For local governments, sourcing and contracting any large-scale project can’t be done without weighing and considering several factors. You’ll need to establish a timeline, determine a budget that will maximize tax payer dollars, and most importantly, choose a trusted vendor that can ensure a high quality final product or solution.
When it comes to seeking solutions for government website design, there are three primary procurement channels that will help with the last important step of choosing a solution partner. These channels include issuing a request for proposal, using a government contract vehicle, or contracting directly with an identified partner.
If you’re ready to implement a new municipal website, or government content management system, you should understand the benefits of each of these three procurement methods and decide which path is right for you.
Request for Proposal
A request for proposal (RFP) is formal procurement process, often managed by a municipal procurement department. In an RFP process, a procurement manager will outline the services or solutions desired in detail, and will request that any companies interested in submitting a bid, or proposal for consideration, respond following a formal template with specified response criteria.
Defined Criteria for Comparison
It can be required that any submitted bids be formatted in a way that allows procurement managers to easily compare available bidder features, offerings, and pricing, allowing for objective, rather than subjective, vendor comparisons and ultimate decision-making.
RFPs can be time-consuming, lengthy processes. The typical procurement process may take months from criteria development to contracting.
Issued RFPs may be sent to specific companies that are known to provide the desired services, including an incumbent vendor, if one exists. In addition, local governments typically must post bids publicly to provide equal opportunity to all interested vendors. This means you may receive dozens of lengthy proposals, all of which must be read, compared, considered, and weighed against the established criteria, before moving forward with a finalist presentation—adding additional time and effort to the process.
Government Contract Purchasing Vehicles
Government contract purchasing vehicles allow local governments to more easily identify reliable partner resources, especially for large scale information technology (IT) projects such as government website design. Under this type of arrangement, local governments may buy products and contract with solution providers that have already been vetted by a federally-approved procurement sourcing agency, such as the General Services Administration (GSA). The GSA is an independent agency of the United States government that helps to supply products and services to U.S. agencies while utilizing government-wide cost minimizing policies. Read our previous blog post for more information on government contract purchasing vehicles.
Sourcing through the GSA may allow you to choose a solution provider in your county, state, or community. By choosing a local municipal website solution provider, your administration keeps capital in your own community.
Deeply Discounted Pricing
You can be sure you are getting discounted pricing. GSA schedules leverage the buying power of the federal government, and offer pre-negotiated, deeply competitive rates.
Compared to other procurement methods, local governments are often able to choose and contract with a solution partner faster when working through the GSA, since quality vetting and contracting has already been completed by the federal government.
Depending on the procurement requirements established in the bylaws of your community, you may be able to execute a contract with a government website design solution provider directly. Direct contracting means you can research solution providers, review their capabilities, and analyze pricing without being encumbered by slow RFP procures, or stacks of proposal submissions. It also means, that you have the broadest partner options to choose from, and can custom negotiate your own contracted pricing, to fit your budget.
If you choose to contract with a provider directly, especially for a municipal website project, follow some best practices from both the RFP and GSA procurement procedures to optimize your ability to find the right solution partner.
You won’t know which solution partner is best without first determining the functionality and services you need. Decide on your ideal partner criteria, and ask anyone you meet with to demonstrate their ability to meet your needs.
Request a Demonstration
In a formal RFP for a government website design and development bid, a short list of potential partners is identified based on proposal submissions, and then in-person interviews are typically scheduled so that the vendors can demonstrate their website content management capabilities. Be sure to require this step even if you decide to interview vendors outside of a formal RFP process. Seeing a system demonstration is essential to making sure your functionality criteria will be met by your chosen partner.
Only Consider Vetted Solution Providers
There is no shortage of companies, start-ups, and independent freelancers that will offer to build your municipal website. Even if you don’t utilize a GSA schedule, it’s still worth asking any company you meet with if they are approved by the GSA. Also ask what other local government clients they work with, and any other questions that will help you determine how established they are in the marketplace. When it comes to choosing a platform that will serve as a core component of your civic engagement and citizen communication strategy, you’ll need a trusted partner with proven solutions that has earned national recognition.
If you’re ready to begin the search for a government website design partner, start your search by determining your goals and partner criteria by starting with a free website performance evaluation. This third party evaluation will outline how your current website measures in key performance categories, such as mobility, speed, and readability. Use it to help you determine exactly what you need from your future government website design solution partner.