Overview of This Chapter
This chapter on procurement is divided into five sections:
- 1. Planning for the Request for Proposals/Invitation to Bid
- 2. Crafting the Request for Proposals/Invitation to Bid
- 3. Bidding Process
- 4. Evaluating the Proposals
- 5. Awarding the Contract.
Planning for the Request for Proposals/Invitation to Bid
There are some very important planning steps to be carried out once the decision to procure a vendor has been made. Carefully consider the nature and scope of the project for which bids will be solicited. These activities may be helpful before writing an RFP:
- • Improve one’s knowledge and skills regarding the procurement process.
- • Review with the sponsor’s purchasing/procurement office all policies, regulations and/or laws that affect the development and release of an RFP and executing a contract. Discuss questions with the procurement officer and/or legal counsel. Include a discussion of what types of presolicitation contact with potential bidders are permitted.
- • Identify an agency that used an RFP to procure similar products or services. Ask to review a copy of that RFP and if possible, vendor responses to it. Such documents are likely subject to public information requests from most public entities. They may be available online or by request.
- • Request copies of recent RFPs and the vendor responses from colleagues who work for testing service providers. Note that vendors may require a signed “confidentiality agreement” if the responses contain proprietary information.
- • Ask individuals who managed the bidding process for a sponsor or vendor what changes they would make in the procurement process, requirements, time line or the evaluation process used.
- • If the anticipated program is complex or the anticipated uses are high-stakes (e.g., results used in licensure, tenure, hiring, promotion, graduation or school accreditation decisions), it may be advisable to use a consultant who knows about procuring testing services. A technical advisory committee can offer test design advice prior to issuing the RFP. It is advisable to convene the TAC periodically throughout the implementation of the program as well.
- • It is also important to define the total scope of the project to determine what major tasks must be completed by the sponsor or by the contractor.