Schools are often working within strict budgets, as well as guidelines and standards that they need to meet. Consequently, the government procurement process can be complex and will often need to be streamlined to cut costs. Here are a few things to consider.
Starting Government Procurement: RFPs
For schools, the government procurement process begins with RFPs: a request for proposal. A request for proposal establishes what the school needs from a bidder. Bidders will then work to determine how they can provide this request. This bidding process is necessary for federal government contracting because government contracts need to be open to bidders, and they need to go through an open and transparent process. Many companies prefer this method of procurement because it allows them to submit their highest quality bid rather than having to negotiate with private businesses.
In addition to RFPs, there are also Requests for Quotes, Invitations for Bids, and Requests for Information. Each of these is a little different, but each is a government request to establish whether a company can facilitate a request. A Request for Quote is for smaller projects, and a Request for Information is a direct request to a specific business.
School Supplies Bids
School supplies bids are kept private so all companies can submit their quote at the lowest price to the school system. This prevents bidding wars—each company is judged based on its own merits. Ideally, this means that all companies have an equal chance at winning the contract, and it prevents issues such as bids being given to a specific company.
This reduces costs for the school system because the school system is assured that it will always get the best bid. Of course, the bid also needs to be able to match all of the standards and requirements outlined in the original RFP. Usually bid documents are going to be sealed to maintain security.
To provide the best bids, companies can review prior bids to determine what the regular standards are and which bids have been accepted in the past. A company should thoroughly review its own costs and processes so it can provide a bid that is as low-cost as possible without cutting into its own profit. Every RFP is unique, so a business should also consult the RFP for the requirements of the bid.
Establishing Government Contracts
Once a bid has been selected, the government contract will be established. The contract will outline what needs to be delivered, at what cost, and under what time frame. Establishing government contracts is considered to be extremely ideal for many businesses. Many government contracts are recurring, and government organizations are usually very consistent with their payments.
However, even if a company is not selected for a government contract, the process may not be over. A company can still ask for a debriefing regarding the contracting process, to find out which areas they fell short in.
It takes many companies about two years to establish a government contract, but they can learn things about the bidding process with each subsequent time. Bidding for government contracts can be complex: consider working with AFFLINK's consulting services to quickly secure your next bid.
About Michael Wilson
Michael Wilson is AFFLINK'S Vice President of Marketing and Communications. He has been with the organization since 2005 and provides strategic leadership for the entire supply chain team. In his free time, Michael enjoys working with the Wounded Warrior Project, fishing, and improving his cooking skills.