4.4 Request for Bids (RFB)/Proposals (RFP)

Page last updated

Policy Information

Policy Number: 4.4Effective Date: February 1996
Responsible Unit: Financial Services - PurchasingLast Revised Date: 03/15/2024
Phone: 520-621-1747Email: FNSV-Purchasing@arizona.edu

Purpose and Summary

This Policy details the requirements, and procedures for soliciting bids and proposals in accordance with the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) University Procurement Code and other applicable policies pertaining to transactions exceeding $25,000.

For transactions of $25,000 or less, refer Purchasing Policy 3.2 Small Dollar Expenditures.


Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) Policy, including but not limited to 3-801 H. University Procurement Code and 3-803 Source Selection and Contract Formation


This policy applies to all University locations and units, including all University extensions, satellite locations, and off-site campus units, both domestic and international.


  1. Competitive Solicitation: An Invitation for Bids (RFB), a Request for Proposals (RFP), a request for quotations, a Request for Qualifications, or any other requests by the University for the purpose of soliciting Bids, Offers, or qualifications to perform a Contract.
  2. Small Business: A for-profit or not-for-profit organization, including its affiliates, which either employs fewer than one hundred (100) full-time employees or which had gross annual receipts of less than four million dollars ($4,000,000) in its last fiscal year.


  1. Purchases exceeding $25,000 but not exceeding $100,000 require an informal competitive solicitation.
  2. Purchases exceeding $100,000 require a formal sealed competitive solicitation.
  3. Blanket purchase orders where annual expenditures exceed $100,000 require competitive sealed bids.
  4. Exceptions to the solicitation requirements above are permitted for the purchase of a Sole Source item in accordance with Purchasing Policy 4.7 Sole Source, or a purchase from a Contracted Vendor. Additional exceptions must be in accordance with Purchasing Policy 4.5 Exceptions to Competitive Solicitations.
  5. All purchases utilizing Federal money require that:
    1. Blanket Orders be subject to an existing University contract; and
    2. All expenditures exceeding $25,000 have Buyer substantiation of selected source and pricing.


Informal Competitive Solicitation

  1. For procurements over $25,000 and not exceeding $100,000, an informal solicitation (i.e. fax, phone, email, or written) shall be conducted to a minimum of three (3) vendors.
  2. Only Small Businesses shall be included in the solicitation, unless it is determined impracticable by the Buyer and so documented.
  3. Departments may conduct the informal solicitation and send the documentation to Purchasing as an attachment to the requisition. Departments will be required to provide documentation to Buyers to justify any purchase that is not awarded to a Small Business.
  4. The Buyer may request, at their discretion, that quotes be provided with purchases under $25,000.

Formal Sealed Competitive Solicitation

  1. All University purchases which exceed an aggregate dollar amount of $100,000 should be awarded in accordance with a sealed competitive proposals (RFP) process.
  2. Some purchases may more appropriately be made by sealed competitive bids (RFB), for example, when the sole determining factor in such selection process is pricing. Therefore, authority is hereby delegated to each Buyer to determine the appropriate procurement method. Difficult or unclear situations shall be discussed with the Chief Procurement Officer.
  3. Sealed RFP's and RFB's will be sent to a minimum of 3 vendors and posted on the Vendor Resources website, if practicable, and may be advertised. The Buyer is to make a good faith effort to include Small Businesses for at least fifty percent (50%) of those vendors solicited.
  4. All sealed vendor responses are to be opened at a public proposal/bid opening. This mandatory requirement includes purchases of all supplies, equipment, insurance and contractual services exceeding an aggregate dollar amount of $100,000 made by the University.
  5. Exceptions to the sealed RFP/RFB requirement are stated in University Purchasing Policy 4.5, which includes the provisions for emergency procurements or sole source procurements.

Tied Low Bids (pertains to Bids only)

  1. In the event of a tie involving two or more low bids, the Vendors submitting the low bids will be given a chance to submit revised bids.
  2. The award will be made to the responsive and responsible Vendor submitting the revised low bid.
  3. In the event there are still two or more tied bids, the Buyer will conduct a drawing, in the presence of two witnesses, to determine the winning bid. The award will be made to the low responsive and responsible Vendor whose name is drawn. The process will be documented and made a part of the Bid file. This procedure will be used whether the solicitation is an Informal Request for Bids or a formal Sealed Request for Bids.

Blanket Orders

  1. Blanket Purchase Orders where an annual expenditure is estimated between $25,000 and $100,000 may require competitive bidding. Such bidding decisions will be at the discretion of the Buyer, based on the nature and competitiveness of the requested purchase requirement.
  2. Only Small Businesses shall be included in the solicitation, unless it is determined impracticable by the Buyer and so documented.
  3. Annual expenditures exceeding $100,000 require competitive sealed bids.
  4. The requisition must include a description of the items and a list of the people authorized to place orders on the Blanket Order. The following must be documented in the Notes and Attachments on the requisition:
    1) What item(s) or category(ies) will be included in your purchases on the Blanket Order?
    2) Provide a brief explanation of the use of the item(s) or category(ies) listed above.
    3) What is the estimated annual dollar amount of this Blanket Order?
    4) How long will the Blanket Order be open?
    5) State the reason this vendor was selected.

Specifications and Supply Sources

  1. The Buyer will make purchases on the basis of specifications furnished by the requesting department. The determination of a desirable quality to accomplish necessary results will be a joint decision between the user and Purchasing. Many vendors make alternate proposals which afford the University a better value while either meeting or exceeding the specifications.
  2. A competitive solicitation, either in the form of a Request for Proposals (RFP) or a Request for Bids (RFB), will be solicited from those vendors that Purchasing determines will stimulate viable competitive offers.
  3. The department is encouraged to send a list of vendors that they would like included in the solicitation with the requisition.
  4. For further information concerning these Purchasing Policies or for assistance, contact a Purchasing Buyer.

Procurement of Design and Construction Services

  1. Procurement authority has been delegated to the Assistant Vice President of Planning Design and Construction (PDC) for the procurement of design and construction services, and management of all new construction, renovation, and remodeling projects. Projects costing less than $25,000, labor only, and maintenance projects may be handled in-house by Facilities Management.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Must transactions under $25,000 be awarded to Small Businesses?
    The Chief Procurement Officer has determined that transactions procured directly by the campus community in accordance with Purchasing Policy 3.2 Small Dollar Expenditures, which includes the Purchasing Card (PCard) and Arizona BuyWays, are impracticable to mandate awarding to Small Businesses. Departments are encouraged to make efforts to identify Small Business for these purchases.
  2. What are the benefits of a Request for Proposal (RFP) over sealed completive bids (RFB)?
    The competitive proposal (RFP) process is usually in the best interests of the University and is the better means of promoting fair and open procurement for the following reasons:
    1. Observation that bidding only, based on the low bid dollar amount, often results in acquisition of lower quality of goods;
    2. Price competition alone does not necessarily result in fair competition or favorable pricing;
    3. Awards based on comparative evaluation of price, quality, performance capability and other qualitative factors usually prove the most advantageous to the University; and
    4. Prior procurement experience indicates that competitive sealed proposals usually result in contracts that better serve the University's interests.
  3. Are Independent Contractor and Consultant services required to be procured via completive solicitation?
    Yes. Independent Contractor and Consultant services shall be procured in accordance with this policy and FSM Policy 9.12 Independent Contractor Services.

ABOR Policy 3-801 H. University Procurement Code
ABOR Policy 3-803 Source Selection and Contract Formation
Contracted Vendors and Agreements
FSM 9.12 Independent Contractor Services
PUR 3.2 Small Dollar Expenditures
PUR 4.5 Exceptions to Competitive Solicitations 
PUR 4.7 Sole Source

* Please note that sections titled Frequently Asked Questions and Related Information are provided solely for the convenience of users and are not part of the official University policy.