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2016 Evaluation Criteria

See pages 22-27 of the FFO for more detail.

ITA is interested in projects that demonstrate the possibility of both significant progress during the award period and lasting benefits extending beyond the award period. To that end, the merit review panel reviews each application for MDCP financial assistance based upon the evaluation criteria listed below. (Although the criteria categories have not changed compared to those used for the 2015 competition, the allocation of points between categories and within categories has changed.)


1. Potential to Engage U.S. Firms in Generating Exports that Create or Sustain U.S. Jobs (20 points)
Each applicant must demonstrate how, as a result of project activity, executives of export-capable U.S. economic entities will commit to actions that result in exports that create or sustain U.S. jobs. These U.S. economic entities include companies, partnerships, sole proprietorships, etc. These are referred to collectively as “firms”. Of primary and particular interest are firms that are small- and medium-size enterprises (SMEs).
As a general matter, in order to score as high as possible under this criterion, an applicant must demonstrate that firms that appear to be well-positioned to generate exports resulting from project activity support the proposed MDCP project and intend to participate as appropriate.
ITA will not allow any MDCP award recipient to include in a funded project, activity that appears to result in exports that do not create or sustain U.S. jobs. With regard to the extent to which activity proposed in an application is likely to generate “exports that create or sustain U.S. jobs,” applicants should keep in mind the following:
    a. Studies show that, on average, every $180,000 in exports create or sustain one U.S. job. Accordingly, ITA can project the job effect from the dollar value of exports an applicant estimates its project will generate. An applicant is not required to estimate the number of U.S. jobs that exports generated by its project will create or sustain.
    b. Exports that create or sustain U.S. jobs are sales by U.S. firms to non-U.S. customers where, as a consequence, there is ongoing or increased paid employment of U.S. entities engaged in producing the good sold or providing the service sold.
    c. Exports that do not create or sustain U.S. jobs are usually characterized by one-time transfers of technology or know-how in exchange for a fee. While such transactions may be considered to be exports, but they do not generally result in the creation of new U.S. jobs or the sustaining of existing U.S. jobs to any significant degree, if at all.
    d. The magnitude of a score assigned to an application is based on the degree to which proposed project activity facilitates or encourages exports that create or sustain U.S. jobs.

2. Export Performance Measurement (20 points)
An applicant must estimate project-generated exports and detail how it will gather and report data on export sales.
    a. Export estimate (10 points possible out of 20 points total for criterion 2)
Each applicant must estimate the dollar value of exports that its project is likely to generate during the proposed project period and during the four years following the proposed project period. While no applicant that becomes an award winner is required to report to ITA MDCP-project-generated exports after the end of the project period, estimating such exports as part of the application process helps ITA to consider to what degree the applicant is designing the project to be sustainable. (See criterion 5 below.) As described below, both the estimate methodology and magnitude are considered.
        i. Estimate methodology
Applicants must provide quantifiable estimates of exports to result from project activity and explain how the estimates are derived. To be considered credible, estimates should normally be based either on prior experience or extrapolation from objective data. If an application lacks an estimate of exports or includes one that is unsupported or unexplained, it receives none of the ten (10) points possible for export estimate.
        ii. Magnitude of exports                                                                                                      
Merit review panelists will consider the relative significance of the projected exports. The total value of exports projected when compared to the amount of MDCP award requested is one measure of export significance that the merit review must consider. However, merit review panelists may also consider other measures of export significance, including, but not limited to, the extent to which the industry to be helped has already engaged in exports and the ITA priorities listed in I.B. Program Priorities, above.
    b. Likelihood of complete reporting (10 points possible out of 20 points total for criterion 2)
As explained below, in order to be effective and to be able to report exports, most proposed projects will need to incorporate the use of one or more success agreements. Any project proposed in an MDCP application must demonstrate that it will have an effective export-reporting mechanism in place.
        i. Success agreement
Any applicant that plans to directly involve U.S. firms in project activity must include a draft success agreement as described in IV.B.2.i. Success Agreement, above. For most MDCP projects, a success agreement with the three elements set forth in IV.B.2.i. above, will constitute the single-most important element to achieve complete reporting of exports; however, in some cases a success agreement may not be relevant. Such a case is a project focused on achieving certainty in industry standards as opposed to export promotion. Accordingly, ITA may choose not to consider a success agreement, and instead, to score V.A.2.b. "Likelihood of complete reporting" based entirely on the extent to which an application provides for an effective export-reporting mechanism, as described below.
        ii. Effective export-reporting mechanism
An applicant must describe in detail how it intends to ensure that U.S. firms report exports. ITA will take into account the extent to which an applicant demonstrates that it has previous or ongoing experience getting firms to report information or to respond to surveys.

3. Partnership and Priorities (20 points)
The merit review panel will consider the degree to which the project initiates or enhances partnership with ITA and the degree to which the proposal furthers or is compatible with ITA's priorities. The total score for criterion 3 is assigned as explained below.
    a. Partnership prospects (15 points possible out of 20 points total for criterion 3)
To earn the highest score possible, an applicant should identify in its application, individual ITA officials with whom it has worked in the past and with whom it has discussed the MDCP proposal. This normally includes the following ITA officials: relevant industry specialists from ITA’s Industry & Analysis business unit, the applicant’s local Export Assistance Center, country desk officers, and Foreign Commercial Service staff based in target markets. The applicant should also outline how it intends to leverage, not just the MDCP award funds, but also ITA’s network of trade professionals worldwide as part of a unified project team.
    b.ITA priorities (5 points possible out of 20 point total for criterion 3)
ITA’s priorities are stated under I.B. Program Priorities above. It should be clear to a reviewer which particular elements of its proposed MDCP project further or are compatible with any particular ITA priority.

4. Creativity and Capacity (24points)
The applicant must demonstrate creativity, innovation, and realism in the work plan as well as its institutional capacity to carry out the work plan. Fourteen (14) of the 24 points are for creativity and ten (10) are for capacity.
    a. Creativity (14 points possible out of 24 points total for criterion 4)
        i. Demonstrating creativity
Creativity may be demonstrated by seeking to develop new ideas not previously developed or by promoting a particular industry in a market. Creativity may also be demonstrated in ways that are less straight-forward. For example, it may be that the U.S. exporters targeted for help have never before engaged in the types of activities included in the proposed project. Or, it may be that the manner in which techniques are customized to meet the specific needs of certain U.S. exporters is novel.
        ii. Current or Past MDCP Projects
For demonstrating creativity, there are special requirements for an applicant that has received an MDCP award in the past. A current or past cooperator must submit a table comparing its current or past MDCP project(s) to its proposed project. As noted above in I. Funding Opportunity Description, MDCP awards are designed to help underwrite the start-up costs of new projects. Accordingly, a current or past cooperator can earn the maximum number of points under this criterion only if it proposes a project that is entirely new.
In determining the number of points under this criterion, the merit review panel will consider the level to which a particular applicant has incorporated elements of its previously-funded MDCP projects. To assist in this analysis, a current or past cooperator must submit a table wherein it estimates the amount of resources devoted to each major project element for each project. See VIII.C. Table Comparing Application to Current or Past MDCP Projects. A current or past cooperator that proposes a project that is not entirely new will receive substantially fewer points under this criterion than it would receive otherwise.
    b. Institutional Capacity (10 points possible out of 24 points total for criterion 4)
ITA measures institutional capacity by what each applicant submits. An applicant that is a current or past cooperator should not assume that success with a prior MDCP project will be taken into account automatically by the merit review panel when reviewing its application. Each applicant must document its institutional capacity in its application.
One indicator of institutional capacity that the merit review panel will take into account is the extent to which the applicant abides by the MDCP application parameters stated in this notice. For example, in order for an applicant to score as high as possible with regard to institutional capacity, an applicant must comply with the page limitations and submit an application that is easily legible.

5. Budget, Match and Sustainability (16 points)
This criterion encompasses the reasonableness of the itemized budget for project activities, the amount of the match that is readily available during the project period, and the probability that the project can be continued on a self-sustained basis after the end of the project period.
    a. Budget (4 points possible out of 16 points total for criterion 5)
The budget is evaluated based on the extent to which the cost of individual project activities is set forth logically depending on the type of expense. For example, travel expenses must be based on number of travelers, specific destinations, number of days, perdiem, etc. A reviewer should be able to follow the detail on such explanations to the required form 424A. Explained costs should appear to be reasonable when compared to the proposed work plan.
    b. Match (6 points possible out of 16 points total for criterion 5)
Evaluation of match generally includes the following: amount of cash match available at the beginning of the project period, likelihood of in-kind match being provided over the course of the project period, and likelihood of program income being generated during the project period.
    c. Sustainability (6 points possible out of 16 points total for criterion 5)
Each applicant, even if it is a current or past cooperator, must show how the proposed project will achieve self-sustainability. ITA does not assume that completed or ongoing projects undertaken by current or past cooperators are self-sustaining. As noted in V.A.4.b., above, ITA assesses each application based on its contents as submitted.
For its evaluation, ITA sums the points assigned for each of the five criteria above . The five (5) criteria together constitute the application score. The total possible score is 100.



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