If you are interested in receiving funding from USAID, the USAID business forecast is an important resource you should be using. USAID releases the forecast quarterly. The forecast provides information about awards USAID is in the process of developing and includes grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements.
The forecast has two parts, one for opportunities in development by the USAID Missions overseas and another, usually the higher-value opportunities (in terms of dollars), for opportunities in development by USAID in Washington DC. USAID releases each forecast in two formats, a PDF version and an Excel version. The Excel version and the PDF version should be identical, although it is worth checking both versions, particularly if you are watching the forecast for updates about a specific opportunity. It's rare, but sometimes not all opportunities make it into both formats.
The forecast includes the following information (the amount of information varies for each award):
- The Mission/Bureau/Office releasing the opportunity
- The name of contact person (the Acquisition and Assistance Specialist)
- The award title
- The award description
- The program sector (e.g., democracy, human rights, and governance)
- The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Code
- The total estimated cost/amount range
- The implementing partner, if known
- Award/action type (i.e. grant, contract)
- Whether the award will include a small business set aside
- The fiscal year of action
- The anticipated award date
- Anticipated solicitation release date
- Award length
- Solicitation number
- Business forecast status change
The information you find in the forecast varies, both from forecast-to-forecast and, within a forecast, between anticipated awards.
USAID has recently made finding the business forecasts much easier than it used to be. In the past, using the search function on the USAID website to find the business forecast would not always get you to the right place. Now, typing “business forecast” into the website’s search bar does lead to the relevant pages.
In addition to making the navigation much easier, USAID is prominently featuring ways to stay updated on the forecast and receive forecast alerts. USAID also now hosts quarterly conference calls to answer questions following the release of each forecast. USAID promotes the calls through social media venues such as Twitter and LinkedIn as well as on the U.S. government website for Federal Business Opportunities, FedBizOpps (www.fbo.gov).
The USAID website displays the current forecast and a limited archive of the forecasts from the last 1-2 quarters. If you want a forecast from an earlier period (months or years), you can try to pull it up using the Way Back Machine. The Way Back Machine is an archive of the Internet. A search using the Way Back Machine can often surface older USAID business forecasts. Although you probably will never have to go back to a forecast released several years ago, it can be useful research tool if you want to investigate the history of a prior award.
To use the Way Back Machine to find earlier forecasts, here is a suggested sequence of steps:
- Step 1: Go to the Way Back Machine at https://archive.org/web/
- Step 2: Type the full USAID web address (http://www.usaid.gov) into the “browse history” search bar.
- Step 3: Look at the timeline and choose the year the forecast first appeared. Next, you'll see individual calendars for each month for that year.
- Step 4: Choose a specific date (month and day) to check the archives. You'll see blue circles around the dates that have archived material for the site. The larger circles mean that more snapshots of the site were taken on the chosen date and the smallest circles mean just one snapshot was taken. If there are no circles, it means no snapshots of the site were taken that day.
- Step 5: After you click on your chosen date, the archived USAID site will open up in a new window. If you want to change the year, you can move the Way Back Machine slider at the top of the screen to scroll quickly through snapshots from other time periods.
Using the Way Back Machine to pull up earlier forecasts can take some time. However, there is a good chance you’ll find the forecast you need, particularly if the forecast came out after 2004.
If you are interested USAID funding, reviewing the forecasts is worth doing in addition to your other prospect research activities such as reviewing grants.gov on a daily or weekly basis. When you spot an opportunity of interest on the forecast, you can position your organization to win by starting to plan the proposal strategy and recruiting technical staff who can assist with the response.