Government RFPs – to bid or not to bid

Requests for Proposal from Government Departments (Government RFPs) differ from those from commercial companies in a few ways. Government procurement is highly regulated, and therefore Government RFPs and RFPs issued by their agencies and other decentralized government departments have a standard format and structure.

How do they differ from commercial RFPS?

Government Departments usually keep a list of approved suppliers to which you can apply to be added and this list is used to invite bids. Governments in most countries are also required by law to publish or announce RFPs in a public forum while private companies can limit their bidders as they see fit.

Government RFP process

The method used by governments to buy goods and services for the state is governed by complicated regulations and is, predictably, bureaucratic. Become familiar with Government regulations in your country before submitting the bid. Some Government RFPs are now being issued in electronic form but still require a hard-copy of the bid to be hand delivered or mailed.

Government bid documents

The content of a government RFP will include:

  • Information to bidders. This provides all necessary instructions for preparing your proposal. These include how they want your bid organized, how to submit questions, how the proposal is to be delivered etc.
  • Scope of (SOW) Describes what the Government wants you to do or supply and asks you to provide details of your solution.
  • Pricing Schedule. This section is most important and instructions should be closely followed. It is often requested in a spreadsheet format for easy comparison with other bids.
  • Delivery instructions. Read carefully as this may impact on pricing. It states how contract deliverables will be packaged and shipped or reports provided.
  • Performance, Inspection and Acceptance issues. This section covers due dates, quality control, the handling of rejects and explains remedies for defaulters.
  • Contract Administration. This explains how your firm will interact with them, how they handle changes and extensions to contracts, and how documentation will be exchanged.
  • Terms and Conditions. Government RFPs include specific clauses that will be incorporated into the contract and will be binding.
  • Appendices. These are sometime also called exhibits. This is a list of attachments which you need to refer to when you respond to the RFP. It will include technical specifications and certifications required.
  • Submissions. These are documents you need to provide such as your tax status, personnel numbers, ownership of your firm, type of business organization etc.
  • Evaluation Criteria and the Award. Defines the factors and weighting used by the selection team to rank or grade your proposal. The award decision is made on this evaluation.

Unfortunately, many qualified bidders choose not to respond to Government RFPs because of the long purchasing cycle and the mound of paperwork involved. The fact is that the government and its agencies control the highest value and the greatest number of projects.


Return from Government RFPs to Choosing RFI, RFP, or RFQ

Return from Government RFPs to Purchasing Procurement Center Homepage