWF anticipates that it will issue the first contracts to pre-qualified entities in 2019, but could initiate a contract at any time in the next 3-years. 
​Other Questions
  1. Is this a re-bid of an existing contract and if so who are incumbents?
    This is a new opportunity. There are no incumbents.

  2. What are the historical and anticipated minimum, maximum, and average durations and award amounts of these monitoring contracts?
    Because this is a new opportunity there is no historical information. 

  3. What is the dollar value of work anticipated for each region under this contract?
    It is not possible to estimate the value of the contracts at this time. The value will depend on several factors, including the number of conservation programs needing support in a given region and the complexity and number of conservation outcomes they are seeking to measure. 

  4. Will this vehicle be the primary source for conducting program evaluations, or will RFPs for evaluations be open source?
    NFWF will continue to issue separate RFPs for third-party evaluations. 

  5. Will contractors be allowed to publish results of monitoring efforts, or are the results intended only for use by NFWF?
    Publication of monitoring efforts will be addressed on a case-by-case basis. 

  6. Are there specific existing tools, statistical programs, data types, or databases and software (internal or external) that you use heavily for tracking and monitoring?
    NFWF uses the Easygrants database to track basic metrics associated with its projects, such as the acres of habitat that have been restored. This database does not track the outcomes stemming from the restoration, i.e. those covered by this RFQ, such as the quality of the habitat or the species’ use of the habitat.  

  7. Does this RFQ reflect a change in focus for NFWF away from current grant programs and initiatives towards a reliance on direct awards to skilled contractors?
    No. NFWF’s focus remains on awarding grants for on-the-ground conservation. This RFQ reflects an increased emphasis on measuring the impact of those projects on the birds, fish and wildlife NFWF seeks to protect.

  8. Do the funds available for monitoring reflect new sources of funding for NFWF?
    Funding for monitoring will come from a mix of new and existing funds. The specific funding sources will depend on the conservation program that the monitoring plan is being developed for. 
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