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Chapter 24 - Requests for Proposals and Competitive Negotiations

24.5 Preparing an RFP

24.5.0 Preparing an RFP

When preparing an RFP, resolve the issues and questions in Appendix B, Checklist of Issues to Resolve Before and During RFP Preparation, and follow these best practice recommendations: 

  •  The RFP planning and the RFP document should be comprehensive. The RFP should be written in plain, straight-forward language avoiding ambiguous, conflicting and undefined terms. All acronyms and other critical terms should be defined. 
  • VITA SCM Only: Use the technology sourcing process (TSP) model for preparing and evaluating an RFP. 
  • Use a standard and/or authorized RFP template. This helps ensure all project needs are identified and clearly communicated to suppliers. The RFP template includes a “laundry list” of typical issues that need to be addressed to trigger productive thought processes and ensure that no requirements are overlooked. VITA has developed an RFP template for use by VITA sourcing specialists. Training for customer agencies on the use of this template is available from VITA SCM and should be undertaken prior to first-time use. Contact for RFP training. 
  • Provide all information needed for any outside party to understand the current situation or business need, the desired solution and the terms and conditions of the future relationship. 
  • Use extra diligence in preparing questions for suppliers which shape technical and functional requirements. These are the “meat” of the RFP. 
  • Address quality assurance, performance standards and measures, service level expectations, etc. 
  • Address upgrades, enhancements, expansions, modifications, disaster recovery, business assurance, training as well as environmental, confidentiality and federal, state and local security and data privacy standards. 
  • Include appropriate requirements, the proposed IT contract template (see Chapter 25, IT Contract Formation.) (Other agencies: see box text below.) This places the burden of understanding on the suppliers to have a handle on the project’s requirements and prepare fully responsive proposals. 
  • Include distinct and measurable performance metrics and clear enforcement provisions, including penalties or incentives in the draft contract that is prepared with the RFP.  

VITA has developed and approved IT contract terms and conditions that are customized for the specific type of IT acquisition: Services, Software, Solution, Hardware, Hardware Maintenance, Cloud, and EULA license addendum. Agencies are strongly encouraged to use the contract templates developed by VITA staff, especially in the case of RFPs for high-risk contracts. If an agency elects to use their own templates, the agency must ensure that the Minimum Requirements for Major IT Procurements, High Risk IT Procurements, and Delegated Procurements are included in the RFP. This can be found on SCM’s website at this location under the Forms section: Agency procurement professionals must be trained on how to properly modify our templates prior to using them for the first time. For more information on how to receive training and access to our IT solicitation and contract templates, please contact VITA SCM at:   Refer to Chapter 28 for more information on required security and cloud related terms and conditions. 

Once the requirements are completed, in addition to the agency’s general contract terms, appropriate IT terms should be included, as well as any special terms to cover any extraordinary risk(s) associated with the project. VITA sourcing specialists will use the approved template or master definitions and terms that match the procurement type, while agencies should include all necessary provisions that relate to the IT procurement such as necessary terms related to services, hardware, or software that may include: Ownership of Intellectual Property, Third Party Acquisition of Software, Software Upgrades, Software Disposition, Source Code, Term of Software License, special warranties, etc. Agencies who have received delegated authority to conduct their own IT procurements may request assistance for complex solution, application service provider, and/or software as a service type IT procurements by contacting SCM at the following address: 

If an agency is planning to publish an RFP for a procurement that is anticipated to result in a “high risk contract”, as defined by § 2.2-4303.01 of the Code of Virginia, VITA and the OAG must review the RFP prior to publication. Such reviews will be conducted within 30 business days and include an evaluation of the extent to which the RFP complies with applicable state law, as well as an evaluation of the appropriateness of the RFP’s terms and conditions. 

Agencies should contact VITA’s Supply Chain Management (SCM) at: during the procurement planning stage prior to the issuance of a high-risk solicitation. SCM will provide assistance to the agency in preparing and evaluating the RFP and identifying and preparing the required performance measures and enforcement provisions.  

A project that is part of a larger federal initiative or one funded with federal money may require including specific terms that must be flowed down from the funding sponsor or from federal statute. Examples are the HITECH and HIPAA Acts for health records related projects. Obviously, this type of project or a project related to data within any Commonwealth agency that processes private health, confidential or sensitive citizen information; i.e., Department of Health, Department of Motor Vehicles, or Department of Social Services, may have special security or data protection needs as well. Procurement officials should seek, ask, research available internal sources, OAG and VITA to determine the requirements for such special terms and conditions. 

It is important to perform a quality review of the solicitation to remove redundant, ambiguous and conflicting terms. 

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