Is Your Bidding Process Fair and Transparent?

Controversial Bidding process in Orem, UT

When the Legislative Council of Orem, Utah tapped a newly formed and inexperienced firm for a feasibility study on splitting a local school district, the decision sparked controversy. Because of this concern, local constituents filed a formal complaint with the Utah State Auditor’s Office. Though the auditor ruled that the Legislative Council broke no laws, they emphasized the use of the RFP process to avoid suspicion. Still, KUTV News in Utah wanted an outside perspective on Orem’s decision. They reached out to The Bid Lab to conduct a blind audit on the process used by the Legislative Council.  

The Bid Lab found several basic best practices that Orem left out of their procurement that ensure a fair process. And a fair bidding process confirms that taxpayers are getting the best products and services at the best possible price.

So, before your organization begins accepting proposals for your procurement, make sure that these simple steps are in place to make certain that you’re getting the best possible results. 

1. Always Use the RFP Process

RFP processes are designed to create an opportunity to source the best products and services. They explicitly lay out the work, budget and timeline, then assign a point system to fairly evaluate each applicant. By publishing everything within an RFP, the selection process can be executed without prejudice.

2. Advertise Nationally

There are literally hundreds of sites that aggregate and publish RFPs, and many are free. By posting your bid on as many of these sites as possible, it casts a wide net of applicants. Naturally this results in a greater number of options on experience, strategies, and of course, price. This also increases your chances of procuring services without any conflicts of interest. 

3. Have a Detailed Scope of Work

Digging into the very specifics of what the job requires not only solicits the most qualified service provider, but also the most qualified with the current capacity to fill your needs while avoiding the need to procure additional services later. When the RFP explicitly states the scope of work, timelines and budgets, only service providers that meet all the criteria will make it through the selection process. This ensures the right contractor will complete the job efficiently and on budget. 

4. Make Evaluation Criteria Clear and Available

Publishing exactly what you’re looking for and the value of each criterion point allows the process to remain objective and removes any ambiguity on the qualifications of the chosen provider. It also keeps the evaluators accountable to their stakeholders, including their constituents, by procuring the right vendor for the job. Having detailed evaluation criteria ensures there is no bias because there is a strict rubric that evaluators must work from. 

5. Have a Digital Submission Option

The best way to ensure cronyism is to only have a physical drop-off option (as was the case in the Orem, Utah bid we previously mentioned.) This limits the pool of participants to only those who are able to and familiar with how, where and to whom to physically hand-in their proposal. Additionally, it increases the chances of secret meetings and handshake deals. In this digital age, there are a myriad of options to submit documents digitally. And because most documents today are created digitally, this creates a more efficient approach as well as a greener one! If physical submissions are necessary, it’s important to make sure there are shipping options available to a publicly posted address. This way, bidding entities from around the country have a fair chance of submitting a proposal, significantly increasing the applicant pool. 

Curious about how your procurement process is going?

The Bid Lab can provide the kind of comprehensive, personalized service to help you achieve your procurement goals. Our team of bid experts includes researchers, writers, editors and industry veterans who collaborate to optimize your RFP. So reach out to us at respond@thebidlab.com or 1-844-4BIDLAB to learn more about the best way to procure services with RFPs!