DAI Armenia Armenia
3 weeks ago
Armenia DECA: Technical Researcher: Digital Society, Rights, & Governance
City/Country Location Details Armenia; Remote
Job Type Consulting
Scope of Work
(Senior) Technical Researcher: Digital Society, Rights, & Governance
Digital Ecosystem Country Assessment (DECA)
U.S. Department of State and USAID Armenia
Technical Researcher: Digital Society, Rights, & Governance
TOTAL LEVEL OF EFFORT:
PERIOD OF PERFORMANCE:
October 1, 2023 – July 31, 2024
Digital Frontiers is a $90 million buy-in mechanism available to USAID Bureaus and Missions from 2017-2024. DAI implements the Digital Frontiers project, which works closely with USAID’s Development, Democracy, and Innovations (DDI) Bureau; the Technology Unit within the Innovations, Technology, and Research Hub (ITR/T); USAID Missions; the private... sector; civil society organizations; and international and local development organizations to identify successful and sustainable digital development approaches and scale their impact globally. USAID Missions and other operating units can “buy-in” to Digital Frontiers and essentially fund the Digital Frontiers team to design and implement digital development projects. Digital Frontiers currently implements over 25 of these buy-in projects; each with a unique scope and client within USAID. This DECA is a joint USAID and US State Department assessment.
Digital Frontiers has played a key role in supporting the development and launch of the Digital Strategy and will continue to play an integral role in the implementation of the Digital Strategy. With ITR/T leading the process, Digital Frontiers will work closely with the ITR/T team to ensure a thorough, thoughtful, and consensus‐led process for the implementation of the various Digital Strategy initiatives.
The USAIDDigital Strategy 2020–2024 charts an agency-wide vision for development and humanitarian assistance in the world’s rapidly evolving digital landscape. The Strategy’s goal is to achieve and sustain open, secure, and inclusive digital ecosystems that contribute to broad-based, measurable development, and humanitarian assistance outcomes in emerging market countries. USAID’s Digital Strategy has two core, mutually reinforcing objectives: 1) improve measurable development and humanitarian assistance outcomes through the responsible use of digital technology in USAID’s programming and 2) strengthen the openness, inclusiveness, and security of country-level digital ecosystems.
The DECA, a flagship initiative of the Digital Strategy, informs the development, design, and implementation of USAID’s strategies, projects, and activities. The DECA looks at three pillars of a nation’s digital ecosystem: (1) digital infrastructure and adoption; (2) digital society, rights, and governance; and (3) the digital economy. The DECA aims to inform how USAID Missions can understand, work with, and strengthen the country’s digital ecosystem.
• Digital Infrastructure and Adoption (Pillar 1):Digital infrastructure and adoption refers to the resources that make digital systems possible and how individuals and organizations access and use these resources. Digital infrastructure includes geographic network coverage, network performance, internet bandwidth, and spectrum allocation as well as telecom market dynamics around security, interoperability and competitiveness. This pillar also examines behavioral, social, and physical barriers and opportunities for equitable adoption (digital divides, affordability, and digital literacy) — who uses and does not use digital technologies and why.
• Digital Society, Rights, and Governance (Pillar 2):Digital society, rights, and governance focuses on how digital technology intersects with government, civil society, and the media. This pillar is divided into three sub-sections: Internet Freedom; Civil Society and Media; and Digital Government. Internet Freedom explores factors that enable or constrain the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms online. This includes individual rights to freedom of speech, privacy, and free assembly, and the abuse of these rights through digital repression. Civil Society and Media identifies key institutions and how they report on, advocate around, and influence online freedoms. Digital Government looks at the government’s efforts to manage internal IT processes and systems, deliver citizen- and business-facing e-services, and engage with the public through digital channels.
• Digital Economy (Pillar 3):Digital economy explores the role digital technology plays in increasing economic opportunity and efficiency, trade and competitiveness, and global economic integration. Areas of inquiry include digital financial services (credit or debit cards, payment apps, mobile money, and digital savings and loan products), financial inclusion, regulation of digital finance, digital trade, e-commerce, and the financial technology (FinTech) enabling environment. This pillar also assesses strengths and weaknesses in the local digital talent pool and the tech startup environment; a healthy digital economy requires a supply of ICT skills that matches the demand and an ecosystem that promotes technological innovation.
Note that the following topics are cross-cutting and affect all three pillars in a DECA:
● Inclusion: Equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized. This topic goes beyond digital divides in connectivity access to include things like the unique impacts of digital repression on marginalized populations and barriers to full participation in the digital workforce.
● Cybersecurity: How people, systems, and technology protect information kept in digital formats from being taken, damaged, modified, or exploited. This topic also includes an exploration of cyber harms that exist in a country, who is responsible for harms, and who is targeted.
● Emerging technologies: including artificial intelligence and machine learning, Internet of Things, drones, robotics, and blockchain.
● Geopolitical positioning:How the country’s digital evolution is being shaped by international relationships, particularly the global spread of technology-enabled authoritarianism.
The USAID Digital Strategy team has been leading efforts related to the roll out and implementation of the Digital Strategy. Digital Frontiers is providing support to this team during the first and second years for rollout activities including the development and piloting of the Digital Ecosystem Country Assessment (DECA).
Digital Frontiers is recruiting an expert consultant to be the (Senior) Technical Researcher: Digital Society, Rights, & Governance who will support a DECA to be conducted in partnership with USAID Armenia and the U.S. Department of State.
The ideal candidate has extensive, expert-level experience in the digital development sector including qualitative research skills and expert knowledge ofDECA Pillar 2 topics. This includes expertise in digital rights and repression, digital government, internet governance, and understanding the role of civil society and media in these contexts.This individual should also have knowledge or experience inor are local to Armenia.This person must also have strong English language skills (reading, speaking, analytical/writing) with a strong preference for also having Armenian and Russian skills. This person should have experience conducting client-facing projects, with a preference for experience with USAID Missions. ( See qualifications at the end of this document for detailed requirements, in particular regarding technical knowledge specifications.)
TASKS & DELIVERABLES
The DECA is approximately a 6-to-7-month engagement (dependent on country context, time zone considerations) that contains three phases:
1) desk research and planning,
2) interviews (in-person or virtual), and
3) analysis and report writing.
The (Senior) Technical Researcher will lead research for Pillar 2 of the DECA throughout each phase. They will also participate in regular meetings with the entire DECA Research Team and the clients – the USAID Mission DECA Team, and the Department of State. The (Senior) Technical Researcher will collaborate closely with all DECA Research Team members to prepare and review products that are accurate, comprehensive, concise, and clean upon delivery to the client. The DECA is a highly collaborative process, the Research Team will be staffed with the following roles:
● Program Manager (Digital Frontiers, DAI)
● Technical Researcher: Pillar 1 (DAI external consultant)
● Technical Researcher: Pillar 2 (DAI external consultant)
● Technical Researcher: Pillar 3 (DAI external consultant)
● Research Support Specialist (DAI external consultant)
Project Kick-off (2 weeks)
● Review the completeDECA Toolkit (https://www.usaid.gov/digital-development/deca-toolkit) , which provides all templates, information, and a step-by-step guide to implementing the DECA.
● Participate in two orientation meetings prior to project kick-off. These meetings are intended to provide guidance on the DECA Toolkit and processes.
● Participate in a kick-off meeting with the DECA Research Team and clients to set expectations, identify Mission/State priorities, and confirm project timeline.
● Participate in weekly Research Team meetings throughout the project, including monthly learning discussions focused on DECA iterations.
● Participate in biweekly meetings throughout the project with the DECA Research Team and the clients to ensure regular feedback and open communication and to cultivate client ownership of the DECA.
● Throughout the DECA, provide critical local context knowledge and insights.
● Support the DECA Project Manager to ensure clear and consistent communication with the clients, all communication with the Mission, State, and with other relevant U.S. Government (USG) personnel throughout the project managed by the DECA Project Manager.
● Deliverables : recognition of responsibilities and deadlines in the project work plan and onboarding documents (detailing process, timeline, tasks, and agreed-upon deadlines), thorough review of DECA Toolkit and associated documents.
Phase 1: Desk Research and Planning (4 weeks)
The goal of this phase is to prepare with the knowledge needed to enter the interview phase well-informed about the country's context and what gaps need to be filled. Throughout this process and especially in the early stages, the DECA Research Team will communicate closely with the clients to understand priority research areas for the DECA (e.g., important sectors and topics). During this phase, the Technical Researcher will also lead interviewee identification and outreach for DECA Pillar 2 interviews, coordinating with the two other Technical Researchers as relevant. The Technical Researcher will lead, conduct, and synthesize research for all Pillar 2 research. Specific tasks include:
● Conduct desk research: together with theDECA Research Team,gather, analyze, and synthesize detailed information and key data sources onthe country’sdigital ecosystems, including relevant Mission/State information.
● Work with the DECA Research Team to identify key themes and knowledge gaps in the desk research. Collaborate to validate gaps to fill during interviews with the client.
● Work with DECA Research Team to complete four research brief(s). Lead author of the Pillar 2 research brief. Coordinate with the two other Technical Researchers to complete the Country Context and Background research brief. Digital Frontiers DECA Project Manager provides final review and sign-off before sharing with the client.
● Identifykey stakeholders to interview (e.g., country government, regulators, other donors, implementing partners/other international development organizations, private sector, civil society, academia, etc.).
● Work with the Research Team to organize logistics for the interview phase.
● Coordinatewith the Research Team topreparethe DECA Introduction Presentation for abroad Mission/State audience, depending on client preference the format or timing of this presentation may vary, flexibility is key.
● Deliver Pillar 2 portions of the DECA Introduction Presentation PowerPoint presentation to include desk research findings, to be shared with the clients for review.
Key Deliverables: desk research contributions in desk research template and associated research brief for Pillar 2, inputs for interview tracker, DECA introduction presentationPowerPoint
Phase 2: Interviews (4-6 weeks virtual or 2 weeks in-person)
Based on the desk research and available networks, the Technical Researcher will support identification of, and (when relevant) conduct outreach to, key informants to schedule interviews to add context and fill gaps for Pillar 2 of the final DECA report. Specific tasks include:
● Coordinate the interviewee outreach process with the other two Technical Researchers.
● Provide contact information and/or introductions to key stakeholders, when relevant.
● Conduct outreach to specified interviewees. Copy relevant DECA Research Team members on all emails and track all communications and contact information in the provided interview schedule tracker.
● Prepare specified interview guides, using the DECA Research Checklist as relevant.
● Lead at least25-35interviews related to Pillar 2.
● Record specified interviews when relevant and allowed (given interviewee consent), take detailed notes for all interviews.
● If applicable, translate interview transcripts to English.
● Prepare detailed post-interview summary reports including key takeaways, gap identification, and additional contacts (when relevant) to be shared with the Research Team.
● Participate in interview debrief meetings with the Research Team. Frequency to be determined dependent on time zone considerations and interview phase duration.
● Participate in a midway synthesis session with the DECA Research Team led by the DECA Project Manager for gap identification and targeting of additional key informants.
● Analyze interview information using qualitative software, Dedoose , as deemed necessary by the DECA Research Team; subscription to Dedoose will be provided
● Collaborate with the Research Team to synthesize content for the DECA Post-interview Presentation PowerPoint presentation based on preliminary interview phase findings and recommendations.
● Coordinatewith the Research Team topreparethe DECA Post-Interview Presentation for abroad Mission/State audience, depending on client preference the format or timing of this presentation may vary, flexibility is key.
● Deliver the Pillar 2 portion of the DECA Post-interview Presentation to a broad Mission/State audience, depending on client preference the format or timing of this presentation may vary, flexibility is key.
● Deliverables : inputs for interview tracker including interviewee scheduling and detailed contact information for specified Pillar 2 interviews, recorded interviews and notes, detailed post-interview summary reports, qualitative analysis of Pillar 2 interviews in Dedoose, contributions to and review of the DECA Post-interview Presentation PowerPoint
Phase 3: Analysis & Report Writing (13 weeks)
The goal of this phase is to bring together the desk research, findings from the interviews, and specific actionable recommendations for how the clientcan integrate digital into their programming and processes to meet their development objectives. The Technical Researcher will be the lead author for Pillar 2 sections of the report (findings and recommendations).Two versions of the report will be published: internal USAID, and external.  Specific tasks include:
● Participate in post-interview phase synthesis session(s) with the Research Team led by the DECA Project Manager to identify key themes and potential recommendations. There may be a need for more than one synthesis session.
● Coordinate with the Research Team to communicate key considerations to the client throughout the report drafting to ensure findings and recommendations align with client priorities, capacity, and plans.
● Lead author for at least one-third of the report: Pillar 2 and associated findings and recommendations. The DECA Project Manager will review, provide direction, and edit throughout. The Technical Specialist may be asked to review content and fill gaps for other DECA Pillars as relevant and needed.
● Collaborate with the Research Team to synthesize findings into concrete, actionable recommendations. DECA Project Manager will provide guidance and final sign-off.
● Coordinate with the Research Team throughout the report writing process for technical support and content, ensuring time is built in for all team members to review all sections. The DECA Project Manager will sign off on the followinginterim deliverables:
o Outline for DECA Pillar 2 (findings and recommendations)
o Draft findings section for DECA Pillar 2
o Draft recommendations section for DECA Pillar 2
● Coordinate with the Research Team and the clients to determine the ideal timing and format for sharing preliminary DECA insights with key stakeholders at the Mission/State. This may take the form of a presentation, a workshop, or simply sharing a preliminary report draft.
● Ensure consistent writing quality in simple non-technical language. The DECA Project Manager provides final review and sign-off. The Technical Researcher is responsible for any required rewrite and feedback integration of relevant report sections.
● Collaborate with the Research Team and support the DECA Project Manager to manage the peer review process (tracking reviewer comments), focus on integrating technical feedback.
● Ensure accurate interviewee attribution including contacting all interviewees that are cited in the final report to confirm attribution preferences.
● Collaborate with the Research Team to create an external version of the report (redact specific/sensitive USAID information)
● Coordinate with the Research Team to develop and deliver portions of the DECA Final Presentation , sharing high-level findings, and highlighting important recommendations. The team will work with the client to ensure the content and delivery method maximizes utility for clients.
● Interim Deliverables to be cleared by the DECA Project Manager : findings section outline and draft for DECA Pillar 2, recommendations section outline and draft for DECA Pillar 2
● Deliverables : inputs to synthesis documents, Pillar 2 report outline, Pillar 2 draft and final written report content (findings and recommendations), contributions to and review and delivery of the DECA Final Presentation PowerPoint
The table below summarizes all project deliverables and estimated due dates. Due dates are subject to change depending on length of the interview phase and any other unforeseen adjustments. The contract length and LOE account for these potential adjustments.
Project Kick-off: Review and agree on project work plan and tasks
Phase 1: Desk Research and Planning
Contributions to Desk Research Template
Specified contributions to four final research briefs
Interview tracker contributions
DECA introduction presentation PPT
Phase 2: Interviews
Interview notes and recordings
Week 7 – 12 (assuming 6-week virtual interview phase)
Interviews debrief notes
Week 7 –12
Midway synthesis session summary
DECA post-interview presentation PPT & recording
Contact list (interviewees, and all consulted contacts)
Phase 3: Analysis and Report Writing
Synthesis session prep and notes
Specified contributions to report writing (to author about one-third of the report):
Findings section outline
Draft findings section
Recommendation section outline
Draft recommendation section*
Week 14 – 20
Peer review integration & quality control and one-voice editing
Report finalization (final edits including external report creation)
DECA Final presentation PPT
The consultant will report to Digital Frontiers DECA Program Manager, Raiyan Kabir. The consultant should invoice hours used in regular, monthly intervals.
TIMEFRAME AND LOE
This scope of work is expected to run approximately 6-7 months from October 1, 2023 – July 31, 2024 and request roughly 65 days of LOE (level of effort) to complete the above deliverables.
Location: Flexible, with the option of being located in Armenia or the region and the ability to work flexible hours to conduct the DECA virtually. The Technical Researcher must be available to join meetings during Eastern Standard Time (EST) and Armenia Time (AMT) hours.
● At least5years of experience in international development and a Master’s degree,7years of experience and a Bachelor’s degree, or3years of experience and a PhD.
● Demonstrated experience conducting qualitative research and analysis, writing reports, and leading interviews
● Excellent English written and oral communication skills
● Proven ability to summarize large volumes of information in a concise, digestible format
● Good project management, organizational and knowledge management skills
● Available to meet during Eastern Standard Time (EST) and Armenia Time (AMT) working hours
● Experience working closely with USAID Missions or familiarity with USAID programs and policies
● Experience and expertise in digital development, with strong preference given to candidates withdeepexpertisein DECA Pillar 2:
o Pillar 2: Digital Society, Rights, and Governance
▪ Expertise in digital rights and repression including freedom of expression online and data privacy and protection as well as censorship, misinformation, disinformation, and digital surveillance
▪ Expertise in the role of civil society and digital media in a country’s digital ecosystem
▪ Expertise in digital government (e-government) services, policies, and platforms
● Ability to communicate across diverse teams and cultures
● Strongly preferred excellent oral and written communication language skills in Armenian and Russian
● At least7years of experience in international development and a Master’s degree, or9years of experience and a Bachelor’s degree,or 5 years of experience and a PhD
● Experience in operations and logistics management
● Strong communication skills with a wide variety of stakeholders (e.g., private sector, government, donor)
● Experience conducting cross-sectoral research
● Experience working in or expertise in Armenia or the region
 The external report is simply a version of the internal report with sensitive information redacted.
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