Governments at all levels (Federal, State, and local) must purchase goods and services just like any other business in the marketplace.  To ensure transparency, protect the public trust, and obtain competitive pricing, there are procurement rules that government agencies must follow. While these rules and process vary from agency to agency, there are some general procurement methods utilized by virtually all of them.  The three most common procurement processes are:

Invitation for Bid (IFB):
IFBs are typically used when purchasing goods and services when the government agency knows exactly what it needs to purchase.  There will be little, if any, variation between the scope of the contract from one vendor to the next.  Thus, price becomes the sole factor – lowest bidder wins.

Request for Qualifications or Quotation (RFQ):
RFQs are very similar to RFPs, but are used when the scope of the government agency’s project or needs are still not clearly defined.  Basically, the agency is putting together a list of pre-approved vendors so that when the project, goods or services are needed, the pool of pre-qualified vendors will be notified to submit their proposal skipping the vetting process and speeding up the purchase.

Request for Proposal (RFP):
RFPs are used when there is room for variation in the provision of goods and/or services.  In other words, price alone will not be the determining factor.  Instead, the government agency will use scoring metrics to assess the responses from prospective vendors.  The categories of the metrics will vary depending on the goods or services sought. However, the evaluation criteria will usually include an assessment of the vendor’s qualifications, management team, service methods, and, of course, price.  Additionally, government agencies also provide additional points for businesses certified as a small business and/or minority-owned.  Moreover, the agency will also provide additional points to local businesses.


Government contracting is highly competitive; the bidding process confusing and cumbersome since the agencies have their own processes.  When preparing a response to a government agency bid, it is extremely important to carefully read the rules, requirements and to properly assemble your response.  Many times, a vendor’s response is disqualified for failing to properly address a request in the IFB/RFP/RFQ.

Ser & Associates regularly assists clients in the preparation of IFBs, RFPs, and RFQs (as well as minority certifications for those extra points), in order to ensure an accurate and attractive bid to maximize the client’s potential for winning the contract.

For more information on government contracting, be sure to check out the Ser & Associates Entrepreneur Workshop video “How to Grow Your Business Through Government Contracting & Minority Certification” and give us a call when you are ready to take your business to the next level!

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