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[liberationtech] US State Dept Discourages Using Technology to Promote Democracy, Human Rights, and Citizen Engagement in Ukraine?

David Golumbia dgolumbia at gmail.com
Fri Mar 22 10:40:49 PDT 2013


I assume you are referring to this March 5 press release?
http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2013/03/205666.htm

the earliest open RFP on State's website is from Feb 15 and includes the
same language, which appears on every other currently-open RFP:
http://www.state.gov/j/drl/p/204850.htm

I have some experience with both governmental and foundation grantsmaking,
and in both cases something between "many" and "a majority" of applications
completely omit one or more major, explicit requirements clearly stated in
the RFP, creating a fair amount of hassle and administrative overhead for
the grantsmakers. boilerplate language insisting on the formal requirements
is standard for this reason (and still does not drastically reduce the
number of inappropriate applications). this does not read to me in any way
to actually be discouraging health, science, or technology proposals.


On Fri, Mar 22, 2013 at 1:26 PM, Yosem Companys <companys at stanford.edu>wrote:

> David, you have indeed pointed it out twice.  But it's still
> inconsistent for the US State Department to carry out a public
> relations campaign that gives the impression that it's adding a
> technology component to all its work and then issue RFPs that
> "strongly discourage technology projects" from applying "unless they
> have an explicit component related to the requested program
> objectives."
>
> I understand it's standard language. But, presumably, everyone who
> applies will have the program objective in mind, whether they are
> tech-oriented or not, so why even bother with the caveat?
>
> Also, the language does not disprove Katy's suggestion that the caveat
> may be there to ensure non-technology projects get support.  One way
> to test whether this is indeed the case is to see whether RFPs issued
> prior to the public relations campaign lacked that caveat.
>
> In any case, I suspect whoever wrote this standard language likely did
> not put as much thought into crafting the language as we are analyzing
> it.
>
> Best,
>
> Yosem
>
> On Fri, Mar 22, 2013 at 9:46 AM, David Golumbia <dgolumbia at gmail.com>
> wrote:
> > I have now twice pointed out that this perception is a misreading of the
> > document. They are simply trying to cut down on the number of
> inappropriate
> > applications using very standard language. the original cut-and-paste
> > obscured where the phrase appears on the page, but it is still followed
> by
> > the exact phrase you quoted: "unless they have an explicit component
> related
> > to the requested program objectives listed above." If technology projects
> > have an explicit component related to the program, they are NOT
> discouraged
> > from applying. There is no story here. There is a lot of other qualifying
> > information in the "additional information" block. The entire block of
> > information appears to be repeated in all of their RFPs. I've pasted it
> in
> > below. It suggests they get a lot of applications that don't read the RFP
> > carefully. I repeat: there is no story here at all.
> >
> >> Projects that have a strong academic, research, conference, or dialogue
> >> focus will not be deemed competitive. DRL strongly discourages health,
> >> technology, or science- related projects unless they have an explicit
> >> component related to the requested program objectives listed above.
> Projects
> >> that focus on commercial law or economic development will be rated as
> >> non-competitive. Cost sharing is strongly encouraged, and cost sharing
> >> contributions should be outlined in the proposal budget and budget
> >> narrative.
> >
> >
> >
> > On Fri, Mar 22, 2013 at 12:33 PM, Yosem Companys <companys at stanford.edu>
> > wrote:
> >>
> >> I assumed the same.  It's just an odd caveat in the context of US
> >> State Department's public relations drive about innovation.
> >>
> >> On Fri, Mar 22, 2013 at 7:46 AM, Katy P <katycarvt at gmail.com> wrote:
> >> > My guess is that since money is already allocated for tech, they
> wanted
> >> > to
> >> > ensure that programs that weren't tech focused had some funds too.
> >> >
> >> > (Just a guess).
> >> >
> >> >
> >> > On Fri, Mar 22, 2013 at 7:19 AM, Shava Nerad <shava23 at gmail.com>
> wrote:
> >> >>
> >> >> Evgeny got to them. ;)
> >> >>
> >> >> More seriously, does anyone have digital divide info - cultural and
> >> >> financial - on Ukraine?  Tech is not the solution for all cultures.
> >> >>
> >> >> Beer is the correct solution for some.  A thousand cups of tea for
> >> >> others.
> >> >>
> >> >> Maybe State knows something we don't?
> >> >>
> >> >> Like:
> >> >>
> >> >> ---
> >> >> INTERNET
> >> >> Ukraine suffers digital divide - study
> >> >> Tuesday 22 March 2011 | 15:40 CET | News
> >> >> There is still a significant difference in household internet access
> >> >> across Ukraine, according to a study by GfK Ukraine. Internet
> >> >> penetration
> >> >> was just 12 percent in rural areas in Q4 2010, reports BizLigaNet.
> The
> >> >> figure rises to 25 percent in towns with a population below 50,000
> and
> >> >> 38
> >> >> percent of households in cities with more than 500,000 residents.
> >> >>
> >> >>
> >> >>
> >> >>
> http://www.telecompaper.com/news/ukraine-suffers-digital-divide-study--793094
> >> >>
> >> >> yrs,
> >> >> ----
> >> >>
> >> >> Shava Nerad
> >> >> shava23 at gmail.com
> >> >>
> >> >> On Mar 21, 2013 3:04 PM, "Yosem Companys" <companys at stanford.edu>
> >> >> wrote:
> >> >>>
> >> >>> Fostering Civic Engagement in Ukraine (approximately $500,000
> >> >>> available): DRL’s objective is to support the role of civil society
> in
> >> >>> policy formation and enhancing accountability and responsiveness of
> >> >>> government officials in Ukraine. The program will support civil
> >> >>> society to foster an inclusive and participatory democratic system
> of
> >> >>> government and hold politicians and public officials more
> accountable
> >> >>> to constituents. In order to foster more unity among civil society
> >> >>> efforts, the program should support post-election advocacy on areas
> of
> >> >>> policy formation and implementation such as ongoing efforts related
> to
> >> >>> elections and election law reform; freedom of assembly legislation;
> >> >>> and/or reversing legislation restricting the rights of vulnerable or
> >> >>> marginalized populations. The program should also examine how well
> >> >>> existing laws are implemented and help civil society ensure that
> >> >>> citizens can use official institutions and mechanisms to exercise
> >> >>> their rights. Program activities could include, but are not limited
> >> >>> to: support for activities to encourage debate and advocacy by
> >> >>> citizens and civil society organizations, small grants to civil
> >> >>> society for monitoring and/or advocacy activities, creating regional
> >> >>> civil society partnerships to increase civil society unity on
> advocacy
> >> >>> efforts, or connecting Ukrainian civil society with their
> counterparts
> >> >>> in one or more countries in the region through NGO-to-NGO exchanges
> >> >>> and mentoring in order to take advantage of shared post-communist
> and
> >> >>> transition experiences. Successful proposals will demonstrate a
> strong
> >> >>> knowledge of civil society in Ukraine and an established ability to
> >> >>> work with regional civil society groups.
> >> >>>
> >> >>> DRL strongly discourages health, technology, or science- related
> >> >>> projects unless they have an explicit component related to the
> >> >>> requested program objectives listed above.
> >> >>>
> >> >>> http://www.state.gov/j/drl/p/206488.htm
> >> >>> --
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> >
> >
> > --
> > David Golumbia
> > dgolumbia at gmail.com
> >
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-- 
David Golumbia
dgolumbia at gmail.com
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