GovWin
Solicitation breakdown: Better understanding means better business

Vendors are often confused by the various terms used for solicitations, which isn’t surprising since they often differ per state or locality. However, an important first step in responding to solicitations is to understand the difference between them. Whether a request for proposals (RFP), a request for qualifications (RFQ), an invitation to bid (ITB), or one of the many others, each type of solicitation indicates a different level of engagement by the vendor and expectation by the issuing government. Here’s a rundown of key solicitation types and their subtle differences.

Request for Information

A request for information (RFI) is an inquiry made by a government entity to the vendor community in order to gather information and better understand a product or capability. An RFI is typically released when the government is unsure of which path to pursue and seeks input from vendors about the business environment, best practices, and current solutions. An RFI is often followed by a formal solicitation, but rarely results in a direct contract award.

Request for Expression of Interest

Similar to an RFI, a request for expression of interest (RFEI) is an optional stage that is carried out before a formal solicitation is released. It may be issued in place of an RFI or after an RFI to gauge vendor interest on a potential solicitation. An RFEI can also be used to gather information about a project and possible solutions, similar to an RFI. In some cases, governments may use an RFEI to short-list vendors for a subsequent solicitation. As a result, it is important to clarify with the government what the purpose of the RFEI is to avoid being excluded from participating in the future procurement process.

Request for Proposals

A request for proposals (RFP) typically occurs when a government needs to implement a service or solution, but is unsure of the best way to do so. Through the RFP process, vendors propose their recommended solution and pricing through a detailed proposal. With RFPs, price is not the only consideration for awarding a contract; the government also considers a vendor’s solution, qualifications, previous experience, and any other distinguishing skills. It is important for proposals to be thorough and well defined, as the RFP process allows vendors to set themselves apart from their competition. Negotiations with selected vendors often take place after the proposal deadline, and a contract is ultimately awarded. Governments may also call these types of solicitations requests for offers (RFO) or requests for responses (RFR), but RFPs, RFOs, and RFRs all have the same basic format and are used to meet a business need an entity has.

Invitation to Bid/Invitation for Bid/Request for Bids

Invitations to bid (ITBs), invitations for bids (IFBs), and requests for bids (RFBs) are released when a government entity knows exactly what it wants to procure. This can also be called a request for quotations (RFQ). All of these solicitations include specifications of the government’s desired service or solution – including type and quantity – and an award is typically made based on price. As a result, no discussions or negotiations take place with ITB, IFB, or RFBs; therefore, the procurement cycle from solicitation to contract award is typically much shorter than with RFPs.

Request for Qualifications

Requests for qualifications (RFQ) are often carried out as a pre-qualification process in order to identify qualified vendors for a subsequent solicitation. These pre-qualified vendors are placed on a shortlist that the government then uses for future projects. The government sometimes uses these lists for multiple projects and will reopen the RFQ list to new vendors over a period of several years.

In some cases, governments issue draft versions of solicitations prior to releasing the final solicitation. This is done in order to obtain feedback from the vendor community on requirements, technical components, and scope of the solicitation. It is important for vendors to participate in this stage of the process in order to begin building relationships with the government’s project and the procurement staff, which can be beneficial when the formal solicitation is released and the vendor selection process begins.

You can learn more about current procurement opportunities in the GovWin IQ State and Local Opportunities database. Not a Deltek subscriber? Click here to learn more about Deltek's GovWin IQ service and gain access to a free trial.

 

Vendor registration: A key to increasing business

State and local entities, from cities, special districts, to universities, often provide electronic copies of solicitations on the procurement/purchasing section of their website. It’s a best practice for vendors to familiarize themselves with these sites as they contain valuable procurement information such as upcoming contract opportunities, current bids, and awarded contracts.

Vendors can also benefit from these resources by registering with the website to receive emails whenever new solicitations are issued. These notifications offer an efficient way for vendors to stay up to date on projects released versus checking websites on a daily basis or making phone calls to government officials regarding potential bids. Registration is also vital because agencies will often only accept bids from vendors registered to do business with them. 

Most sites follow a similar registration format and require basic vendor information, including: email address, account name, password, name of point of contact, phone number, fax number, and mailing address. Some entities require more specific company details, such as federal tax ID, number of employees, date company was established, description of company, and/or a W-2 form. Upon creating an account, many websites allow you to identify commodity codes that apply to your company so you can receive email alerts regarding related projects. While most five-digit commodity/services codes cover a broad scale of projects, choosing several helps ensure no projects are missed.

Vendors should also keep an eye out for entities that offer prequalified vendors with professional services opportunities at a dollar threshold. Guidelines for prequalification vary per agency, so it is important for vendors to go directly to entity websites for complete details on what forms to submit and further qualification steps. 

Submittal deadlines also differ per agency. While certain entities accept vendors submittals year round, others only a accept vendor forms during a specific period. For example, the state of Washington requires architect-engineer qualifications (Form 330) to be submitted. Meanwhile, the state of Hawaii has an annual invitation to submit beginning March 2015 for statements of qualifications and expressions of interest.

Moreover, entities often have different levels of qualification, such as the state of Florida, which has an unlimited level (vendors can bid on any projects they qualify for), and a minor level (project with fees below $500,000).

Registering for procurement sites allows businesses to save time and properly allocate their resources. Projects that fit your company’s commodity codes can be emailed directly, which allows you to dedicate time to building proposals rather than seeking out projects. Registering also helps architecture, engineering, and construction firms better understand qualification rules for certain entities they are interested in doing business with, and can help them access solicitations not open to the public.

While individual site registration is a vital key to keeping on top of procurement opportunities, utilizing Deltek’s GovWin IQ further maximizes potential business. Deltek also monitors these purchasing sites nationwide, and captures projects in a robust database of bid notifications. This provides a direct, one-stop shop for vendors to view projects they are interested in and retrieve solicitation documents. From here, vendors can proceed to register with respective sites and begin building a relationship one entity at a time.

You can learn more about current procurement opportunities in the GovWin IQ State and Local Opportunities database. Not a Deltek subscriber? Click here to learn more about Deltek's GovWin IQ service and gain access to a free trial.

 

Deltek Pulse: General government month in review, January 2015

Procurement activity in 2015 is off to a strong start as January brought a 22 percent increase in solicitations released – marking the highest monthly number of solicitations in the past calendar year. This shows us that projects put on hold toward the end of 2014 may be picking up steam, and vendors should prepare to see this kind of activity in the coming months.  

The education vertical saw the most solicitation releases by far in January, accounting for more than 50 percent of general government services solicitations. Public finance only saw about 100 solicitations.

Notable RFP releases:

You can learn more about current procurement opportunities in the GovWin IQ State and Local Opportunities database. Not a Deltek subscriber? Click here to learn more about Deltek's GovWin IQ service and gain access to a free trial.

 

Medicaid eligibility and enrollment systems: Which states still need to modernize?

Modernized and fully integrated Medicaid eligibility systems have proven to be a catalyst for successful enrollment in state and federally facilitated health insurance exchanges. Kentucky, New York, and Washington state have stood out for their top-performing exchanges and high enrollment numbers. All three states rely on integrated Medicaid eligibility systems that facilitate the consumer application process, eligibility determination, and enrollment in Medicaid/CHIP or private health insurance plans.

On the other hand, states with outdated and isolated technologies struggled to enroll new customers, which led to significant Medicaid backlogs, most notably in California, New Jersey, and Tennessee. Now that the feds have finalized 90/10 funding and extended the OMB A-87 cost allocation exception, more states will invest in upgrading their Medicaid eligibility systems and building integrated eligibility systems that incorporate human services programs, including Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). This analyst perspective will help vendors identify which states have already completed upgrades, which states are currently modernizing, what contracts may be rebid, and where to find potential business opportunities.

Current Landscape


While states have been working to integrate and modernize eligibility systems for more than a decade now, the vast majority of states took steps in recent years to upgrade their Medicaid eligibility systems in preparation for ACA enrollment. In fact, 19 states have issued contracts for upgrades to Medicaid eligibility and enrollment systems since 2012. Some states combined contracts for health insurance exchanges with eligibility upgrades (HIX/IES), including Connecticut, Maryland, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington, D.C. Other states are still in the early planning stages for eligibility system modernization efforts, and a few states have indicated their intent to release a solicitation in the coming year. Below is a preview of a few of these upcoming opportunities.

Upcoming Solicitations

Louisiana – The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals anticipates releasing a Medicaid Eligibility Determination System (MEDS) request for proposals (RFP) this month. The department is designing new enterprise architecture to modernize the state’s Medicaid technologies. The previous contract with Deloitte was worth approximately $29 million (Opportunity ID 99187).

Massachusetts – The Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services plans to move forward with Phase II of the state health insurance exchange and integrated eligibility system (HIX/IES). The state expects to complete planning by the end of June 2015, and an RFP could be released sometime this fall, at the earliest. A $66 million contract with CGI was terminated in March 2014, and Optum and hCentive have worked to rebuild the system (Opportunity ID 89076).

New York – The New York Office of General Services is seeking a systems integrator for its integrated eligibility system to replace the statewide welfare management system (WMS) – a legacy system first implemented in 1977. An RFP was issued in May 2014 for a business advisory services contractor that will work during the first phase of the IES project; the systems integrator will conduct phase two. Deltek anticipates this legacy system modernization could approach $100 million (Opportunity ID 49905).

Possible Rebids

Tennessee – The Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration may have a requirement for the development and/or maintenance of the TennCare Eligibility Determination System (TEDS). The current contract with Northrop Grumman is behind schedule and the system remains unfinished, which has created months-long delays for Tennesseans who want to apply for Medicaid. Subsequently, three advocacy groups have filed a lawsuit against TennCare. The incumbent contract is valued at $35.7 million (Opportunity ID 117922).

New Jersey – The $83.5 million contract with Hewlett-Packard for maintenance of the Consolidated Assistance Support System (CASS) has been terminated, and a spokeswoman for the New Jersey Department of Human Services said the state and the vendor are still in talks regarding the contract termination (Opportunity ID 105816).

Early Planning Stages

California – The 2014-2015 Governor's Budget Highlights for the Department of Health Care Services requested expenditure authority for a multi-year IT project to modernize the Medi-Cal Eligibility Data System (MEDS). In 2012, a contract was awarded to PCG for IT project planning consulting services, including a feasibility study and advanced planning document (APD) for the MEDS Modernization Project. An RFP for the Medi-Cal Program integrity data analytics is currently in development (Opportunity ID 69871).

South Dakota – The state issued an invitation to discuss and demonstrate (IDD) to review and research existing Medical assistance eligibility systems that comply with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and preferably have existing or planned capability to support other programs such as SNAP, TANF, Child Care, Low Income Energy Assistance (LIEAP), and Child Support. The Department of Social Services is now planning an RFP for an integrated eligibility system (Opportunity ID 83922).

Washington – In 2013, the Washington State Legislature passed Senate Bill 5034, directing a study of the state’s medical and public assistance eligibility systems and infrastructure with the goal of simplifying procedures and reducing state expenditures. PCG was awarded the contract to conduct the Medical and Public Assistance Eligibility Study, which was published in September 2014. The state may continue to make efforts to modernize the medical and public assistance eligibility systems (Opp ID 104365).

Analyst’s Take

Now that 90/10 funding has been made permanent and the A-87 waiver is extended until December 2018, states will continue to make upgrades to eligibility systems, which could yield significant business opportunities for vendors. Deloitte is the dominant vendor in this space, currently holding contracts in more than 15 states. Other vendors holding contracts in multiple states include Accenture, IBM, Northrop Grumman, KPMG, HP, and Maximus. Contract values for eligibility modernization projects vary significantly based on the size of the state and scope of the project. Contracts for Medicaid eligibility modernization average between $20-50 million, while IES projects that include major system overhauls can exceed $100 million.

Many states that have recently integrated health insurance program eligibility systems may now look to incorporate human services programs, starting the next wave of procurement activity. As Deltek continues to track upcoming eligibility projects, we encourage vendors to keep an eye on the above mentioned projects and expect to see more eligibility-related opportunities thanks to this funding extension.

 

Deltek Pulse: General government services, December 2014

The end of 2014 saw a slight decrease in solicitations released, with December producing approximately 4,400 solicitations  down 600 from November. However, Q4 saw an increase in solicitations compared to Q3. As we have seen in past years, Q2 saw the greatest number of solicitations released. Here is a quarterly breakdown for the year:

  • Q1: 14,241
  • Q2: 17,636
  • Q3: 14,435
  • Q4: 15,044

Vendors should note the above pattern to help prepare for 2015 activity.

Overall, 2014 was a success in procurement, with approximately 61,000 solicitations released nationwide for information technology and professional services alone. This number is only expected to increase in the year ahead.

Notable December RFP releases:

You can learn more about current procurement opportunities in the GovWin IQ State and Local Opportunities database. Not a Deltek subscriber? Click here to learn more about Deltek's GovWin IQ service and gain access to a free trial.

 

Deltek Pulse: Justice and public safety 2014 year in review

2014 wrapped up with about 1,000 fewer solicitations released than 2013. The start of Q2 2014 saw the most solicitations released, keeping with historical patterns of April and May seeing robust procurement activity. The rest of the year remained steady and tapered off during the holidays, per usual. California, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Ohio remained the top five states with the most procurement. Nevada, Indiana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming had the least procurement activity.

June brought a lot of activity around next generation 911 (NG911) as agencies nationwide began looking to update their systems and implement NG911. Several agencies have already begun moving forward with NG911 upgrades, specifically text-to-911 services. In August, the FCC mandated all wireless carriers to allow users to text 911 to emergency response units. While this may seem like a small step, it opens the door for future NG911 implementation and system upgrades; therefore, vendors should keep an eye out for more solicitations for these services in the year ahead. Agencies may choose to release consultant RFPs beforehand to be able to identify which components will be needed for the main solicitation.

FirstNet released an RFI in September that will use vendor responses to create a draft RFP that is estimated to be released Q1 2015, with a formal RFP later in the year. FirstNet received 122 responses as well as 64 responses to a recent public notice. FirstNet also conducted initial consultations with states this past fall. The release of the draft RFP this year will provide more insight on the nationwide broadband network and shed some light on which states will choose to opt in or out of the network.

You can learn more about current procurement opportunities in the GovWin IQ State and Local Opportunities database. Not a Deltek subscriber? Click here to learn more about Deltek's GovWin IQ service and gain access to a free trial.

 

Deltek Pulse: Justice and public safety month in review, October 2014

October saw a 93 percent increase in solicitations released compared to September, with the average proposal response time at 19 days.
 
The start of Q4 2014 proved to be slow with formal solicitation releases, but a significant number of RFIs were released. Additionally, Minnesota’s criminal history system replacement project wasawarded to Boeing Company with a three-year contract term.
 
Notable RFP releases in October:
·          San Bernardino County’s inmate telephone service
·          Colorado’s port-of-entry business system
 
FirstNet received 122 responses to an RFI released last month as well as 64 responses to a recent public notice. Information provided in the responses will be used to develop an RFP estimated to be released in Q1 2015.
 
Several RFIs released before 2012 were canceled due to lack of movement and/or funding. Most were released to gather feedback about a project, but were never granted funding to move forward. Also, several inmate phone services projects were released, notably in the state of California. As the quarter comes to a close and government offices slow down, vendors may see more awards made before year’s end.

 

You can learn more about current procurement opportunities in the GovWin IQ State and Local Opportunities database. Not a Deltek subscriber? Click here to learn more about Deltek's GovWin IQ service and gain access to a free trial.

 

 

 

Deltek Pulse: General government services, September 2014

September saw a slight decrease (4 percent) in solicitations released in the general government services market, with a total of 2,650 solicitations captured in the GovWin IQ database. Again, the educational vertical saw the most solicitations released, and this trend is expected to continue through the end of the year.

Notable RFP releases:

You can learn more about current procurement opportunities in the GovWin IQ State and Local Opportunities database.

Not a Deltek subscriber? Click here to learn more about Deltek's GovWin IQ service and gain access to a free trial. 

 

Deltek Pulse: Health and human services month in review, August 2014

In August 2014, Deltek saw the release of 883 solicitations from the health care and social services vertical – a 26 percent increase from July.

Notable RFP releases in August include:

You can learn more about current procurement opportunities in the GovWin IQ State and Local Opportunities database. Not a Deltek subscriber? Click here to learn more about Deltek's GovWin IQ service and gain access to a free trial.

 

Deltek Pulse: General government month in review, August 2014

August brought a 16 percent increase in solicitations from July, with more than 2,700 IT and professional services solicitations released. With September closing out the third quarter, it is likely that trend will continue and we will see more solicitations released in the coming weeks. Vendors should note the steady trend in education solicitations over the past few months. With summer closing out and a new school year underway, it is likely that school systems and states alike will realize the necessity of educational software systems to keep organized this year. 

Notable projects:

You can learn more about current procurement opportunities in the GovWin IQ State and Local Opportunities database. Not a Deltek subscriber? Click ´╗┐here to learn more about Deltek's GovWin IQ service and gain access to a free trial. 

 

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