By: Diane W. Doersch, Chief Technology and Information Office and John Ottow, Director of Technology, Green Bay Area Public Schools
These best practices will help a district get the best prices and products, and protect it from scrutiny over purchases.
We recently told a coworker at Green Bay Area (Wis.) Public Schools that we were looking forward to creating a request for proposal. After the coworker stopped laughing, she replied, “I am laughing at you, not with you.” That is the way it is with RFPs. We don’t know anyone who looks forward to creating an RFP, but standardizing and building a workable process has changed our way of thinking. Done well, an RFP does not have to entail a ton of work, and it can be beneficial for a school district and fair for all.
A good RFP process can protect a district from scrutiny over purchases and ensure that the district has received the best price and products possible. Here are some steps to make the RFP process easier:
1. Standardize Policy, Processes and Practices
It’s often best to start with state law, then move to the school district’s policy to find out what items the RFP procedure will require. For instance, our district's policy states that “budgeted equipment and services items that exceed a unit cost of $100,000 shall be brought to the Board for action.”
Our board of education has the expectation that we follow the policy rule regarding purchases over $50,000. Our department of technology works closely with our CFO, purchasing department and legal counsel to coordinate our RFP. We work to standardize the complete RFP process so that everyone involved has a roadmap for the next steps to come...
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