Have you ever responded to an ITB after being shortlisted in response to an RFQ? If you are seeking a government contract and don’t know what any of this means, don’t worry, you are not alone. Public agencies advertise their contracts and projects through a variety of methods and vehicles, which are usually referred to by acronyms. While they seem confusing at first glance, once you become familiar with the terminology, you’ll be able to better respond to the advertised project.
An Invitation for Bid (“IFB”), or Invitation to Bid (“ITB”), is usually a set of specifications that have been decided on and defined by the advertising agency. Price is usually the most important factor. The bidder that’s has the lowest price usually wins the award. However, the bidder also has to be responsive and responsible. The bid is generally responsive if includes of the information sought in the ITB’s or IFB’s specifications. A bid is considered responsible if it appears that the bidder has the ability to perform the contract.
Agencies usually use Request for Proposals (“RFP”) when they do not know what all the specifications or scope of work will be. Proposers may be required to submit a plan describing how they plan to perform the project. Price is generally still a factor, but there may be other factors like experience, capability, and management ability. Like an ITB or IFB, agencies will evaluate whether the proposals are responsive and responsible.
Contractors looking for work in these tough times should keep public projects in mind. If you are not familiar with the public procurement or "bidding" process, knowing the basics will help in getting started. Most public agencies have standard policies and procedures for advertising and awarding contracts. The first step is identifying the public agencies that need your services. From there, you will need to determine how the agency advertises its projects, and the terms and conditions for the particular project.
In Florida, there are layers of government, all of which advertise and award construction work. The tricky part is that these agencies all have their own requirements. For example, State agencies such as the Florida Department of Transportation, may be subject to the requirements of statutes and administrative regulations that may not be applicable to local government agencies. In other words, public procurement in the State of Florida is not a "one size fits all" process. For local governments, including counties and municipalities, there may be purchasing ordinances and policies that apply to the particular agency. Determining what the process is for the agency you are interested in doing work for is critical.