Vendor Information: Types of Solicitations and Other Opportunities

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The Province of B.C. has numerous corporate templates and processes that ministries use to compete opportunities, create lists, and gather and share information. This page provides an overview of the most commonly used templates and processes that might be encountered by vendors looking to do business with the Province.

 

Competitive Processes

The Province uses the following processes to select one or more vendors using a competitive process. Not all public sector organizations use the same templates. This list is specific to the Province of B.C.’s corporate templates that are used by ministries; the broader public sector may have similar templates with different titles.

 

Request for Proposals (RFP)

A variety of the request for proposal solicitation format are among the most commonly used documents that can be found on BC Bid. These documents are typically used for competitive processes where price isn’t the only consideration, and can result in a contract or purchase order.

The RFP:

  • Can be posted to BC Bid, or issued to pre-qualified or selected vendors;
  • Is used for services (primarily);
  • Can be used for any dollar value;
  • Is used when the purchase is out-of-scope for the SRFP (see below); and
  • Results in an award to the highest-scoring proponent(s), not to the lowest priced proposal.

Guidance for responding to an RFP can be found in the Proponents’ Guide for RFPs. Refer to Weighted Requirements for more information or to access the RFP template on the Solicitation Templates page.

 

Short-Form Request for Proposal (SRFP)

For certain in-scope opportunities, a two-page, short form request for proposals may be used. As with the RFP, this competitive process typically results in a contract or purchase order with the successful proponent.

The SRFP:

  • Can be posted to BC Bid, or issued to pre-qualified or selected vendors;
  • Can only be used for those purchases that fit within scope;
  • Is used for services (primarily) where price is not the only factor to select a contractor; and
  • Results in an award to the highest-scoring proponent(s).

Specific guidance for vendors responding to the SRFP can be found in Vendor Information on the Short-Form Request for Proposals (SRFP) and the Proponents’ Guide for SRFPs. Refer to Weighted Requirements for more information on scored solicitations, and to Solicitation Templates to view the SRFP template and to access videos and additional guidance for vendors.

 

Request for Corporate Supply Arrangement (RCSA)

If you would like to be included in a list of vendors that are pre-qualified to provide regularly purchased goods and services to ministries and the broader public sector, watch BC Bid for Request for Corporate Supply Arrangement (RCSA) opportunities. 

The RCSA:

  • Can be used for goods or services;
  • Creates Corporate Supply Arrangements (CSA) that ministries and usually the broader public sector can order from;
  • Does not result in a contract or purchase order until an order is placed against the offer;
  • May include restrictions, such as a maximum dollar value that applies to a single purchase; and
  • Is usually valid for multiple years, at which time a new RCSA is usually issued if the goods or services are still needed.

A list of the currently available CSAs can be found in the Goods and Services Catalogue. You should review this list to see if any fit the goods, services and construction that you offer; if you find any, check when they expire and watch BC Bid for the next RCSA posting, which will be your next chance to get on the list.

Refer to Weighted Requirements for more information on scored solicitations, and Price-Based Solicitations for more information when the award will be to the lowest priced submission.

 

Request for Standing Offer (RSO)

When a ministry would like to order goods or services on an as, if and when needed basis from one or more vendors, they may use a Request for Standing Offer (RSO) to create Standing Offers (SOs). A ministry usually directly orders what they need once it is established through a specific SO.

These types of arrangements are generally not included in the Goods and Services Catalogue, as SOs are usually only used by a single ministry. Otherwise, this is similar to the Request for Corporate Supply Arrangement process identified above. 

 

Invitation to Quote (ITQ)

This competitive process results in a purchase order to the lowest priced bidder that meets all the specifications identified by the buyer.

The ITQ:

  • Is usually posted to BC Bid, but can be issued to pre-qualified or selected vendors;
  • Is used only to purchase goods; and
  • Can be used for any dollar value.

Refer to Price-Based Solicitations for more information on awarding to the lowest-priced submission.

 

Invitation to Quote for Services (ITQS)

The ITQS is used to award a service contract to the lowest-priced bidder.

The ITQS:

  • Can be posted to BC Bid, but more commonly is issued for pre-qualified or selected vendors;
  • Uses one of the General Services Agreements (GSA) for the contract with the lowest bidder; and
  • Can be used for any dollar value.

Refer to Price-Based Solicitations for more information on awarding to the lowest-priced submission, and to Solicitation Templates to view the ITQS template.

 

Invitation to Tender (ITT)

The ITT results in a contract award to the lowest-priced bidder that meets specifications.

The ITT:

  • Is usually posted to BC Bid, but can be issued to pre-qualified or selected vendors;
  • Is used primarily for construction services; and
  • Can be used for any dollar value

Refer to Price-Based Solicitations for more information on awarding to the lowest-priced submission.

 

Negotiated RFPs and Joint Solutions RFPs (NRFPs and JSRFPs)

For large, complex procurements, the Province may decide to issue a non-conventional solicitation process that may differ from the information provided here. Refer to Award to Highest Score for guidance provided to ministries on these types of solicitations.

 

Lists – Request for Qualifications (RFQ)

RFQs are used to establish a list of vendors who have demonstrated their experience and ability to provide the goods, services or construction needed. Unlike Corporate Supply Arrangements and Standing Offers, government buyers can’t simply order off these lists. 

In some cases, these lists can be used just once for a two-stage competitive process (i.e. vendors are pre-qualified, and only those who make the list can compete for the contract), or they can be ongoing lists (i.e. for frequently needed goods and services).

Review each RFQ for detailed instructions on how a vendor on the list will be selected when a purchase is made. If this information is not clear, ask a question to the designated government contact.

If a competition is restricted to a pre-qualified list, the RFP, SRFP, ITQS, ITQ or Call to Market (see below) could be used.

For on-going lists, if the value of a purchase is over a specified threshold (most often $25,000 for services, and $10,000 for goods), the Province usually restricts the competition to just the vendors on the list; under the threshold, government buyers can select a vendor on the list using any method they choose, which may or may not include a competition.

The RFQ:

  • Is posted to BC Bid;
  • Can be used for goods, services or construction; and
  • Can be used for any dollar value.

Refer to Request for Qualifications for more information about RFQs, and to Solicitation Templates for the RFQ templates.

 

Call to Market Against Pre-Qualification Lists – Services (Call to Market)

The Call to Market is sometimes used to select a vendor from a pre-qualified list. It is a quick process, usually based on availability and price for a specific scope of work.

The Call to Market:

  • Is used for services only; and
  • Can be used for any dollar value.

 

Information Gathering and Engagement

Government buyers don’t always have enough information to fully understand what vendors have to offer, or who (if anyone) would be interested in providing the goods, services or construction that they need. There are also occasions where the Province has information that vendors may find useful or have been asking about.

The Province can use the following processes for information gathering and engagement:

 

Request for Information (RFI)

Government buyers may use an RFI to conduct market research, or to better understand what is available in the marketplace. RFIs do not create a competitive process, or involve ranking or scoring of any responses received.

The RFI:

  • Is posted to BC Bid;
  • Does not result in a contract or purchase order;
  • Enables vendors to provide information on their goods and/or services that could meet the identified need or solve the problem;
  • Does not result in any conflicts of interest for those vendors who respond; and
  • Can result in a competitive solicitation as the next step, based on the information provided by vendors (but this is not guaranteed).

RFIs are an opportunity for vendors to explain what they have to offer and how it would fit a need before the Province makes final decisions on what to buy. They are also an excellent opportunity for vendors to “introduce” themselves to public sector buyers.

Refer to Market Research and Notifications for more information about the RFI process.

 

Request for Expression of Interest (RFEI)

When a public sector buyer isn’t sure how many vendors may be interested in a potential competitive process, the RFEI can be used to engage the marketplace. This is not a part of a competitive solicitation process, but does provide an opportunity for vendors to help inform the Province before going to market.

The RFEI:

  • Is posted to BC Bid;
  • Does not result in a contract or purchase order;
  • Assists the Province in determining the best solicitation process to use for selecting a contractor, depending on the number of responses received; and
  • Can result in a competitive solicitation as the next step (but this is not guaranteed).

Most RFEIs are simply looking for the names and contact information of interested vendors. However, vendors can provide additional information about their organization and the products / services that they offer.

Refer to Market Research and Notifications for more information about the RFEI.

 

Notice of Intent (NOI)

The NOI is used when the Province intends to award a contract or purchase order without competing the opportunity because there is only one vendor that can provide the goods or services required, but this cannot be strictly proven as required by the Province direct award policy 6.3.3.a.1.  An NOI is often posted on BC Bid to test whether or not other vendors are interested and capable.  Other vendors can object to the NOI if they feel that they are also able to provide what’s needed.  If the Province substantiates a vendor objection to an NOI, a competitive solicitation would result.

The NOI:

  • Is posted on BC Bid;
  • Is used for goods and services;
  • Can be used for any amount (although policy doesn’t require an NOI for purchases of goods under $10,000 or services under $50,000); and
  • Is not a solicitation process itself, but may result in one if a substantiated objection is received.

Refer to Objecting to NOIs and Market Research and Notifications for more information about the NOI.

 

Notice to Vendors (NV)

The NV is used to inform vendors of something that may be of interest. NVs are posted to BC Bid. Examples of when the Province may use NVs include, but are not limited to, updates on the timing for planned solicitations, draft solicitation documents posted for comment, and upcoming vendor training.

Refer to Market Research and Notifications for more information about the NV.

 

BC Developers’ Exchange

The BC Developers’ Exchange is designed for the technology sector and government to work together to grow B.C.’s economy. It is specifically geared to developers and technology entrepreneurs wanting to work with government.  Click here for more detailed information on the opportunities offered through this program.

 

GovTogetherBC

GovTogetherBC is a hub for government engagement opportunities where individuals can listen, get informed and speak up on a wide range of topics.  It’s been available since 2012, with the objective of making government more transparent and accessible.  You may find topics here that relate to your organization’s operations.

 

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