Proposal Development

Request for Proposal (RFP)

A Request for Proposal (RFP) is a solicitation used in negotiated acquisition to communicate government requirements to the prospective contractors and to solicit proposals. At a minimum, solicitations shall describe the Government’s requirement, anticipated terms and conditions that will apply to the contract, information required in the offeror’s proposal, and (for competitive acquisitions) the criteria that will be used to evaluate the proposal and their relative importance. FAR Subpart 15.2 “Solicitation and Receipt of Proposals and Information” is the main guidance for government solicitations and RFP’s.

The Main Goals and Objectives of a Request for Proposal (RFP) are:

  • Communicate the intent to suppliers for a business opportunity.
  • Detail the requirements that are needed to satisfy the customer’s needs.
  • Tell suppliers that it’s competitive.
  • Opens up the marketplace to many bidders.
  • Gives a clear and detailed path forward for both customer and potential supplier.
  • Allows for a structured evaluation and selection process that is fair and impartial.
  • Meets competitive laws and regulations

Definition of a Request for Proposal (RFP)

An RFP is a solicitation used by an organization in obtaining proposals or bids in search of hiring a potential supplier(s) to satisfy a set of customer requirements.

Other types of Requests:

  • Request for Information (RFI): is a standard business process whose purpose is to collect written information about the capabilities of various suppliers.
  • Request for Quotation (RFQ): is a method of soliciting offers from suppliers for customer’s requirements for suppliers or services that fit within the dollar amount for supplies or services;  >$3000.
  • Request for Technical Proposal (RFT): is a solicitation document used in a two-step sealed bid. Normally in letter form, it asks only for technical information; price and cost breakdowns are forbidden.

How to Write a Request For Proposal (RFP)

Who Develops a Request for Proposal (RFP)

An RFP is written by a customer organization, in defense acquisitions the government Program Management Office. The stakeholders within the government are normally in charge of developing the RFP and determining all associated requirements in the RFP. The development of an RFP takes a lot of skilled individuals to develop the best RFP possible. Below is a shortlist of the key players normally involved in the development of an RFP.

Request for Proposal (RFP) Contracting Process

The contracting process involves all activities associated with identifying and justifying a mission need, formulating an Acquisition Strategy and Acquisition Plan (with the Program Manager (PM)) to meet this need, and implementing the strategy by means of a contract with the private sector. The contracting process has five phases: [1]

Phase 1: Request for Proposal (RFP) Development

Developing a Request for Proposal can be a very lengthy process that requires a lot of steps and work. Below is a quick overview of the main steps involved.

Step 1: Conduct Market Research

Before initiating a procurement action, the Program Office must perform due diligence in assessing what products or services already exist. The purpose of market research is to ensure that the “best value” is identified for procurement actions greater than $100,000 throughout the acquisition process, from development throughout the lifecycle of the system.

Step 2: Determine Request for Proposal Requirements (RFP)


There are a variety of requirements that go into an RFP. The primary requirements are developed so that when meet they can meet the need of the intended user. The learn more about requirements development visit.

Step 3: How to Write a Request for Proposal (RFP)


The key to writing a good Request for Proposal is to start with all the information you will need. Before starting make sure the goals and objectives have been agreed to by att key stakeholders. Then make sure all requirements have been defined. Once both of these activities are complete you can start writing.

  • Step 1: Form Your Team: The most important step is gathering the most knowledgeable and effective team members to write the proposal. The key players include the Program Manager (PM), who runs the actual project if awarded, and the RFP Manager who is responsible for executing the development process.
  • Step 2: Develop Plan: A plan should address how the RFP Content (See Below of Government RFP Content) should be developed and the main requirements to achieve. The plan should list these proposal requirements in a Compliance Matrix. An effective plan that gives a timeline on when items are due and roles and responsibilities to all proposal team members.
  • Step 3: Develop the Outline: Each section team leader is responsible for developing a Proposal Outline for the assigned proposal volume.  This outline adds details to the High-Level Outline such as customer requirements, specific descriptions, Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), and administrative approach to each volume and section.
  • Step 4: Prepare the First Draft: The first rough draft is prepared by team members and reviewed by each section manager.
  • Step 5: Prepare the Second Draft: The second rough draft is prepared by team members and reviewed by the Project Manager.
  • Step 6: Stakeholder Review: The RFP project manager should arrange to have stakeholders review the draft RFP.  This review should be scheduled towards the end of the writing but should still provide sufficient time for the Red Team Review comments and recommendations to be evaluated and incorporated into the final draft RFP.

What is contained in a Government Request for Proposal (RFP)?

A government RFP should contain the following sections:

Other items that are included in a Government Request for Proposal (RFP) include:

Other information that must be included within a Government Request for Proposal (RFP)

  • Security Requirements: The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) requires that a Department of Defense (DD) Form 254 be incorporated in each classified contract, and the National Industrial Security Operating Manual (NISPOM) (4-103a) requires that a DD 254 be issued by the government with each Invitation for Bid, Request for Proposal (RFP), or Request for Quote (ROQ). The DD Form 254 provides to the contractor (or a subcontractor) the security requirements and the classification guidance that would be necessary to perform on a classified contract.
  • Software Content: Software is addressed in the Request for Proposal (RFP) in order to solicit proposals that provide the information to support an effective Government evaluation and identification of strengths, deficiencies, uncertainties, weaknesses, and risks related to software. See Software RFP Content
  • Information Assurance: Every acquisition program should include language in its RFP that addresses Information Assurance (IA) requirements for a contractor. These requirements should be clearly and unambiguously articulated to potential offerors and what is expected from them in terms of compliance and performance.

Visit: Cybersecurity Content in the Request for Proposal (RFP)

Step 4: Submit for Review (Government and/or Industry Review)

Once a draft RFP has been approved by the stakeholder. There is the option to submit that draft RFP for government and industry comments. This is a good way to get an understanding if the RFP is communicating the needs appropriately with Industry. This will help eliminate any confusion when the finalized RFP is released.

Step 5: Finalize the Request for Proposal (RFP)

Once the industry has commented on the RFP,  It’s time to finalize the RFP and release it for solicitation.

Step 6: Release for Solicitation

Phase 2: Solicitation

How is the Request for Proposal (RFP) submitted out for Bid

The RFP is normally released for bid thru a pre-established bidding system through the organization. In defense acquisition, the normal submission process is for the government to submit all RFP on:

Phase 3: Evaluations of Proposals

How are the Proposals Evaluated

When proposals are submitted back to the government or organization they go through the source selection process.

Phase 4: Contract Award

This is where a contract is officially awarded to a contractor. Most of the responsibility in this phase lies with the Program Contracting Officer (PCO) and Contracts Officer’s Representative (COR). It is important that the Program Management Office (PMO) and Program Manager (PM) understand all of the components of a contract award so that it can continue to work toward a realistic schedule following the conclusion of Phase 3: Evaluation Phase.

Phase 5: Post Award Management

This is the phase where you manage the contract.

Request for Proposal (RFP) Development Best Practices

There are a number of best practices that anyone developing an RFP should follow. These best practices will ensure the best RFP is developed in order to guarantee the best proposals are received and the best contractor is chosen. A few of these best practices are:

  • Ensure all stakeholders are involved in the process
  • Use a pre-established template that’s agreed upon
  • Make sure everyone signs off on the final RFP
  • Make sure the contractor community has seen a draft for comments
  • Don’t be overly complex (Simple is the best approach)
  • Create a Bidders Library of all received and answered comments
  • Keep everyone informed on the progress

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Updated: 7/23/2021

Rank: G14

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