NOTICE TO ALL OFFERORS:
Amendment No. 1
Additional information has been requested by prospective offerors and it has been determined by the Contracting Officer that this information be made available to all bidders. The information is provided in the attached SF-30. The closing date and time for receipt of proposals remains May 15, 2002 at 2:00 P.M. local time.
Keith A. Bond
KEITH A. BOND
AMENDMENT OF SOLICITATION/MODIFICATION OF CONTRACT
11. THIS ITEM ONLY APPLIES TO AMENDMENTS OF SOLICITATION
|STANDARD FORM 30 (REV. 10-83)|
Partnership For Self-Sufficiency: Microenterprise Development for Urban and Rural Areas
14. RESPONSES TO TECHNICAL QUESTIONS
1. The detailed qualifications for key personnel (especially the Project Director and Principal Investigator) are very unusual, especially given the current state of the art in the
microenterprise field. Would DOL and SBA be willing to consider additional years of experience in lieu of specific degree requirements or are the degree requirements absolute?
2. Are the qualifications of key personnel strictly limited to the specific academic disciplines listed or would DOL and SBA consider key personnel who have PhDs or Master's Degrees in related disciplines such as public policy, planning or social welfare?
2a. Key personnel may have PhDs or Master’s Degrees in public policy in addition to the guidelines set out by the RFP.
3. Do DOL and SBA require, or strongly recommend, that the Project Director be an employee of the small business prime contractor?
3a. The project director must be an employee of the small business prime contractor.
4. Do DOL and SBA require, or strongly recommend, that the Principal Investigator be an employee of the small business prime contractor?
4a. DOL strongly recommends but does not require that the Principle Investigator be an employee of the small business prime contractor.
5. Will a management plan in which one of the two key staff (Project Director, Principal Investigator) is an employee of a subcontracting partner organization, be considered responsive to the RFP's requirements?
5a. A management plan in which only the Principal investigator is an employee of a subcontracting partner organization will be considered responsive to the RFP’s requirements.
6. In evaluating the qualifications of proposed Site Monitors, will DOL and SBA consider additional years of experience in lieu of the Masters degree requirement?
6a. Yes. DOL will consider 3 or more years of experience conducting microenterprise demonstrations or programs in lieu of the Master’s degree requirement.
7. Does "site" refer to the sample states or the locations within states? Specifically, is the offeror expected to provide three site monitors at 50-100% time, or six site monitors at 50-100% time?
7a. Sites within the specific context of site monitoring refers to the sample states. Three site monitors means one site monitor per state or three site monitors at the 50-100% time commitment.
8. The RFP clearly specifies not only the states, but also several specific criteria for selecting sites within those states, and yet the design of site selection criteria is an important evaluation factor for award. Is the offeror expected to build upon the criteria presented in the RFP, or are DOL and SBA interested in having the offeror suggest an alternative site selection approach?
8a. The offeror is expected to build upon the site selection criteria set forth in the RFP. DOL is not interested in alternative site selection approaches.
9. Will the fact that this project involves both two federal partner agencies (DOL and SBA) extend the length of time the contractor needs to allow for internal review of the OMB package prior to submission to OMB?
10. Can the Department provide any guidance about the resources that should be set aside to support states?
10a. The research contractor will enter into separate agreements with the State Departments of Labor in Maine, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania to cover the administrative costs associated with conducting the demonstration at the individual sites according to the project design. Approximately 2/3 of the resources should be set aside to support the sites.
11. The RFP states that the technical approach should not exceed 50 pages. Which of the six items to be included in the technical proposal listed on pages 58 and 59 of the RFP should be considered as part of the "technical approach"?
11a. The 50 page limitation refers to the ‘technical approach’ only in SECTION L.7(B) (1)and (2) and the information required under SECTION M.2 (A) and is not inclusive of past performance and staff experience and qualifications information.
12. The first paragraph of section C.4 states that "[a] proposed project design. . . must be included in the contractor's response to this RFP", including "the design of the microenterprise package". Yet, three paragraphs further on (the third asterisk) the RFP indicates, as part of the scope of the work under the contract, that the contractor is to "prepare a comprehensive document that presents [the] proposed project design". Still later, in Section C.5, third asterisk, the RFP states, "The contractor shall develop the microenterprise package". Please clarify, with respect to the project design and the microenterprise package, what precisely is to be presented in the proposal and what is deliverable under the resultant contract.
12a. The proposal must include an initial project design and microenterprise package. A final project design and microenterprise package will be a deliverable under the contract.
13. Section C.5 stipulates that the project director hold a PhD. Are there any documentable qualifications that DOL/ETA would accept in lieu of the PhD? If so, what are they?
14. The RFP requires a 25% time commitment for the project director. Considering the scope of the project (seven demonstration sites, several entities involved at the federal level and in three states), 25%-time seems insufficient. Please clarify.
14a. The 25% commitment of the PD is suggested as a minimum.
15. The maximum annual time commitments for the staff mentioned in the RFP appear to add up to around 8 professional person-years: Project Director 25% + Principal Investigator 75% + Site Monitors 700% (seven monitors x 100%). DOL/ETA estimates the professional person-year total at 88-92, or an annual average between 17 and 19 person-years. Does DOL/ETA have other specific professional positions in mind to make up the difference, or is this left entirely up to the offeror?
15a. In addition to the key personnel, the contract also provides for remuneration of staff costs at the local level to run the demonstration. In estimating administrative costs for the cost/price proposal, the sole administrative cost remuneration to the state will be the cost of the state personnel that run the demonstration. If one considers one full-time staff person and one half-time staff person at each site (6 sites x 1.5 site staff persons = 9 person-years) you do arrive at the annual average of 17-19 person-years.
16. In discussing the agreements that the contractor will make with the three state departments of labor, the RFP states, "The contractor will pay the state for appropriate administrative costs to carry out the demonstration . . . ." How do we estimate those costs for the cost/price proposal?
16a. See question 15. Annual salary escalation should not exceed 4.1%. A professional person year is estimated at $100,000 inclusive of all costs.
17. Who are the recipients of the technical assistance called for in the RFP? One-stop staff? Clients? Both?
17a. Both. Technical assistance will be provided to state staff in the first year of the demonstration in the form of training on the microenterprise package. Technical assistance to state staff will be provided all throughout the demonstration as necessary to ensure efficient operations. Service providers will provide technical assistance to demonstration participants during the operation of the demonstration.
18. Section C.5, third asterisk, states that technical assistance "could be provided through the state/local site partners that include . . . SBDCs, economic development agencies, community colleges, etc." Does this mean that we should not propose costs for deploying our own staff or consultants to provide the technical assistance? Should we propose costs for payment to third parties for technical assistance services?
18a. Proposed costs for technical assistance (TA) should be based upon the method of providing technical assistance that the offeror envisions using in the demonstration. If the offeror will use consultants to provide the TA for the contract then those costs should be proposed. One of the DOL’s main objectives for this demonstration is to establish a replicable microenterprise model.
19. Section C.5, second asterisk, mentions 400-500 participants to be served at each demonstration site, with timeframes varying depending on whether the site is urban or rural. What role, if any, is envisioned for the contractor in providing training to these participants?
19a. The contractor will devise the microenterprise package used at the site and may provide technical assistance to the one-stop operators and other identified service providers in executing the microenterprise package. The contractor will not directly train any of the demonstration participants.
20. Section C.1 of the RFP states "Based on preliminary planning, the microenterprise package would be targeted to two urban sites and four rural sites." These sites are in Pennsylvania, Maine, and Minnesota. Will the project only be serving those states? I was wondering if this RFP would be applicable to Texas.
20a. The project will be serving only sites within the aforementioned states.
21. When I examined page one of the Microenterprise Development for Urban and Rural Areas, I saw the phrase "You are invited to submit a proposal/bid in accordance with the requirements of the Solicitation."
However, upon close examination of the proposal it seems that if you live west of the Mississippi in the largest state in America, a state with the world¹s 5th largest economy, then you need not apply because this proposal is only designed for three states, Maine, Pennsylvania and Minnesota.
I live in Yuba City, in Sutter County, in Northern California. The counties of Yuba and Sutter are located 45 miles north of Sacramento in the Sacramento Valley. This rural area, affectionately known as Yuba-Sutter, is an economically distressed area. Most of California¹s communities north of Sacramento fit this profile.
If you prefer, I can supply you with the statistics to back up that designation, but a quick examination of our employment situation illustrates the point. The Yuba-Sutter area had a double-digit unemployment rate throughout the decade of the 90¹s. While the rest of the state had a 5% unemployment rate in 2001, unemployment in Yuba-Sutter was 12%. In addition, unemployment in the Yuba-Sutter area has been in the double digits for each year from 1983 to the present.
The great economic revival of the 1990¹s bypassed this agrarian community.
Our issue concerns basic fairness and shortsightedness. We think the Department of Labor is shortchanging our community and missing out on a prime opportunity to see how a creative, focused community, working with a little federal support, can put together private ventures and public partnerships that turn tax burdens into tax payers.
Unleashing the power of individuals to pursue successful entrepreneurial endeavors is a core principle of our American constitutional system. We would cherish the opportunity to demonstrate this to DOL, and respectfully request that DOL expand their scope to consider our region for this proposal.
21a. The states that were selected met specific requirements that DOL deemed necessary for the effective operation of a microenterprise demonstration of this type. See also question 35.
22. Is the contractor expected to estimate the states’ administrative costs (including potential subcontracts with third parties) and incorporate these estimated costs into the proposed project budget?
22a. Yes. See questions 15 & 16.
23. Did DOL include the State administrative costs in the estimated level of effort for the project (between 88 and 92 professional person years), or will the State administrative costs be added to this estimated level of effort?
23a. State administrative costs are included in the estimated level of effort for this demonstration. See questions 15 & 16.
24. This paragraph finishes, "This technical assistance could be provided through the state/local site partners that include small business development corporations (SBDCs), economic development agencies, community colleges, etc."
(A). Does 'this technical assistance' refer to capacity building to provide microenterprise development services or to direct technical assistance to microenterpreneurs?
24a. Technical assistance refers to direct technical assistance to microentrepreneurs.
(B). Does this preclude provision of 'this technical assistance' (assuming that it is capacity building in nature) by national organizations?
(C). Is the national trade association for microenterprise development organizations an eligible economic development agency under this definition?
25. We are unclear about the intent of the RFP. Is it intended to hire a consultant to study these issues on a nation-wide basis, or is it seeking contractors to actually provide these services at the local/regional level?
25a. This RFP is a research contract. The intent is to add to the body of knowledge concerning microenterprise and examine the effectiveness of the integration of economic and workforce development.
26. The RFP indicates that it is set aside for SBDs, but the notes indicate that Historically Black Colleges and Minority Institutions are also eligible. Would a small business development program run by a municipal government also be eligible?
26a. No. Please note that only small profit making businesses under NAICS code 541611 with a size standard of $6 million are eligible to submit proposals under this solicitation.
27. We recommend that the PD and PI roles be designed to complement each other. The successful implementation of a demonstration project of this nature which involves multiple agencies and requires coordination of activities among several different organizations requires an effective PD. Based on the role of the PD described in the RFP, in order to facilitate the operations of the demonstration in the two states, coordinate the research design activities, and develop effective communication with the states, DOL, SBA, and all other players, we believe that the PD should have a solid knowledge and understanding of the operations of microenterprise programs, experience in implementing large scale demonstration projects, and a good understanding of social science research. The PI will complement the PD by bringing a solid background in designing and evaluating large demonstration projects and will have strong academic qualifications (PhD in economics), the relevant methodological and social research background, and experience in evaluating large scale demonstration projects. Is it a requirement that he/she has a PhD, or is a Master’s degree with experience acceptable?
27a. A PhD is a requirement. Any submissions that include PI’s and PD’s with Master’s degrees will be considered technical unacceptable.
28. Please clarify the target population for the demonstration. Is it UI recipients (SEA eligible), dislocated workers (EDWAA/WIA eligible), or low income populations (relating in some way to Poverty guidelines), or all of the above?
28a. All of the above.
29. Is it possible to blend the two sources of TA, SBA funds, and DOL funds to provide TA to different target populations? Are there limitations in the ways which the funding from each source can be used?
29a. Funds will be allocated in this demonstration in accordance with the guidelines set out in the RFP. Site selection will take into account specific target populations. Selection of participants will not. Microloans provided by SBA and technical assistance funds provided by DOL are both separate and discrete.
30. Why is DOL conducting this study? Is the primary interest to determine the impact of adding a lending component to current SEA and EDWAA/WIA offerings, or is it to measure community economic development impacts of providing integrated enterprise development services to broader urban and rural populations?
30a. DOL is conducting this study in accordance with the demonstration objectives listed in the RFP.
31. It is not clear if the contractor is being asked to develop a microenterprise curriculum as part of the microenterprise package. Under Section C.5 (Specific task requirements), and under the task labeled “Microenterprise Package,” could you please clarify what you mean by curriculum of microenterprise training? (“The microenterprise package will be curriculum of microenterprise training and development activities including the loan package from the SBA.”)
31a. Included in the microenterprise package, the offeror will include a microenterprise curriculum of study that will be administered to the participants at the site level. The microenterprise curriculum will be the business knowledge and learning component of the microenterprise package. It is in this curriculum, for example, that demonstration participants will gain knowledge of how to start a business and manage business operations.
32. Under Section C.5 (Specific task requirements), and under the task labeled “Onsite Monitoring visits and Technical Assistance,” could you please clarify if you are asking the contractor to pay for the onsite monitoring visits by DOL and host states or only coordinate these activities?
32a. The contractor will coordinate these activities only.
33. Could you please clarify where you think the contractor will obtain baseline data; (is it from the administrative data files)?
33a. Baseline data will be obtained from administrative data files and other data sources.
34. How were intake numbers determined? Will there be flexibility in determining participant numbers as a result of discussions with state and local partners?
34a. The intake numbers are flexible targets that may be revised during the actual demonstration. The contractor should identify intake numbers that ensure the statistical validity of the demonstration.
35. On what basis did DOL select the two urban and four rural sites to be targeted?
35a. The exact sites have not been selected as of yet. Only two site venues have been determined. No specific one-stop centers have been selected.
36. In these six sites, can you list the names of intermediaries for the SBA Microloan program?
36a. Intermediaries will be announced when the actual sites in each of the states have been determined.
37. In these six sites, can you list the names of some of the organizations that, within the last three years, have provided microenterprise training and technical assistance through the Self-Employment Assistance and dislocated worker training program?
37a. See question 35.
38. The RFP says, "The contractor will pay the state for appropriate administrative costs to carry out the demonstration at the individual sites. These administrative costs could include subcontracting with third party service providers in the provision of technical assistance to demonstration participants."
Can you give us an approximate indication of the proportion of the contractor's level of effort that might be required for these costs?
38a. See questions 15 & 16.
Is it expected that the contractor will pay for all administrative costs for conducting the demonstration at the individual sites?
Will DOL also provide funds through one-stop centers to support implementation of this project?
39. What will be the eligibility criteria for individuals to participate in this demonstration?
39a. The eligibility criteria for this demonstration will adhere to the specific eligibility requirements of the SBA’s microloan program. Other eligibility criteria will be laid out in the offeror’s initial project design submitted to DOL.
40. Regarding expected participant levels in rural sites, the RFP states that "the rural goal is to serve approximately 400-500 participants per site in 18-24 months time." The RFP also talks about three rural sites in Maine and one in Minnesota. Is the expectation for 400-500 participants in each state, or each site? In other words, is the expectation for Maine a participant level of 400-500 for all three Maine sites combined, or 400-500 for each Maine site, meaning an expected level of 1200? 1500 participants altogether in Maine?
40a. The expectation is 400-500 participants per site. We expect a total of 1200-1500 participants in the state of Maine. See also question 34.
41. Are non-profit organizations eligible to bid on this RFP as a prime contractor if they meet the small business standards?
42. Can a municipal government respond to the above-cited RFP? Our division is in the business of assisting small business owners and the services.
43. I noted in the description of the scope of services "urban and rural one-stop centers", does DOL fund any one-stop centers to provide self-employment assistance?
43a. Entrepreneurial training is an allowable activity under the Workforce Investment Act. Local workforce investment boards may include entrepreneurial training in their menu of training services available at the one-stop center.
44. There is no incumbent contractor.