Request for tender
A request for tenders (RFT) is a formal, structured invitation to suppliers to bid to supply products or services. In the public sector, such a process may be required and determined in detail by law to ensure that such competition for the use of public money is open, fair and free from bribery and nepotism. For example, a government may put a building project 'out to tender'; that is, publish an invitation for other parties to make a proposal for the building's construction, on the understanding that any competition for the relevant government contract must be conducted in response to the tender, no parties having the unfair advantage of separate, prior, closed-door negotiations for the contract. An evaluation team will go through the tenders and decide who will get the contract.
As a consequence of the scale of the tender process the majority of RFTs are published by the government sector, but companies in the infrastructure and utilities sectors may also publish RFTs.
RFTs may be distributed to potential bidders through a tender service, allowing businesses to receive and search live tenders from a range of public and private sources. These alerts are most commonly sent daily and can be filtered down by geographical area, or by business sector. Some tendering services even divide types of business very finely in their own way, by CPV (Common Procurement Vocabulary) codes. This enables a business to find RFTs specific to what that business can supply.
An RFT is usually an open invitation for suppliers to respond to a defined need as opposed to a request being sent to selected potential suppliers. The RFT often requests information following on from other information gathered previously from responses to a Request for Information (RFI). This will usually not only cover product and service requirements, but will also ask for information about the suitability of the business.
An RFT is usually expected to conform to some legally standardised structure designed to ensure impartiality.
Related proposal types
Other members of the family include:
- EOI - expression of interest
- IFB - invitation for bids
- ITT - invitation to tender
- ITV - invitation to vendors
- RFA - request for applications
- RFD - request for documentation
- RFI - request for information
- RFO - request for offers
- RFP - request for proposal
- RFQ - request for quotation or request for qualifications
- RFN - request for negotiation