A Request For Proposal (RFP) is a solicitation made often through a bidding process, by an agency or company interested in procurement of a commodity, service or valuable asset. As a result, RFPs usually evoke anxiety and fear in the minds of private sector managers. Although willing to do almost anything to obtain the contract, just getting the documentation done on time is a challenge. Can we meet the government’s expectations and guidelines? How much leeway do we have in the terms and conditions? Do we have a chance at winning the business? All of these questions come to the surface at RFP response time.
Usually during the RFP process, the government outlines its requirements, and they solicit responses for procurement. One Philadelphia organization, FastFWD, has taken an unusual approach to the RFP process, and its model is one worth watching.
In an effort to find the best solution for the citizens of Philadelphia, FastFWD works jointly with other companies to brainstorm on the best solution for that particular RFP, even if it differs from the parameters outlined by the government.
In a recent GovTech blog post, FastFWD’s process was described as follows:
“A Philadelphia program called FastFWD recognizes that government doesn’t have all the answers and invites collaboration from entrepreneurs.
The first cycle of FastFWD, which focused on improving public safety, attracted 82 applications from around the world late last year. Earlier this year, 10 companies were selected to participate in a 12-week accelerator program aimed at refining their ideas. The finalists each got a $10,000 stipend. Even more importantly, they got access to municipal officials, which allowed them to tailor their ideas to the needs of Philadelphia’s residents.
Three of the companies were ultimately selected and given city contracts ranging from $30,000 to $35,000: Jail Education Solutions, a firm that aims to reduce recidivism and increase employment opportunities for inmates through tablet technology that enables self-driven education; Textizen, a texting platform that helps case managers connect people coming out of prison to job and training opportunities; and Village Defense, a text/phone call/email alert system that allows residents to report incidents anonymously. It would be hard to imagine any of these companies emerging from a traditional procurement process.”
This approach has paid off for FastFWD’s first cycle and may be impetus to change in future RFP submissions. FastFWD recently submitted an RFP for its second cycle in early August.
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