Request for Proposals (RFP's) are utilized to obtain the best value for goods and services to the University through a process involving several possible sources. Similar to a formal Bid process, RFP's are generally used on larger and more complicated projects where greater flexibility is required to select the source.
The greatest difference between the RFP and the Bid process is that a RFP will not contain a detailed specification of the equipment or services required. Within the RFP a detailed description of what is required will be found. This description can be written specifically or can be very generic. The RFP allows for the possible sources, or proposers, to submit proposals for their solution to the description provided. This process of providing a description rather than a specification allows the University to use the capability of the proposers so that expertise does not have to be developed on campus.
Example: An area on campus is in need of office furniture. This area may include multiple offices, conference room, and a work area. Rather than the University taking the time to learn absolutely everything there is to know about office furniture as far as styles, makes, qualities, etc., a RFP is processed which tell the vendors "we're looking for some furniture, tell us what you propose". Proposals are received and evaluated (see below).
The RFP process can only be initiated through the Purchasing Office. The process is as follows:
An equally important and significant difference is that the lowest cost proposal DOES NOT have to be taken, unlike the bid process. In conducting the evaluation, if the high proposal is judged to be a better value than all other proposals, that proposal can be accepted. As in our example above with the office furniture, if Vendor "B" proposed the entire project at an amount 5% greater than Vendor "A", Vendor B can be selected if it is found through the proposal analysis that the furniture they offer, or their lead times, or for whatever legitimate reason, that their proposal is a better value to the University.