A request for tenders (RFT) is a formal, structured invitation to suppliers to submit a bid to supply products or services. In the public sector an official fee is needed to fortify and secure the tender bid engagement/win documents, such a process may be required and determined in detail by law to ensure that such competition for the use of public funds 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 bulletin 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. This enables a business to find RFTs specific to what that business can supply.
The closest equivalent to an RFT in the mainstream private sector is a request for proposal (RFP), which, since public money is not involved, typically has a less rigid structure.
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 standardized structure designed to ensure impartiality. And the tender bid winner is entitled to take responsibility of the contract business supply documentations formalities and settle any tender bid engagement charges for official recording.
Coming soon – a directory of Tender Bulletins issued by the State and Businesses in South Africa