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Formal Requests to Supply

Posted 3/7/2022

Disclaimer, this is the opinion of an experienced procurement practitioner, it is not legal advice, consult your legal counsel for that advice.

A formal request is one that is published on the owner’s website and / or a publication and / or a bid posting site such as BC Bid.

There are two types of formal requests: those that create an obligation (not necessarily a “Contract A”) on the part of the owner and those that do not.

No obligation requests: these could include:

  • Market soundings – there is an issue to resolve but no idea if there is a product or service that could apply or a supplier that could provide that product or service
  • Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) – the owner requires a known product or service but is unsure if the marketplace can offer that product/service or if suppliers are available and willing to provide the requirement.

Both types of no obligation type requests should clarify that any contract to supply will result from a subsequent request and not be an outcome of the no obligation request. Any other potential outcomes should also be clarified. It is poor practice and not ethical to label a request as a market sounding or expression of interest where the intent is to create a supply contract. A supply contract should be the outcome from a variety of supply requests that create an obligation if not (and many will) create a “Contract A”.

Formal requests that create an obligation and / or “Contract A” include Requests for Proposals (RFP); Negotiated Requests for Proposals (NRFP); Requests for Pre-Qualifications (RFPQ); and Invitations to Tender (ITT).  

It is important to correctly label a supply request as this provides consistency and clarity to potential suppliers. I’ve seen RFP’s that read like NRFP’s and RFEI’s that read like RFP’s. Consistency of labeling procurement tools and application of the correct tool to each project across procurement will serve to reduce supplier confusion and create better value to owners.

I am available to assist with strategies that include the selection and application of procurement tools to the project at hand.