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Titles Given to Bid Documents

Titles Given to Bid Documents

In public procurement, it is helpful to think about and understand the main names given to bid documents.  This usually makes it quicker and easier for a potential bidder to make decisions regarding the opportunities. It may be that there is no point in reading the documents if there is no chance of bidding.

A word of caution, the list below is not all inclusive. It is a list of the main titles used only. Government agencies have their own terminology. I recently encounter one that was titled “Informal Request For Proposal”. This was the term used for low dollar value requirements (instead of Request for Quotation).

These follow into three general categories.

Pre- Bidding. 

Request for Information (RFI)

A Request for Information is a means of collecting information and is used when the government or agency is exploring the possibility or feasibility of procurement. It may be to your advantage, if you are a potential bidder, to spend time examining and inputting into process. On the other hand, there is usually no payment for this so you may want to focus elsewhere.

Usually all bidders, not only those who have provided information are requested to bid on the eventual RFP.

Advance Notice

As the name indicates, it gives notice to all interested firms that a bid will be coming in the near future. This allows firms to prepare themselves for the opportunity. The advance notice may contain a draft RFP which allows opportunity for input

Prequalification (Source list, bid opportunity)

This is a form of restricting the actual bidding to only those firms who are interested. With the advent of electronic bidding, this has become less common.

Notice of Intent

This is usually similar to an Advance Notice, letting firms know of an upcoming opportunity. However, it can also be used to indicate the intent to contract with only one firm that has been selected.

Sole Source/Negotiated Requirement

ACAN (Advance Contract Award Notice)

This announces the intention to negotiate a contract with only one firm. This announcement is generally used in the public sector, not private industry, due to the requirement of openness and transparency. It gives the opportunity for the purchaser to find out if there are competitors in the industry instead of dealing with only one firm.

Notice of Intent

This is already included under Pre-Award. Here it is being used to indicate the intent to contract with only one firm.

Competitive Bids

Request for Quotation (RFQ)

RFQs are designed for small dollar value competitive purchases and are used in lieu of lengthy formal RFP documentation. Due to the low risk in procurement, the bid documents are simplified so that contracting decisions can be done quickly. Bid documents may be sent and received in written form, normally by e-mail or fax.

Invitation to Tender (ITT)

ITTs are used for higher dollar value where the requirements are easy to define and decisions made on price. They are most commonly used in procurement of goods (such as commercially available products). If you are in the service industry, then this bid document would probably not be on interest to you.

Request for Proposal (RFP)

This is the most common bid document title. RFPs are used for higher dollar value requirements where the requirement is not easily defined and where there is room for interpretation or misunderstanding.  They are most commonly used in procurement of services where a supplier cannot be chosen solely on the basis of price.

The evaluation is normally done by a blend of quality and price with the best value, as defined, being awarded the contract. There are many different ways of doing this.

Similar terms are used for the same purpose instead of Request for Proposal such as “Request to Bid”, “Invitation to Bid”, etc. However, Request for Proposal is the most common term and, consequently, the term used in this book to describe the bid document.

Request for Standing Offer (RFSO)

Standing Offers are used for large dollar value repetitive competitive purchases where either the requirement or the elements of the requirement can be defined.   RFSOs may be used with either goods or services and there is no guarantee of usage.

The evaluation may be done on price or a blend of quality and price with a Standing Offer being authorized. A contract is formed only when a call-up is issued against the Standing Offer.

Request for Supply Arrangement (RFSA)

Supply Arrangements are used for large dollar value repetitive competitive purchases where the requirement can only be defined generally and there is no guarantee of usage.

RFSAs are used for procurement of services. The evaluation may be done on price or a blend of quality and price with a Supply Arrangement being authorized. When there is a requirement, only pre-qualified Supply Arrangement vendors may be given an opportunity to compete for the requirement. This speeds up the procurement processing time.