Responding to an IFB, RFP or RFQ

Published: April 22, 2020

Contract AwardsProcurement

Familiarize yourself with different procurement methods for SLED government entities.

Do you know the difference between an IFB, RFP and RFQ? Each is a type of government solicitation, but they differ significantly in what's requested and required of you. There may be some variance among the different SLED government entities, however, the following highlights some general information as to what you can expect with each type of procurement.

Invitation for Bid (IFB)

This competitive method of awarding government contracts is used for procurements in which the agency knows exactly what and how many of everything it needs in the contract, as well as when and how the products and services are to be delivered. The award is generally based on price. States and government entities have varying standards required for using an IFB. In some cases a minimum purchase amount necessitates this procurement method, which generally range from $25,000 to $100,000. On the other hand, other governments may also use IFBs for lower value purchases with a maximum spending cap. Generally, IFBs have a relatively quick turnaround time for award.

Writing a government proposal for an IFB seems simple enough — these documents oftentimes come with template forms in which you simply fill in the required forms. However, you must be extremely careful when completing these documents. The government will be reviewing the package closely, as if you've put it together yourself and they’ve never seen the documents before.

Request for Quote (RFQ)

This type of procurement is similar to an Invitation for Bids in that it often seeks pricing on a certain quantity of particular goods or services. Also like an IFB, RFQs are generally awarded based on lowest prices, as well as quality of goods or services and timeliness for delivery.

There is again some variance among different governments that use this procurement method. In certain cases, RFQs may be sent out to a preselected or prequalified list of vendors, while in others it may be a publicly open procurement. RFQs can be straightforward, based on specific, objective needs, but they can be quite particular as well, requiring service providers or items that meet very precise qualifications, experience requirements, or capabilities.

Again like IFBs, RFQs oftentimes require vendors to complete and submit a quote response form, but also provide supporting documentation if needed, such as resumes or technical qualifications.

Request for Proposal (RFP)

This approach to contracting occurs when the agency isn't certain about what it wants and is looking to you to develop a solution and cost estimate. So in addition to the standard forms that the government provides, you'll have to submit your own proposal with the necessary management plans, drawings, personnel information, and any other documents that will demonstrate your business' capabilities to complete the contract. Awards for RFPs oftentimes factor in overall price, but selections are also determined based on overall quality of the solution and how it well it meets government objectives. Having the lowest price does not always guarantee selection if other proposals offer a more comprehensive or better-fitting solution. Requests for Proposals are usually the most complex and time-intensive procurements, so make sure you thoroughly consider whether responding to the RFP makes sense for your company.

Next Steps - View Our Blog: 3 Strategies to Win More Government Bids and Contract Awards