Successfully Navigating the Request for Proposal

“At University of Texas Systems, I am responsible for overseeing the contract process for waste disposal services.  When we need to contract with a vendor for a particular service, we create a request for proposal (RFP). Once the RFP is complete, we find suitable or interested vendors and send them our request for proposals. The request for proposal will contain a sample job that the vendor must respond to with all of the required paperwork. Once the RFP has been submitted to vendors, we then assemble our team, manage the evaluation process, answer questions from the vendors, and work to find the best value for our institution.”


“Vendors need to do their work even before receiving the RFP to understand what the customers’ needs are, what gap they are looking to fill, and how the vendor can fill that gap. Trying to do that after the RFP is out is frustrating for everyone.

“There are a lot of vendors out there that try to convince us that what they offer is what we need, and that’s not always the case. We have to look at the total cost of doing business with someone. We look at the whole deal, and the decision can come down to how a vendor handles billing. If they’ve got a really rigid billing system that isn’t conducive for our accounting folks to be able to verify compliance with the contract, it is going to create headaches on our end.

“When we send out a RFP, we give the vendors a sample job. The vendor is then responsible for completing the proposal and turning in all of the documentation. This includes the shipping paperwork, the labels, and all of the billing documentation. When we look at the entire package of paperwork submitted by the vendors, it is really easy to tell which vendors know what they are doing, and how thorough they are.”


“With a government RFP, there can be a lot more hoops to jump through. There is a formal process of who you can talk to and what you can talk about. Once the RFP has been issued to the vendors, I have to share the same information with all of the bidders.

“In the private sector, there is no law to go by. A pricing agreement can be in place, and someone can still convince the company that they are a better option and get the final contract.”


“The biggest thing Veolia realized was that we weren’t looking specifically at price, we were looking at value. We’re looking for the best service, reduced liability, and waste disposal capabilities that meet our needs. Veolia was able to come in and provide the value we were looking for. Their proposal was really straightforward, and they paid a lot of attention to our requests. They hit all the points we were worried about: price, service, location, treatment technologies and the risk level we were comfortable with.”

Patrick Durbin- Assistant Director for Risk Control, University of Texas System

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