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It's "RFQ-Quote" Rather Than "RFP-Offer" When Talking About Orders Against Schedules (FAR 8.4)

FAR SubPart 8.4 gives us the only terminology appropriate for Schedule ordering.

The Request for Quotation (RFQ) is the document issued by the ordering activity to firms holding Schedule contracts. Schedule contractors respond to the RFQ with quotations.  FAR 8.402(d) describes eBuy as GSA’s electronic RFQ system.  FAR 8.405-2 defines the only ordering procedures for services requiring a statement of work.  Those are specifically called “Request for Quotation procedures” in the title of FAR 8.405-2(c).  “The ordering activity shall provide the RFQ (including the statement of work and evaluation criteria) to at least three schedule contractors…” FAR 8.405-2(c)(2)(ii). Above the maximum order threshold or when establishing a BPA, ordering activities shall “provide the RFQ (including the statement of work and evaluation criteria) to additional schedule contractors that offer services that will meet the needs of the ordering activity.” FAR 8.405-2(c)(3)(i).

Calling the document used to request quotes from Schedule contractors an “RFQ” has absolutely nothing to do with an ordering activity’s ability to use the full range of best value evaluation, trading off price factors against non-price factors. (Notice in the preceding paragraph that whenever “RFQ” was used in the FAR’s Schedule  RFQ procedures, “evaluation criteria” was also mentioned.)  The FAR’s “RFQ procedures” say: “Place the order, or establish the BPA, with the schedule contractor that represents the best value (see 8.404(d)).”  FAR 8.405-2(d).  The ordering activity is to document “the evaluation methodology used” and the “rationale for any tradeoffs in making the selection.” FAR 8.405-2(e).

The only significant difference between “RFP” and “RFQ” is not in the evaluation method and types available, but in the differing points at which offer and acceptance occur.  Both an “RFP” and an “RFQ” can trade off price against non-price factors.

A Request for Proposal (RFP) is a solicitation document used in negotiated procurements to communicate government requirements to prospective contractors and to solicit proposals (offers) from them.

A Request for Quotations (RFQ) is also used to communicate government requirements, but quotations submitted in response to it are not offers, and consequently may not be accepted by the government to form a binding contract.  The Schedule order (and not the quote) is actually the offer. The contractor accepts the offer (the Schedule order) by either signing it or by doing something that shows acceptance (like ordering supplies or contacting subcontractors).  As opposed to an RFP, an RFQ does not solicit binding offers. When the contractor accepts the order (actually or constructively), then acceptance has occurred. The Government Contracts Reference Book (3rd Ed., page 488) notes that the term “RFQ” is certainly not limited to FAR Part 13 simplified acquisitions: “An RFQ is also used when procuring services that require a statement of work from Federal Supply Schedule contractors. FAR 8.504-2(c).”

It is inappropriate and contrary to FAR SubPart 8.4 to call a Schedule order request for quotation an "RFP." The FAR never recognizes “RFP” as a suitable substitute for a Schedule order's “RFQ.”  As the FAR (as well as the Government Contracts Reference Book and other sources) point out, “RFP” and “RFQ” are not interchangeable.  They differ in when offer and acceptance occurs. When talking about Schedule orders, only "RFQ" is recognized by the FAR.

In addition. GSA’s Multiple Award Schedules Desk Reference uses the correct and FAR-based “RFQ” (not “RFP”) terminology.  See the Desk Reference's Section 8 (“Request for Quote (RFQ) and Statement of Work (SOW)”) of the Desk Reference for more information on the Schedule order RFQ process.

Of course, if you are talking about what GSA does at the Schedule contract level in awarding a Schedule or about what agencies do in their non-Schedule FAR Part 15 acquisitions, then it is certainly appropriate to use terms like “RFP, offer, proposal, and contract.”



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