Disaster Recovery Grant - RFP

Lone Star Legal Aid seeks to contract with a design team to enhance and expand the national disaster legal response infrastructure and knowledge network available through DisasterLegalAid.org (DLA). DLA is a website of disaster related resources and a collaboration of Lone Star Legal Aid, Pro Bono Net, the National Legal Aid & Defender Association, the ABA Center for Pro Bono and Legal Services Corporation. 

I. RFP Timeline

• All responses to this RFP must be received no later than 5:00 p.m. (CST) on March 5, 2019.

• Respondents must be prepared to start immediately upon selection due to the time constraints of the project.

• Project completion including testing, roll out, evaluation, issue management, final adjustments, and final reporting must occur no later than October 20, 2020

II Project History & Need

DisasterLegalAid.org is a well-recognized resource in the legal aid community and the legal community at large, primarily due to an LSC-funded TIG project obtained through Lone Star Legal Aid (LSLA) in 2012 to redesign and expand Disaster Legal Aid.org.

Following the 2012 TIG grant, LSLA and PBN continued to curate the website. While new resources were added, the tools on the site remained the same. Then, in August, 2017, Hurricane Harvey decimated the central Texas coast. There were an estimated 13 million survivors in the 60 disaster declared Harveyaffected counties. LSLA’s client community had endured 15 declared disasters in the previous 24 months. LSLA, LANWT and TRLA invested great efforts in trying to refer and route disaster survivors to appropriate legal aid offices and pro bono resources. However, as disasters continue to occur, local pro bono resources begin to wane or be diverted to newly emerging disasters, leaving behind a stark need for pro bono reinforcements in previous disasters, like Harvey, that are no longer populating headlines. In 2018 alone, there were 59 federally declared major disasters. This initiative will: support continued expansion and enhancement of the national platform for disaster-related content; continue to provide resources and cases to disaster-trained pro bono advocates across the nation; and help legal aid programs prepare for and respond to disasters with greater speed, efficiency, longevity and resilience.

Key elements will include: 1.) technology-enabled “FEMA Clinic in a Box” for DLA; 2.) implement user experience design and content updates for DLA, including expansion of the DLA Advocacy Center; 3.) System integration with LegalServer’s case feed systems in Texas (all three Texas LSC funded programs use, or will be migrating to, LegalServer sometime in 2019); and 4.) online networking tools and roundtables that facilitate information sharing and networking.

III Components and Expectations

A. FEMA Clinic in a Box

The selected candidate will develop a technology-enabled FEMA clinic toolkit. This toolkit will support large-scale pro bono mobilization on FEMA application and appeals issues and will equip legal aid programs with tools to more effectively engage volunteers assisting with FEMA cases.

Key deliverables will include:

● Creation of one or more online document assembly tools to support legal aid clients in preparing high-quality FEMA appeals letters;

● Ability for users to save their answers for future review and modification, and to optionally share their completed appeal documents for review by legal aid advocates;

● Ability for legal aid organizations to securely assign FEMA appeals documents to advocates or pro bono attorneys for remote review;

● Ability for remotely located advocates/volunteers to review and modify the client's completed FEMA appeals documents;

● “Multi-tenant” architecture, account set-up and role-based management features to support use of these tools by multiple legal aid organizations and their pro bono partners;

● Pilot testing plan to solicit feedback from key stakeholders;

● Start Up Guide and training and implementation support plan to enable legal aid programs to quickly deploy these tools with law firm volunteers, law school clinics or legal aid staff advocates;

● Hosting, maintenance and technical support for all related features for an 18-month period;

● Support for the creation of FEMA appeals online document assembly interviews in languages other than English; and

● Additional virtual assistance tools to support remote collaboration between advocates and clients, including real time instant messaging and video chat, document sharing, and the ability for the advocate or volunteer to maintain a simple case history of their interactions with the client that can be reviewed by assigning organizations.

● Real-time analytics that can identify and provide alerts for cases/referrals that appear to be dormant or inactive, prompting reassignment (as needed) by coordinators.

B. User Experience and Design The selected candidate will develop a web-based membership and content management system, and associated substantive content, to facilitate regional and national collaboration among justice sector organizations and allied groups and provide one-stop access to disaster-related resources  for legal aid clients, volunteers and advocates working on disaster response issues in multiple jurisdictions.

Key deliverables will include:

● A mobile-responsive website with intuitive navigation pathways and high-value disasterrelated content for legal aid staff, pro bono attorneys, and clients seeking help

● One or more secure password-protected areas that provide access to specialized practice resources and networking tools for legal aid advocates and others working on disaster response issues.

● Resource library with high-value content for disaster advocates

● Robust membership management tools, including the ability for website administrators to easily approve and manage members and content permissions

● News, calendar, and e-communication tools

● Searchable membership roster

● Pro bono engagement tools to raise awareness of volunteer needs and opportunities among legal aid programs in multiple jurisdictions

● Support for publishing key information in Spanish

● Additional flexible content pages for disaster-specific or other information

● The ability to manage members, content and other key attributes without special technical experience

● Website usage and membership reporting tools

● Hosting, maintenance, training and technical support for all related features for an 18- month period

C. DLA Case Integration with LegalServer Case Feeds

The selected candidate will integrate Lone Star Legal Aid’s LegalServer cases feed with the DLA website platform to cross-publish cases in need of volunteers to a broad audience of prospective volunteers. An API integration model that can be utilized across a wide range of service providers is preferred.

Key deliverables will include:

● The ability for the website platform to read the LegalServer Pro Bono Opportunities API and import appropriate fields;

● A corresponding website interface to display pro bono opportunities in a user-friendly manner to prospective volunteers;

● Capability to update case records published on the website based on the status of the case in the LegalServer API feed;

● A pilot testing plan to solicit feedback from key stakeholders to work with Lone Star Legal Aid and LegalServer to troubleshoot issues identified;

● Hosting, maintenance, training and technical support for all related website features for an 18-month period; and ● A technical approach that will facilitate the replication of this feature for other disasterimpacted regions in the future

D. Networking & Outreach Support

Provide online networking tools and outreach support to facilitate awareness and adoption of disaster-related resources, and to promote information-sharing across LSC-funded programs impacted by the 2017 disasters.

Key deliverables will include collaborating with Lone Star Legal Aid to:

● Moderate a listserv of advocates working on disaster issues across jurisdictions;

● Produce an online roundtable series on topics relevant to legal aid client and program needs arising from the 2017 hurricanes and wildfires;

● Network legal aid advocates working on similar issues across regions;

● Conduct outreach at conferences and other forums to LSC-funded programs and their partners to promote awareness of associated online content, tools and networking opportunities;

● Liaise with key national stakeholders such as the ABA, NLADA and LSC; and

● Manage all associated online content.

IV. Performance Requirements

All final components of the project must be operationally available online 24/7 with the exception of reasonable planned and scheduled downtime for system maintenance. We require a 99% uptime with a maximum of 10 hours downtime per year. Ongoing usability studies and resulting adjustments are expected to be performed in conjunction with this project and to be completed by September 30, 2020, along with all LSC approved project milestones.

V. Training Expectations

The selected vendor is expected to train program staff on the use of all tools developed under this project and should account for training time in any proposals or bids submitted.

VI. Branding Expectations

A strong brand clearly identifying the services offered and their connection to our client community is paramount. All visual and written components of this project are expected to be uniformly branded and easily identifiable.

VII. Platform Design & Hosting Expectations

The selected vendor is expected to identify and select hosting solutions for the creation and expansion of DLA.org tools including the design, development, and execution of the components. DLA currently runs on the PBN platform. The selected vendor is expected to work with PBN for any work anticipated in this project and to ensure a seamless transition if there are to be platform changes. The hosting selection(s) and design development should be included in the proposed scope of work. The selected vendor is expected to identify and select a design usability expert(s) for all user-facing components of the project if the vendor does not employ a usability expert.

The platform design should meet or exceed the user experience guidelines outlined in LSC’s 2017 Statewide Website Assessment. These user experience guidelines include, but are not limited to: Optimized mobile experience; Modernized visual and interactive design to enhance usability; Optimized guided workflows; Multiple navigation strategies providing alternate methods for interacting with content; Improved readability, translation, and organization of content; Improved connectivity between navigation elements and page content; Increased contextual help; and Collection and analysis of direct user feedback.

The selected vendor will design, develop and execute a plan for redundant capabilities and data backup sufficient to mitigate in the event of a disaster or failure of mission-critical IT infrastructure, and which will allow 24/7 access to the platform and all data contained within the platform, ensuring 99% uptime with a maximum of 10 hours downtime per year. In addition, emergency access to all platforms and data will be included in the design, development and execution of the plan.

VIII. Submission Requirements

All responses must be 10 pages or less (not including references and samples of comparable work), concise and well‐organized, and demonstrate how your proposed services, approach and methodology, qualifications, experience, and terms meet or exceed LSLA’s requirements. All proposals must also contain the following:

Applicant Information:

1) Applicant’s full name, address, telephone number, email, and website;

2) Your submission point‐person. Please include title, phone number, and email address;

3) Company overview, including a brief history, mission, number of employees, and number of years in operation;

4) If an independent consultant, your full name, address, telephone number, email, and years working as an independent consultant;

5) Client mix: tell us what percentage of nonprofit, government and commercial clients you serve; and

6) Two (2) recent references concerning your experience with the work described in this RFP. Indicate the reference’s name, a brief description of the services provided, and the name, title, telephone number and email address of a reference who is knowledgeable about your work and who may be contacted by our evaluators.

Pricing and Pricing Methodology:

1) Pricing should be a Firm Fixed Price (FFP) and must be itemized by work delivery package or other measurable commodity and include a written explanation of all fees and costs. 2) Vendor shall propose a payment schedule that remunerates the vendor as work is completed and approved by LSLA and the Legal Services Corporation (LSC). 3) Rates must include all overhead and travel costs. 4) LSLA is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization. 5) Please provide a description of how you would handle pricing, as a general matter, for any future application enhancements beyond the project period.

Experience and References:

1) A description of your website design and development consulting experience developing complex, interactive applications for legal clients and pro bono volunteers.

2) A description of your experience working with the legal aid providers’ cloud-based case management system (LegalServer/ PBN).

3) An overview of your product web development and project management methodologies.

4) Some examples of interactive websites and web-based products or tools that you have developed.

5) If you are utilizing an employee usability expert(s) within your company rather than contracting for that service, please provide evidence of their expertise as it relates to our unique client population.

Project Information

Outline your approach to providing development services in the environment identified in this RFP.

Other Information Applicant is encouraged to provide other information or material, within the 10 page limit, that it believes is relevant to LSLA’s evaluation or that provides additional features or value to LSLA. Some examples of additional value may be:

(a) Experience with and ability to provide support with LSC grant reporting requirements;

(b) Abilities or accomplishments in user experience assessment, testing, and design; and

(c) Experience with and ability to work with multiple organizations and stakeholders in a collaborative project, ability to integrate branding within a tech project design.

IX. Preferred Method of Contact

Currently we prefer to communicate via email. As the proposal process progresses we will make ourselves available for phone calls and possible in-person meetings. Please submit questions relating to this RFP by email to Debra Wray at Dwray@lonestarlegal.org and include “DLA RFP” in the email’s subject line. All questions and answers will be shared with all participating vendors via LSLA’s web site.

X. Availability

During RFP Response Process The individual(s) involve in this project can typically be reached between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Central Standard Time. Please allow 24 to 48 hours for response time.

XI Cost of Responses

Not in the Budget Neither Lone Star Legal Aid nor LSC will pay any contractor costs associated with preparing responses or proposals submitted in response to this

RFP. XII. Evaluation

The contract will be awarded to the vendor who provides the best value – the most advantageous balance of price, quality, and performance – to LSLA. Proposals will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

Price

• The reasonableness of the price for the service being provided.

• Whether the price is realistic (especially if it is an estimate), reflects a clear understanding of LSLA’s need, and is consistent with other parts of the proposal.

Quality

• Qualifications and experience of company

• Technical expertise

• Project approach

• Level of response detail

Performance

• Capacity

• Understanding of and ability to meet LSLA’s needs

• Responsiveness to LSLA

Professionalism Reputation for excellence in price, performance, and quality Willingness to accept LSLA and LSC terms (E.g., Texas venue and governing law, no limitation on liability, no binding arbitration, indemnification, and estimated cost, but not to exceed clause.)

XIII. LSLA RIGHTS

LSLA reserves the right to:

• Accept or reject any or all responses, or any part thereof;

• Waive any informalities or technicalities contained in any response received;

• Conduct discussions with respondents and accept revisions of proposals after the closing date;

• Make an award based upon various selection criteria;

• Request clarification from any respondents on any or all aspects of its proposals;

• Cancel or re‐issue this RFP at any time;

• Retain all proposals submitted in response to this RFP; and/or

• Invite some, all, or none of the respondents for interviews, demonstrations, presentations and further discussion.

XIV. CONFIDENTIALITY

During the vendor selection and project execution phases, you may be given access to LSLA’s confidential or proprietary information. You agree not to use this information for your or any third‐party’s benefit and will not disclose this information to any person who does not have a need to know.

XV. FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and associated federal regulations may require LSLA to disclose certain documents to the public, including portions of your proposal. Generally, LSLA will not release any documents that would cause competitive harm to a vendor or potential vendor. You are encouraged, however, to label any confidential information contained in your proposal to facilitate LSLA’s ability to withhold it from disclosure.

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