In recent years states have noticed a drop in responses to state Request for Proposals (RFPs). This means states have fewer choices in solutions at often higher costs. To counter this trend, states must be more aggressive in promoting opportunities to attract qualified vendors. According to agency representatives of states serving smaller health and human service program populations, there may be a perception among vendors that there is less financial gain in doing business in states with smaller service transaction volumes. Individual state spending varies considerably with some states purchasing several billions of dollars in products and services annually. Other’s attribute lack of vendor participation in procurements to states being too restrictive in either contractual terms or in specification of the procurement itself. There are high stakes involved when it comes to a state’s resource investment, making it critical for state agencies to conduct successful procurements and attract qualified vendors that will deliver value added products and services. Irrespective of the specific cause, states are considering several options for promoting interest in procurements among the vendor community. These options include:
- Hosting procurement fairs each with a specific focus (i.e., products, services, industry, etc.) to facilitate bidirectional communication between state agencies and the vendor community. This will enable states to gain a better vendor perspective and gather feedback on how states can improve procurement processes.
- Reforming purchasing practices to promote uniform procurement rules, guidelines, and tools across state agencies and create a reliable, consistent procurement infrastructure for bidders.
- Conducting pre proposal conferences to formally announce procurement projects and provide a platform to entertain preliminary questions from potential bidders.
- Announcing upcoming procurement projects in advance and provide a tentative schedule to keep the vendor community abreast of procurement milestone dates.
- Releasing the bidder’s library ahead of the RFP to provide resource materials that will help vendors gain a better understanding of the procurement project, as well as generate interest in the project.
- Establishing creative strategies for procuring products and services that can be conveyed through an RFP, such as use of “value based” procurement techniques where the focus is on the problem to be solved rather than the solution to be purchased.
- Revising procurement rules, regulations and even laws to balance the need for protection with the need for broad vendor participation.
Public Knowledge, LLC specializes in helping health and human service agencies with procurement management services including strategy development, reengineering of procurement practices, procurement planning, RFP development, requirements definition and technical proposal evaluation assistance.