At USAID, we aim to capitalize on the full marketplace of ideas, so we encourage competition by issuing solicitations and asking organizations to respond to them. We select partners whose response best meets the evaluation criteria outlined in our solicitation. Learn more about the types of notifications and solicitations we use and other essential terms you need to know to work with USAID.
Market Research and Notifications
USAID uses a variety of tools to conduct market research and notify partners about the Agency’s intentions for a solicitation. We strongly encourage organizations to respond to these—your responses help us to more clearly define programs and gain a deeper understanding of capabilities.
>We most often use these types of market research and notifications:
Request for Information (RFI): A call for organizations to share technical or other requested information before we issue a formal solicitation. The RFI is one way USAID explores ideas and plans for future projects in a particular area.
Pre-Solicitation Notice: A notification that the Agency will be issuing a solicitation.
Sources Sought Notice: A notice to determine the number of organizations interested in a possible funding opportunity, their level of experience and qualifications, and the suitability of an activity for a particular type of small business set-aside.
Draft Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO): A draft of the NOFO, released before the formal solicitation is announced; its purpose is to receive feedback and input.
Draft Scope of Work: A draft of the planned scope of work that enables organizations to provide feedback and to get a better understanding of a planned activity.
Wondering what are APS, BAA, and CDCS?
So what are APS,BAA, and CDCS? They are a few of the special ingredients in our Acronym Soup—a simple recipe for partnership success, created by the New Partnerships Initiative. Watch the video — and download our quick reference guide! [PDF, 137K]
Funding Opportunity Solicitations
When funding becomes available and USAID is interested in making an award to implement an activity, we will issue a solicitation. You can follow upcoming solicitations on the Agency’s Business Forecast. There are different types of solicitations:
- Request for Proposal (RFP): An official solicitation for acquisition awards (contracts) that tells you what the Agency requires for a specific project or activity and how it will evaluate bids. All RFPs are posted on SAM.gov.
Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO): An official solicitation for assistance awards (grants and cooperative agreements). All NOFOs are posted on Grants.gov.
Annual Program Statement (APS): A “call to action” released by USAID on Grants.gov, usually once a year, that outlines the need for a specific kind of program and encourages the submission of a wide range of concept papers.
- Broad Agency Announcement (BAA): A competitive and collaborative research and development process used to seek innovative solutions to development challenges from public, private, for-profit, and nonprofit partners. BAAs can result in contracts, grants, or cooperative agreements and are posted on both SAM.gov and Grants.gov. Learn more about BAAs.
Tips for Responding to a Solicitation
Download our quick reference guide. [PDF 259K]
Other specialized aspects that USAID considers in a solicitation response are gender, environment, and branding and marking. Review the solicitation for these requirements:
- Gender: Gender equality is universally recognized as a core development objective. It is fundamental for the realization of human rights and key to effective and sustainable development outcomes. Applicants/offerors must address gender in accordance with instructions provided in the solicitation. See ADS 201 for more information.
- Environment: Effective implementation of an environmental impact assessment ensures that the development activities USAID undertakes are economically sustainable and conscious of the world's environment. Applicants/offerors must address the implementation and costs of managing environmental concerns. See USAID Environmental Compliance.
- Branding and 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, along with the USAID Branding Guidelines.
Sub-Partnerships and Teaming
In many cases, USAID's development assistance activities require specialized skills from a set of development partners. Organizations may form a team for an award or establish sub-contracting arrangements to achieve the overall development goals. USAID encourages organizations to partner with small business and local partners to the greatest extent possible; see links pertaining to small businesses and local partners. You can also learn more about sub-partnerships through our online training.
Sub-contracting opportunities for small businesses are a vital part of USAID's overall small business participation program. In negotiated acquisitions and sealed-bid acquisitions that are expected to exceed $700,000 ($1,500,000 for construction) and that have sub-contracting possibilities, the apparently successful non–small business offeror must submit an acceptable sub-contracting plan.
Check the Agency’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) for more information.
Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) require that solicitations over $25,000 be posted on SAM.gov. Contract actions between $15,000 and $25,000 must be displayed in a public place or by appropriate electronic means for at least 10 days. The FAR does not specify where; they can be published in local newspapers, posted on an Embassy or USAID website, or placed on SAM.gov.
To learn more about responding to a solicitation, review the online training “Effectively Responding to USAID Award Solicitations.” [PDF, 5MB]