Selected Vendor Approval Process – the Government Purchasing Odyssey
Whoa is me! The government agency I’ve been spending many months with has finally issued an RFP. That 40 page PDF document chocked full of extremely important information that I need to read and respond to very carefully. That 40 page document that has been touched by 10 internal staff folks, each of them making sure their agenda is accurately portrayed… I do my best. I live with that document for weeks, and I build a beautiful response to that government RFP. I’ve climbed to the top of the mountain, I put my hands up and cheer for my amazing feat. I submitted my RFP Response.
Many more months can go by during a phased evaluation and selection process. Many days and nights of wondering if all my efforts are going to pay off or if the bloodletting was all in vain. And then, the big moment. They announced the recommended vendor… and it’s me! I accept my tiara and my sash and I begin to walk the runway, give the appropriate amount of side eye to my competitor as I accept the….
Wait. Actually. I haven’t won it yet. There’s a few more things that need to be done.
The recommendation needs to go to committee.
The committee recommendation then needs to go to council.
There may be another reading that has to be done by council.
There is a discussion around whether my standard contract or their standard contract will be used. Both contracts are reviewed.
One is chosen. Then a reconciliation process starts that can take literally months. “Red Lining”. Oh. My. For. Heaven’s. Sake. Someone. Just. Do. Something!
Then that’s done, and the agreement is routed for approval.
By this time, someone that was originally involved in the process is leaving for another job, and someone else comes on board. I mean. When the process takes a half a year just to get to this point, that’s a real thing that happens all the time. Institutional and tribal knowledge just comes and goes.
Now, there’s another person who has their own agenda and tries to interject it into the existing process that’s nearly done, and we find ourselves, back to step … minus 48.
Eventually this gets settled. and we start up the signature process again.
Then it get dropped in the mail, and mailed to us…
Wait. What? pieces of papers, multiple copies of pieces of paper are sealed up in a stamped envelope and mailed to us to put wet signatures on.
We find ourselves in month 10-11 of the process and the industry is starting to pivot again.
Sometimes I’ll trust them and just implement the proposed solution, just on blind faith that I’ll be paid for the work. Sometimes that works, and sometimes, well, based on the amount of time this whole process just took – the likelihood of being paid anything starts to diminish, primarily because now the priorities are shifting – as well they should, a year has gone by.
All in the name of transparency and compliance. and I get it…
Thus is the Government Purchasing Odyssey.
Many times, this happens because the solicitation project itself is not well defined, and that happens because the RFP (the central object that defines the project) has left it out. I’m starting to see more and more RFPs have a clearly defined “Disposition Process” outlined, and that’s a good thing. I know exactly what I’m getting into and I know for sure there is a plan – and it’s laid out right in front of me. Now I’m more inclined to respond.
Building your solicitations with Govlist will ensure this important (yet sometimes unknown to many) process is clearly documented every single time.
Brilliant. (Thank you to the Philadelphia Land Bank for being transparent about your ENTIRE process. Seeing how clearly you define and document this in your RFP is what inspired me to write this tongue-in-cheek post)