View Request for Proposals for information about adjusting the IFB to create an RFP.

Most of the time, you will be using an invitation for bids (IFB), the simpler of the two methods of procuring supplies and services under Chapter 30B. However, when it is in your jurisdiction's best interest to do so and your jurisdiction has appointed a chief procurement officer, you may instead use the request for proposals (RFP) process. You should use proposals rather than bids when you have determined that there are attributes or qualifications beyond your quality requirements for which you might be willing to pay more money.

A model RFP can be created by making the following four changes to the model IFB:

[Note: This Guide deals only with the elements that must be included in a valid RFP. For step-by-step advice about using RFP's, you should consult the M.G.L. c. 30B procurement manual published by the Office of the Inspector General.

I. You MUST require separate price and non-price proposals
In Section I: General Information and Bid Submission Requirements , you should include a requirement that proposers submit separate sealed price and non-price (technical) proposals. Also, if you are requiring a deposit based on a percentage of the price proposal, you should require that the deposit be submitted with the price proposal. This will ensure that the technical proposal evaluators will not see vendors' prices until all technical proposals have been evaluated.

II. You MAY require a plan of services
An awarding authority may require that proposers submit a plan for providing the required supplies or services. Generally, a plan of services is a description of how the proposer will deliver the supplies or services you have specified. If you do include such a requirement, your RFP must specify the information to be included in the plan. You should also specify a format and/or set limits on the length of the plan.

Example: Proposers must submit a staffing plan showing the name, title and/or position, and role of each individual who will substantially contribute to this project. For each individual, attach a current resume.


III. You MUST include all evaluation criteria you will use to evaluate the proposals, including comparative criteria
Your evaluation criteria must include all standards by which acceptability will be determined as to quality, workmanship, results of inspections and tests, and suitability for a particular purpose, and must also include all other performance measures that will be utilized. In addition to the quality requirements presented in Section II, your evaluation criteria in an RFP include comparative criteria. The challenge to writing good comparative criteria is to articulate clear and objective measures that are closely related to the requirements of the contract. It is usually not necessary to use numerous comparative criteria to evaluate proposals. In many cases, two or three comparative criteria will suffice.

When you evaluate proposals, you must evaluate each proposal on each comparative criterion using the rating categories of "highly advantageous," "advantageous," "not advantageous," and "unacceptable." You should specify in your RFP the standards a proposer must meet to attain the ratings for each comparative criterion. The following are some sample comparative criteria for several types of contracts that are often procured through an RFP process.

Note: Many of these samples have been taken from RFP's reviewed by the Office of the Inspector General. Not all of these criteria will be appropriate for a given procurement. Keep in mind that it is often better to use quality requirements rather than comparative criteria for qualifications you deem important.


As shown in the following examples, it may not be necessary to use each of the four rating categories for each comparative criterion. You may establish whatever rating scheme makes sense for your procurement. However, you should be aware that in a recent, nonbinding Superior Court case, [E.L.M. Services, Inc. v. City of Melrose] the Court agreed with the plaintiff's position that M.G.L. c. 30B requires all four ratings to be available to evaluators for each evaluation criterion. If you are concerned about this issue you can prevent it from arising in your procurement by using all four rating categories.

Service Contracts

1. Professional Consultants, Sections a-f
2. Municipal golf course operations and maintenance contract, Sections a-h
3. School Food Service, Sections a-e
4. Computer equipment and services contract, Sections :a-b
5. Medicaid Billing and Collection Services, Sections a-b

1. Professional Consultants

When awarding professional consulting contracts, you may want to weigh factors such as expertise, staffing plans, and methodology as well as price to determine the most advantageous proposal. The following comparative criteria might be useful in evaluating proposals for this type of contract.

a. Relevant experience of proposer and/or proposed project staff:

Highly Advantageous: The proposer has at least five (5) years of experience consulting with municipalities on projects of similar size and scope to this project.

Advantageous: The proposer has at least three (3) years of experience consulting with municipalities on projects of similar size and scope to this project.

Not Advantageous: The proposer has less than three (3) years of experience consulting with municipalities on projects of similar size and scope to this project.

b. Staffing plan and methodology


Highly Advantageous: The plan of services proposes a detailed, logical, and highly efficient scheme for producing a complete report that addresses all of the required issues.

Advantageous: The plan of services proposes a credible scheme for producing a complete report that addresses all of the required issues.

Not Advantageous: The plan of services is not sufficiently detailed to fully evaluate, or the plan does not contain all the components necessary to produce a complete report that addresses all of the required issues.

c. Proposer's demonstrated ability to complete projects on a timely basis


Highly Advantageous: All of the proposer's references indicate that the projects were completed on schedule or with minimal, insignificant delays.

Advantageous: Only one of the proposer's references indicates that the project was completed with substantial delays attributable to the proposer, and no current project or project completed in the last three years experienced substantial delays attributable to the proposer.

Not Advantageous: Two of the proposer's references indicate that the project was completed with substantial delays attributable to the proposer, and no current project or project completed in the last year experienced substantial delays attributable to the proposer.

Unacceptable: More than two of the proposer's references indicate that the project was completed with substantial delays attributable to the proposer.

d. Evaluation of the proposed plan


Highly Advantageous: The proposal contains a clear and comprehensive plan that addresses all of the project objectives stated in the RFP.

Advantageous: The proposal contains a clear plan that addresses most of the project objectives stated in the RFP.

Not Advantageous: The proposal does not contain a clear plan that addresses most of the project objectives stated in the RFP.

e. Evaluation of an oral presentation or interview
If you want proposers to give an oral presentation or attend an interview, you must develop criteria to evaluate the presenters/interviewees. Keep in mind that there is an inherent danger in the use of presentations as an evaluation tool. Proposers may earn high ratings due to salesmanship, without offering the highest quality services. If you choose to require an oral presentation, you may want to require that the oral presentations be given by staff who will actually perform the work, rather than by marketing or public relations personnel. If you want to ask questions of the presenters or interviewees, make sure to ask the same questions of all proposers. Keep in mind that you must be able to articulate and defend the ratings you award to proposers for oral presentations or interviews.

You may want to evaluate trainers, or consultants who will need to interact with the public, using the following criteria:

Advantageous: The proposer's oral presentation was clear and well organized and demonstrated the proposer's ability to communicate effectively.

Not Advantageous: The proposer's oral presentation was unclear and disorganized and did not demonstrate the proposer's ability to communicate effectively.

f. Evaluation of a written product
If you are hiring a consultant to produce a written report, you may want to evaluate a writing sample.


Advantageous: The writing sample is well-organized, clear, and concise, with few or no significant analytical, grammatical, or typographical errors.

Unacceptable: The writing sample is not well organized, clear and concise, or it contains numerous significant analytical, grammatical, or typographical errors.

2. Municipal Golf Course Operations and Maintenance Contract
Many municipalities contract with private vendors to operate and maintain their municipal golf courses. The following comparative criteria may be useful in evaluating proposals for this type of contract.

a. Relevant experience of the proposers

Highly Advantageous: The proposer has six (6) or more years of experience operating and maintaining at least one (1) 18-hole golf course.

Advantageous: The proposer has four (4) or more years of experience operating and maintaining at least one (1) 18-hole golf course.

Not Advantageous: The proposer has two (2) or more years of experience operating and maintaining at least one (1) 18-hole golf course.

Or

Highly Advantageous: The proposer has managed all aspects of golf course operations for four (4) or more 18-hole golf courses in New England.

Advantageous: The proposer has managed all aspects of golf course operations for two (2) or more 18-hole golf courses in New England.

Not Advantageous: The proposer has managed all aspects of golf course operations for no more than one (1) 18-hole golf course in New England.

"All aspects of golf course operations" includes course maintenance and conditioning, marketing, food and beverage and pro shop operations.

If the proposer's relevant experience managing a restaurant facility or function hall is important to your jurisdiction, you may want to include comparative criteria relating to this concern:


Highly Advantageous: Proposer has successfully operated a function hall and restaurant at a golf course for five (5) years or more.

Advantageous: Proposer has successfully operated a function hall and restaurant at a golf course for three (3) years or more.

Not Advantageous: Proposer has successfully operated a function hall and restaurant at a golf course for one (1) year or more.

b. The proposed golf course superintendent's experience


Highly Advantageous: The proposed golf course superintendent has five (5) or more years of experience as a golf course superintendent at a comparable 18-hole golf course.

Advantageous: The proposed golf course superintendent has three (3) or more years of experience as a golf course superintendent, OR five (5) or more years of experience at an assistant golf course superintendent level or higher, at a comparable 18-hole golf course.

Not Advantageous: The proposed golf course superintendent has less than three (3) years of experience as a golf course superintendent, OR less than five (5) years of experience at an assistant golf course superintendent level or higher, at a comparable 18-hole golf course.

And, Or

Highly Advantageous: The proposed golf course superintendent has a two or four-year degree in turfgrass management from an accredited college or university.

Advantageous: The proposed golf course superintendent has a short course certificate in turfgrass management from an accredited college or university.

Not Advantageous: The proposed golf course superintendent has none of the above.

c. The proposed golf professional's experience


Highly Advantageous: The proposed individual is a PGA-certified Class A golf professional.

Advantageous: The proposed individual is a PGA-certified, less than Class A, golf professional.

Not Advantageous: The proposed individual is not PGA-certified at any level.

d. The proposed plan to increase percentage of play by junior players, at no additional cost to the Town


Highly Advantageous: The proposed plan sets forth at least three (3) specific programs or incentives that will be offered by the golf course management firm on a yearly basis. The programs or incentives must either have a demonstrated record of success or be reasonably calculated to achieve their goals.

Advantageous: The proposed plan sets forth at least one (1) specific program or incentive that will be offered on a yearly basis that either has a demonstrated record of success or is reasonably calculated to achieve its goal.

Not Advantageous: The proposed plan has no specific program or incentives or sets forth programs or incentives that are speculative.

e. The proposed plan to increase community awareness of the course as a community resource and to maintain good relations with the surrounding neighborhoods


Advantageous: The proposed plan sets forth a proactive and detailed plan for increasing community awareness, and preventing neighborhood problems. The plan also contains a credible procedure for addressing neighborhood concerns and complaints.

Not Advantageous: The proposed plan lacks sufficient details, does not adequately address prevention of neighborhood problems, or fails to contain a credible procedure for addressing neighborhood concerns and complaints.

f. If the availability of the facility to community groups is important to your jurisdiction, you may want to include comparative criteria relating to this concern


Advantageous: The proposer will offer the function hall to City service clubs and non-profit organizations at a 50% discount.

Not Advantageous: The proposer will offer the function hall to City service clubs and non-profit organizations at market rates.

g. Evaluation of marketing experience:


Highly Advantageous: The proposer has experience marketing at least three (3) new or existing 18-hole golf course facilities, including use of print, radio, and/or television media and active solicitation of corporate outings.

Advantageous: The proposer has experience marketing at least one (1) new or existing 18-hole golf course facility, including use of print, radio, and/or television media and active solicitation of corporate outings.

Not Advantageous: The proposer has no experience marketing a new or existing 18-hole golf course facility, including use of print, radio, and/or television media and active solicitation of corporate outings.

h. Evaluation of a marketing strategy


Advantageous: The proposer's marketing strategy presented in its written proposal and oral presentation was relevant and appropriate to the City's stated objectives for the facility.

Not Advantageous: The proposer's marketing strategy presented in its written proposal and oral presentation was not relevant or appropriate to the stated objectives for the facility.

3. School Food Service
School departments and districts often procure food service contracts through an RFP process. The following comparative criteria might be useful in evaluating proposals for this type of contract.

a. Relevant experience of the proposer
Proposers must submit a one-page summary of all school food service contracts comparable in size to the proposed contract, with name and telephone number of each school contact person. "Comparable in size" is defined as within 25 percent of the Smartsville School enrollment.

Highly Advantageous: The proposer has five (5) or more years of experience providing food service to school departments or districts under contracts comparable in size to the proposed contract.

Advantageous: The proposer has three (3) or more years of experience providing food service to school departments or districts under contracts comparable in size to the proposed contract.

Not Advantageous: The proposer has less than three (3) years of experience providing food service to school departments or districts under contracts comparable in size to the proposed contract.

b. Menu offerings
Proposers must submit sample menus with documentation of use in existing school food service sites.


Advantageous: Varied menu offerings that rotate on a cycle that is fifteen (15) days or longer.

Not Advantageous: Repetitious menu offerings that rotate on a ten (10) day or shorter cycle.

c. School/Community outreach
Proposers must submit documentation of activities initiated by the proposer during the most recently completed school year that reflect collaborative efforts with parents, students, and school personnel to improve food services in existing sites. Activities may include, but are not limited to, surveys, meetings with established groups, or the formation of a food service advisory committee.


Highly Advantageous: Vendor was involved in such activities in at least three (3) school departments or districts, at least three (3) times during the most recently completed school year.

Advantageous: Vendor was involved in such activities in at least one (1) but fewer than three (3) school departments or districts, or at least once but fewer than (3) times during the most recently completed school year.

Not Advantageous: Vendor was not involved in such activities during the most recently completed school year.

d. Site visit to vendor's existing school food service site
The school will arrange an unannounced site visit to one of the vendor's existing sites.


Advantageous: Existing site is clean and well managed, and food service workers are observing proper health and safety standards.

Not Advantageous: Existing site is unclean and poorly managed, or food service workers are not observing proper health and safety standards.

e. Student participation rate at existing sites


Highly Advantageous: The average participation rate at the vendor's current sites is between 75-80%, or better.

Advantageous: The average participation rate at the vendor's current sites is between 70-74%.

Not Advantageous: The average participation rate at the vendor's current sites is below 70%.

4. Computer Equipment and Services Contract
Often, using an IFB is the best method of procuring computer hardware, software, and training packages. You can set up stringent required standards in the IFB to ensure that you will be satisfied with any responsive bid from a responsible bidder. However, there are times when using an RFP may be more appropriate, especially when the contract has a significant training and support component. The following comparative criteria might be useful in evaluating proposals for this type of contract.

a. Proposer's instructional staff


Highly Advantageous: All of the proposed instructional staff have at least one (1) year of experience training users in this application.

Advantageous: Most of the proposed instructional staff have at least one (1) year of experience training users in this application.

Not Advantageous: Most of the proposed instructional staff have less than one (1) year of experience training users in this application.

And, Or

Advantageous: The ratio of instructional staff to users is less than 1:5.

Not Advantageous: The ratio of instructional staff to users is greater than or equal to 1:5.

b. Proposer's ability to provide support services


Highly Advantageous: The proposer provides toll-free, 24-hour telephone support, 7 days per week, for all software applications.

Advantageous: The proposer provides toll-free telephone support Monday-Friday between the hours of 8:00 A.M. and 6:00 P.M. (EST) for all applications.

Not Advantageous: The proposer offers telephone support but not a toll-free number.

Unacceptable: The proposer offers no telephone support.

And, Or

Highly Advantageous: The proposer offers on-site training seminars, at no additional cost, at least once a year during the term of the contract.

Advantageous: The proposer offers on-site training seminars, at no additional cost, less than once a year during the term of the contract.

Not Advantageous: The proposer offers no on-site training seminars.

You may choose to have a panel of potential users participate in a training and subsequently evaluate the applications and its user manuals. If you do so, be sure that all proposers are given equal time.


Highly Advantageous: The application screens are clear and logical. Fields can be accessed easily and quickly. Multiple screens are logically sequenced and can be quickly accessed from other relevant screens; and users with minimal training and experience can quickly learn to navigate the program with training of one-half day or less.

Advantageous: The application screens are generally clear and set up logically. Fields can be accessed easily and quickly. Multiple screens are logically sequenced, but must be accessed by going through a series of screens; or users with minimal training and experience are likely to require more than a one-half day training workshop.

And, Or

Highly Advantageous: The user manuals or application help screens are clear, complete, and well organized, and written for the lowest level of user capability. In the panel members' opinion, users will rarely need to call the vendor for clarification.

Advantageous: The user manuals or application help screens are clear, complete, and well-organized, but not written for the lowest level of user capability. In the panel members' opinion, users will occasionally need to call the vendor for clarification.

Not Advantageous: The user manuals or application help screens are not clear, complete, or well-organized, and all features are not covered. In the panel members' opinion, users will frequently need to call the vendor for clarification.

5. Medicaid Billing and Collection Services
A school may contract with a private vendor to recover funds from third-party payors, such as Medicaid and private insurance companies, for health-related services provided to schoolchildren. The following are some comparative criteria that might be appropriate for an RFP for these services.

a. Relevant experience of the proposer

Highly Advantageous: The proposer has a minimum of five (5) years of experience as primary contractor in the provision and support of third-party revenue maximization services.

Advantageous: The proposer has a minimum of three (3) years of experience as primary contractor in the provision and support of third-party revenue maximization services.

Not Advantageous: The proposer has a minimum of one (1) year of experience as primary contractor in the provision and support of third-party revenue maximization services.

And

Highly Advantageous: The proposer currently has at least five (5) school-based municipal Medicaid customers.

Advantageous: The proposer currently has at least three (3) school-based municipal Medicaid customers.

Not Advantageous: The proposer currently has at least one (1) school-based municipal Medicaid customer.

b. The proposed implementation plan


Advantageous: The proposed implementation plan provides sufficient detail and documentation to demonstrate that the proposer has the necessary proficiency, experience, and resources to implement the scope of work set forth in this RFP.

Not Advantageous: The proposed implementation plan provides insufficient detail and documentation to demonstrate that the proposer has the necessary proficiency, experience, and resources to implement the scope of work set forth in this RFP.

IV. You MUST inform proposers that you will award the contact to the proposer offering the most advantageous proposal, taking into consideration all evaluation criteria as well as price.
As in an IFB, you must tell proposers how you will determine the lowest-priced proposal. However, when you use an RFP process, you are not required to award the contract to the lowest-priced proposal. Therefore, your rule for award must also inform proposers that the contract will be awarded to the proposer offering the most advantageous proposal, taking into consideration all evaluation criteria as well as price.

Example: The Town will determine the most advantageous proposal from a responsible and responsive proposer, taking into consideration price and all evaluation criteria set forth in the RFP.