Purchasing uses three basic methods to purchase materials, equipment, supplies, and some services (with the exception of public works construction). The following is a brief description of each of the three types and their use.
Request for Quotation (RFQ)
This is a simplified process that reduces both paperwork and administrative time and effort. Telephone quotations are used for items of small dollar value or where time limitations do not allow for routine hard copy solicitations. Although purchase orders are issued based upon the best price received from a responsible supplier, discussions may be held with suppliers to clarify or otherwise ensure that responses conform to City requirements.
Supplier responses, i.e., “Quotes”, should completely conform to the RFQ requirements and include a firm price and the required delivery date. The RFQ is a flexible and expeditious method for acquiring goods and services under $75,000.
Invitation for Bid (IFB)
The IFB is a more formal process which requires detailed specifications be solicited by the City for firm bids, i.e., “Offers” in sealed envelopes which are opened and read at a public bid opening. Bids are due on or before the published date and time for receipt at the Purchasing office. Bids received after the exact time set for opening of bids will be returned unopened. If suppliers have questions about Bid requirements, they should ask for clarification prior to bid opening. Contract award is based on the criteria specified in the IFB.
Request for Proposal (RFP)
The RFP is used when the importance of technical considerations dictates the contract award be based upon cost and “other factors”. The “other factors” are expressed in the RFP as Evaluation Criteria. Unlike the IFB, which contains a detailed description or design specification, the requirements in an RFP are generally expressed in terms of of required performance outcome of "project deliverables". Suppliers are asked to propose their own technical solution to achieve the required results.
The proposal evaluation and source selection process begins with evaluation of the technical proposal by using the Evaluation Criteria listed in the RFP to assess the acceptability of each technical proposal received. After technical merit is determined, the pricing proposals of those suppliers whose technical proposals are determined to be acceptable are reviewed. Evaluations of technical merit and price are then completed.
In order to ensure a complete understanding of all issues, and that the proposed price properly reflects that understanding, negotiation discussions may be conducted. Contract award is made based upon the City’s “best value” determination. The “best value” need not be the lowest price. Either an RFP or a Statement of Qualifications (SOQ) may also be used to procure professional services.