The overall score for this Request for Proposals is 58 percent.
This request for proposals (“RFP”) is for the provision of abstinence-focused services to reduce the incidence of teenage pregnancy in communities with high rates of teenage childbearing. Specifically, these services include “mentoring, counseling, and supervised activities provided by adults for preteen youth ages 9 to 12, including those in foster care, to ease their transition into young adulthood.” The source of funding for this opportunity is the federal maternal and child health services block grant program. The State Department of Health (DOH) is administering the grant.
Irresponsible Funding Structure
This RFP contains a “match” requirement that sets a bad precedent and likely makes it infeasible for the vast majority of nonprofit organizations. This egregious requirement overshadows every other aspect of the procurement. Each awardee must bear nearly half of its overall program cost on its own. The RFP provides:
In accordance with Section 503(a) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. Section 703(a)), the applicant must demonstrate the ability to fund at least 3/7th of the project’s total cost while the NYSDOH will fund no more than 4/7th of the project’s total cost. Therefore, for every $1.00 of requested funds, applicants need to match it with 75 cents to get to the total program costs. For example, if an applicant requests $100,000 in Grant Funds, the applicant needs to provide a $75,000 in match. That is 3/7 of the total project cost. The Grants Gateway system calculates match percentage on the Grants Funds requested amount. As a result, you will see that the Grants Gateway match requirement percentage is displayed as 75%.
Lest applicants try to cobble together other government funding sources, the RFP clearly states: “The match may not be comprised of other state or federal grant funds.” That leaves only local funding, philanthropic dollars, and in-kind contributions to fill in the significant budget gap that this program surely will create. Furthermore, while the State “will not fund direct services such as child care, health care, or other services that are available through other resources,” it encourages applicants to “incorporate partnerships and strategies to identify needs for such services and make referrals to address the needs that have been identified.”
The STYA initiative is a volunteer-dependent program, and volunteer time may be included in the match. It is important to note, however, that reliance on volunteer mentors does not mitigate the financial inadequacy of this program. The funding is simply inadequate even for a volunteer-based program—and volunteer-based programs carry their own set of challenges and risks.
HSC notes that there is no match requirement in Section 503(a) of the Social Security Act. That statute provides:
From the sums appropriated therefor and the allotments available under section 702(c) of this title, the Secretary shall make payments as provided by section 6503(a) of title 31 to each State provided such an allotment under section 702(c) of this title, for each quarter, of an amount equal to four-sevenths of the total of the sums expended by the State during such quarter in carrying out the provisions of this subchapter.
In other words, the federal government is providing partial funding to the State, and the State, rather than supplementing that funding to ensure programmatic success, is passing along the unreimbursed cost to vendors, most of which are already struggling financially.
Applicants should be aware that DOH claims to reserve the right to use “any and all ideas submitted with the applications received.” The agency believes that it can reject an application but treat the concepts presented in that application as its own—that it can take one applicant’s ideas and pay another organization to implement them—without compensating the unsuccessful applicant.
Social Determinants of Health
In this RFP, DOH explicitly acknowledges the critical role of social determinants in driving health outcomes. It seeks to address inequities in social determinants by providing information and mentoring to high-risk youth living in under-resourced communities. This research-based focus on social factors is an important step towards improving population health and reducing health care costs. HSC hopes to see greater emphasis on social determinants of health in future programs, along with funding models that reflect the importance of social services in improving health outcomes.
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.