Request for Proposals: Contract for an Independent Evaluation of the Pacific Seabird Program

POSTED: June 24, 2020
DEADLINE: July 17, 2020 at 5:00 PM EDT
 

OVERVIEW

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) seeks a qualified Contractor to conduct an independent evaluation of its Pacific Seabird 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 schedule, 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.
 

BACKGROUND

The Pacific Seabird Program is designed to improve the conservation of seabirds and likely yields additional benefits to suites of species, including island endemics. By reducing threats to seabird breeding colonies and to birds at sea, NFWF and its partners expect to increase the survival and reproduction of the Program’s focal seabird species across four broad regions of the Pacific: Alaska, California Current, Chilean Islands and Hawaii. NFWF established the Program in 2011 with an initial $20M investment (Phase I) and renewed it in 2016 with an additional $25M investment to be awarded over 6 years (Phase II). Through Phase I and Phase II collectively, NFWF has awarded close to 200 grants to mitigate threats to seabird populations and support actions that build long-term resilience for the focal species. The Program’s Business Plan for Phase II describes the current focal species, goals and strategies and can be found on NFWF’s website: https://www.nfwf.org/sites/default/files/seabirds/Documents/business-plan-pacific-seabirds.pdf

In 2014, an independent mid-point evaluation of Phase I of the Pacific Seabird Program found that it was on track for achieving its goals and concluded that its design was appropriate and strategic for maximizing overall seabird conservation gains. The 2014 evaluation’s findings and conclusions were based on the first 41 grants awarded through the Program, many of which were still in-progress at that time. The evaluation report is available on NFWF’s website: https://www.nfwf.org/sites/default/files/results/evaluationreports/Documents/pacific-seabird-evaluation.pdf

NFWF is commissioning this evaluation to understand the impact that the Pacific Seabird Program has had on its focal species and seabird conservation more broadly over the life of the Program. All grants awarded since 2011 are included in the evaluation’s scope (Phase I and Phase II). 

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

  • Records of grant awards and grantee contact information
  • Grantee reports describing project implementation and results
  • Species outcome data and metrics, including:
    • Population, reproductive success and burrow occupancy data (select species)
    • Metrics and outcome data for bycatch reduction efforts (where applicable)
    • Metrics and outcome data for species translocations & establishing new populations (where applicable)
  • Other relevant Program products as requested (e.g., logic model, project selection criteria, etc.)
  • Assistance facilitating collaboration with individual grant project lead investigators
     

SCOPE OF WORK

Tasks: The selected contractor will be tasked with answering a set of evaluation questions using appropriate and robust methods and preparing a report of findings and recommendations. Methods should be clearly described in the proposal as part of Section 2: Technical Approach. Travel to project sites is not expected. Significant collaboration between the evaluator and NFWF will be required throughout the evaluation to ensure that the proper questions are being posed and answered. The evaluator can expect bi-weekly or monthly meetings with NFWF’s Senior Evaluation Officer and other members of the Pacific Seabird Program team to provide updates on the evaluation’s progress. NFWF will also review and provide feedback on the draft report and presentations prior to the evaluation’s completion.  

Draft evaluation questions are provided below. The selected contractor will refine and finalize the evaluation questions with NFWF during the initial stage of the evaluation. 

Draft Evaluation Questions

  1. Intended Impacts: To what extent has the Pacific Seabird Program enhanced the viability of its focal species through threat reduction and improvements in survival and reproduction, as outlined in the goals and strategies of the Phase 1 and Phase II Business Plans?

  2. Ancillary Benefits and Unintended Consequences: How has the Program impacted other seabirds and endemic island species (birds and other taxa)? 

  3. Broader Impacts and Advances: How has the Program increased organizational capacity and partnerships for seabird conservation? How much funding is currently dedicated to seabird conservation nationally (and globally) and what role is NFWF’s funding playing? What has the conservation community learned about the effectiveness of strategies to reduce threats to seabirds and advance survival and population outcomes? 

  4. Long-term Sustainability: What steps have been taken to ensure that the Program’s outcomes endure? Are there risks to the long-term sustainability of outcomes and, if so, how can they be addressed? To what extent are local communities engaged in a way that supports long-term sustainability? Have those communities also benefitted from this engagement and, if so, how? 

  5. Planning: What are the emerging threats, nascent opportunities and/or technologies for seabird conservation that NFWF could play a role in supporting? How can NFWF better align with other funders and conservation efforts to scale-up the collective impact of this work? What potential additional seabird species should NFWF consider in the Pacific and is there sufficient information and organizational capacity to plan and implement conservation actions for them? 

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 a group of NFWF stakeholders assembled to provide support and feedback for this evaluation.

Schedule: The period of performance for this contract is September 1, 2020 – September 1, 2021. Offerors should include a schedule showing key milestones in their proposal as part of Section 1: Understanding of the Scope of Work. 
 

REQUIRED EXPERTISE 

The successful offeror must have significant expertise in both program evaluation and conservation science, as outlined below. Strong communication skills in writing and presenting are also required. Fluency in Spanish is preferred but not required. Joint proposals from a prime and sub-contractor are welcome but please note that only one contract will be awarded for this project. 

  • Expertise in Program Evaluation: The Lead Evaluator should have 10 + years of experience in evaluation study design and implementation, including experience using the research methods proposed for this evaluation. Prior work should include evaluations of grantmaking and wildlife conservation programs. Expertise in presenting complex information clearly and concisely to a non-technical audience in writing and verbally must be demonstrated. Education and training at the Masters or PhD level required.
     
  • Expertise in Applied Conservation Science: The Lead Scientist should have 10+ years of experience in wildlife conservation planning, prioritization, and project optimization/budgeting with an emphasis on seabird conservation. A PhD in a relevant field is required, as well as a publication record on key issues and familiarity with current seabird conservation publications. 
     

CRITERIA FOR COMPETITIVE APPLICATIONS  

Proposals will be evaluated and scored on the following criteria.  Offerors should organize their Proposal Narrative based on these sections:

  1. Understanding of the Scope of Work. The Scope of Work must demonstrate an understanding of the goals of the Pacific Seabird Program evaluation. You should also include a schedule of major milestones for the evaluation and a description of how you will communicate with NFWF to report on progress, results, and deliverables. Weight: 10%
     
  2. Technical Approach.  The proposed technical approach should clearly describe the methods for answering each of the evaluation questions in detail. 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 questions. Weight: 25%
     
  3. Qualifications of Proposed Personnel.  This section should clearly describe which tasks each member of the team will conduct and how their training and experience provide the requisite expertise to do so successfully. The proposal should describe relevant professional expertise and training in the areas indicated above (see Required Expertise). Weight: 20%
     
  4. Contractor’s Past Performance.  The proposal should include information on the offering organization’s past performance in conducting impact evaluations. Experience evaluating conservation grant programs, especially seabird programs, is strongly preferred. List recent evaluations (last 2-5 years) the organization has completed that are similar to the work being proposed. Include references for those projects and examples of the final products. If subcontractors are to be used, information should be provided that demonstrates how their past performance is applicable to this evaluation. Weight: 20%
     
  5. Budget. The proposed budget should itemize work in sufficient detail to enable reviewers to evaluate the appropriateness of the entire funding request. You must use the Contractor Budget Template provided with this RFP. You may add columns to the template for additional tasks if needed but should not make any other changes. Weight: 25%


ELIGIBLE OFFERORS & CONFLICT OF INTEREST STATEMENT

Eligible applicants include institutions of higher education, other nonprofits, commercial organizations, international organizations, and local, state and Indian tribal governments.

By submitting a proposal 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 Proposal, or in subsequent correspondence (if the issue becomes known after the submission of the Proposal) 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 proposal 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 a contract 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 instructions can be found here: https://www.sam.gov/SAM/
 

SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS

Proposals must be submitted under the same cover at the same time, in three distinctly labeled and separate documents: 1) Technical Proposal, 2) Budget, and 3) Evidence of Financial Stability.  Interested parties should submit proposals electronically to Annamarie Lopata, Senior Evaluation Officer, NFWF, annamarie.lopata@nfwf.org.  Proposal requirements are listed below.

  1. Technical Proposal
  • Format: Proposals must be provided in Word format or searchable PDF with a font size no smaller than 11 pt.
  • Contact information: Primary contact person, company name, address, phone, email, website, DUNS number, and EIN/Taxpayer ID#.
  • Narrative: Concise (10-page limit) description of the work plan and a summary of the offeror’s expertise and experience, organized by the Criteria for Competitive Applications, Items 1 through 4. 
  • References: List at least two clients who have received services from the offeror that is similar in nature to the proposed work; include names, phone numbers, and email address. Provide examples of the final products for those clients. 
  • Biographies: Resumes and/or Vitae of key staff and their role in the proposed work area.
  1. Budget: The budget proposal must be submitted using the following NFWF budget template: https://www.nfwf.org/sites/default/files/2020-06/contractor-budget-template-pacific-seabird-program-evaluation.xlsx.
     
  2. Evidence of Financial Stability: The applicant shall provide proof of financial stability in the form of financial statements, credit ratings, a line of credit, or other financial arrangements sufficient to demonstrate the applicant’s capability to meet the requirements of this solicitation.
     

SELECTION PROCEDURE 

A panel of NFWF staff will review the proposals and conduct interviews with the offerors who submit the strongest proposals. Offerors may be asked to modify objectives, work plans, or budgets prior to final approval of the award. Only one award will be made for this project. If multiple institutions are involved, they should be handled through subcontracts.
 

SUBMISSION DEADLINES 

July 6, 2020 Deadline for questions about the solicitation to NFWF. 
Offerors should submit questions regarding this solicitation via email to Annamarie Lopata, Senior Evaluation Officer, NFWF, annamarie.lopata@nfwf.org. NFWF will post all questions and answers so that all offerors have access to them at the same time. In order to provide equitable responses, all questions must be sent to NFWF no later than 5:00 PM EDT July 6, 2020
July 9, 2020 NFWF will post the questions submitted regarding the solicitation and responses on the NFWF website at https://www.nfwf.org/strategies-results/evaluating-our-results/third-party-evaluations/request-proposals-contract.
July 17, 2020 Deadline for receipt by NFWF of proposals. 
Proposals must be sent electronically as an email attachment to Annamarie Lopata, Senior Evaluation Officer, NFWF, annamarie.lopata@nfwf.org by 5:00 PM EDT July 17, 2020
Proposals must be provided in Word format or searchable PDF.
September 1, 2020 Contract award to selected Offeror 
September 1, 2021 Deliverables Due