Understanding a Request for Proposal (RFP)


A procurement officer interested in securing a product and/or service will issues a Request for Proposal (RFP). This RFP presents preliminary requirements for the acquisition of the product and/or service, and may dictate to varying degrees the exact structure and format of the supplier’s response. Effective RFPs typically reflect the strategy and short-/long-term business objectives, providing detailed insight upon which suppliers will be able to offer a matching perspective.


  • Informs suppliers that an organization is looking to procure
  • Encourages suppliers to submit their best bid
  • Requires the company to specify what it proposes to purchase
  • Alerts suppliers that the selection process is competitive
  • Allows for wide distribution and response
  • Ensures that suppliers respond factually to the identified requirements
  • Is generally expected to follow a structured evaluation and selection procedure, so that an organization can demonstrate impartiality (which is a crucial factor in public sector procurements)

You can find information about released RFPs on FBO.gov, a website where procurement officers list information about current opportunities. The site archives previous opportunities as well as information about vendors who win contracts. FBO.gov is a great place to search for information — not just about available opportunities but also about likely competitors, the types of products and/or services being procured, the procurement officers looking for products and/or services your company may provide, and who wins contracts.

Information about who wins a contract — especially a contract on which you bid — is helpful when reviewing your bid and conducting a debrief with the procurement officer. Bid debriefs gives you a chance to find out why your bid wasn’t selected. You then can use this information when putting together your next bid. As previously discussed, searching for information on FBO.gov is simple. You don’t need to register to use FBO.gov, but if you register, you can access more detailed information.

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