Digital Frontiers: Responding to Electoral Cybersecurity Threats 

Digital Frontiers: Responding to Electoral Cybersecurity Threats

Digital Frontiers: Responding to Electoral Cybersecurity Threats

I. Summary

USAID’s Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance (DRG) Center aims to strengthen USAID’s technical knowledge on ways to support local partners’ efforts to address electoral cybersecurity threats. DAI, the implementer of the USAID-funded Digital Frontiers program, invites Offerors to support the Responding to Electoral Cybersecurity Threats activity.

Proposals will be accepted from organizations/firms or from independent consultants. Offerors may propose that the position be completed either by an individual or team.

II. Background and Opportunity

An increasing number of countries are integrating technology into electoral processes, including
biometrics and electronic systems for voting, counting, tabulation, and transmission of results. Political parties are building large databases to target supporters and deliver messages andhire public relations firms to micro-target voters. However, the widespread use of technology also creates significant cybersecurity risks, ranging from simple hacks to sophisticated exploitation of hardware or software vulnerabilities. The perpetrators of cyber-attacks range from domestic actors and non-state actors to foreign governments, which have considerable resources at their disposal to attack electoral infrastructure. Meanwhile, governments, election management bodies (EMBs), candidates, and parties are often ill-equipped to prepare for and respond to cybersecurity attacks andkey decision makers do not appreciate or understand the gravity of the risks.

To address this emerging challenge, USAID views cybersecurity as part of its overall electoral assistance. USAID’s electoral assistance has evolved from an early focus on election observation and political party development in the mid-1980s to a full portfolio of integrated programming that cuts across governance, rule of law, civil society, stabilization, media, and human rights. USAID provides electoral assistance in dozens of countries, promoting elections that reflect the free expression of the will of the people. This assistance can include bolstering the capacity and independence of election management bodies; promoting competitive, multiparty systems; increasing voter access to accurate and impartial information; and mitigating the potential for electoral violence. USAID views electoral processes as pivotal to a country’s stability and quality of governance. Depending on the context, USAID’s efforts to address election-related cybersecurity threats may include legislative and policy support, as well as efforts to strengthen capabilities (including election management body capacity) to prepare for, detect, and deter cyberattacks.

III. Scope of Work

The consultant or firm will work closely with USAID’s Democratic Political Processes (DPP) team within the DRG Center. The anticipated scope of this activity will require the consultant(s)to support the DRG in the following areas:

  • Task 1: Literature review
  • Task 2: Expert convenings and knowledge building
  • Task 3: Developing knowledge products

IV. Deliverables

  • Literature review with summary report January – March 2021
  • Expert convenings, presentations, and/or briefings January – October 2021
  • Development and delivery of knowledge products, such as primers and/or brief guides- March – October 2021

V. Anticipated Period of Performance

January 16 – October 31, 2021

VI. Reporting

The organization or independent consultant will report to DAI’s Digital Frontiers program and work closely with USAID’s DRG Center’s DPP team on an established cadence.

VII. Qualifications

The successful Offeror must demonstrate:

  • Practical experience in assessing electoral cybersecurity vulnerabilities and threats in a variety of electoral contexts.
  • Experience providing strategic and tactical guidance to election management bodies, policymakers, and/or other stakeholders on addressing cybersecurity vulnerabilities and threats.
  • Experience with developing country electoral contexts.
  • Experience developing practical, concise knowledge products for implementers and/or donors that have been operationalized.
  • Experience with developing and delivering effective trainings, presentations, and briefings for a variety of audiences, including through virtual platforms.
  • Familiarity and/or experience with donor-supported international development programming strongly preferred, but not required.

Questions regarding the RFP

Each Offeror is responsible for reading and complying with the terms and conditions of this RFP.
Requests for clarification or additional information must be submitted in writing via email to DigitalFrontiers@dai.comby December 15, 2020 at 5pm EST. No questions will be answered by phone.

Any verbal information received from a DAI or Digital Frontiers employee or other entity shall not be considered as an official response to any question regarding this RFP.

Copies of questions and responses will be distributed via email to all prospective bidders who are on record as having received this RFP after the submission date specified in the Synopsis above.

  • Deadline for Receipt of Questions: December 15, 2020, 5pm EST, to
  • Deadline for Receipt of Proposals: December 28, 2020, 5pm EST, to
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