Procurement serves an important role in ensuring that government is a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars. However, in municipalities across the U.S. the current competitive bid process often creates challenges for innovation such as  complex technical specifications and RFPs, lengthy procurement timelines, and a focus on compliance and transaction-oriented issues rather than performance.

One key policy innovation we’ve developed is the “RFP Bus.” Most RFPs today are like a single-driver car–inefficient and resource intensive. Combining RFPs with common traits into a joint RFP spreads out process costs. That’s why we’ve designed the STIR application process as one, simple RFP where vendors can respond to one or more of the challenges outlined by the Departments.

Get started early with stakeholders. Changing long-standing processes takes time. Engage the contract, risk and legal teams within the city early in the process of developing the RFP and before sourcing and scoping challenges. Once finalized, be sure departments understand the contracting process that you’ll be using.

Problem-focused procurement. STIR begins with Sourcing & Scoping Civic Challenges directly from city staff in order to define a problem to be solved, instead of requiring a solution seeking a problem. By clearly defining problems at the outset of a procurement process, RFPs are more clear and inviting for a wider range of contractors to respond with their best solutions.

Group the solicitations. Grouping challenge statements into a single RFP allows for a standardized process for city staff, easier promotion to wider networks, and high interest amongst vendors.