Appendix I: Concept Note Considerations

A deeper dive on the questions OTF asks when reviewing submitted concept notes.

Potential Contribution and Relevance to the OTF Goals and Principles

Organizational Profile

  • Where is the organization physically and legally based?

  • If the organization is distributed, where is the main point of contact?

  • Does the organization have any conflicts of interest with RFA, OTF, the Advisory Council, or other RFA-OTF projects?

  • Is the project team an organization, community or an individual?

Organizational Culture

  • Is the organization or its members known within any relevant communities? If yes, what is their reputation and why?

  • What is the organization’s motivation and principles?

  • What are the organization’s member(s) motivation and principles?

Project Profile

  • What are the goals and objectives of the project?

  • Is it a technology research, development, or deployment project?

  • Can the project’s effort be explained to external audiences and non-technical people?

  • What tools, if any, currently exist to solve this problem? How is this project different?

  • What problem are they trying to solve and is the solution strategical or tactical?

  • Is the project strategically or tactically important to OTF’s goals, principles and rationale and other OTF efforts? How?

  • Does the effort have any overlap with existing OTF and/or USG supported projects?

  • Is the overlap complementary or duplicative?

  • What is complementary and can it be explained clearly? I.e. geographic focus, technology, organization profile, etc.

  • What are the liabilities and risks of taking on this project? I.e. political personalities, financial concerns, technical controversial, etc.

Human-Centric Focus

  • How does the project define its “users”?

  • Is the project’s effort actually relevant to its defined users?

  • Does the project’s defined user base align with the priorities of OTF?

  • Could other priority OTF user groups benefit from this project?

  • Are there existing users? If not, why?

  • How do existing users find the user experience? Is it versatile and usable or useful but unusable?

  • What steps has the projects taken to appeal to its defined users?

  • Does the project have a plan to attract more users and make the project accessible? e.g. do usability testing, hold training sessions.

  • What is their users' threat model? Who are they being protected from and what are the consequences of failure?

  • How is the project localized?

  • How is the project representative of those it intended to help and is it appropriate? What experience does the project have with those it intends to help?

Evaluation Criteria

  • Does the project measure success quantitatively or qualitatively?

  • If not, then how would the project demonstrate success of the project to OTF? I.e. Does the project have potential quantitative or qualitative metrics?

  • Is there a roadmap for the project? Is it public/open? If not, why?

  • Does OTF have the capacity to comprehend and manage the project?

Technical Merit

  • Does the project clearly articulate the technical problem, solution, and approach?

  • How is the problem clearly justifiable?

  • Does the project clearly articulate the technological objectives?

  • Is it an open or closed development project? I.e. Open source like Android or open source like Firefox OS or closed like iOS.

  • Does a similar technical solution already exist? If so, what are the differentiating factors?

  • Does the effort propose to sustain an existing technical approach? If so, is the relevant existing approach considered successful?

  • Is the effort a new technical approach or improvement to an existing solution? If so, how?

  • Is the effort a completely new technical approach fostering new solutions in the field?

  • Does the project’s technical approach solve the problem?

  • What are the limitations of the project’s technical approach and solution?

  • What are the unintended or illicit uses and consequences of this technology?

  • Has the project identified and/or developed any safeguards for these consequences?

Technical Human Capacity

  • How many technologists are actively supporting the project?

  • How many of the original technologists are still with the project?

  • Is the current team sufficient to meet the project objectives?

  • If more people are needed, how do you plan on obtaining the additional technical expertise?

  • What other responsibilities and commitments do project technologists have?

Technical Assets

  • Is there any existing project code or technical assets?

  • Is the existing code or technical assets proof of concept, academic, or production quality?

Technical Evaluation

  • How does this technical approach and solution contribute to the larger technical community? And how is it measured?

  • How does the project make the technical development process visible?

  • How is the technical development progress measured by the project?

Cost realism, sustainability, and readiness

  • Is the project receiving any financial support from the USG? How is this information disclosed?

  • Is the project receiving any other financial support? How is this information disclosed?

  • Can we discuss the project with existing financial supporters?

  • What in-kind support or other revenue streams is the project receiving? I.e. volunteer developers, service or product sales, etc.

  • How does the project plan to support themselves in the future?

  • What is the plan to sustain the project in the future? Is it reasonable and realistic?

  • If OTF doesn’t support the project, will it still be realized?

  • Does the project provide a detailed and realistic description of effort and schedule? I.e. is the project capable of creating a work plan including objectives, activities, and deliverable(s)?

  • Is the asking amount reasonable and justified?

  • Is the project aware of and comfortable with the Intellectual property language in USG contracts?