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One of my clients asked for my help gaining a sole-source recognition with a government agency which has asked if she’d bid on an RFP (request for proposal). RFPs are terrible devices, produced and evaluated by low-level people who then select from the respondents and forward (usually he least expensive) proposals to the actual buyers. The questions asked are ludicrous and based on an hourly-payment mentality.

My client asked the agency what the time frame for acceptance would be if she submitted through the RFP process. She was told that most such projects launch “in about 18 months.”

I am not making this us up. That’s why bureaucracies, public or private, take too long and spend too much to get anything done.

Incidentally, the government’s FAR Act (Federal Acquisition Regulation) specifies that RFPs can ignore lowest price and choose highest value. A small ray of light. But usually, that highway bridge you’re on, or the sewerage treatment unit that cleans your water, are usually provided by the lowest bidder.

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Alan Weiss is a consultant, speaker, and author of over 60 books. His consulting firm, Summit Consulting Group, Inc., has attracted clients from over 500 leading organizations around the world.

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