Systems Change Planning Process

Floodplains by Design Business Planning

August 2017


1.1.    Project Purpose:

The Washington Chapter of The Nature Conservancy (“Conservancy”) is seeking qualifications from qualified consultants to co-design and help facilitate a systems change[1]-informed planning process for a 5-year Business Plan for the Floodplains by Design (FbD) initiative in partnership with TNC and TNC’s existing Floodplains by Design consulting team (Kramer Consulting, Inc). 

Floodplains by Design (FbD) is an ambitious public-private partnership focused on integrating and accelerating efforts to reduce flood risks and restore habitat across Puget Sound’s major river corridors. FbD seeks to coordinate state and federal investments with locally-driven solutions that solve multiple floodplain management problems and serve a broad range of affected interests. The initiative’s goal is to improve the resiliency of these floodplains for the protection of human communities and the health of the ecosystem, while supporting values important in the region such as agriculture, clean water, a vibrant economy and outdoor recreation. This goal is pursued through incentivizing and supporting a transition toward collaborative, integrated floodplain management.

Over the last five years, tremendous success has been achieved for those working towards the FbD vision. Thanks to the leadership of legislators and a diverse coalition of supporters, the Washington State Legislature appropriated $80 million to advance this multiple benefit approach – allowing the Department of Ecology to implement a new, innovative grant program to fund integrated floodplain projects across the state. These projects aim to reduce flood risks to local communities, and restore natural floodplain functions while supporting regional values such as agriculture, clean water, increased open space, and recreation.

A growing number of communities are engaged in collaborative processes to define the future of their river corridors and achieve benefits for multiple interests. Momentum is building across the region to transform freshwater systems to support thriving rivers, salmon recovery, flood management, and water quality to achieve a healthier Puget Sound.

The FbD Business Plan is intended to define the long-term structure and leadership structure of FbD; clarify what FbD seeks to accomplish; describe the key elements of a regional/state work program, define measures to track system change; identify the communications strategy needed to achieve goals; and clarify funding needs and sources.  Currently, the FbD Management Team includes TNC, the Washington Department of Ecology, and the Puget Sound Partnership.  However, other groups need to be included in the Business Plan process, including federal, state, and local agencies; Tribes; agricultural interests; private sector interests; and vulnerable communities affected by habitat degradation and flooding. 

TNC is seeking to hire a consultant, a consultant team, or multiple consultants with experience in change management at the system scale and organization development to be part of the team with TNC’s existing Floodplains by Design consulting team (Kramer Consulting) and TNC staff.  The team would design and lead a robust process to engage a diverse range of stakeholders to craft the future of Floodplains by Design.  The consultant(s) would be responsible for helping engage a broadened group of stakeholders and affected parties through a process that will define the following:

·      a future structure for Floodplains by Design,

·      a clear vision of what FbD is trying to accomplish and what specific factors FbD is trying to influence (policies, practices & incentives),

·      a description of a regional/statewide work program to accomplish those goals,

·      a set of metrics to track progress towards long-term outcomes as well as towards interim systems change goals including ecological benefits, human benefits and innovation adoption,

·      a pathway for tracking metrics over time, and

·      a communications strategy aimed at advancing those goals.  

The Kramer Consulting team will be available to assist with development of a 5-year Business Plan document based on the outcomes of the engagement process.

In addition to supporting a process that engenders broader engagement in creating the future work program of FbD, TNC seeks to develop a way to track progress and adaptively manage the program.  FbD has a set of metrics by which it tracks on-the-ground project outcomes, but doesn’t have a means by which to evaluate the degree to which the floodplain management “system” at the local and state level is changing, or the degree to which floodplain managers and project proponents are adopting the innovative integrated management approach advanced by the FbD partnership.  Developing social science metrics to track innovation adoption as part of the Business Planning process may be part of the scope of work of the consultant or may be contracted with a separate consultant or consultant team depending on the skill sets of the responding consultants.

A strategic and focused communications effort will be necessary to achieving the system change the FbD initiative seeks to create.  TNC is seeking expertise for development of a multi-year strategic communications plan and the creation of communication products (newsletters, fact sheets, etc.) to implement the strategy.  This RFQ also seeks statements of qualifications from communications specialists, either as part of a consulting team covering other aspects of this RFQ, or as a separate statement of qualifications.

TNC intends to cover these three efforts as part of a single contract or through multiple contracts, depending on the skill sets of the submitting consultants and consultant teams.  TNC may choose to select and contract with one, two, or three consultants or consultant teams.

More information on Floodplains by Design is available online at:

1.2.          Consultant  Qualifications:

To be considered for the Project, Consultant must have experience with systems change, organizational development, social science metrics and strategic communications.  The Consultant must have experience designing and facilitating multi-stakeholder strategic planning processes.  Familiarity with floodplain management issues and prior experience in Washington State and the Puget Sound region is helpful but not essential.

1.3.          Budget:

The anticipated budget for this work will be within a range of $30,000-75,000.  As described in Section 1.1, the budget may be split across multiple contracts.

1.4.          Submission  Requirements:

The bidding process will be conducted in a nondiscriminatory manner with fair treatment given to all prospective respondents. Consultant shall be responsible for any and all costs incurred by the Consultant in responding to this request. The Statement of Qualifications (SOQ) should be no longer than 20 pages. The Consultant’s SOQ must contain sufficient information to allow the Project Team to evaluate the Consultant’s ability to perform the required tasks, including:

(a)    cover letter summarizing the key elements of the respondent’s SOQ and an overview of the consultant team and project manager;

(b)    the proposed team for the Project (including each person’s full name, title, location, telephone number, email, and qualifications);

(c)    a description of Consultant qualifications, including examples of relevant project experience; and

(d)    at least three (3) references, including a contact name and phone number to reach each reference directly.


All submittals must be submitted via email to Bob Carey:

1.5.          Critical Dates:

1.5.1.      Questions regarding this RFQ:

Any questions about this request must be submitted via email to no later than August 18, 2017.  The Conservancy will use its best efforts to answer questions by August 25, 2017.  It is the policy of the Conservancy to avoid situations that (a) place it in a position where its judgment may be biased; (b) create an appearance of conflict of interest with respect to rendering an impartial, fair, technically sound, and objective decision prior to selection; or (c) give an unfair competitive advantage to competing bidders. The Consultant acknowledges that (a) answers provided by the Conservancy to any respondent inquiries will be shared with all respondents (via email or otherwise), and (b) the Conservancy is not required to supply answers that the Conservancy does not consider to be pertinent to this RFQ or are considered by the Conservancy to be proprietary or confidential.

1.5.2.      Submittal due date:

All SOQs must be emailed to the Conservancy by 5:00 p.m. ET on August 31, 2017.

1.6.          Review of SOQs:

SOQs will be reviewed and evaluated by the Project Team based upon each respondent’s qualifications, experience, and references. All bidders will be notified of their selection or rejection by email (or other form of writing) by October 31, 2017. The Conservancy reserves the right to reject any SOQ for any reason and the Conservancy is not obligated to select any respondent at all, nor will the Conservancy be obligated to explain the basis for its selection. All material submitted in response to this RFQ will become the property of the Conservancy and may be returned only at the option of the Conservancy and at Consultant’s expense.

The Conservancy shall have no obligations or liabilities whatsoever by reason of issuance of this RFQ or actions by anyone relating thereto.

[1] Addressing today’s most pressing environmental challenges requires that practitioners increasingly seek to effect systemic change within the socio-ecological systems in which they work. Systemic change refers to creating, strengthening, or shifting the social, economic, political, and cultural systems that comprise and sustain a socio-ecological system. The future of nature and the future of human civilization are interdependent. However, the major systems commonly used to manage toward our desired future - economic, political, and social - do not adequately reflect this interdependence. In short, unless we act to address systemic causes, we are likely to fail in our mission.