What is an RFP (Request for Proposal)? An RFP is the process in which an agency seeks a specific proposal from vendors. It follows a specifications process and a formalized set of standards and procedures that allows the agency to see, at a high-level, what kinds of bids are going to be placed on a specific project. What does the Bidding Process Look Like? When entering into contracts with state, local and federal government entities, the government is considered an “agent” of the people served by the agency or government. As a result of this public responsibility, many of the details of contracting are carefully defined by statute. In addition, rules and regulations pertaining to establishing specifications in the bidding process and the award/selection process are carefully controlled, which means that the process is largely open to public scrutiny and is very structured. How Do I Start Finding Government Bids? The first step in doing business with the government is making a plan for beginning (or growing) your government business. This plan should include determining the exact geographic area that you want to conduct business in and a narrowed down list of NAICS or NIGP codes on which to focus. In addition, you need to decide which types of agencies you want to contract with. Different types of agencies have different ways of posting bids and RFPs, so specializing in one type at first may help you to hit the ground running. Some examples of these different types are: -General (all levels) government procurement -Federal procurement -State procurement -County procurement -City procurement -Municipal procurement (schools, hospitals, etc.) -Local procurement Once you have done this, using a service like BidNnet will allow you to find all of your bids quickly and easily for the parameters that you laid out in your government business plan. Once you have selected an opportunity that makes sense for your business, find out everything you can about the opportunity, including details of possible pre-bid meetings, extra documentation and any competitors that may be bidding as well. Also, it’s often advisable to contact the bidding agency directly to introduce yourself personally. Knowledge is Power It is best to know all of the details of the bid and the bidding process to ensure that you make your bid timely, complete and in compliance with all requirements. While having the lowest bid price is certainly important, in most cases government purchasers will also consider their “comfort level” with the vendor. If you are informed, accurate, on time and professional, your bid has a much better chance of getting “to the table” and being seriously considered for winning the proposal. Remember, most successful government bidding companies started with one successful government contract.