Creating RFP Specifications

When to Use an RFP

A Request for Proposal (RFP) is the appropriate competitive selection process for purchasing goods or services when price is not the most important criteria to be considered for awarding a contract. The RFP is awarded to the supplier who best meets the qualifications and criteria specified in the RFP. It differs from a Sealed Bid because it allows more flexibility. It may involve negotiating technical requirements, scheduling, type of contract, terms and conditions, and price, including best and final offers. In contrast, a Sealed bid is awarded to the lowest responsible bidder.

What to Include in the Specifications

It is the responsibility of the department to provide Purchasing, as early as possible, with full and complete specifications for the products or services requested. Clearly written and properly organized specifications, as outlined in the Professional and Artistic Services Information Form (PASIF) (MS Word), establish technical goals, administrative and financial expectations, and set the tone for good communication and a productive relationship between the University and the supplier/contractor. To accomplish this the specifications must clearly define the user's need. Detailed specifications should include:

  • Background and purpose for the requested goods or services

  • Scope of work describing the service and/or product including accompanying mandatory and desirable requirements, quantity and units, desired delivery dates or schedules, technical requirements

  • Clear description of the deliverables to be provided by the supplier

  • Pricing format

  • Basis for evaluation: when specifying requirements, always consider how that requirement will be evaluated and measured

  • Department's plan for monitoring the performance of the supplier

How RFPs are Advertised, Processed, and Awarded

RFPs must be advertised for a minimum of 15 days on the Illinois Higher Education Procurement Bulletin (Bulletin) in order to be in compliance with the Illinois Procurement Code. Additional time may be required for obtaining information as well as preparation by the Purchasing Division. The formal "RFP opening" is a public opening at the Purchasing Division offices. After the RFPs have been opened, they are reviewed by the Purchasing staff and then forwarded to the department for evaluation. The length of time the department needs for the evaluation can vary and may result in meetings with selected respondents and Purchasing for clarification or additional negotiations. After the evaluation and any additional negotiations are completed, the department submits a letter of recommendation of award to the Director of Purchases. The Director reviews the recommendation and either approves or requests further information from the department. Once the recommendation is approved , the contract is completed and executed and an award is issued. The award is also advertised in the Bulletin.

Last Updated: April 22, 2008