A Description of this Valuable Text

For Public Sector Buyers

The Fifth Edition of the leading RFP best practices handbook shows you how to construct RFPs that work!

Creating an RFP is a risky business. Many RFPs have serious flaws: they don't structure the evaluation process so that its "fair and open", and they omit major requirements, and they don't ask for risk management information. This book will help you create successful RFPs.

This book contains the best RFP practices from more than 100 jurisdictions. It will help you avoid pitfalls and problems. Adopting only a few of these techniques will reduce the risks significantly. Want to learn the “secrets” of successful RFPs? I call them “secrets” not because there are any magic pills but rather because they are established, effective techniques that are not in common use in the majority of state and local governments and agencies. That's right, the ideas are there and they are often easy to implement. They are simply not know or not used!

For Vendors

The RFP process is complicated and legalistic. It is not obvious what you have to do to create a winning proposal. This book will help ensure that your proposal does not get eliminated early on but rather makes it to the short-list. It will help you comply with the RFP requirements, understand the RFP process, and the critical role of the Evaluators. This book will help you differentiate your company and its proposal from the competition.

This Handbook can increase your ability to develop winning proposals. You will learn:

  • The legal basis for RFPs in U.S. and Canada, so you understand the rules imposed by laws and the Courts and why agencies do what they do.
  • Why fair, open and transparent are always important.
  • When and why organizations must use RFPs and their other options.
  • When and how to negotiate your Proposal.
  • Why the RFP rules can only be neglected at your risk.
  • Why mandatory requirements are treated differently than the rest.
  • Why Past Performance is increasingly important in the Evaluation Process and what information will help you win.
  • How to differentiate your firm from its competition and how to ensure the Evaluators understand your strengths.
  • The step-by-step actions of Evaluators in reviewing 4 actual proposals based on a real, complex, high value RFP – a 15 page narrative of the entire evaluation process.
  • Why Risk Management is always important in your proposal and should not be left to the Evaluator’s imagination.
  • What you can learn from Briefings and Freedom of Information requests to obtain details about the winning proposal and yours, if you lost.
  • What to do when you are treated unfairly.

Find Out How Leading State and Local Governments and their Agencies Reduce RFP Risks, Save Millions and Avoid Litigation by Getting it Right the First Time!

More than 100 state and local governments and agencies have contributed to this text. Some have great RFP manuals; others, have introduced innovative approaches; and others have issued exemplary RFPs or templates. This information is not secret – it's just spread across hundreds of organizations. And now, it's all in one place.

This is the Fifth Edition – more than 5000 copies are being used by public agencies. This new edition incorporates lots of feedback, suggestions, and new topics provided by procurement managers and other readers. There are new chapters on the world wide view of public procurement as well as the law. There are major new sections on twenty issues including developing a Statement of Work, and Using Risk as an Evaluation Factor.

What makes this book so valuable?

What makes this book so valuable? Simply stated, it is the compendium of best RFP practices. It will save you hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars. If you want to improve your current RFPs, The Request For Proposal Handbook will help you "get it right"!

Six features will save you thousands of dollars in research on best RFP practices and reduce your RFP risks dramatically:

  • Best RFP Manuals. Describes the six best RFP manuals and what makes them great. We've sorted through hundreds of documents and identified six that are easy to read, contain great ideas, identify best practices and provide practical advice on creating effective RFPs.
  • Exemplary RFPs. Examines three exemplary RFPs and an excellent template. Read our review of what makes them great and how they attract better proposals.
  • Strategic Issues. Presents current information about how other organizations have dealt with strategic issues such as Negotiations, Risk Management, and the Use of a Fairness Officer.
  • Real Examples. Reviews real examples from practitioners. For example, Chapter 9 deals with the evaluation process and contains best practices and examples from 10 different jurisdictions.
  • Checklists. Checklists can be used as a quality control device. This book contains 9 of the best, ones that are extremely useful in managing the process and reducing the risks.
  • Web Links. Each of the 160 references is accompanied by a web link so that you can retrieve the entire source document and see for yourself why it's so valuable.


  • When NOT to use an RFP
  • How to reduce risks by using a fairness officer
  • How to design an RFP process that works
  • How to demand risk management information in the RFP document
  • How to solve 20 commonly occurring RFP problems
  • The characteristics of three exemplary RFPs and three RFP templates and the reasons they are good
  • Features and innovations found in the 6 best RFP manuals we've found
  • Hot to use Best and Final Offers to improve proposals
  • How to get the proponent to sign the contract before opening the proposals.
  • The duties and responsibilities of the person managing the entire RFP process
  • How to conduct negotiations, discussions and clarifications
  • What is best value and how do to build it into your evaluation process
  • How you can sole source without generating complaints
  • How to design an evaluation process that works
  • How to structure and manage the evaluation committee and eliminate conflicts of interest of the evaluators
  • What to put in the recommendation report to support your decision

Exemplary Documents

This 5th Edition contains describes 140 documents: web sites, guides, RFPs and other best practices. An increase of 60 from the 4th Edition. For each document cited, we have provided the web link so that you can download the actual document and examine it in depth.

Unique to this book: Building Blocks of the Evaluation Process

In Chapter 11 you will see how EVERY evaluation is constructed from only 9 building blocks. You will learn about the pitfalls, problems and best practices associated with these nine constituent elements of any procurement procedure:

  • Establish Compliance with Mandatory Requirements
  • Score the Proposals
  • Impose Upset Levels
  • Evaluate the Cost
  • Develop a Short-List
  • Communicate with Proponents
  • Negotiate the Contract
  • Request Best and Final Offers
  • Check References & Evaluate Past Performance

As part of this description, the Handbook discusses two issues rarely dealt with in RFP texts: (i) Using Risk as an Evaluation Factor, and (ii) Adopting a Non-Numerical Evaluation of Cost. The information found in this book about risk management and RFPs can be used to eliminate hidden dangers from your evaluation process. Chapter 6 promotes the inclusion of questions in your RFP to help vendors identify risks, their sources, and the steps that can be taken to eliminate or mitigate them. Imagine how your evaluation would be improved if you could base the selection on an analysis of the risks associated with each proposal?

Real Complete Examples from Practitioners

This book provides concrete examples of best practices from US, Canada, United Kingdom and Australia. Many readers want to review the entire original source document, not simply the extract or a summary. This book provides the web address so that you can easily retrieve the complete original document.

For example, in discussing the evaluation process, this book identifies ‘best practices' and examples of excellence from many different jurisdictions:

  • From Nova Scotia, What is an evaluation and why is one required?
  • From Arizona, What is Best Value and how do you get it?
  • From Oregon, What is an effective evaluation?
  • From Alaska , composition of the evaluation team
  • From North Arizona University , the Evaluation Committee Non-Conflict Form
  • From Montana , their 22-step RFP process and their 9-step evaluation process
  • From Massachusetts , the Evaluation Guide
  • From Victoria, Australia, a template for a Probity Plan (Fair and open competition)
  • From Federal Transit Authority, the role and value of debriefing
  • From United Kingdom, Office of Government Commerce, how to handle a debriefing.

The book contains selected material from each of these great resources. For each, the entire source document can be retrieved using the web address provided in the Handbook.

Great Checklists Included In This Book

Checklists are a great quality control tool. They are simple to use and reduce the risks dramatically. This book contains more than 9 of the best that deal with the entire process:

  • 38 procurement planning tasks
  • 11 Potential Solicitation Problem Areas
  • 22 pitfalls in running an RFP process
  • 40 tasks of a Fairness Officer
  • 16 reserved rights to include in your RFP
  • 29 Items to be included in every RFP
  • 11 features of excellent RFPs
  • 11 essential obligations of the agency to the offeror
  • 13 items to include in the Procurement File

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Used by more than 5000 agencies and departments, primarily at the state and local government level