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How to Read a Request For Proposal for a Contract Bid

When a company issues an opportunity to bid on a contract for funding, often referred to as an RFP (Request For Proposal) or RFQ (Request for Quote), you must be able to quickly scan the technical proposal and cost proposal requirements to determine whether your business can deliver the requested services or goods.

You’re looking for announcements that match your products or services, and when you find one, you need to call the agency or business to request a copy of the actual RFP or RFQ.

Ensure that you understand what the bid-letting agency is asking for and what you have to return in your RFP or RFQ bid package to meet the agency’s review criteria and ultimately qualify for a contract award. Here are RFP and RFQ sections:

  • Cover Form: Contains the name and contact information of the soliciting agency; the solicitation number (an internal bid-letting agency number issued for internal record-keeping purposes), issue date, due date, and time due; and whether it’s a set-aside contract. (Government agencies earmark, or set aside, a portion of their annual contracts for businesses that are small, disadvantaged, or owned by minorities or women.)

  • Supplies or Services & Price and Costs: Spells out, in excruciating detail, the types of products or services that the solicitor (RFP- or RFQ-issuing agency) is seeking to purchase, as well as the price or cost parameters the solicitor must work within.

  • Statement of Work: Contains numerically ordered tasks and deliverables (time frames for when each task must be completed). Depending on the soliciting agency, you may find multiple deliverables for one task.

  • Cost Proposal: Tells you how the bid-letting agency plans to pay for services (for example, advanced monthly payments or reimbursements).

  • Deliveries or Performance: Spells out the length of the contract.

  • Level of Effort: Tells how many hours of service are expected during the contract award period.

  • Instructions, Conditions, and Notices to Offerors: Explains the conditions that your company or agency is obligated to fulfill if you’re given a contract award.

  • Evaluation Factors for Award: Tells you how the solicitor rates or evaluates each section of the RFP or RFQ narrative response.

    For the sections with higher point values, you garner greater solicitor attention when your narrative uses buzzwords taken from the RFP or RFQ guidelines language.

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