The overall score for this Request for Proposals is 52 percent.
This request for proposals (“RFP”) is for the operation of voluntary residential programs for youth ages 16-20 years.” There are two kinds of services identified in this RFP: crisis services and transitional independent living (TIL) programs. Providers seeking to operate both kinds of centers and/or more than one site must submit separate proposals for each. The Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) will administer the contracts under this program.
Crisis services are intended “to provide emergency shelter and services with the primary goal of reuniting youth with their families, or, if that is not possible, finding them appropriate longer-term placements.” This particular RFP prioritizes crisis services that serve LGBTQ, pregnant and parenting youth, or sexually exploited youth. The purpose of TIL programs is “to equip residents with the social, emotional and life skills that youth need to live independently and advance their educational and career goals.”
Juxtaposition of Divergent Programs and One-size-fits-all Funding
As explained above, this RFP is for two distinct program models. There is a significant difference in the capacity required to operate each model. Unlike TIL programs, crisis programs must be equipped for round-the-clock intake, which has important staffing implications. These staffing implications translate into greater financial and administrative costs. Furthermore, it is our understanding that DYCD is looking specifically to increase the number of crisis shelter beds. Accordingly, it should create separate funding streams and issue two separate RFPs.
In addition, the price per bed is identical for crisis services and TIL programs, but it is not clear that the actual cost is the same. Given the unfunded mandates in the RFP (e.g., reporting and compliance, staff time off for training, and multiple partnership agreements), as well as the 10 percent limit on indirect costs, DYCD should determine whether this price per bed for each program model is accurate. It is not enough that providers can write certain direct and indirect costs into their proposed budgets when overall funding is low.
On the positive side, the RFP does allow for cost-of-living adjustments and increases in indirect costs after Fiscal Year 2019. If these increases (and the base funding) were aligned with actual costs, they would contribute to the sustainability of nonprofit human services organizations.
Extension of Time to Respond
This RFP was released on December 7, 2017. It is an “open-ended” RFP, meaning that responses will be accepted on a “rolling” basis. The original response deadline for the first round of contracting was January 10, 2018. This gave providers less than six weeks to respond. In addition, major religious and secular holidays fell within the response period, leaving providers with well under 30 business days to craft their responses. Given the RFP requirements (most notably the need for five community partnership agreements, which can take a significant amount of time to obtain), this timeline was unrealistic and not conducive to high-quality proposals. The deadline was extended by addendum to January 24, which alleviates some of the administrative pressure, but in general, RFPs should allow at least six weeks for providers to respond. For more complex RFPs, such as this one, that period should be even longer.
The HSC RFP Rater assesses the feasibility, opportunities, and risk in City and State human services procurements. Rater scores are based on the RFP and related documents available to the public via New York City’s HHS Accelerator or New York State’s Grants Gateway. The rater consists of 60 questions developed and tested by a team of procurement professionals. The questions are based on information that is necessary to help prospective proposers assess risk.
Each answer is weighted based on the degree of risk inherent in the subject of the question. Answers that imply low to moderate risk are allotted points on a lower scale range compared to higher risk questions. For compound questions, the answer to both parts must be “yes” or “not applicable” to be considered low risk. Scores are calculated by adding all the question scores together. The higher the score, the greater the risk. The scoring range is from 60 to 230, with zero percent risk equal to a score of 60 and the maximum risk score or 100% equal to 230 points. Users can view the answer to each question by clicking the down arrow next to each section to expand the section.
The HSC RFP Rater does not substitute for the due diligence necessary to inform individual organization decisions.