Here it is, the RFP for state strategic planning for access to Justice for all. While the document speaks for itself, this might provide a good opportunity for some reminders and observations.
I can not emphasize enough that these observations are very much mine alone, notwithstanding my membership in the so-called experts group for the project.
- The touchstone for the RFP and the whole project is the CCJ/COSCA Resolution on 100% access. I would urge those considering an application to go back to that Resolution, and to conisider its ambition and its emphases.
- The key para, not to be forgotten, sets and urges the “aspirational goal of 100 percent access to effective assistance for essential civil legal needs and urge their members to provide leadership in achieving that goal and to work with their Access to Justice Commission or other such entities to develop a strategic plan with realistic and measurable outcomes.” I have bolded the phrases that are, in my opinion, the most important.
- The RFP itself emphasizes the need for applicants to demonstrate the committement to active collaborative participation of all core stake holders. This is something that needs to be started on early. Note the ue of the word “demonstrated.” I am dubious that a general letter would suffice.
- States will not be on their own in this project:“Specifically, two guides will be provided to all states during the summer of 2016: A guide for a strategic action plan, including a basic template for the possible plan; A guide for a state assessment/ inventory to help states identify and inventory the resources, services, and capabilities they have and may need, and consider how to address gaps in services to better meet the legal needs of all.” Moreover, these is the potential for targeted pilot implementation efforts to those states that obtain the planning awards.
- The intended planning must be for a comprehensive and integrated vision and system, and not a few incremental steps forward:
- The evaluation measures should be considered as being at the heart of this project, referenced as they are in both the Resolution and the RFP. The full Selection Criteria appear below, and might be viewed as perhaps the best guide to the DNA of the project as a whole.
1. Integration of Access to Justice Partners: Demonstrated support from all relevant stakeholders.
2. Use of Guidance Materials: Willingness to work with the inventory and strategic action plan guides developed by the Justice for All Expert Working Group or utilize an approved alternative approach.
3. Identify Local Resources: Identification of resources to support the strategic action planning effort and sustain stakeholder collaboration on planning. This includes a willingness to dedicate resources to the strategic action planning effort and, when the plan exists, a willingness to dedicate resources to plan implementation.
4. Sustainability of Stakeholder Collaboration: Demonstrate a willingness to undertake sustained stakeholder collaboration. Examples of previous coordination/collaboration among stakeholders may be provided.
5. Staff Commitment: Commitment of a staff person to oversee the inventory assessment and strategic action planning effort at the state level and prepare progress reports.
6. Reporting and evaluating: Demonstrate a willingness to submit quarterly reports and establish measures to evaluate implementation efforts.
Applications are due October 5, 2016. The FRP provides contact information for questions. I hope that as many states as possible will take advantage of this very significant opportunity.