You finally made the decision to take your business a step further by expanding into government services. You signed up with BidNet to get daily Bid Alerts® and you received information about a bid that would be perfect for your company. You’re probably wondering: what happens next? What do I need to do in order to bid on this opportunity? How does the whole bid process work?
If you are new to bidding on government contracts, the bid process can seem very daunting, but it doesn’t need to be. Over the next few weeks we will publish three articles on BidNet.com detailing how the bid process works and what you need to do in order to have a successful bidding experience. These articles will be based off of the bid process for New York State; however bidding on government contracts in other states and local agencies should follow a similar process. These articles will break down the steps in a way that will give you the most detailed information available about a bid, as well as tips on how to be successful with your bid proposal.
What is a Bid?
Let’s begin with what a bid is. A bid is the process a government agency undertakes in order to purchase commodities, services and technologies from vendors like you. Some services may require that an agency award a contract to only one vendor, or it may require a contract to be awarded to several vendors, depending on the type of service needed and where the service will be provided. For example, if a State agency is looking to service something in their building – say, having an elevator inspected - they would really only need one vendor, but if they are looking to provide a number of different counties with a service like fuel delivery, they may require several vendors in order to get the job done. Bids may come in the form of an RFP (Request for Proposal) or an IFB (Invitation for Bid). Most of the time, a bid package will be an IFB.
Now let’s discuss how the whole bid process begins. Usually, an agency will begin their bid process a year in advance; this is to make sure they know exactly what they need in terms of the type of work required, what State laws and regulations must be respected during the course of a bid, and what services they require from a vendor in general. Most agencies already have an established bidders’ list that they use to distribute their bids to vendors, but they are always looking for new vendors to add to the mix. This is where your relationship with BidNet comes in handy: BidNet allows you to easily find all the upcoming procurement opportunities that are out there for you to bid on. If you are interested in a bid, BidNet will provide you with the information to contact that agency as well as the important documents that accompany a bid.
The Bid Package
A bid package is assembled and sent out to potential vendors 2-3 months prior to the opening of the bid. This allows time for you, the vendor, to fill out all the necessary paperwork that is included in the bid package while allowing you to ask any questions you may have about the service to be provided, the associated documents or the bid in general. Even if you have submitted proposals on these services before, or completed a bid for another agency, keep in mind that each bid package is unique so there most likely will be questions. Questions are then summarized and sent out to each vendor in the form of an Addendum. This ensures fairness during the process by making sure that no vendor has an advantage over another. Also keep in mind that, due to the nature of some bids, certain information cannot be provided to vendors until the bid process is over. There are also instances where a project will require a mandatory visit to the site of a project. If a site visit is part of the bid process, you must go to the location at the day and time listed on the notice for the upcoming bid in order to receive the bid package. This often occurs during construction projects but can be required for other projects as well. If you do not go to the site visit, you will not be allowed to get the bid! You must either go to the site in person or have a representative of the company go in order to obtain the bid package.
You may be thinking that all of this information is a bit overwhelming, especially if you’re a first time bidder - and we haven’t even dived into the actual bid proposal yet! But it really isn’t as overwhelming as it seems. As mentioned previously, the next few articles we post will continue to explain the bid process and provide you with tips and advice on how to make this process as easy and painless as possible.
Check out BidNet.com each week for updates. Next week’s article will cover all that is included in a Bid Package.
Danielle Calamaras | BidNet.com