The U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) announces an open competition for organizations interested in submitting applications for projects that develop, apply, test and disseminate evidenced-based methods to support the following goal: Contribute to building a portfolio of evidence to further identify democracy and rights program strategies that are effective, in an effort to improve program relevance and impact.
Competitive proposals will address the research questions with the following phases.
- Phase 1 – Building the Evidence Base (Literature Review): Research responding to these questions should review existing theories of change that undergird political party assistance in both academic literature and program interventions; and the challenges facing political parties and coalitions in increasingly restrictive political contexts, such as closed or closing spaces, instances of political turbulence, amid democratic erosion, rising authoritarianism or autocratization.
- Phase 2 – Political Party Research: Using the literature review, applicants should articulate how they will conduct original research to further build the evidence base in this space. In order to further democratize evaluative research, applicants should assess ways in which political outcomes should be envisioned in these difficult contexts from the viewpoint of the political beneficiaries operating in these environments.
- Phase 3 – Application, Testing and Validation: Informed by this research, DRL seeks to invest in the application, testing, and validation of the toolkit for political party programming. Successful applicants should identify, at a minimum, illustrative countries and political actors to apply and test the effectiveness of the toolkit.
- Phase 4 – Dissemination and Learning: The application and validation of the toolkit should be done with the intent to foster a shared understanding of their utility in democracy foreign assistance programs. Successful applicants will detail how the toolkit will be disseminated and shared within the broader DRG community.
- Total Funding Floor: $800,000
- Total Funding Ceiling: $1,000,000
- Period of Performance: 18 – 24 months
- DRL seeks to address these challenges by answering the following key research questions and sub-questions.
- How do political actors define success in closed, oppositional, and/or rising authoritarian contexts where there is little to no space for free and fair political contestation?
- What factors, conditions, and internal structures contribute to how these parties, groupings, and coalitions realize their objectives and outcomes in restrictive environments?
- In what ways can these political actors engage in the existing political apparatus to achieve their goals in the absence of winning elections?
- In what ways can these political actors develop relationships with civic actors (civil society, media, human rights defenders, activists, etc.) to achieve their goals in the absence of winning elections?
- What is the composition of coalitions (and what strategies should they employ) to strengthen political movements effectively amid limited opportunities for contestation of power?
- In what ways have opposition political parties maintained legitimacy with their constituents following a political transition or political turbulence?
- How should democracy, human rights, and governance (DRG) stakeholders (i.e. funders, implementers, and researchers) assess successes in environments with limited political contestation?
- In what ways can diplomatic interventions be effective and complementary to political party assistance efforts?
- DRL welcomes applications from U.S.-based and foreign-based non-profit organizations/nongovernmental organizations (NGO) and public international organizations; private, public, or state institutions of higher education; and for-profit organizations or businesses. DRL’s preference is to work with non-profit entities; however, there may be some occasions when a for-profit entity is best suited.
- Applications submitted by for-profit entities may be subject to additional review following the panel selection process. Additionally, the Department of State prohibits profit to for-profit or commercial organizations under its assistance awards. Profit is defined as any amount in excess of allowable direct and indirect costs. The allowability of costs incurred by commercial organizations is determined in accordance with the provisions of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) at 48 CFR 30, Cost Accounting Standards Administration, and 48 CFR 31 Contract Cost Principles and Procedures.
For more information, visit DRL Applied Research and Evaluation Fund.