A First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) official said in a blog posting today that in discussions on the authority’s request for proposals (RFP), “one topic that has repeatedly cropped up is the dreaded ‘R’ word: requirements.
“Despite our best efforts, some still think we’ve hidden a series of requirements in the RFP to gear the solution to one corner of industry or that we have a specific outcome in mind that can only be achieved by meeting these imaginary requirements,” said James Mitchell, FirstNet’s director-program management. “The simple fact is we have an objectives-based RFP, including 16 objectives, for Offerors to address in their proposals. We even ask for a Performance Work Statement in Section L (Instructions, Conditions, and Notices to Offerors or Respondents) of the RFP so that Offerors have the freedom and flexibility to produce truly innovative solutions and approaches for the network.”
“If we had written a requirements-based RFP, we would have broken the IOC [initial operational capability]/FOC [final operational capability] into a complex series of nationwide delivery requirements by milestone, and then again by each of the 56 states and territories,” he added. “FirstNet essentially would have been telling industry experts that: 1) we expect Offerors to meet the demands of the Government by adhering to the schedule, 2) we won’t pay Offerors until they deliver on the milestones we have established, 3) we don’t want any more than what we have asked for in the RFP, and 4) even if Offerors have a different model, it doesn’t matter, this is how we require them to do business.
“In contrast, by developing an objectives-based RFP, we are instead asking industry experts: 1) to propose a schedule that gets FirstNet to each of the outcomes inherent in our objectives, 2) to propose the milestones upon which payment would be delivered, 3) if you can do more, please tell us, and 4) if there exists an approach objectively greater than the one we listed in the RFP, by all means, propose it,” Mr. Mitchell added. – Paul Kirby, firstname.lastname@example.org