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The RFP in question was issued by a regional governmental entity, so this post is about gov't contracting practices in general, not federal. But figured posters might have some interesting comments, so here goes.

RFP first advertised May 10, then released on May 12. Any q's due by Jun 1, then proposals due Jun 11 (Fri), and opened Jun 14 (Mon). Technical proposal limited to only five pages (plus background quals, prior experience, etc.), so was not an unreasonable turnaround time. (Took about a day or so to put together, plus some background reading.)

Addendum (in response to some other potential offerer's q) specified $10,000 max budget even though the scope of work could easily merit $100,000 or even $1 million. But since the goal is to modify one section of the existing draft implementation strategy for a regional plan, it's one of those things that can be done at various levels of effort (i.e., more $$ = more revisions and more research to back up those revisions; less $$ = fewer changes, etc. . . . and $0 = just keep it as is).

After submission, offerer was contacted to arrange a time for an interview -- phone or in person, his choice. Chose in-person interview on Jul 7. Lasted about an hour, with 4 staff from gov't agency, including its director. Given that the agency has only 46 paid staff total, and netting out 7 staff engaged solely in internal support roles leaves only 39 staff working on areas related to the mission of the agency, this interview represented a non-negligible commitment of the entire agency's personnel resources, especially since all four of them (director included) have clearly read the offeror's RFP carefully (as evidenced by their on-point and insightful questioning of him).

RFP had stated that contract award and commencement of work would be Jul 9 (Fri). Offerer told that he'd be hearing either way by the end of the week or beginning of next week. Time passes, hear back nothing. Follow-up on Jul 14. Finally hear back on Jul 22 that "The Evaluation Committee is still reviewing all information and is not yet ready to make a recommendation [...] that a contract be awarded." Hmm?

Finally hear back on Jul 28 that the RFP is cancelled b/c only one proposal was received. (Note the proposals were -- well, ahem, "proposal was" -- opened one month + two weeks prior to this date.) The RFP will be modified and reissued at some future time.

So the question is . . . well, I'm not exactly sure. I've been working on gov't proposals since 1992, but something about this just seems really . . . opposite of good. They clearly devoted lots of staff resources into putting together this RFP and then evaluating the, well, proposal (singular), only to cancel the RFP b/c no other offeror had the combination of specialized expertise + cost effectiveness + timely responsiveness (both in submitting the proposal and then doing the work under the tight timeline specified) to even bother submitting a proposal. Maybe I'm just venting, but part of me is wondering whether I should submit a proposal for the revised RFP (whenever it is eventually issued).

BTW, in the interests of full disclosure (in case it matters) the sole offeror's proposal included the following statements:

*****

Upon initially reviewing the RFP, Mr. S. had contemplated contracting with his former employer, Firm X, to draw on additional staff support. Unfortunately, the maximum budget specified in Addendum #2 effectively rules out this possibility. Although the scope of work is relatively broad, the tight budget means that the inevitable inefficiencies from constant back-and-forth coordination within a vendor?s project team among multiple team members will simply be too costly.

*****

Furthermore, the budget is relatively constrained, as is the time schedule. This will however serve to focus the support effort. Unfortunately, it also means that any quantitative inquires will have to rely on existing research, ruling out original complex analytical studies of specific issues.

*****

No schedule chart for staff availability is applicable since the level of effort is so constrained by the specified maximum budget in Addendum #2 that Mr. S. will be able to meet project deadlines regardless of other consulting engagement commitments.

*****

Although the RFP also calls for research, the maximum budget and time schedule effectively rules out any primary research, but fortunately Mr. S. will be able to draw on his extensive relevant experience in municipal finance and public policy to develop the outline.

*****

As with Task 2, Mr. S. will develop the draft text based on his prior experience with municipal finance and public policy, on available studies and data (as the limited budget effectively rules out any new primary research), and on the bulleted items identified in the RFP (and reiterated toward the beginning of Task 2 in this Technical Proposal).

*****

As with Tasks 3 and 4, Mr. S. will develop the draft text based on his prior experience with municipal finance and public policy, on available studies and data (as the limited budget effectively rules out any new primary research), and on the bulleted items identified in the RFP (and reiterated toward the beginning of Task 2 in this Technical Proposal).

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Guest Vern Edwards

Two thoughts:

1. What a lot of effort for a $10,000 procurement!

2. Why did the offeror bother to prepare a five page proposal and go to an interview for a $10,000 procurement? I know consultants would wouldn't bother to accept a $10,000 gig. Too small.

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Agreed with all points: the agency put together a big RFP effort relative to such a small sum of money they had available, and then they made all their effort in vain when they decided to cancel the whole thing. And I just don't understand why they didn't simply pull the plug shortly after they discovered that only a single proposal had been submitted, and instead went through the evaluation process then waited a month and a half before making the decision to cancel?

The irony in all this is that the RFP entails modifying a strategy document for strengthening municipal finances, which of course entails effective & efficient procurement...

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I would guess someone told them they needed a better reason to cancel than "we only got one" so they spent some time figuring out how little $10K would actually get them towards where they wanted to be. If I was the vendor, I'd ask for a debriefing as part of my own educational process to find out what they viewed as strengths and weaknesses of the proposal. If they agree, can always ask them outright during the meeting about the cancellation.

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  • 2 weeks later...

.

In the federal arena, what you are calling and RFP, we call "market research."

What you are calling an interview, we call and RFI.

They expected $100,000 of effort in return for the privilege of working with them. The $10 K was just for ancillary expenses.

And after the "interview," after you left, Wilbur, the guy who sat in the back, didn't ask any questions, and never made eye contact, he told everyone that he could do whatever you said you could do, at NO COST, if he could get a 3-day weekend over Labor Day.

.

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