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Issue Request for Proposals (RFP) and Publicize Requirements

Once the proposal evaluation strategy has been developed, the request for proposals (RFP) is issued. Publicizing purchasing opportunities (including RFPs and prequalification opportunities) is the process of publicly announcing a request for proposals (RFP). Purchasing opportunities are publicized to create, promote, and ensure adequate competition. In addition, publicizing purchase opportunities is an effective way of communicating Postal Service requirements to small, minority, women-owned businesses (SMWOBs).

Publicizing Requirements

The Purchase/SCM Team should use market knowledge to determine whether purchase, subcontracting, and prequalification opportunities should be publicized and, if so, by what means and to what extent. If there is any doubt that an identified pool of sources for any proposal represents the most capable suppliers in the marketplace or will lead to adequate competition, the Purchase/SCM Team should publicize. Although publicizing requirements is a matter of judgment, purchase opportunities should be publicized if:

Best value could be realized from candidates not previously identified as potential suppliers

Competitive or noncompetitive awards offer significant subcontracting opportunities

Publicizing will further the Postal Service's supplier diversity objectives

The announcement of such an award may enhance future competition

Publicizing will further the business and competitive interests of the Postal Service

The Contracting Officer is responsible for publicizing requirements. Methods for publicizing include:

Announcement in the Government-wide Point of Entry (GPE)

Announcement in other media

Presolicitation notices

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Availability of the Request for Proposals (RFP)

When the competitive purchase method will be used, enough suppliers should be solicited to ensure adequate competition. In addition, the Contracting Officer should make a reasonable effort to provide copies of the request for proposals (RFP) to any supplier requesting one. If the requirement is being competed among prequalified suppliers, suppliers not on the prequalification list may be provided a copy of the RFP, but they must be told that the Postal Service plans to award the resulting contract to a supplier on the prequalification list. Requests for copies may be denied once a reasonable number of copies have been distributed to the solicited suppliers and others who have requested them. The Contracting Officer should fully explain to suppliers the unavailability of RFPs.

Alternatively, the Contracting Officer may make available through FedBizOpps (www.fedbizopps.gov), the Government-wide Point of Entry (GPE), RFPs publicized through the GPE, including specifications and other pertinent information determined necessary by the Contracting Officer. When practicable and cost-effective, the Contracting Officer may make additional solicitation-related information accessible through the GPE.

When an RFP or solicitation package is so voluminous that it is impracticable to reproduce a reasonable number of copies for those requesting them, a limited number of copies should be made available for sale; the cost should include the cost of reproduction and postage.

Government-wide Point of Entry (GPE)

The Government-wide Point of Entry (GPE) will be used when publicizing requirements because it is recognized by the supplier community as an excellent source for information regarding purchase opportunities and RFPs. The Contracting Officer will publicize requirements by posting the finalized RFP to the GPE, known as FedBizOpps, at www.fedbizopps.gov. The GPE can also be accessed electronically by the public. If using the GPE, publicizing must not occur later than issue of the RFP.

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Other Media

In situations where the GPE does not provide the most effective communications channel, requirements may also be publicized via other media, including newspapers, trade journals, and electronic media. The Contracting Officer, in conjunction with the Purchase/SCM Team, must consider:

Conditions of the current marketplace

Postal Service business needs

Postal Service competitive needs

Subcontracting opportunities that would follow contract award

As another premier business publication regarding solicitation announcements, the Journal of Commerce allows the Postal Service a media venue that can be accessed by any supplier. Available online, the Journal of Commerce can be viewed at www.joc.com/.

Announcements of RFPs made available to newspapers, other news media, and trade journals may be made when there is no cost to the Postal Service. However, paid commercial announcements or advertisements may also be used when doing so is determined to be appropriate to stimulate supplier competition. In addition, Purchase/SCM Teams should consider the use of media to further the Postal Service's supplier diversity objectives in relation to prime or subcontracting opportunities. The Contracting Officer must choose the most cost-effective method and which newspapers, trade journals, or other news media will promote the Postal Service's interests.

Presolicitation Notices

If the Purchase/SCM Team wishes to identify suppliers, it may do so by issuing a presolicitation notice (also called a "sources sought" notice) before issuing the RFP. The notice should:

Describe the upcoming Postal Service requirement and any applicable qualification requirements

Announce any planned presolicitation conferences

Specify a date by which the supplier must respond to the notice to ensure inclusion on the request for proposals mailing list

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Preproposal Conference

Whenever circumstances suggest that it would add to the success of the purchase, such as when a solicitation contains complicated specifications or statements of work, a preproposal conference may be held to brief suppliers. Notice of the preproposal conference should be contained in the solicitation. If time allows, suppliers should be allowed to submit written questions in advance, so that prepared answers may be distributed at the conference.

The entire Purchase/SCM Team should attend the conference. The Contracting Officer or a designated representative must conduct the conference, with the assistance of the Purchase/SCM Team and assigned counsel, as appropriate.

A record of the conference must be furnished to all of the suppliers who received the solicitation. Because the role of that record is to ensure that all prospective suppliers fully understand the Postal Service's intent with respect to the purchase, and not necessarily to provide a verbatim reconstruction of the conference, the record may be edited for clarity and brevity and corrected where necessary.

Other Topics Considered

Define Supplier Diversity Objectives topic, Develop Sourcing Strategy task, Process Step 2: Evaluate Sources

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

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