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Develop, Issue, and Analyze Responses from Request for Information (RFI)

A request for information (RFI) is an invitation for potential suppliers to register interest in providing a product or service. Potential suppliers submit responses that provide information about their companies and the proposed products or services to be provided to meet the requirement. This process identifies what is in the marketplace and provides an opportunity to prequalify suppliers. Unlike a request for proposals (RFP), an RFI does not imply a commitment to acquire the product or service identified in the RFI from any responding supplier.

An RFI provides the Postal Service with useful information to further assess whether a make decision is feasible and may lead to innovative solutions and a better understanding of how the requirement(s) can be met, fueling the make vs. buy decision, . If a buy decision is later chosen, the most suitable potential suppliers identified at this stage are logical sources to fill the requirement.

RFIs can be used to:

Identify candidates with whom there are no past contracts

Identify opportunities for supplier teaming

Obtain goods or services with which the Postal Service has had limited experience

Obtain general information about products, services, or suppliers

Obtain market information when other, more efficient means are not possible

The components that make up the RFI process are its development and issuance and analysis of responses to it.

Develop RFI

Development of the RFI is contingent on the factors surrounding the requirement. It comprises Postal Service information and questions for suppliers to answer. The following areas are addressed:

Postal Service Information:

Postal Service background

Scope and objectives of RFI

RFI process synopsis (e.g., how questions will be answered)

Instructions to suppliers for filling out RFI (format and templates for certain information)

Schedule of RFI

How to submit responses

Contact information for questions

Other relevant information (e.g., confidentiality matters, and any necessary disclaimers or limitations of liability)

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Issue RFI

Because an RFI is issued when the need is for information or planning purposes, it must include Provision A-2: Solicitation for Information or Planning Purposes. RFIs may be publicized via the Government-wide Point of Entry (GPE), the single point where most government purchasing opportunities and contract awards can be accessed electronically by the public on the Internet: http://www.fedbizopps.gov. Publicizing is discussed in detail in the Issue Request for Proposals (RFP) and Publicize topic of the Perform Solicitation-Related Activities task of Process Step 2: Evaluate Sources.

Analyze Responses to RFI

In addition to the specific requirement, supplier responses to a request for information should address topics such as the following:

Company overview

Subsidiaries or associated companies


Market intelligence

Competitive positioning

Supplier capabilities

Summary of services or products pertaining to RFI requirement


Cost summary

Organizational chart, annual report, or financial information

References and qualifications

The Purchase/SCM Team will analyze submitted responses to the RFI. Following the review of the responses, the Purchase/SCM Team may consider holding a question and answer (Q&A) session with the individual suppliers. Questions for the suppliers should be sent in advance of the Q&A session The instructions will ensure a consistent format for all RFI responses. The Purchase/SCM Team should carefully evaluate RFI responses to determine the best solutions to fulfill the need.

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Other Issues

As noted above, an RFI is used when no firm intent to purchase has been established. Once a decision has been made to purchase a particular requirement, a request for proposals (RFP) is required. An RFP documents and fully informs potential suppliers of the Postal Service's requirements for the particular purchase, including proposal expectations and identification of best value criteria. The finalized RFP is used to generate competitive proposals from potential suppliers. Additional information on RFPs can be found in the Develop Preliminary Request for Proposals (RFP) topic of the Prepare Project task of Process Step 2: Evaluate Sources.

Other Topics Considered

Start Request for Proposals (RFP) Development topic, Prepare Project task, Process Step 2: Evaluate Sources

Prequalify Suppliers topic, Perform Solicitation-Related Activities task, Process Step 2: Evaluate Sources

Issue Request for Proposals (RFP) and Publicize topic, Perform Solicitation-Related Activities task, Process Step 2: Evaluate Sources

Clauses & Provisions

Provision A-2: Solicitation for Information or Planning Purposes

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