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Request for Proposals Fundamentals Setting the Stage for Success. Tyler Ahlborn, Nisha Thomas and Peter VanderVeer. Request for proposal.

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Request for Proposals Fundamentals

Setting the Stage for Success

Tyler Ahlborn, Nisha Thomas and Peter VanderVeer

request for proposal
Request for proposal
  • Request for Proposal (RFP) is generally used for the procurement of services or technology in situations where price is not the sole determining factor and the award will be based on a combination of cost and technical factors (Best Value)
  • Through its proposal, the bidder offers a solution to the objectives, problem, or need specified in the RFP, and defines how it intends to meet (or exceed) the RFP requirements
  • Prologue - Best Value Defined
  • I - RFP Planning
  • II - RFP Components
  • III - RFP Evaluation & Selection Process
  • IV - Procurement Record
what is best value
What is Best Value?
  • State Finance Law §163:

“A best value award is one which optimizes quality, cost, and efficiency and typically applies to complex services and technology contracts”



RFP Planning

rfp planning
RFP Planning

Statutory preference is accorded in the following order:

1st Preferred Sources

2nd OGS Centralized Contracts

3rdAgency or Multi-Agency Contracts

4th Procurement Methods Prescribed by SFL

rfp planning1
RFP Planning
  • Develop a procurement strategy
    • Develop a timeline
      • Conducting a procurement is a “Project”
      • Identify the events of the procurement
      • Effective planning/budgeting of time
    • Start with the end in mind
rfp planning2
RFP Planning

Issue RFP Amendment if necessary*

Internal Approvals

Draft RFP

Release RFP

Evaluation Begins

Evaluation Complete



Respond to Questions*

Proposals Due




Questions Due*

Other Approvals as required ITS, Civil Service, AG, OSC

Distribute Proposals to Evaluation Teams

Specification/ Requirement Development

Develop Evaluation Guide/Instrument

Monitor/ Manage Contract

Develop Solicitation List

Identify Evaluators

Coordinate w/ Evaluators

Coordinate w/ Evaluators


rfp planning3
RFP Planning
  • Elements of the procurement process
    • Specifications
      • Requirements
    • Pool of Vendors
    • Funding stream(s) and associated requirements
    • Evaluation (Evaluators, Instructions, Execution)
    • Forms (e.g., Cost Sheet)
    • Procurement rules and regulations
rfp planning4
RFP Planning
  • Contract Reporter
    • Procurement must appear in Contract Reporter at least 15 days prior to the due date of proposals
    • Develop solicitation list/letter
      • How can the RFP be obtained?
      • Designated contact person
      • Issue date, due date
      • Questions and Answers due date if applicable
ticket to success
Ticket to Success
  • Plan your work, work your plan
  • Identify and mitigate risk
  • Build in adequate time for internal/external approvals


RFP Components

rfp components
RFP Components
  • Table of Contents
  • Introduction
    • Statement of purpose
  • Calendar of Events
    • Date of Issuance
    • Date Questions and Answers Due
    • Date Responses to Questions and Answers Due
    • Due Date of Proposals
  • Agency Mission
    • Statement about the duties of your Agency
rfp components1
RFP Components

Note: Build in adequate time for internal/external approvals

rfp components2
RFP Components
  • Administrative process
    • Restate the timeline
    • Technical Proposal submission requirements
    • Cost Proposal submission requirements
    • Single award/multiple awards
  • Criteria
    • Minimum qualifications
    • Specifications of services
    • Additional information
    • References
  • Contract terms and conditions
  • Questions & Answers
    • Issues raised may result in the issuance of an amendment to the RFP
      • Make any necessary change(s)
      • Distribute to potential vendor pool
rfp components3
RFP Components
  • Procurement policies, statutes & disclosures
    • Appendix A
    • Vendor Responsibility (GFO Section 16)
    • Procurement Lobbying Law (GFO Section 18B)
    • Iran Divestment Act (GFO Section 18F)
    • Sales and Compensating Use Tax (GFO Section 18D)
    • Debriefing Language
    • Protest Procedures
rfp components4
RFP Components
  • Procurement policies, statutes & disclosures continued
    • Other (as applicable)
      • HIPAA
      • Agency specific appendices
      • Consultant Disclosure Law (GFO Section 18C)
      • Prevailing Wage
      • MWBE (GFO Section 18A)
rfp components5
RFP Components
  • Non-negotiable Contract Provisions
    • Rationale
      • Concerns raised prior to bid submission
      • Avoid prolonged, fruitless negotiations
      • Save agency time and money
      • Prevent gaps in program/service delivery
rfp components6
RFP Components
  • Evaluation Criteria
    • Minimum qualifications (pass/fail)
    • Technical criteria
    • Cost
      • Multiple years – define escalation (e.g., limit annual increase to Consumer Price Index (CPI) as published by the U.S. Department of Labor.)
        • Escalation may be subdivided (e.g. CPI may account for 80% of the adjustments and fuel may account for 20% of the adjustments)
    • Relative importance – cost vs. technical
      • RFP must disclose the relative importance and/or weight
  • RFP – Consultant services
    • RFP only specified that both hourly rate (cost) and qualifications of the consultant (technical) would be taken into consideration
    • The evaluation instrument stated that the agency had evaluated the proposals utilizing the following weighting in determining best value:
      • 65% Technical 35% hourly rate
    • It was determined that the successful proposer was a responsive and responsible proposer
  • Approve the contract?
  • Request additional information?
  • Return the contract unapproved?
  • Return the contract unapproved
    • Why
      • State Finance Law Section 163 requires that the solicitation identify the relative importance and/or weight of cost and the overall technical criterion to be considered
    • Course of action
      • Require a re-bid as the RFP failed to identify the relative importance and/or weight of cost and technical

Fatal Flaw

rfp components7
RFP Components
  • Method of Award
    • Single award
      • Upon completion of the evaluation process, a contract will be awarded to the proposer whose proposal met all mandatory requirements and obtained the highest composite score, inclusive of both cost and technical
    • Multiple Award
      • RFP should reserve the right to make multiple awards
      • RFP should state the number or “up to” number of awards to be made and how work will be allocated among the vendors
      • MUST be determined prior to receipt of proposals and documented in the Evaluation Instrument
rfp components8
RFP Components
  • RFP language should:
    • Allow agency to reject any and all bids
    • Allow agency the right to request clarification
    • Allow agency to waive a mandatory requirement
      • If unmet by ALL proposers and non-material
    • Allow agency the right not to proceed with an award
    • Establish a minimum period of proposal validity (e.g., price firm for 180 days and/or proposal irrevocable for 60 days)
ticket to success1
Ticket to Success
  • Review specifications – are they too restrictive or too general?
  • Be careful when using words such as “must, shall, may not, minimum, maximum” etc. to describe requirements
  • Know current State rules and regulations
  • Publish relative importance and/or weights
  • Establish/sync evaluation criteria with RFP specifications


RFP Evaluation and

Selection Process

rfp evaluation selection process
RFP Evaluation & Selection Process
  • Critical steps in developing your evaluation strategy
    • Set the Technical/Cost ratio
    • Define the criteria – Mandatory (pass/fail) vs. Desirable (scored)
    • Determine distribution of points among criteria
    • Create key for assigning points within criteria
rfp evaluation selection process1
RFP Evaluation & Selection Process
  • Develop the evaluation criteria while developing the RFP
    • Must be clearly stated in the RFP
    • Must be important to the result you are seeking
    • Must be measurable
      • Pass/Fail
      • Scale
rfp evaluation selection process2
RFP Evaluation & Selection Process
  • Questions & Answers
    • Issues raised may result in the issuance of an amendment to the RFP
      • Review all evaluation criteria
      • Make any necessary change(s) in Instructions, Instrument, Score Sheets
      • Make sure all potential bidders receive a copy
  • Clarifications
    • Must reserve the right in the RFP
    • Cannot result in a material change to the bid
    • If cost proposal is extremely low, agency can seek verification from the vendor that they understood the intent of the RFP
rfp evaluation selection process3
RFP Evaluation & Selection Process
  • Mandatory Qualifications Checklist
    • Pass/Fail – Yes/No
    • If not met, disqualify
    • Disqualified proposals
      • Both Technical and Cost proposals must be submitted to OSC for all disqualified vendors
rfp evaluation selection process4
RFP Evaluation & Selection Process
  • Technical evaluation forms must:
    • Identify the vendor and evaluator
    • Have a reference list of points and meanings
      • 5 points = exceeds all requirements
      • 4 points = meets all requirements
      • 3 points = meets most requirements
      • 2 points = meets some requirements
      • 1 point = meets few requirements
    • Have a space for the evaluator to enter his/her rating
    • Have adequate space for comments
  • RFP – Auditing Services
    • RFP specified a relative importance of:
      • 60% Technical 40% Cost
    • RFP identified the following criteria to be evaluated:
      • Relevant experience
      • Approach to specific project (understanding scope)
      • References
      • Cost
    • Scoring guide for technical criteria:
      • Excellent Response = all available points
      • Good Response = half of available points
      • Unacceptable Response = zero points
  • Approve the contract?
  • Request additional information?
  • Return the contract unapproved?
  • Return the contract unapproved
    • Why
      • Range of points assigned were not allowed by the scoring methodology as defined in the evaluation instructions
    • Course of action
      • Agency should re-score proposals in accordance with the evaluation instrument
rfp evaluation selection process5
RFP Evaluation & Selection Process
  • RFP should have a cost form
    • Agency develops cost form that allows for equivalent cost comparison
    • Costs submitted should be complete
    • Costs submitted should be meaningful
    • Cost components not evaluated should not be in the resulting contract
rfp evaluation selection process6
RFP Evaluation & Selection Process
  • Developing a Cost Form
    • Examples: Job Titles and Hourly rates, Deliverable based, Unit Price, Categories
    • Understand what you are really asking for
      • (ie: what is a page? a sheet? a document?)
    • Capture the cost of all major components
    • Capture the accumulated costs of all minor components
rfp evaluation selection process7
RFP Evaluation & Selection Process
  • Cost score is a calculation, not an analysis!
  • Recommended Formula for Cost Score
    • Max Points * (Low Bid ÷ Bid Being Evaluated)
rfp evaluation selection process8
RFP Evaluation & Selection Process

Example of Cost Score Calculation

70% Technical / 30% Cost

Cost Score = Max Points * (Low Bid ÷ Bid Being Evaluated)

Cost Score = 30 * (90 ÷ 100)

Cost Score = 30 * (.9)

Cost Score = 27

rfp evaluation selection process9
RFP Evaluation & Selection Process
  • Do NOT score cost proposals based on a key (as below). Formula should show a relationship among the bids.
    • $10,000 = 30 points
    • $10,100 = 25 points
    • $18,500 = 20 points
    • $18,501 = 15 points
    • $21,700 = 10 points
    • $21,725 = 5 points
    • $21,750, $25,000 and $31,622 = 0 points
rfp evaluation selection process10
RFP Evaluation & Selection Process
  • Who should be an evaluator?
    • Someone with:
      • Expertise
      • Time to participate fully in the process
      • No conflict of interest
    • Different teams of evaluators can be used for different criteria but the same evaluators must do any single criterion for all bidders.
  • RFP – Market assessment of a new program
    • RFP specified a relative weight of:
      • 65% Technical 35% Cost
    • Proposals were to be evaluated by a team of 4 evaluators
    • Average score of the Evaluation Team was to be used in assigning the overall technical score
    • Evaluator 4 had a conflict of interest with one of the proposing companies and therefore did not evaluate this proposal
  • Approve the contract?
  • Request additional information?
  • Return the contract unapproved?
  • Return the contract unapproved
    • Why
      • State Finance Law Section 163 requires that there must be a balanced and fair method of award.
    • Course of action
      • Award to Bidder D
rfp evaluation selection process11
RFP Evaluation & Selection Process
  • Instructions to evaluators must:
    • Define decision parameters and explain expectations
    • Define the use of decimals if they will be allowed
    • Evaluate proposals against standards set in the RFP, not against other bids
    • Be submitted to OSC with procurement package
rfp evaluation selection process12
RFP Evaluation & Selection Process
  • Less than three proposals received
    • Submit justification of cost
    • Justify limited response
    • Canvass non-responding vendors
  • Only one proposal received
    • Must evaluate it
    • Submit justification of cost
    • Justify limited response
    • Canvass non-responding vendors
rfp evaluation selection process13
RFP Evaluation & Selection Process
  • Ties
    • If two offers’ Composite scores are tied, the award shall go to bidder with the highest Cost score (lowest price)
    • If Technical and Cost scores are both the same, agency must have a pre-defined tie-breaking mechanism
      • May have different tie breaking mechanisms for different types of procurements
ticket to success2
Ticket to Success
  • Develop evaluation instrument prior to issuance of RFP
  • Document your process
  • Ensure evaluation criteria are measurable
  • Make changes to relevant documents and distribute them to all potential bidders if the Q&A results in changes
  • Understand your chosen formula and carefully consider the weighting
  • Avoid non-standardized technical and cost evaluation forms
  • Using Excel? – Check your formulas/number transpositions
  • Mandatory requirement – make sure you NEED it
  • Check your math!


Procurement Record

procurement record
Procurement record
  • NY Finance Law, Article Eleven, paragraph 9.G instructs: a procurement record shall be maintained for each procurement, identifying with supporting documentation, decisions made by the commissioner or state agency during the procurement process. A comprehensive procurement record is applicable to each new contract, contract amendment or contract supplement.
procurement record1
Procurement record
  • Agencies are required to maintain a record of every procurement. The Record entails the documentation of the decisions made and the approaches taken by the agency in the procurement process
  • The Record serves as an audit trail of the procurement, a final written determination from the Agency for recommendation of award, and as the principal resource for responding to inquiries and debriefing unsuccessful bidders
procurement record2
Procurement record
  • The Record serves to protect both the agency conducting the procurement and the vending community, during and after the procurement
procurement record3
Procurement Record
  • OSC Submission Documentation
    • All required data entry fields on STS/AC340S should be completed in their entirety
    • Ensure the contract period dates are entered and corrected
    • For amendment transactions, make sure the contract period dates are properly completed, (end date is the correct end date of the contract, and the renewal date is the starting date of the extension)
    • Ensure the contract amount is correct
procurement record4
Procurement Record
  • Audit Types
    • Review Procurement and Disbursement Guidelines, GFO, Section 2A, to identify the correct Audit Type for your procurement that will ensure it is routed to the appropriate audit team. The use of incorrect Audit Types may add unnecessary time to the approval process.
    • The correct Audit Type for RFP transactions is TBV

Procurement Record

GFO, Chapter XI, Section 2. C. Encumbering a Contract

  • Agencies must be prepared to enter the PO encumbrance when requested by OSC
  • Agency should indicate the intended encumbrance amount on the bottom of the STS or AC340S
  • Calculating the minimum encumbrance amount (in general):
    • Contract value / # of years = Amount per year
    • Amount per year /12 months = monthly amount
    • Monthly amount multiplied by the # of months between start date of contract and end of fiscal year = minimum encumbrance amount
procurement record5
Procurement Record

Example - when the fiscal year ends March 31st

Calculate the minimum encumbrance amount on a $360,000, three year contract beginning August 1st.

$360,000/3 = $120,000

$120,000/12 = $10,000


procurement record6
Procurement Record
  • All contract/amendment transactions should have a cover letter transmittal, including the following contract information:
  • Agency point of contact information
    • Name of the primary contact person
    • Telephone number and extension
    • Fax number
    • Email address
  • Contract number
  • Contractor’s name
procurement record7
Procurement Record
  • All contract/amendment transactions should have a cover letter transmittal, including the following contract information:
  • Contract amount (total amount)
  • Contract period and any renewal terms
  • Description of commodity or service
  • Date of bid opening
  • Method of Award
procurement record8
Procurement Record
  • Documents to be submitted to OSC
    • Instructions to evaluators
    • Blank RFP
    • Blank cost form
    • Blank Individual Technical Score Sheet (ITSS)
    • Competed Summary cost score sheet
    • Completed ITSS for each evaluator for each vendor
    • Summary of Technical Score for all vendors
    • Technical/Cost matrix with points and rankings
procurement record9
Procurement Record
  • Documents to be submitted to OSC, if Applicable
    • Site Visit/Bidder Conference sign in sheets
    • Questions and Answers
    • Addendums to the RFP
    • Blank Mandatory Requirements Checklist (MRC)
    • Completed MRC for each vendor
procurement record10
Procurement Record
  • Please see handout for detailed submission requirements
procurement record11
Procurement record
  • If applicable:
    • ITS technology purchase approval
    • Civil Service approval
    • OGS approval
    • DOB Approval
    • AG Approval
procurement record12
Procurement Record
  • All recommendations for Award are to be submitted to:
  • NYS Office of the State Comptroller
  • 110 State Street, 11th Floor
  • Albany, New York 12236
  • Attn: Bureau of Contracts
ticket to success3
Ticket to success
  • Specification change as a result of Q&A
  • Distorted cost relationships – understand your chosen formula
  • Technical evaluation form
  • Using Excel? – Check your formulas/number transpositions
  • Mandatory requirement –make sure you NEED it
  • Open Book
  • OSC Internet Site
    • Vendor Responsibility GFO Section 16
    • Procurement Lobbying Law GFO Section 18B
      • Advisory Council on Procurement Lobbying Model Forms/Language
    • Sales and Compensating Use Tax GFO Section 18D
      • NYS Department of Taxation and Finance
    • - Consultant Disclosure Law GFO Section 18C
      • O*NET OnLine
  • Procurement Guidelines
  • RFP – Upgrade of legacy software system
    • RFP specified available workspace could accommodate up to 5 contractor staff at a time
    • In the cost portion of Proposal A, the proposer’s rate identified 12 individuals with varying skills and abilities needed to accomplish the scope of work
    • The agency requested Proposer A to clarify their proposal by confirming that no more than 5 staff would need to be on-site at any one time. Proposer A confirmed the agency’s assumption.
    • Proposals were evaluated in accordance with the evaluation strategy established prior to the receipt of proposals. Proposer A received the highest composite score, was deemed responsive and responsible and was awarded the contract.
  • Approve the contract?
  • Request additional information?
  • Return the contract unapproved?
  • Approve the contract
    • Why
      • State Finance Law Section 163 states that:
      • “Where provided for in the solicitation, state agencies may require clarification from offerors for purposes of assuring a full understanding of responsiveness to solicitation requirements.”
  • RFP - to obtain technical support for the IT Bureau of the agency
    • Since the agency anticipated that a single vendor would not be able to provide the necessary services, the procurement provided for two awards.
    • The relative weight was 60% for technical and 40% for cost.

Maximum Score for Technical is 60%


Cost – 40%

Cost Formula: Low Bid/Bid being evaluated x maximum points for cost


Summary of Scores

  • The agency awarded a contract to Bidder C and Bidder F
  • Approve the contract?
  • Request additional information?
  • Return the contract unapproved?
  • Return the contract unapproved
    • Why
      • The Composite scores are no longer weighted at 60% Technical and 40% Cost.
    • Course of action
      • Agency should re-calculate scores in accordance with the stated relative weights.
  • The Evaluation Instrument should include a step in the process advising the evaluation committee that the technical score is averaged or the cost score is multiplied by the number of evaluators to compute the final score.