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The Agency provides awards to organizations in compliance with the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), and internal Agency regulations, policies, and procedures (USAID Automated Directives System (ADS)).
Below is an overview of the main steps of the USAID Acquisition & Assistance award process.
USAID generally follows the below steps (some steps may overlap):
Step 1. Project Design
A USAID Mission develops an overarching 5-year Country Development Cooperation Strategy with substantial input from partner governments, industry, civil society, and development partners to understand challenges and resources available. USAID then designs projects and creates an implementation plan and an A&A strategy which includes consideration of the various mechanisms at its disposal.
Step 2. Identify the Requirement
USAID will work towards defining the results to be accomplished under discrete activities which may be obtained through an assistance or contract award as further defined below:
Acquisition refers to obtaining goods and services, through various types of contracts, for the use or benefit of the Agency. Interested organizations submit a proposal in response to a Request for Proposals (RFP) or a quote in response to a Request for Quotations (RFQ) that states the Agency’s requirements and how USAID will evaluate and select the successful offeror/bidder.
- Contracts - USAID typically exercises a higher level of control over the partner in obtaining results.
Assistance refers to transferring funds (or other valuables) from USAID to another party for the implementation of programs that contribute to the public good and in furtherance of the objectives of the Foreign Assistance Act. Interested organizations submit an application in response to an Annual Program Statement (APS) or Request for Applications (RFA) which usually provides a program description and how USAID will evaluate and select the successful applicant.
- Grants - USAID does not need substantial involvement with the program implementation
- Cooperative Agreements - USAID is substantially involved with the recipient inprogram implementation
Step 3. Market Research
USAID conducts market research to determine how best to implement our development objectives for delivery of foreign assistance. During this step, USAID acquires information on the level of local capacity available and the participation of small business, as well as the feasibility of the requirement. For more information, see ADS 302. Although not specifically identified as “market research” for assistance, USAID may reach out to potential applicants and use Grants.gov to get comments and feedback on specific proposed programs.
USAID follows an partner outreach plan found here. Inside the partner outreach plan it references an informative document concerning objectivity and avoidance of conflicts of interest for your organization to be aware of in the development of a requirement or program can be found in this OMB memo. [PDF, 127.84 kb]
Step 4. Agency Business Forecast
Once the Agency has decided to pursue an acquisition or assistance award, we inform the public through an Agency Business Forecast posted at FBO.gov for contracts, Grants.gov for assistance. These forecasts provide tentative information about possible opportunities from USAID Headquarters (Washington, D.C.) or overseas field missions and are periodically (quarterly) updated:
Points of contact are listed in the forecasts as well as solicitations once issued. Please see Subcontracting/Teaming section of step 4 below if your organization is interested in partnering on a current opportunity.
Step 5. Solicitation
The solicitation (an APS, RFA, RFP, RFQ, or IFB) provides a description of the requirement or program and how USAID will evaluate the offeror/applicant. USAID uses the following various methods to publish the solicitation:
- Requests for Quotations or Proposals (RFQ/RFP/IFB): FBO.gov is where USAID releases most Agency contract opportunities.
- Requests for Application and Annual Program Statements (RFA/APS): Grants.gov is where USAID releases an RFA or an APS. An RFA is usually for a specific program (s) and open for a limited time. An APS is normally open for a year and is meant to encourage concept papers on a wider range of programs before a second stage submission of a full application for those concept papers deemed potentially viable.
- Ocean transportation and commodities/goods: Partners in these industries may visit USAID Procurement Announcements for a listing of solicitations.
- Consultant Opportunities: These are available at FBO.gov. See also BPA site.
Step 6. Evaluation
As a part of the technical proposal review, typical evaluation criteria include the following:
- Past Performance (does not have to be USAID past performance)
- Technical Approach
- Corporate capability
- Management plans
In each solicitation, USAID provides the order and relative weight of importance of the various stated criteria and a description of the relative weighting of the technical criteria versus the proposed and evaluated costs or price. Further details are provided in the solicitation.
For USAID to evaluate an organization’s proposal or application, the organization must be registered as described below:
If your organization is interested in submitting a proposal or application, you must register with the systems discussed below and as applicable.
Steps to Registering as a Federal Contractor or Recipient
Note: Private Voluntary Organizations (PVOs) must register with the USAID Office of Private and Voluntary Cooperation (PVC) .
a. Obtain a D-U-N-S Number
You will need to obtain a Dun & Bradstreet D-U-N-S® Number. This is a unique nine-digit identification number for each physical location of your business. The assignment of a D-U-N-S Number is free for all businesses required to register with the federal government for contracts or grants. Visit the D-U-N-S Request Service to register.
b. Register your Organization with the System of Award Management (SAM)
You need to register your business with the federal government's SAM, the primary database of vendors doing business with the federal government.
The step below is required for contracts only:
c. Find the NAICS Codes for Your Organization
If you are looking for contracting opportunities, you may also find that you need a North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code for administrative, contracting, and tax purposes. The code classifies the economic sector, industry, and country of your business. For Federal contracting purposes, you will need to identify in SAM all the NAICS codes (industries) applicable to your business. Read NAICS for more information.
The applicant/offeror must comply with the following requirements as stated in the solicitation:
Please check the Agency’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) site for a database listing of small businesses, Agency goals, and information.
Below are resources (not limited to) for partnering with other organizations that have been engaged with USAID work (not sponsored by USAID):
- Follow instructions: If you don't, your submission may not be considered.
- Build on lessons learned: We recommend that you consult the Development Experience Clearinghouse to prepare a substantive and knowledgeable submission.
- Be knowledgeable of where USAID works.
- Show recent and relevant customer references: Past performance information is a key factor for predicting successful performance, so your organization will want to ensure that you provide information about your relevant and recent past performance. If you are new to doing business with USAID or the federal government, your organization can still submit performance information that is not necessarily U.S. Government or USAID-financed work.
- Explain how your proposed costs are competitive: We are responsible for keeping direct and administrative costs low to attain best value with assistance available. Solicitations usually request that cost proposals also include a detailed narrative on how costs were developed.
- Demonstrate financial soundness and organizational responsibility: USAID must make a responsibility determination based on financial soundness and organization. One source of information that USAID uses is the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System FAPIIS. If a USAID Agreement or Contracting Officer is unable to make a positive pre-award responsibility determination based on information provided by the applicant or available in FAPIIS, he or she may undertake a formal pre-award survey of your organization.
Subcontracting/Teaming: In many cases, USAID's development assistance activities require specialized skills from a multiple set of development partners. For example, one organization may not have all of the professional skills, services, and knowledge base the Agency requires to reform education in a post-conflict country. Organizations with complementary skills and experience may form a team for an award or establish subcontracting arrangements to achieve the overall development goals. Organizations interested in doing business with USAID should understand that small business partnerships and local entity or organization partnerships are paramount in doing USAID work. USAID encourages organizations to partner with small business and local partners to the greatest extent possible. Please see links pertaining to small business and local partners.
Subcontracting opportunities for small businesses in USAID contracts are a vital part of USAID's overall small business participation program. In negotiated acquisitions/sealed bid acquisitions expected to exceed $650,000 ($1,500,000 for construction) and that has subcontracting possibilities, the apparently successful non-small business offeror must submit an acceptable subcontracting plan.
Large Prime contractors can click here [MS Word, 108kB] to download a Subcontracting Plan model/template to utilize when responding to USAID solicitations that require subcontracting plans.
We recommend that prime contractors utilize the Small Business Administration's Sub-Net database as part of their efforts to locate quality subcontractors that will help them achieve their subcontracting goals. Small businesses can review this web site to identify opportunities in their areas of expertise. While the web site is designed primarily as a place for large businesses to post solicitations and notices, it can also be used by Federal agencies, state and local Governments, non-profit organizations, colleges and universities, and even Small Businesses for the same purpose. Instead of marketing blindly to hundreds of prime contractors, with no certainty that any given company has a need for their product or service, Small Businesses can use their limited resources to identify concrete, tangible opportunities and bid on them. Please check the Agency’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) for further information.
Below are resources (not limited to) for partnering with other organizations that have been engaged with USAID work (not sponsored by USAID):
- Small Business Association for International Contractors
- Professional Services Council
- Inside NGO
- Society for International Development
See also USASpending.gov, for organizations that have obtained recent awards with USAID.
Other specialized aspects that USAID considers include gender, environment, branding/marking. Please check the solicitation for the below requirements.
- Gender: Gender equality is universally recognized as core development objectives, fundamental for the realization of human rights, and key effective and sustainable development outcomes. Applicants/Offerors must address gender in accordance with instructions provided in the solicitation. See ADS 201 for further information.
- Environment: Effective implementation of environmental impact assessment ensures that the development activities USAID undertakes are economically sustainable and protective of the world's environment. Applicants/Offerors must to address implementation and costs of addressing environmental concerns. Please see USAID Environmental Compliance.
- Branding/Marking: Programs under the Foreign Assistance Act must be identified by appropriate USAID branding and marking overseas (some security exceptions may apply). See the solicitation for further information and ADS 320 and USAID Branding.
Step 7. Negotiation
Your organization may be contacted by the Bureau for Management’s Office of Acquisition & Assistance (M/OAA) Agreement or Contracting Officers who are located in Washington or overseas if your proposal or application is being considered for an award. Agreement and Contracting Officers will be your organization's key interface in doing business with USAID. Agreement and Contracting Officers are staffed in Washington D.C. and at field missions worldwide and are involved with all award and administration stages.
Your organization should always submit its best possible response to a USAID solicitation in case USAID decides to make an award without discussion or negotiations.
If USAID does decide to negotiate with your organization before deciding whether to award to you, your organization will want to learn about our policies that will become a part of the contract or assistance award.
- USAID executes all direct procurement in accordance with ADS 302, the FAR, and USAID’s supplement to the FAR, the USAID Acquisition Regulation or AIDAR.
- USAID executes assistance in accordance with ADS 303 and/or 22 CFR 226.
When it is necessary to implement timely changes prior to a formal amendment of AIDAR, the Procurement/Assistance Executive issues Acquisition & Assistance Policy Directives (AAPDs).
Step 8. Award
Once the above steps are completed, USAID will award to the selected organization. In most cases, the organization will be invited to a post-award conference to discuss implementation and any questions that the organization may have. Additionally, throughout the implementation period, the organization may contact the Contracting or Agreement Officer’s Representative designated in the award for technical guidance. All matters concerning the award must be directed to the Contracting or Agreement Officer.
In the event the organization cannot reach an agreement with the above individual officers, you may contact our Ombudsman.
USAID is dedicated to protecting the integrity of our foreign assistance efforts and the taxpayer funds entrusted through awards. See the Partner Compliance & Oversight website for further information and Red Alert notices.
Last updated: August 21, 2014