The ABCs of Bid Advertisements and Acronyms
Have you ever responded to an ITB after being shortlisted in response to an RFQ? If you are seeking a government contract and don’t know what any of this means, don’t worry, you are not alone. Public agencies advertise their contracts and projects through a variety of methods and vehicles, which are usually referred to by acronyms. While they seem confusing at first glance, once you become familiar with the terminology, you’ll be able to better respond to the advertised project.
An Invitation for Bid ("IFB"), or Invitation to Bid ("ITB"), is usually a set of specifications that have been decided on and defined by the advertising agency. Price is usually the most important factor. The bidder that’s has the lowest price usually wins the award. However, the bidder also has to be responsive and responsible. The bid is generally responsive if includes of the information sought in the ITB’s or IFB’s specifications. A bid is considered responsible if it appears that the bidder has the ability to perform the contract.
Agencies usually use Request for Proposals ("RFP") when they do not know what all the specifications or scope of work will be. Proposers may be required to submit a plan describing how they plan to perform the project. Price is generally still a factor, but there may be other factors like experience, capability, and management ability. Like an ITB or IFB, agencies will evaluate whether the proposals are responsive and responsible.
A Request for Qualifications (“RFQ”) is used when the agency wants to determine who is best qualified for the project. The RFQ helps the agency evaluate which proposers are the most experienced, or have the best ability to perform the project. Sometimes agencies will use the RFQ process to find the most qualified proposers, and then ask those proposers to compete by submitting proposals under an RFP or ITB process.
Requests for Letters of Interest (“RLI”) are similar to RFQs. RLIs request firms to submit the qualifications of its members and other information to determine what firms are interested in an advertised project.
Be mindful, however, that there is another “RFQ” out there: a Request for Quotations. A Request for Quotations is similar to an ITB or IFB, and invites bidding on an advertised product or service.
So, the next time you are ready to respond to an advertisement for a government contract, don’t worry about the acronyms, and know that different solicitation methods require different responses.