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Give Your Comments on USAID Digital Front Door Initiative

By Wayan Vota on February 2, 2022

usaid digital front door

USAID is proposing to amend its Acquisition Regulation (AIDAR) to implement policy and procedures to clarify and streamline contractor reporting requirements related to digital information planning, collection, and submission to USAID.

Under current protocols, USAID contractors are required to submit information to USAID under multiple award requirements using several different information management portals. For example, contractors have historically submitted:

  • Monitoring and indicator data to locally-maintained information systems in overseas missions;
  • Provided periodic reports in PDF format to the Development Experience Clearinghouse
  • Submitted baseline, survey, and research-related datasets to the Development Data Library.

The maintenance of these separate portals has made it challenging for USAID to integrate this information strategically to render a more holistic and detailed view of its global portfolio. In addition, navigating a variety of submission formats, websites, and business processes generates workload that can be streamlined via modernized technologies and techniques.

Introducing USAID Digital Front Door

Following the agency’s efforts to reduce the total number of information portals through which contractors are required to submit information, USAID is proposing to remove the clause 752.7005 entitled Submission Requirements for Development Experience Documents from the AIDAR.

The clause currently requires contractors to submit to USAID’s Development Experience Clearinghouse (DEC) one copy each of reports and information products which describe, communicate, or organize program/project development assistance activities, methods, technologies, management, research, results, and experience.

With the centralization and standardization of digital information that USAID contractors provide to the Agency, USAID anticipates that gathering key evidence to support evaluations and other performance management efforts will be greatly facilitated.

By launching the “USAID Digital Front Door” (DFD) as outlined in this clause, USAID intends to reduce the total number of portals through which its contractors must submit information to USAID, thereby reducing time and effort and improving operational efficiency.

Existing contractual requirements are also silent on or insufficiently address important and emerging issues related to digital information management, such as data management planning and digital information collection standards. USAID contractors may be aware, for example, that the Agency is piloting the use of a new technology called the Development Information Solution (DIS) across multiple missions.

Award changes related to this pilot address only a part of the digital information lifecycle ( e.g., indicator submission), are limited in scope, and apply exclusively to DIS. This rule is broader in scope, intended to apply not only to DIS but to encapsulate the Agency’s enterprise-wide approach to the digital information lifecycle in the years to come.

Changes to USAID Data Reporting

Therefore, this new rule provides agency policy on the entire lifecycle of digital information management, which encompasses digital information Governance, Planning, Collection, Processing, Analysis, Curation, Sharing, and Publication. This also includes addressing crosscutting issues such as data standards, information quality, licensing, and consent to ensure future re-use of USAID-funded digital information.

In furtherance of these policies, the new AIDAR clause 752.227-7x entitled Planning, Collection, and Submission of Digital Information to USAID requires that contractors:

  • Engage in digital information planning including creating a Data Management Plan to identify data assets that will be created and used in a USAID-funded activity.
  • To the extent practicable, use only digital methods to produce, furnish, acquire, or collect information necessary to implement the contract requirements.
  • Submit digital information produced, furnished, acquired, or collected in performance of a USAID contract at the finest level of granularity.

The rule is intended to prioritize the responsible use of digital information, balancing its potential with the privacy and security of individuals. As such, the rule requires contractors to remove personally identifying information (PII), to flag security concerns for USAID staff, and to provide documentation of informed consent the contractor receives when obtaining information on individuals.

It is intended to help USAID systematically strengthen the evidence base required to implement efficient and effective foreign assistance programs and to comply with mandates such as:

  • OMB Circular A-130
  • Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act (“Evidence Act”) of 2018
  • 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act (21st Century IDEA Act)
  • Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability (FATAA) Act of 2016
  • Digital Accountability and Transparency (DATA) Act of 2014
  • Geospatial Data Act of 2018

USAID Data Reporting Benefits

USAID expects that this rule will reduce the total number of web-based portals through which contractors submit digital deliverables under the terms of their awards to USAID, with the preponderance of those submissions directed through a single portal called the “USAID Digital Front Door” (DFD).

Rather than citing a multiplicity of systems within USAID awards, USAID intends to consistently reference the DFD as a centralized location which seamlessly guides contractors through a standardized process to provide their information to USAID.

By implementing these changes, USAID intends to reduce administrative burden on contractors and USG staff. As contractors collect and submit digital information in adherence to standards as defined in this rule, USAID also anticipates improvements to data quality, data interoperability, and the Agency’s ability to integrate data across various disciplines and geographies in a way that will greatly increase insight into programmatic performance and future scenario planning.

USAID appreciates the comments and questions it has received during the DIS pilot. USAID plans to address these at the same time it responds to the comments and questions received during this broader rulemaking effort.

Share Your Comments with USAID

Public comments are particularly invited on:

  • Whether this collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of functions of the AIDAR, and will have practical utility;
  • Whether our estimate of the public burden of this collection of information is accurate, and based on valid assumptions and methodology;
  • Ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected;
  • Ways in which we can minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, through the use of appropriate technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

Submit comments, including suggestions for reducing this burden, not later than February 14, 2022. Please include your name, company name (if any), and “0412-AA90” on any attachments.

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Written by
Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of his employer, any of its entities, or any ICTWorks sponsor.
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