Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning (MERL) Services

Plan International USA
  • Location
    Washington, D.C.
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
    Mid Career
  • Posted
    Feb 07

Position description

Request for Proposals

1. Title - Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning (MERL) Services
2. Issue Date - January 29, 2024
3. Deadline for Submissions - March 1, 2024
4. Deadline for Questions - February 23, 2024
5. Anticipated Contract Type - Master Services Agreement (MSA), leading to specific task orders throughout the term of the MSA with individual scopes of work. Specific orders may be either on a Fixed Price or a Time and Materials basis, depending on Plan’s needs. Issuance of this RFP in no way obligates Plan to make an award or to issue task orders under an award. Bidders will not be reimbursed for any costs associated with the preparation or submission of their quote.
6. Anticipated Period of Performance - Three years, beginning on the day of the MSA award. (Subject to annual background check.)
7. Basis for Award - Contracts will be offered to the responsible bidders whose quotes are most responsive to the terms of the RFP and are most advantageous to Plan, based on technical expertise, price and other requirements set forth in this RFP.  
8. Contact - For questions concerning technical requirements contact David Ehle at [email protected]; for questions concerning the solicitation process contact James Peters at [email protected].



Plan International USA (“Plan”) anticipates requiring a variety of external Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning (MERL) expertise and activities over the coming three-year timespan. The purpose of this RFP is to establish a roster of firms and individual consultants to draw from under a Master Services Agreement (MSA). Once selected, the successful bidders may be called upon to provide services based upon specific needs that will be identified in a scope of work and task order.

If you are under an existing MSA with Plan, you are encouraged to apply under this solicitation to be considered throughout the three-year period. Your current MSA will continue through its existing expiration date. 


Plan International USA is the US National Organization (USNO) of Plan International, Inc., a global network striving for a just world that advances children’s rights and equality for girls. Plan works to fight the root causes of inequality in more than 50 countries and 55,000 communities across the Americas, Africa, Oceania and Asia. Along with our government and private partners, we address harmful gender norms and empower young people to create positive change in their communities. We have a robust monitoring, evaluation, learning, and research approach which has demonstrated clear links between achieving gender equality, fulfilling children’s rights and ending child poverty. And based on that, our approach is that investing in a girl’s future will not only improve her life, but also the economic condition of her family and her community. 

The purpose of this MSA is to provide us with flexibility to quickly respond to MERL needs. We are looking for people who can provide technical support to Plan’s MERL team, program managers, partners, and field teams in basic monitoring tasks such as doing routine monitoring, writing PIRS’, creating data tables, logical frameworks and data collection tools, and reviewing reports, as well as more advanced assignments such as leading or participating in assessments, special studies, desk reviews, and evaluations; carrying out data analysis, both qualitative and quantitative, and writing reports and learning products, such as technical briefs, case studies, etc. Selected candidates may also be called up to support Plan’s Business Development Unit to produce MERL sections of proposals and concept notes for US Government-funded opportunities, including MERL narratives, logical frameworks, indicator tables, etc. Senior level tasks may include assisting with strategic initiatives such as building a knowledge management system or digital platform for managing Plan project data. Because we are focused on flexibility, and because of the three-year timespan of this MSA, the nature of specific tasks may change. 



We are seeking applicants, both individuals and firms, to provide Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning (MERL) support. Plan anticipates awarding a Master Services Agreement, valid for three years, with subsequent task orders issued for each assignment/scope of work. We will be evaluating bidders competitively. We anticipate more than one successful bidder, as we are seeking to create a roster with diverse capabilities representing the best qualifications at the best value. Award under the Master Services Agreement does not guarantee issuance of task orders.

While individual scopes of work will be identified throughout the MSA period, through this MSA RFP we seek to identify individuals and firms that will be most likely to have the capability to respond to those needs while also providing the best value to Plan. Therefore, the award of an MSA will be based specifically on our consideration of level and breadth of expertise, geographical and technical area reach, competitiveness of pricing, and ability to provide services within defined time periods.

A.  Level and Breadth of Expertise. We are seeking expertise at the mid and senior career levels to

carry out a variety of MERL related tasks. Successful bidders will have the capability to carry out tasks at the full range of levels, from the associate level with 2-3 years of experience to more senior level experts with over 10 years of MERL experience. Annex 1 contains more detailed illustrative descriptions of minimal qualifications by task.

B.  Geographical Reach. Tasks under the MSA will concern specific geographical areas and may span one or more region. Successful bidders need not demonstrate capabilities to work throughout the full global range of places where we work.  Task orders pursuant to an MSA award will be limited to demonstrated geographical capabilities identified in your submission. We will not consider adjustments to geographical capabilities during the lifespan of this MSA; however, those may be considered in subsequent competitive MSA solicitations. Consultants and firms from local organizations in countries in which Plan International has a presence are strongly encouraged to apply.

C.  Technical Area/Sector Reach. Tasks under the MSA will concern one or more technical areas, including health, education, youth economic empowerment, humanitarian response, gender equality and child protection. Successful bidders need not demonstrate capabilities to work in the entire range of technical areas. Work orders pursuant to an MSA award will be limited to demonstrated technical capabilities identified in your submission. We will not consider adjustments to technical area/sector reach during the lifespan of this MSA; however, those may be considered in subsequent competitive MSA solicitations.

D.  Competitiveness of Pricing. We are seeking the best quality technical support at the best value for Plan. We will be assessing pricing based on levels of expertise against current market rates for similar expertise. The initial MSA awards will be based on the then-current market rates in the geographical area identified by the bidder. Once an MSA is awarded, upon the offer of a work order the successful bidder may seek to adjust pricing only in the event of documented fluctuations in market rates (eg, cost of living/inflation in the relevant geographical area).  We will not consider such adjustments based on any other factors, including newly-acquired expertise; however, those factors may be considered in subsequent competitive MSA solicitations.

E.  Ability to provide services within defined time periods. Because the basis for the MSA is flexibility and obtaining products and services in a timely manner, we will be considering this factor as part of the submission.



All submissions will be evaluated competitively by a panel made of both MERL and operational expertise. The panel will internally identify its criteria based exclusively on the factors identified above. Therefore, in order for us to evaluate you or your firm for this MSA, please include all information relevant to these factors, and avoid the use of jargon.

There is no prescribed format for your proposal, although it should not be more than 10 pages, in English, and using an easily readable font and font size. At a minimum, it must include the following components.

A. Experience and Background. Please provide an overview of your or your company’s history and background. Include you or your company’s language skills

B. Qualifications, including:

a. Any relevant experience or capabilities that your company has with nonprofits and international development organizations. Include all experience with U.S. Government requirements relevant to MERL;

b. Bachelor’s, Master’s, or PhD in social science, international development, evaluation studies, or other relevant discipline;

c. Years of MERL experience and/ or research experience depending on the assignment.

C. Project Management and Quality Assurance, including detailed information about your project workflow and project management team structure, including tools/processes for communication on work orders.

D. Past Performance. Please provide two recent (eg, within the last two years) performance references for similar work (you may include as an annex, not included in the 10 page limit).

E. Geographical and Technical Reach. Please identify with specificity the geographical and technical areas in which you have a proven record of providing MERL services. 

F. Pricing Structure. Pricing must be submitted in US Dollars. The Pricing structure should be detailed with respect to hourly rate by expertise level and all other pricing factors (including travel and operational expenses) that will be considered when offered a task order under the MSA. The information must be sufficient whether a task order is offered under either a Fixed Price or a Time and Materials basis.


Upon an offer of an award of an MSA, those selected will be notified and provided with Plan’s standard award template, which includes standard mandatory terms (such as compliance with Plan policies). Execution of an MSA award is contingent upon formal agreement with these terms.

Successful bidders will be required to enter into further agreements under specific task orders, which may include conflicts of interest certifications and financial and other reporting requirements unique to those individual projects and work orders.

Each award of a specific task order is premised on a successful routine check of compliance history in the Accuity system. Additionally, each party under the MSA award shall, upon Plan’s annual request, provide information for use by Plan in conducting a criminal background check of key personnel and any other affiliated personnel at Plan’s discretion.


Application instructions

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