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Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Request for Grant Proposals: FY2004 Vietnam Fulbright Foreign Student Exchange Program

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SUMMARY:

The Office of Academic Exchange Programs of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs announces an open competition to administer the Vietnam Fulbright Foreign Student Exchange Program. Public and private non-profit organizations meeting the provisions described in Internal Revenue Code section 26 U.S.C. 501(c)(3) may submit proposals to administer the program.

The Vietnam Fulbright Foreign Student Exchange Program was established by act of Congress in FY1992. The program aims to offer the highest quality training to Vietnamese professionals and potential leaders who have at least three to five years of work experience and are employed in areas critical to Vietnam's national development. The Vietnamese Fulbright students pursue master's degrees at U.S. universities in academic fields critical to Vietnam's national development and consistent with the primary goal of the Vietnam Fulbright program, which is to foster mutual understanding between the people of the United States and Vietnam through educational exchanges.

Program Information

Overview

The Vietnam Fulbright Foreign Student Exchange Program is designed Start Printed Page 10763to bring approximately twenty to twenty-five Vietnamese students per year to study in the United States. The students will pursue one- to two-year graduate degrees in a wide range of academic fields such as American studies, business, economics, environmental policy/studies, higher education, international relations, journalism, law, women's studies (e.g., gender and development), public health, public policy/administration, and rural development. Your proposal should include program costs for two years, but administrative costs for only the first year. Your proposal narrative should provide detailed information on major program activities to be undertaken.

The Office of Academic Exchange Programs, Department of State, works in partnership with the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi to administer the Fulbright Program in Vietnam. The grantee must collaborate with both offices to carry out the programs and activities of the grant.

Guidelines

Pending availability of funds, program administration activities should cover the time period from approximately October 1, 2003 to September 30, 2005. The projected grantee caseload is expected to be approximately 25 students. Program activities will include recruitment, selection, and placement of students in graduate programs, as well as arrangement of pre-academic English language training, enrichment seminars, and monitoring of students while on their grants. Orientations should also be provided for the students prior to their departure from Vietnam and by the host institutions upon arrival at the institutions. Applicants should plan to hold reentry seminars either before students leave the U.S. or after their return to Vietnam. When possible, alumni activities should be facilitated and supported.

The grantee organization will be responsible for:

  • Tuition payment, monitoring, and supervision for students who begin programs in Summer 2003 (who were selected by the incumbent grantee organization);
  • Testing, interviewing, and final selection of a cohort to begin programs in Summer 2004 (who will have been recruited and initially screened by the incumbent organization); and
  • Recruitment and screening for a cohort of students to begin in Summer 2005.

The incumbent organization will be responsible for monitoring and supervision during the second year of study for grantees who began programs in Summer 2002.

Programs must comply with J-1 visa regulations. Please refer to Solicitation Package for further information.

Budget Guidelines

The Bureau anticipates awarding one grant of up to $1.8 million to support program and administrative costs required to implement this program. The Bureau encourages applicants to provide maximum levels of cost-sharing and funding from private sources in support of its programs. Bureau grant guidelines require that organizations with less than four years experience in conducting international exchanges be limited to $60,000 in Bureau funding. Therefore, organizations that cannot demonstrate at least four years experience in conducting international exchanges are ineligible to apply under this competition.

There should be a clear justification of the need for any proposed sub-contracts. Subcontractors should bring unique skills or value to the process, and this should be demonstrated in the proposal.

Applicants must submit a comprehensive budget for the entire program. Awards may not exceed $1.8 million, and may be smaller if an overlapping grant with the incumbent organization is necessary to ensure a smooth program transfer. There must be a summary budget as well as specific breakdowns reflecting both administrative and program budgets. Applicants may provide separate sub-budgets for each program component, phase, location, or activity to provide clarification.

Allowable costs for the program include the following:

(1) Program costs for students' grants (up to two years of graduate study plus up to six months of language training);

(2) Staff salaries and benefits; and

(3) Administrative costs including communication, overhead and indirect costs, travel and per diem expenses, etc.

Please refer to the Solicitation Package for complete budget guidelines and formatting instructions.

Announcement Title and Number: All correspondence with the Bureau concerning this RFGP should reference the above title and the following number: ECA/A/E/EAP-2004-Vietnam-02.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, CONTACT:

Mary Hanlon in the Office of Academic Exchange Programs, ECA/A/E/EAP, Room 208, U.S. Department of State, SA-44, 301 4th Street, SW., Washington, DC 20547; phone: 202-619-5406; fax: 202-401-1728; e-mail: mhanlon@pd.state.gov to request a Solicitation Package if you are unable to download it from the internet (see instructions below). The Solicitation Package contains detailed award criteria, required application forms, specific budget instructions, and standard guidelines for proposal preparation. Please specify Bureau Program Officer Mary Hanlon on all other inquiries and correspondence.

Please read the complete Federal Register announcement before sending inquiries or submitting proposals. Once the RFGP deadline has passed, Bureau staff may not discuss this competition with applicants until the proposal review process has been completed.

To Download a Solicitation Package via Internet

The entire Solicitation Package may be downloaded from the Bureau's Web site at http://exchanges.state.gov/​education/​RFGPs. Please read all information before downloading.

Deadline for Proposals

All proposal copies must be received at the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs by 5 p.m. Washington, DC time on Thursday, May 1, 2003. Faxed documents will not be accepted at any time. Documents postmarked the due date but received on a later date will not be accepted. Each applicant must ensure that the proposals are received by the above deadline.

Applicants must follow all instructions in the Solicitation Package. The original and 10 copies of the application should be sent to: U.S. Department of State, SA-44, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Ref.: ECA/A/E/EAP-2004-Vietnam-02, Program Management, ECA/EX/PM, Room 534, 301 4th Street, SW., Washington, DC 20547.

Applicants must also submit the “Executive Summary” and “Proposal Narrative” sections of the proposal on a 3.5″ diskette, formatted for DOS. These documents must be provided in ASCII text (DOS) format with a maximum line length of 65 characters. The Bureau will transmit these files electronically to the Public Affairs section at the U.S. Embassy for its review, with the goal of reducing the time it takes to get embassy comments for the Bureau's grants review process.

Diversity, Freedom and Democracy Guidelines

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 Start Printed Page 10764not limited to ethnicity, race, gender, religion, geographic location, socio-economic status, and physical challenges. Applicants are strongly encouraged to adhere to the advancement of this principle both in program administration and in program content. Please refer to the review criteria under the “Support for Diversity” section for specific suggestions on incorporating diversity into the total proposal. Public Law 104-319 provides that “in carrying out programs of educational and cultural exchange in countries whose people do not fully enjoy freedom and democracy,” the Bureau “shall take appropriate steps to provide opportunities for participation in such programs to human rights and democracy leaders of such countries.” Public Law 106-113 requires that the governments of the countries described above do not have inappropriate influence in the selection process. Proposals should reflect advancement of these goals in their program contents, to the full extent deemed feasible.

Adherence to All Regulations Governing the J Visa

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs is placing renewed emphasis on the secure and proper administration of Exchange Visitor (J visa) Programs and adherence by grantees and sponsors to all regulations governing the J visa. Therefore, proposals should demonstrate the applicant's capacity to meet all requirements governing the administration of Exchange Visitor Programs as set forth in 22 CFR 6Z, including the oversight of Responsible Officers and Alternate Responsible Officers, screening and selection of program participants, provision of pre-arrival information and orientation to participants, monitoring of participants, proper maintenance and security of forms, record-keeping, reporting and other requirements. The grantee organization will be responsible for issuing DS-2019 forms to participants in this program.

A copy of the complete regulations governing the administration of Exchange Visitor (J) programs is available at http://exchanges.state.gov or from: United States Department of State, Office of Exchange Coordination and Designation, ECA/EC/ECD-SA-44, Room 734, 301 4th Street, SW., Washington, DC 20547, Telephone: (202) 401-9810, FAX: (202) 401-9809.

Review Process

The Bureau 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 Solicitation Package.

All eligible proposals will be reviewed by the program office, as well as the Public Diplomacy section overseas where appropriate. Eligible proposals will be subject to compliance with Federal and Bureau regulations and guidelines and forwarded to Bureau grant panels for advisory review. Proposals may also be reviewed by the Office of the Legal Adviser or by other Department elements. Final funding decisions are at the discretion of the Department of State's Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs. Final technical authority for grants or cooperative agreements resides with the Bureau's Grants Officer.

Review Criteria

Technically eligible applications will be competitively reviewed according to the criteria stated below. These criteria are not rank ordered and all carry equal weight in the proposal evaluation:

1. Quality of the program idea: Proposals should exhibit originality, substance, precision, and relevance to the Bureau's mission.

2. Program planning: Detailed agenda and relevant work plan should demonstrate substantive undertakings and logistical capacity. Agenda and plan should adhere to the program overview and guidelines described above.

3. Ability to achieve program objectives: Objectives should be reasonable, feasible, and flexible. Proposals should clearly demonstrate how the institution will meet the program's objectives and plan.

4. Multiplier effect/impact: Proposed programs should strengthen long-term mutual understanding, including maximum sharing of information and establishment of long-term institutional and individual linkages.

5. Support of Diversity: Proposals should demonstrate substantive support of the Bureau's policy on diversity. Achievable and relevant features should be cited in both program administration (selection of participants, program venue and program evaluation) and program content (orientation and wrap-up sessions, program meetings, resource materials and follow-up activities).

6. Institutional Capacity: Proposed personnel and institutional resources should be adequate and appropriate to achieve the program or project's goals.

7. Institution's Record/Ability: Proposals should demonstrate an institutional record of successful exchange programs, including responsible fiscal management and full compliance with all reporting requirements for past Bureau grants as determined by Bureau Grant Staff. The Bureau will consider the past performance of prior recipients and the demonstrated potential of new applicants.

8. Follow-on Activities: Proposals should provide a plan for continued follow-on activity (without Bureau support) ensuring that Bureau supported programs are not isolated events.

9. Project Evaluation: Proposals should include a plan to evaluate the activity's success, both as it unfolds and at the end of the program. A draft survey questionnaire or other technique plus description of a methodology to use to link outcomes to original project objectives is recommended. Successful applicants will be expected to submit intermediate reports after each project component is concluded or quarterly, whichever is less frequent.

10. Cost-effectiveness: The overhead and administrative components of the proposal, including salaries and honoraria, should be kept as low as possible. All other items should be necessary and appropriate.

11. Cost-sharing: Proposals should maximize cost-sharing through other private sector support as well as institutional direct funding contributions.

Authority: Overall grant making authority for this program is contained in the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961, Public Law 87-256, as amended, 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.” The funding authority for the program above is provided through legislation.

Notice: The terms and conditions published in this RFGP are binding and may not be modified by any Bureau representative. Explanatory information provided by the Bureau that contradicts published language will not be binding. Issuance of the RFGP does not constitute an award commitment on the part of the Government. The Bureau reserves the right to reduce, revise, or increase proposal budgets in accordance Start Printed Page 10765with the needs of the program and the availability of funds. Awards made will be subject to periodic reporting and evaluation requirements.

Notification: Final awards cannot be made until funds have been appropriated by Congress, allocated and committed through internal Bureau procedures.

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Dated: February 26, 2003.

C. Miller Crouch,

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Department of State.

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[FR Doc. 03-5008 Filed 3-5-03; 8:45 am]

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