Monday, April 13, 2015

Request for Proposal: Cost-benefit Analysis of USDA Market Development Programs and Their Impact on the U.S. Agricultural Sector


U.S. Wheat Associates plans to retain, pursuant to this Request for Proposal (“RFP”), a firm (the “Contractor”) to measure the impact of USDA’s Foreign Market Development Program (FMD) and Market Access Program (MAP) on U.S. agricultural exports, and to estimate the general equilibrium effects on the U.S. economy. This study will be used to inform public discussion about the value of export market development programs.

U.S. Wheat Associates, the U.S. wheat industry’s export market development organization, will manage this project on behalf of a broad coalition of non-profit agricultural trade associations (cooperators) and USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).

The Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) of 1993 requires regular performance measurement of Federal programs. FAS and program participants comply with the GPRA requirement by conducting every few years a market development cost-benefit study that assesses the value of U.S. agricultural exports attributable to the MAP and FMD programs. The most recent program study was conducted in 2010, using 2009 data.

A. For the purpose of this study, the Contractor shall, at a minimum, do the following:
1. Prepare an analysis of the trade impacts of the total export market development investments of government and industry driven by FMD and MAP programs.

Perform an environmental scan of the current state of knowledge regarding assessing the impact of market development investment on exports, including a literature review. This information will serve to support the methodology chosen for this study.

Determine the most appropriate statistical methodology to measure the short- and long-term effects on exports. This methodology must also determine what major trade and economic variables, other than market development program sponsored export promotion activities, such as exchange rates, population and income growth etc., affect exports of agricultural products.

The study shall incorporate the requirements of OMB Circular A-94, Guidelines and Discount Rates for Benefit-cost Analysis of Federal Programs. The study shall reflect current ‘best practice’ empirical methods and respond to GAO’s recommendations on improving past studies, as presented in their review of USDA’s market development programs, Agricultural Trade, USDA is Monitoring Market Development Programs as Required but Could Improve Analysis of Impact--issued August 30, 2013.

The analysis will be conducted using two different assumptions to capture a range of effects – the mandated fully employed economy assumption (as required by OPM’s Circular A-94) and the assumption that the economy is not fully employed.

The model should be capable of evaluating the net contributions to exports of each independent variable, particularly the market development investment variable.
The analysis will use the estimated growth in exports resulting from the market development investment to calculate the investment’s general equilibrium impact on the broader U.S. economy including:
  •  overall economic activity (GDP);
  •  market share;
  •  welfare effect;
  •  halo effect;
  •  the farm economy/farm income/farm prices;
  •  farm programs;
  •  employment levels;
  •  and, any other relevant measures.
In addition, the methodology selected will be used to assess the impact of changes based on various market development program funding scenarios.
2. Provide monthly progress reports.
3. On or before 31 August 2015 prepare a draft written report in Microsoft Word or Adobe Acrobat format and a PowerPoint presentation that summarizes basic parts of the report, including objectives, methodology, key findings, and conclusions. Present the report in written and oral form to U.S. Wheat Associates and other project partners in person or by conference call.
4. Incorporate recommended changes to prepare a final report and Power Point presentation, to be completed by 15 October 2015. The final report will be prepared and delivered to the Council via Microsoft Word or Adobe Acrobat in electronic form. The final report shall include the following:
  •  Executive Summary — Not to exceed 10 pages;
  •  Methodology — Description of methodology used to conduct the study, and rationale for that methodology with respect to the current state of knowledge regarding measuring the impacts that foreign market development efforts have on exports;
  •  Objectives — The key questions the study addressed;
  •  Findings and conclusions;
  •  Any additional details the consultant believes are helpful to fully understand the findings and recommendations.
5. Provide an in-person briefing on the final report to U.S. Wheat Associates and its project partners in Washington DC.
6. Provide an in-person presentation on the study at the 2015 November conference of the U.S. Agricultural Export Development Council in Baltimore, MD.
B. For the purposes of this study U.S. Wheat Associates will:
1. Make available data on aggregate FMD and MAP expenditures and industry contributions (to be provided by FAS/USDA);
2. Make available FAS/USDA data on global and U.S. agricultural exports and, at its own convenience, additional macroeconomic data of interest.

The format of the proposal is open but must be submitted electronically and should include, but is not limited to the following criteria for comparing and evaluating proposals:
  •  Experience with similar research and consulting projects;
  •  Names and/or titles of staff assigned to this project and their qualifications;
  •  Methodology to compile and analyze data;
  •  Project costs including breakouts of
    •  Hourly rates and approximate number of staff hours to the project;
    •  Administrative costs, travel costs, and other miscellaneous costs along with justification for these costs;
    •  Third party fees that may be incurred;
    •  Timeline of project milestones;
  •  A list of three (3) professional references reviewers may contact.
Additional detail will assist in assessing the overall merit of the proposal.

Note: FAS and cooperator staff can be expected to provide limited support for this research.
U.S. Wheat Associates will hold a pre-bid briefing at the U.S. Wheat Associates Office, 3103 10th Street North, Suite 300, Arlington, VA, for interested prospective bidders to answer questions and provide additional clarification on April 21, 2015 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT). Prospective bidders can participate in person, or via call-in:
Phone Number: 1-800-416-8128
Participant Passcode: 276 466 #

Prospective bidders are asked to RSVP for the pre-bid briefing to U.S. Wheat Associates Vice President of Communications Steve Mercer at before Noon EDT, April 20, 2015

Questions regarding this request for proposal should be directed to Steve Mercer via email or at (703) 650-0251, or U.S. Wheat Associates Director of Policy Dalton Henry at
The response deadline is 5:00 pm EDT, May 04, 2015. Final proposals should be submitted via e-mail to Steve Mercer,

The organization submitting the proposal chosen by representatives of U.S. Wheat Associates and its project partners will be notified through a letter of agreement no later than 12:00 p.m. EDT, May 12, 2015.

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