RFP in Human Trafficking Research

Request for Proposals in the Use of Technology in Combating/Recognizing Human Trafficking


Proposals due October 18, 2013



The National Center for Border Security and Immigration (BORDERS), headquartered at the University of Arizona, announces a competitive research opportunity to address challenges in combating human trafficking. This effort, sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of University Programs (OUP), invites qualified researchers to propose projects that will provide DHS stakeholders, policy-makers and the public with contemporary and innovative research that addresses current challenges in combating and recognizing human trafficking.


In 2010, DHS Secretary Napolitano launched the Blue Campaign initiative to coordinate and enhance the Department's anti-human trafficking efforts. Currently, a number of DHS components combat human trafficking through a variety of programs.  The Blue Campaign coordinates and unites this work, in addition to leveraging its relationships with other federal agencies, state, local, tribal and territorial law enforcement, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, and international partners. The “Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States,” issued in April 2013, outlines the latest effort to combat the hidden crime of human trafficking and help victims of human trafficking. The Plan was developed collaboratively with Federal partners including the Departments of Justice, Health and Human Services, and Labor, and with leadership and guidance from the White House.  Its goal is to better coordinate efforts across the Federal government to identify, rescue, and support victims.

For a copy of The Plan click here.

Proposal Topic Areas

  • How can technology be used along the border and at maritime ports of entry to support the identification of victims?
  • How can DHS better use available technology in its identification of human trafficking victims?
  • To what degree would the use of these technologies address known gaps and how would we measure their effectiveness?
  • What innovative methodologies could be developed to identify trends, commonalities, and (possibly) unconscious behavioral cues to better identify trafficking victims at the border?


Proposal and Evaluation Criteria

The total available funds is $380,000 and 1-3 projects will be selected.  The performance period is one year and will begin on January 1, 2014.  Applicants will submit a 15 page proposal using the provided template (12 point font, double spaced, including figures and references) that addresses the following:

  • Research question
  • Research description
  • Methodology
  • Data needs – outline the data you will use in this project and how you will obtain it (publicly available, available for purchase, federal data, etc.).  If you are relying on federal data sources, please explain in detail how you plan to gain access to these, as their release is not a condition of the award. 
  • Relevance to DHS
  • Timeline/Milestones
  • Qualifications of PI (short paragraph, details provided in CV)

In addition (not included in the 15 page count), all applicants must submit:

  • detailed budget (template provided in excel spreadsheet –must include direct and indirect costs)
  • budget justification
  • include current indirect cost agreements
  • NSF-style CV (2 pages) for the PI


Proposals must be submitted in PDF electronic format to BORDERS at the following email address:  HT.RFP@borders.arizona.edu  by midnight on October 18, 2013.

A panel of reviewers from the academic community and DHS will evaluate the proposals. The following are the merit-based criteria for evaluation: scientific quality (25%); feasibility (25%); relevance to DHS mission (25%); appropriateness of budget (15%), and qualifications of proposed investigators (10%).  Awardees will be notified in January, 2014. 

BORDERS is a consortium of 16 premier institutions whose mission is to provide scientific knowledge, develop technologies and techniques, and evaluate policies to meet the challenges of border security and immigration. BORDERS’ stakeholders include Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Office of Policy (OP), U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). 




Q: When is this proposal due?

A: The proposal is due by midnight EST on October 18, 2013

Q: When will awards be announced?

A: Awards will be announced in December, 2013

Q: Where can I find the proposal and budget templates and is it mandatory that I use them?

A: The templates have been attached to this webpage (at the top and bottom of this page) and you must use them

Q: Where will I submit my final proposal?

A: Proposals must be submitted to HT.RFP@borders.arizona.edu  - You will receive an email confirming your submission.

Q: What is the performance period for this award?

A: The performance period is January 1, 2014 – December 31, 2014

Q: Can the funds be awarded to independent contractors?

A: No, all applicants must be associated with an accredited college, university, ThinkTank, or non-profit.  If you are unsure if your institution qualifies, please contact BORDERS.

 Q: Should I include IDC in my budget?

A: Yes. This RRP calls for standard, IDC costs. Please follow your institutional policy regarding these costs when completing your budget.