RFP Questions—Grant Management Services

Grant Management Services RFP Q&As

Project Questions

  1. Is there an incumbent contractor used by LSC to manage other disaster relief grant programs?

No. This is only the second time LSC has received supplemental appropriations to perform disaster recovery work (the first was approximately $1M to respond to Hurricane Sandy). LSC handled its Hurricane Sandy grant program completely in-house.

  1. Will the contractor be expected to utilize pre-existing/standard checklists/forms to complete grantee evaluations?

Yes

  1. Will the contractor be expected to utilize pre-existing templates for grantee evaluation reporting?

Yes

  1. What does a typical review period look like, e.g., expected number of days to be spent onsite; preferred timeframe for completion of the desk review?

The typical duration of an on-site special grant compliance review is three days. The typical duration of a special grant desk review (which is primarily reviews financial documents) is two days. But these estimates may differ for this special grant program, depending on the successful consultant’s approach to performing onsite and desk compliance reviews and the level of oversight the technology implementation grant projects will require.

  1. Does LSC have a preferred platform/method of communication for working with the contractor?

No, but we are open to any suggestions in this regard. We mostly communicate with our employees and contractors through email (Microsoft Outlook and Outlook 365).

  1. For budgeting purposes, how many desk reviews and how many onsite visits are expected each quarter?

This is a two-year contractual engagement. We expect the successful consultant to perform on-site and desk reviews of each of our 11 Disaster Relief grantees. The site visits will take place beginning spring/summer of 2019. Desk audits will take place in the final quarter of 2019.

  1. For budgeting purposes, should costs for mid-term and interim evaluations/follow-up be based on the 11 current grantees, or another total projected grantee count?

Based on the 11 current grantees.

  1. Will the contractor be required to submit reports directly to OIG?

No, but most of our compliance reports are posted to our website and publicly available.

  1. What, if any, of the administrative or oversight tasks will be performed by LSC staff?

LSC staff is ultimately responsible for the oversight of all disaster grants. The successful consultant will work closely with LSC staff on all aspects of grantee oversight and evaluation. We envision pairing the successful consultant with one of our seasoned disaster team members. The consultant will serve as the day-to-day liaison with Disaster Relief grantees and will do preliminary reviews of required reports and payment requests, making recommendations to LSC staff on whether to approve or deny them.

  1. Can the firm/consultant work offsite except for the onsite visits to the grantees?

Yes, LSC’s preference is that the successful candidate will primarily work offsite. Obviously, we anticipate that there will be regular coordination and communication with the consultant and LSC staff. If project needs require work to be performed at LSC’s headquarter offices in Washington, DC, however, we would certainly provide any necessary office or meeting space, supplies, and equipment. While performing work onsite, the successful candidate would be expected to comply with LSC’s customary workplace conduct and safety policies.

  1. Can LSC confirm that the Disaster Relief Grant Program does not include grants from the 2018 Hurricane Season (Florence and Michael)?

Yes, LSC’s Disaster Relief Grant Program is limited to the 2017 hurricanes (Harvey, Irma, and Maria) and California wildfires.

  1. Does LSC anticipate a new wave of grant funding from Congress related to these storms?

LSC does not anticipate receiving additional congressional appropriations to respond to the 2017 hurricanes and California wildfires. At this time, LSC does not anticipate a supplemental appropriation for the 2018 hurricanes.

  1. The RFP references that LSC is responsible for oversight of its grantees, conducting audits and on-site evaluations of grantee quality and compliance with statutory and regulatory requirements. Does the requested services of this RFP require auditing work?

No. The section of the RFP that you are referencing is the “About LSC” section, which provides a general overview of the work LSC does, including audit work. Auditing is not one of the tasks the RFP identifies as part of the grant management services requested to assist with the administration, oversight, and evaluation of our Disaster Relief Grant Program.

  1. Is there a listing of current LSC grantees? (Link in RFP document – need locations for grantees to estimate travel cost for on-site reviews).

Our Disaster Relief Grantees are located in California, Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. They often operate multiple office locations across their service areas. Here is a list of Disaster Relief grantees’ headquarters office addresses.

  1. Please identify the population or number of grantees.

LSC has 11 Disaster Relief grantees, nine of which have been awarded 24-month Disaster Relief grants. LSC has 132 total grantees providing legal aid to low-income Americans in every US state and territory.

  1. How many trips or the number of on-site visits over a two-year period to each grantee?

At least one oversight visit to each of LSC’s 11 Disaster Relief grantees, preferably performed around the mid-point of the grant term.

  1. Is the focus of LSC funding to legal aid groups for IA related work?

Although many of LSC-eligible clients require assistance with FEMA claims, appeals, and other matters related to Individual Assistance, that is not the only legal issue grantees handle with disaster legal services, Most of LSC’s grant funds support the delivery of legal services to the poor in family, housing, income maintenance, consumer, health, and employment law cases. LSC’s Disaster Relief Grant Program funds, however, will allow LSC grantees in the affected disaster areas to provide (1) mobile resources, (2) technology, and (3) pro bono coordinators to enhance the delivery of storm- and fire-related legal services to LSC-eligible clients affected by those disasters.

  1. Do any of the grantees also represent subrecipients of federal FEMA PA funding? Does this create a conflict of interest?

To our knowledge, none of LSC’s Disaster Relief grantees are also subrecipients of FEMA PA funding and, even if they were, we do not believe that it would pose an unmanageable conflict of interest.

  1. How was the grantee funding allocated to the grantees? Is the funding formula based on need?

The grant funds were awarded through a competitive grant process. The grantees created budgets based on their specific project designs, and LSC negotiated modifications to ensure consistency with grant program requirements and available funding. LSC is making six payments to the grantees during the period of performance as they achieve predetermined milestones for their work.

  1. “Review grantee milestone reports and payment requests, assessing whether required milestones have been satisfactorily completed, and recommending to LSC’s disaster team whether to pay the respective installment payment or require corrective action/technical assistance.” Will the successful bidder be assessing in development of milestones?

No. The milestones will be approved in calendar year 2018.

  1. “Assist Disaster Relief grantees with grant close-out process, ensuring that all funds were properly spent and are accounted for and that all projects are substantively and satisfactorily complete.” Please clarify the process documentation or grant reconciliation and closeout procedures.

At the end of the period of performance, grantees will submit a final report and a final financial report. The successful consultant and LSC staff will review how the grant funds were spent to ensure that the grant project goals, objectives, and milestones were achieved. After review, the successful consultant and LSC staff will have a closeout phone call with the grantee and complete the administrative closeout of the grant.

  1. “Deliver reports on grantee progress” Would those reports cover the grantee progress in meeting their objectives or our progress in monitoring their compliance?

Most reports on grantee progress will cover the grantee progress in meeting objectives.

  1. The RFP describes 11 points for which consulting services are requested (pages 4–5 of 11). However on page 7 of 11 the experience and quals that the RFP is seeking reads: LSC seeks the services of consultants with demonstrated expertise and experience in grants management and overseeing projects involving the development and implementation of information technology systems. Further within the cost section of the RFP there is a request to estimate the cost for system or software conversion costs. Please clarify if the requirements of the RFP is seeking a consultant to develop and implement an information technology system.

The RFP is seeking a consultant to assist with administering, overseeing, and evaluating the effectiveness of LSC’s Disaster Relief Grant projects, many of which involve grantee implementation of complex information technology systems. The successful consultant will not be tasked with developing or implementing information technology systems, but rather with overseeing and evaluatingthe effectiveness of such systems, so having a background in, or having access to colleagues who have a background in, complex information technology system implementations is highly desirable.

  1. Is there a current software system that LSC uses to track and/or manage the legal aid grantees? How about from a financial perspective or even a contractual, paperwork or performance perspective?

No standalone software system is available to track and/or manage the grantees. LSC uses a combination of Outlook, Smartsheet, Box, Excel, Word to manage grantees, but is open to suggestions from the successful consultant on how to more efficiently manage them.

  1. Does LSC currently do site visits of these grantees and, if so, is there a schedule for the next two years?

Yes, LSC routinely performs risk-based oversight of all 132 grantees, including its 11 Disaster Relief Grant awardees. Each year, based on a robust risk-based analysis, LSC selects about 40 grantees to visit. LSC schedules grantee visits a year in advance. LSC is still finalizing its 2019 visit schedule. LSC will begin scheduling 2020 compliance reviews in September 2019.

  1. What processes and/or systems does LSC currently leverage to communicate with grantees?

LSC primarily uses direct email and phone calls to communicate with grantees.

  1. Does LSC have a grantee portal for collecting required progress and financial reports?

No. Grantees submit their reports and supporting materials using Word, Excel, and .pdf. LSC uses the cloud-based document management system, Box, to organize and management the reporting process.

  1. Were the grantees provided a standardized format for their project plans?

Yes.

  1. Are grantees required to submit progress and financial reports on a standardized form or will the format differ per awardee? Will due dates differ per awardee? 

The grantees will be using standardized forms. All reports and payments will be on the same schedule.

  1. How many of the grantees will require site visits? And how many will require desk reviews?

All 11 Disaster Relief grantees will require at least one on-site and desk compliance review during the engagement. Additional desk or on-site compliance visits may be required depending on the circumstances.

  1. Can you please further clarify the post award monitoring activities performed by the LSC’s disaster team versus those activities that the contractor will be performing? Or are we correct in assuming that many of the sentences in the RFP should read “Assist the LSC disaster team with reviewing grantee milestone reports and payment requests, assessing whether required milestones have been satisfactorily completed, and recommending to LSC’s disaster team whether to pay the respective installment payment or require corrective action/technical assistance” versus the following (as written) “Review grantee milestone reports and payment requests, assessing whether required milestones have been satisfactorily completed, and recommending to LSC’s disaster team whether to pay the respective installment payment or require corrective action/technical assistance”.

Yes, the successful consultant will assist LSC’s disaster team members. LSC’s intention is to retain high-level decisionmaking authority over the grant program, with the consultant running the day-to-day administration, oversight, and evaluation of the grantees and their project in close consultation with LSC staff.

  1. Do you have an estimate level of effort you can share? Or do you have certain expectations regarding the number and level of full time versus part time staff that will be supporting the project?

The level of effort will be cyclical. There will be a need to regularly monitor grantees, check-in with LSC staff, write updates and reports, and travel to and conduct site visits over a two-year period.

  1. Can you please confirm the contract period of performance?

January 2019-December 2020.

  1. Are there any specific key personnel that must be included in proposals?

Please identify any personnel that you anticipate working on this project and describe the role you anticipate them playing.

Proposal Requirements

  1. RFP requires us to mail three hard copies in addition to the email of the electronic version. We request removing the requirement of mailing hard copies, as it is redundant and time-consuming, especially for small businesses like ours. 

We request hard copies in addition to email submissions so that we don’t waste time and resources printing out vendor proposals for our evaluation team members’ review. If you require a financial hardship waiver, however, please contact Rebecca Weir, 202.295.1618 or rweir@lsc.gov, for further assistance.

  1. As to travel costs, should we estimate one onsite visit for each grantee? Since the precise travel costs are difficult to estimate, we request LSC to ask firms to estimate travel costs and show separately in addition to the fixed proposed price. Reimbursement of such travel costs will be guided by the Federal Travel Regulations.

Yes, please estimate one onsite visit for each grantee and estimate travel costs and show separately in addition to the fixed proposed price.

  1. Are we allowed to submit detailed resume(s) of the proposed personnel separately as an exhibit?

Yes.

  1. “All proposals must be concise (7 pages or less, not including resumes, brochures, and samples of comparable work)” Does that include cover pages, table of contents, and proposal letter signed by partner?

Yes, it includes cover pages, table of contents, and proposal letter (this is not required). We are mostly interested in the substance of your proposal, not its packaging. Proposals that are specifically tailored to our identified needs are greatly appreciated and preferable. The quicker you get to the point, and the less packaging and boilerplate language included, the better. Any proposal that requires a table of contents likely does not meet our definition of “concise and well organized.”

  1. Can LSC provide the contractual language for the provisions listed on page 10?

Below is LSC’s preferred contract language for indemnification and governing law, mandatory mediation, and venue provisions. Our remaining contract requirements are in the negative; that is, we prefer to sign a contract that does not contain limitations on liability, binding arbitration, waiver of debt collection rights, or winner gets attorney’s fees provisions, so we do not have sample contractual language for these provisions.

Indemnification. [Successful Consultant] will indemnify, hold harmless, and defend LSC and its officers, directors, employees, agents, and assignees against any and all losses, damages, liabilities, deficiencies, claims, actions, judgments, settlements, interest, awards, penalties, fines, costs, or expenses, including reasonable attorneys’ fees, that LSC incurs as a result of a third-party claim alleging that:

    • [Successful Consultant] breached this agreement;
    • [Successful Consultant] acted negligently, grossly negligently, intentionally, or failed to act when you had a duty to do so, while performing your obligations under this agreement;
    • [Successful Consultant’s] negligent, grossly negligent, or intentional acts or omissions while performing its obligations under this agreement caused bodily injury, death, or damage to real or tangible personal property; or
    • [Successful Consultant] failed to comply with any applicable federal, state, or local laws, regulations or codes while performing your obligations under this agreement.

Governing Law, Mandatory Mediation, and Venue. This agreement will be governed, construed, and enforced according to the laws of the District of Columbia, excluding its conflict of laws rules. Any disputes arising from this agreement or [Successful Consultant’s] services will be exclusively resolved in a federal or local court of competent jurisdiction located in the District of Columbia. [Successful Consultant] agrees to waive objection to personal jurisdiction in those courts. Before litigating any dispute, we will mediate our dispute, in good faith, with the assistance of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS), a free, government-sponsored, dispute resolution service headquartered in the District of Columbia.

  1. Can LSC provide background to why a reasonable limitation of liability is not acceptable to LSC?

LSC feels that the best way for our trusted business partners to avoid liability is to perform as promised and that, in the unlikely event of a dispute, government-sponsored mediation combined with DC’s comprehensive contract laws and America’s seasoned judicial system, contain sufficient procedural, administrative, and evidentiary safeguards to ensure that an aggrieved party is made whole and does not receive a windfall. Limitations on liability alter those carefully cultivated principals of contract law and judicial process; in our experience, often unreasonably so.

Although limitations on liability make sense in some industries (e.g., global companies that do high-volume sales of relatively low-dollar goods), we do not feel that a limitation on liability is appropriate for a one-time consulting services contract like this one. Our trusted business partners are in the best position to ensure that they perform per the contract terms and act responsibly; this is not a situation where it is appropriate to shift responsibility for a vendor’s breach of contract or tortious act to LSC, which, at its core, is what a limitation on liability provision accomplishes.

Additionally, LSC is funded almost entirely with taxpayer dollars. We take our duty to safeguard taxpayer funds very seriously. We feel that agreeing to limit a vendor’s liability in the event of their breach of contract or tortious act is inconsistent with our commitment to being good stewards of taxpayer funds; in the unlikely event of a vendor’s wrongful breach or tortious act, the taxpayers should be made whole.

  1. The pricing section requires us to submit travel costs for the 11 on site reviews. In order for us to price the travel costs accurately we will need to know the onsite monitoring locations along with the standard time frame the agency will like us to perform each of these monitoring reviews. Can you provide additional guidance on the locations, alternatively since travel is a reimbursement can we say all travel will be reimbursed in accordance with the FTR and that amount will be determined upon award. Please advise.

We expect the successful candidate to perform at least 1 on-site grantee visit to each of the 11 Disaster Relief grantees. Here is a list of the Disaster Relief grantees’ primary headquarter office addresses to assist with your budgeting estimates.

  1. On page 8 of the RFP the delivery method states email and 3 hard copies for submission. Can we use one method or is it a requirement for us to use both email and hard copies. I know in the past we have used the email method only. Please advise.

To facilitate our evaluation team’s review of your proposals, please submit both an electronic copy and 3 hard copies of your proposal.

  1. Can we hand deliver versus mail?

You may hand-deliver your 3 hard copies to our receptionist, located on the 3rd Floor of our headquarter offices located at 3333 K Street NW, Washington, DC 20007, if you prefer, but you will not meet with the contract coordinator or evaluation team members at that time. Our preference is to receive the hard copies by mail (in addition to your email submission). There is no need to overnight your proposals; as long as they are postmarked by the proposal submission deadline, they are acceptable.

  1. Can a work breakdown structure (WBS) be excluded from the 7-page limit?

If your WBS is a chart or other visual demonstrative that clarifies the written explanation of your project approach and framework, then yes, it can be excluded. If it is the main vehicle for explaining your project approach and framework, then no, it must be included within the 7-page proposal limit.

  1. Will the contractor be required to use AIMS to review and/or manage audit working papers?

LSC is open to vendor suggestions for how to best manage its Disaster Relief Grant Program. Please suggest grant management technologies and other solutions that you believe would most effectively and efficiently enable you to perform the requested services.

  1. Understanding that this is a T&M contract, should travel and other ODCs be estimated or will LSC provide a ceiling/NTE amount for all offerors to use?

Please estimate travel and other direct and indirect costs that you would anticipate incurring if awarded this contract. Depending on bidders’ overall price estimates, LSC may consider imposing a not to exceed cap. LSC’s appropriation provided up to $750,000 for administration costs, including the cost of these requested grants management services.

  1. Can you please extend the technical proposal page limit to 10 pages?

No. While we understand that producing a concise, well-written proposal is often more time-consuming and challenging than providing a more standardized one, we feel this requirement is necessary to ensure that we get tailored and targeted proposals with limited boilerplate and “fluff” components. This requirement helps us identify quality candidates who took the time to concisely convey how their services and past experiences would meet or exceed LSC’s requirements for the engagement. We remind you that the 7-page limit covers the substantive portion of your proposal and excludes resumes, brochures, demonstratives, and samples of comparable work.

RFP Process Questions

  1. This RFQ is also placed on GSA eBuy marketplace, and hence we are assuming that only the firms with the approved GSA SIN 520.00 Grant Management Support Services are eligible to bid on this RFP. If so, the Cost information required by the RFP more resembles what is required under Cost Plus Fixed Fee (CPFF) contracts, and hence are unnecessary as per FAR 8.404(d) with the task orders drawn on the GSA Schedule contracts. We request LSC to change the cost data requirement to the customary information such as discounted hourly rate by labor category and number of hours to arrive at the proposed fixed cost.

No, this RFP is not limited to GSA Schedule vendors. Accordingly, we respectfully request that interested individuals and firms please provide fee and cost quotes as directed in the RFP to enable LSC to accurately compare the pricing estimates submitted.

  1. Can you please provide a list of vendors providing comparable services supporting other grant programs at LSC?

This is the first time that LSC has sought the services of a consultant to help supplement its internal grant administration, oversight, and evaluation capacity.

  1. Can you please provide the name of the successful offeror who was awarded the February 2018 RFP to map LSC grants management processes?

The name of the successful vendor on the grant management mapping project is irrelevant to this opportunity, but since it is public information, LSC selected GrantBook, a business process mapping consulting company, for that engagement.