A request for proposals (RFP) is a formal document inviting suppliers to submit a proposal to provide a specified commodity or service, under conditions provided by the requestee. Both governments and nonprofit organizations can use this tool effectively.
Besides being a useful procurement tool, the RFP can help focus the priorities and values of the organization or community that develops it. Because a RFP needs to be specific and clear, the process of developing one usually raises questions the group may not have considered.
For example, should a building become available in a community, an RFP can help the community determine its values regarding that building and the community as a whole. Should the building be used for housing? Should it be used for a community center or private business? How could the community best preserve the building and provide a revenue source for its continued maintenance and repair?
In some cases, an RFP can provide a win-win solution for government and the private sector; for instance, see the RFP for Utah Preservation Magazine, which was published for 10 years with a government agency providing content and a private-sector partner paying all production and printing costs.
Limitations of RFPs
Limitations occur when no private sector partners can be found. This is becoming less likely. Often private sector partners can be found to develop a product or destination. Limitations can also be imposed by those using the RFPs, who may so limit the options of private sector partners as to make it impossible for a partner to participate.
(Note: all of the RFPs on this site are samples only; none of them are "live" RFPs!)
The following examples are in PDF form.