[Federal Register Volume 61, Number 202 (Thursday, October 17, 1996)]
[Pages 54259-54261]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 96-26641]



Freedom Support Act Undergraduate Program

ACTION: Notice--Request for proposals.


SUMMARY: The Office of Academic Programs, Academic Exchanges Division, 
European Programs Branch of the United States Information Agency's 
Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs announces an open 
competition for an assistance award. Public and private non-profit 
organizations meeting the provisions described in IRS regulation 26 CFR 
1.501(c)(3)-1 may apply to recruit, select, place, monitor, evaluate, 
and provide follow-on activities for 150-175 undergraduate students 
from Armenia, Azerbaijan,* Belarus, Georgia, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, 
Moldova, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and 
Uzbekistan in the fields of agriculture, business, computer science, 
criminal justice studies, economics, education, environmental 
management, EFL/TEFL, journalism and mass communication, library and 
information science, political science, public health, and sociology. 
Organizations applying must be able to recruit students via open, 
merit-based competition throughout all the New Independent States, as 
listed above, and should be able to place the students at diverse 
institutions of higher education in the United States, including public 
and private universities, colleges, and community colleges. Proposals 
for programs involving fewer than the 12 countries listed, or limited 
to university-to-university exchange will not be accepted. This program 
is subject to the availability of funds.

    * Please note: Programs with Azerbaijan are subject to 
restrictions of Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act: Employees of 
the Government of Azerbaijan or any of its instrumentalities are 
excluded from participation, and no U.S. participant overseas may 
work for the Government of Azerbaijan or any of its 
instrumentalities. In addition, the Government of Azerbaijan or any 
of its instrumentalities will have no control in the actual 
selection of participants.

    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 Freedom Support Act Undergraduate 
Program cited above is provided through the FREEDOM Support Act 
incorporated into the Foreign Relations Act of 1992-1993.
    Programs and projects must conform with Agency requirements and 
guidelines outlined in the Solicitation Package. USIA projects and 
programs are subject to the availability of funds.

ANNOUNCEMENT TITLE AND NUMBER: All communications with USIA concerning 
this announcement should refer to the above title and reference number 

DEADLINE FOR PROPOSALS: All copies must be received at the U.S. 
Information Agency by 5 p.m. Washington, D.C. time on Tuesday, November 
26, 1996. Faxed documents will not be accepted, nor will documents 
postmarked November 26, 1996 but received at a later date. It is the 
responsibility of each applicant to ensure that proposals are received 
by the above deadline.

Grant and Program Duration

    Grant awards are anticipated to begin on or about January 15, 1997 
and terminate on or about August 31, 1998. Student programs are based 
on the ``junior year abroad'' model. It is expected that students will 
arrive in the U.S. in August for pre-academic programs, spend the full 
1997-1998 academic year in program, and hold an internship during the 
summer months before returning home. Participants must return to their 
home country immediately following the completion of the USIA-sponsored 
program. No extensions or transfers for additional study, academic 
training, or new programs will be allowed.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, CONTACT: The European Programs Branch, 
Academic Exchanges Division, E/AEE, Room 246, U.S. Information Agency, 
301 4th Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20547, telephone: 202/205-0525, 
fax: 202/260-7985, e-mail: [email protected] to request a Solicitation 
Package containing more detailed award criteria, required application 
forms, and standard guidelines for preparing proposals, including 
specific criteria for preparation of the proposal budget.

Solicitation Package may be downloaded from USIA's website at http://
www.usia.gov/ or from the Internet Gopher at gopher://gopher.usia.gov. 
Under the heading ``International Exchanges/Training,'' select 
``Request for Proposals (RFPs).'' Please read ``About the Following 
RFPs'' before downloading.
    Please specify USIA Senior Program Manager Mr. Ted Kniker on all 
inquiries and correspondence. Interested applicants should read the 
complete Federal Register announcement before sending inquiries or 
submitting proposals. Once the RFP deadline has passed, Agency staff 
may not discuss this competition in any way with applicants until the 
Bureau proposal review process has been completed.

SUBMISSIONS: Applicants must follow all instructions given in the 
Solicitation Package. The original and nine (9) copies of the 
application should be sent to: U.S. Information Agency, Ref.: E/AEE-97-
03, Office of Grants Management, E/XE, Room 326, 301 4th Street, S.W., 
Washington, D.C. 20547.
    Applicants must also submit the ``Executive Summary'' and 
``Proposal Narrative'' sections of the proposal on a 3.5'' diskette, 
formatted for DOS. This material must be provided in ASCII text (DOS) 
format with a maximum line length of 65 characters. USIA will transmit 
these files electronically to USIS posts overseas for their review, 
with the goal of reducing the time it takes to get posts' comments for 
the Agency's grants review process.

[[Page 54260]]

DIVERSITY 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 not 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.



    The Freedom Support Act Undergraduate Program provides full 
scholarships for one year of non-degree, undergraduate study in the 
United States at professionally accredited institutions in the fields 
of agriculture, business, computer science, criminal justice studies, 
economics, education, environmental management, EFL/TEFL, journalism 
and mass communication, library and information science, political 
science, public health, and sociology. The purpose of the program is to 
support the economic and democratic development of the New Independent 
States of the former Soviet Union by exposing students to key 
transition fields and enhancing their education with a practical 
training component. Students will have a pre-academic orientation 
program, full academic course load beginning in the fall, and as 
possible, an internship in a related area in the summer following their 
academic year. It is expected that students will return home to 
complete degrees at their home institution. Students must receive 
academic credit for their experience in the U.S.
    Funding for undergraduate programs has been steadily declining over 
the last two years. In order to ensure that students from the NIS have 
an opportunity to study in the United States, USIA's goal is to keep 
the number of participants as high as possible and to keep costs as low 
as possible. Therefore, USIA encourages proposals that demonstrate 
innovative ways to maintain a high quality, high volume program at the 
lowest possible costs.


    Applicant organizations must demonstrate the ability to administer 
all aspects of the Freedom Support Act Undergraduate Program--
advertisement, recruitment, selection, placement, orientation, Fellow 
monitoring and support, financial management, evaluation, follow-on 
activities, and alumni tracking and programming. Applicant 
organizations should demonstrate the ability to recruit and select a 
diverse pool of candidates from various geographic regions within the 
NIS through an open, merit-based competition. The program does remain 
flexible so that recruitment can target specific institutions deemed by 
the USIA and the United States Information Service to be of critical 
importance. Additionally, the applicant organization(s) will be asked 
to assist in the recruitment and selection of diverse host institutions 
throughout the U.S. where students may be clustered in groups of 10-20 
for their academic programs. Placement will remain flexible so that 
universities that accept fewer students, but have low costs, or high 
cost-sharing, can participate in the program. The successful applicant 
organization(s) will act as the principal liaison with the host 
    Applicant organizations should demonstrate the ability to work with 
private sector organizations in the United States and NIS to facilitate 
Fellows' practical training and post-program re-entry. Further details 
on specific program responsibilities and goals can be found in the 
Project Objectives, Goals, and Implementation (POGI) Statement which is 
part of the formal Solicitation Package available from USIA.
    Programs must comply with J-1 visa regulations.


    USIA anticipates awarding one to two grants for this program. 
Should an applicant organization prefer to work with other 
organization's in the implementation of this program, USIA prefers that 
a subcontract arrangement be developed. USIA will entertain separately 
submitted proposals for joint program management, but the proposals 
must demonstrate a value-added relationship and must clearly delineate 
responsibilities so as not to duplicate efforts.

Proposed Budget

    The total budget for the Freedom Support Act Undergraduate Program 
is $2,800,000. Each applicant organization must submit a comprehensive 
line item budget based upon the specific guidance in the Solicitation 
Package. There must be a summary budget as well as a breakdown 
reflecting both the administrative budget and the program budget. For 
better understanding or further clarification, applicants may provide 
separate sub-budgets for each program component, phase, location, or 
activity in order to facilitate USIA decisions on funding. 
Organizations whose proposals include an administrative budget that is 
less than 20% of the grant amount requested from USIA will receive 
preference. Please note that indirect rates are considered part of the 
administrative costs and should be kept to a minimum or cost-shared as 
is possible. Detailed guidance on budget preparation is included in the 
POGI Statement. Please refer to the complete Solicitation Package for 
complete budget guidelines and formatting instructions.
    Please note that the ability of an organization to document and 
provide cost-sharing will be a major factor in determining the final 
grant award(s). This includes the organizations' ability to leverage 
costs from universities, colleges, community colleges, private sector 
organizations, and other sources. USIA will also look to applicant 
organizations to propose additional ways to keep costs to a minimum. A 
low unit cost will also be a decisive factor in determining funding.
    Grants awarded to eligible organizations with less than four years 
of experience in conducting international exchange programs will be 
limited to $60,000.

Review Process

    USIA 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. Eligible proposals will be forwarded to panels of 
USIA officers for advisory review. All eligible proposals will be 
reviewed by the program office, as well as the USIA Office of East 
European and NIS Affairs and USIS posts overseas, where appropriate. 
Proposals may be reviewed by the Office of the General Counsel or by 
other Agency elements. Funding decisions are at the discretion of the 
USIA Associate Director for Educational and Cultural Affairs. Final 
technical authority for assistance awards (grants or cooperative 
agreements) resides with the USIA grants officer.

Review Criteria

    Technically eligible applications will be competitively reviewed 
according to

[[Page 54261]]

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, innovation, and relevance to Agency 
    2. Program Objectives and Planning: Objectives should be 
reasonable, feasible, and flexible. Proposals should clearly 
demonstrate how the institution will meet the program's objectives and 
plan. 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. Multiplier Effect/Impact: Proposed programs should strengthen 
long-term mutual understanding, including maximum sharing of 
information and establishment of long-term institutional and individual 
    4. Support of Diversity: Proposals should demonstrate the 
recipient's commitment to promoting the awareness and understanding of 
    5. 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 Agency grants as determined by USIA's Office of 
Contracts. The Agency will consider the past performance of prior 
recipients and the demonstrated potential of new applicants. Proposed 
personnel and institutional resources should be adequate and 
appropriate to achieve the program or project's goals.
    6. Follow-on Activities: Proposals should provide a plan for 
continued follow-on activity (without USIA support) which insures that 
USIA supported programs are not isolated events.
    7. Project Evaluation: Proposals should include a plan to evaluate 
the activity's success, both as the activities unfold and at the end of 
the program. USIA recommends that the proposal include a draft survey 
questionnaire or other technique plus description of a methodology to 
use to link outcomes to original project objectives. Award-receiving 
organizations/institutions will be expected to submit intermediate 
reports after each project component is concluded or quarterly, 
whichever is less frequent.
    8. 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.
    9. Cost-sharing: Proposals should maximize cost-sharing through 
other private sector support as well as institutional direct funding 
    10. Value to U.S.-Partner Country Relations: Proposed programs 
should receive positive assessments by USIA's geographic area desk and 
overseas officers of program need, potential impact, and significance 
in the partner country(ies).


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

    Dated: October 9, 1996.
Dell Pendergrast,
Deputy Associate Director for Educational and Cultural Affairs.
[FR Doc. 96-26641 Filed 10-16-96; 8:45 am]