The formats of RFPs used by companies and government agencies are seldom the same. The organization of the technical, management, and commercial information included in RFPs varies. There are six commonly used sections of information that procurement groups include in RFPs. We will use these six sections as a template for your RFPs.
1. Instructions to Bidders
2. Description of Work
4. Specifications and Drawings
5. Special Conditions
6. General Conditions and Contract Agreement
The Instructions to Bidders section provides sufficient information to bidders to allow them to prepare a responsive bid proposal. Most of this information is not required in the final contract for the work. The information in the Description of Work, Proposal, Specifications and Drawings, Special Conditions, and the General Conditions and Contract Agreement sections is included in the final contract for the work. The remainder of this template discusses each of these sections included in RFPs.
Also, you will want to delete the description information (in blue) after you have added your data under each section of the template.
How to Make Sure You are Writing a Comprehensive RFP
The RFP should provide sufficient information for a bidder to prepare a bid proposal that is responsive to each of the technical, management, and commercial requirements specified in the RFP.
The RFP should provide the necessary information concerning contract requirements. When the information from the successful bid proposal is combined with the requirements in the RFP, all of the information required to prepare a contract for the work should be available.
The management requirement in the RFP should define how the contract work will be managed by the owner and the contractor.
Request for Proposal Template
Name of the RFP topic you chose.
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Company address (optional)
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
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The Instructions to Bidders section contains the information that a bidder requires to prepare a bid proposal that is responsive to each of the requirements that are included in other sections of the RFP. Certain RFPs provide this information in an Invitation to Bid letter as well as in the Instructions to Bidders. The following sections discuss common items that are included, in Instructions to Bidders (referred to as Instructions).
The Instructions provide a general description of the work covered by the contract. If there are detailed Description of Work and Specifications and Drawings sections included in the RFP, these sections are referenced in the general description of the work.
To properly evaluate the bid proposals when they are received, all of the information requested in the RFP must be provided by the bidders. Since several sections of the RFP may require that bidders submit specific information, the instructions summarize the specific information that must be submitted with the bids. Much of the specific information that is required from bidders is addressed in the Proposal section. The technical specifications in the RFP may require that bidders submit certain technical data and procedures with their bid proposals. The management requirements in the Special Conditions may specify that bidders submit information such as quality, safety, environmental, and schedule program descriptions. The commercial requirements can define financial or insurance documents that must be submitted by the bidders.
The Instructions define the date when bids are due. Many RFPs provide the specific time of day that bids must be received. Most companies will not accept bids after the due date. If a bidder notifies an owner in advance that it cannot meet the specified bid submittal date, an owner may extend the deadline for all bidders. Continued extensions of the due dates for bid proposals cause confusion among the bidders and hard feelings on the part of the bidders that complete their proposals on time. The Instructions should clearly define the owner’s position on receiving bids after the due date in the RFP. The Instructions specify the location where bid proposals will be received by an owner as well as the due date.
It is helpful to provide the bidders with an estimate of the date when the contract will be awarded. This date is consistent with project schedule requirements. Providing this date in the Instructions gives the bidders an indication of when contract work will begin and establishes the completion date for the project groups responsible for evaluating the bids for the contract.
If there are specific meetings scheduled during the bid preparation period, the dates for these meetings are defined in the Instructions. For example, there may be a pre-bid meeting to explain the RFP and answer bidder questions. The owner may also want to schedule project site visits and meetings with specific bidders to review their technical and management capabilities.
The Instructions give the location of the project site. Material and equipment contract bidders need this information to determine shipping costs. If shipments must be made to a storage facility not at the project site, the Instructions provide the location of the storage facility. Service contract bidders may need to visit the site to obtain information necessary to complete their bid proposals. The Instructions provide information on how site visits are arranged with an owner. If the project site is in a remote location, the Instructions provide directions on how to get to the site.
Pre-bid meetings can be held after the RFPs are issued and prior to the bid due date. Pre-bid meetings may be referred to with other titles in RFPs, such as a pre-proposal conference in government RFPs. If an owner intends to have a pre-bid meeting, the Instructions provide the location, date, and time of the meeting. The Instructions may also describe the purpose of the meeting and how answers to questions from bidders will be handled. The answers to the questions from bidders are normally handled in a formal manner since they are a supplement to the information provided in the RFP.
It is important that an owner designate one individual to act as the contact person for questions from bidders during the bid period. This organizational approach assures that questions are handled in a consistent manner and that all bidders receive the same answers to questions. The answers to individual questions from bidders during the bid period that are not responded to at a pre-bid meeting are also important supplemental information to the original RFP. The procurement group representative assigned to a contract is often the designated contact person for an owner. The Instructions specify the name of the person in the owner’s organization that is responsible for responding to bidder questions. The Instructions also specify the telephone number and address of the contact person. The Instructions define the procedure that will be used for providing answers to all bidders when one bidder asks a question concerning requirements in the RFP.
Certain owners perform pre-award surveys of specific bidders to obtain information on technical and management capabilities. These surveys are performed after the RFP is issued to the bidders and prior to award. The surveys can require detailed presentations from bidders regarding the technical and management approaches that they will take on a contract. The Instructions inform the bidders of the subjects that are covered at these meetings. The surveys are usually conducted at the bidder’s facility since the adequacy of a bidder’s facility is part of the survey. The timing of a pre-award survey is established on an individual bidder basis.
Many RFPs require that bid proposals are sealed when submitted to an owner. This provides a measure of security that bids have not been altered after they were prepared. The Instructions define the sealed bid requirements. Requirements for addressing the bids to the proper party are defined in the Instructions. If the bids are not required to be sealed, the Instructions address the acceptability of telegraphic and facsimile bid proposals and bid proposal modifications. The Instructions specify the number of copies of bid proposals that are required.
There are advantages in defining the basis that an owner will use in evaluating bid proposals. If an owner intends to give significant weight in its bid evaluation to factors such as technical, quality and schedule control capability as well as quoted prices, the bidders should be aware of this fact.
This gives them the opportunity to emphasize the strengths of their technical and management programs. They may propose stronger programs in these areas if they believe that this will improve their chances of contract award. The Instructions should define the basis that an owner will use to evaluate the bidders for contract work.
Many owners include ethical standards that the owner and the supplier or contractors are required to follow in their relationships with one another prior to and after the award of a contract in the Instructions. These standards often come from corporate procurement policies. They include such item restrictions on gifts and entertainment from suppliers and contractors to owner personnel.
If another section of the RFP does not specify the exact requirements for surety bonds for a contract, the Instructions clarify the types of bonds required and the cost responsibility for providing the bonds.
If the RFP requires that bidders prepare detailed proposals describing how they will accomplish contract work activities, the Instructions define the format required for the proposals. Limits may be placed on the length of different sections in the proposal to ensure that overly lengthy proposals are not received from bidders.
Many RFPs include a list of the companies in the Instructions section that have been asked to bid on the contract. This approach has the advantage of making the bidders aware that they are involved in a competitive bidding process.
Note: A place is provided in Appendix B for a detailed list of bidders.
It is important that procurement groups receive feedback as early as possible from companies that receive RFPs regarding their intent to bid the work. If one or more companies on the list of bidders for a contract decline to bid, there may be insufficient bidders to satisfy competitive bidding requirements. It may be necessary to send RFPs to additional bidders to obtain the desired number of bid proposals. To obtain this feedback in a timely manner, the Instructions often include a Letter of Acknowledgment that requires bidders to state whether they intend to submit bid proposals.
Service contracts require a Description of Work in the RFPs. Certain large engineered materials and equipment contracts will also require Description of Work sections in their RFPs. The Description of Work has other titles such as Statement of Work or Scope of Work in RFPs used by different companies and government agencies. Other companies include the Description of Work in the technical specifications for a contract.
The purpose of the Description of Work in the RFP is to define the scope of work for a
contract. Other sections of the RFP for a contract such as the Specifications and Drawings and the Special Conditions also provide information that describes the work scope for bidders. The Description of Work references the other RFP sections as required.
The Description for an engineering contract RFP contains an overview of the technical features of a project. Other general information such as the location of the project, existing facilities at the project site, and responsibility for licensing and permits is defined. If there is more than one engineering contractor on a project, the scopes of the other engineering contracts are defined in sufficient detail for the bidder to understand its role in the design of a project.
If there is a performance specification in the engineering contract RFP, the Description references the specification for details concerning the technical requirements for the design of the project. If there is not a performance specification included in the RFP, the Description contains the owner’s design performance requirements. If the performance specification includes design areas that are not in the scope of an engineering contract, the Description explains which items in the performance specification apply to the contract.
The division of responsibility between the owner and the engineering contractor is explained in the Description. If an owner intends to perform design functions such as establishing design criteria for certain systems, these functions are defined. The division of responsibility indicates which design documents and procedures produced by the engineering contractor require ownerapproval. The division of responsibility also establishes the materials and equipment that are procured by the owner and those that are procured by the engineering contractor. The division of responsibility defines whether the engineering contractor or a supplier is responsible for the detailed design of engineered materials.
The type and duration of the support that the engineering contractor is required to provide to other project groups, such as licensing, procurement, construction or manufacturing, and testing, is addressed in the Description. If the engineering contractor is required to provide liaison personnel at the project site to clarify design requirements, this program is defined in the Description.
The quality, schedule, cost, and other management programs required to manage the engineering contract work can be defined in the Description. An alternative approach is to include the management requirements in the Special Conditions. It is not significant which section of the RFP includes the management requirements as long as they are well defined.
The Description for a construction contract RFP contains an overview of the technical features of a project. It also provides the location of the work, existing facilities at the project site, and the responsibility for obtaining permits and licenses for a project. If there are multiple construction contractors working on the project, the scope of work of each construction contractor is described in the Description.
If the construction contract pricing approach is fixed price or unit price, there is a separate section of the RFP that contains technical specifications and drawings. The construction contractor’s responsibilities for performing the work in these specifications and drawings are defined in the Description. In cases where the specifications and drawings include work performed by more than one contractor, the specific responsibilities of each contractor are defined in the Description. If the specifications and drawings are not complete when the RFP is issued, the degree of completion is defined in the Description.
The division of responsibility between an owner and a construction contractor is defined in the description. If the construction contractor will be responsible for detailed design functions, these functions are delineated in the division of responsibility. The division of responsibility specifies the materials and equipment that are furnished to a contractor by an owner. It also specifies the materials and equipment that are procured and installed by the contractor. The division of responsibility defines the responsibility for testing the systems and components installed by a contractor.
The construction contractor’s responsibilities for providing services such as clean up, scaffolding, temporary office buildings, warehousing, temporary electrical, temporary heat, security, and construction equipment are described in the Description. If an owner elects to provide services to a construction contractor, the services are defined in the Descript