City of Knoxville's Policy for Requests for Proposals
City government issues requests for proposals (RFPs) in order to
solicit suggestions and possible solutions to a variety of problems
and opportunities. This process, which is by nature competitive,
may ultimately lead to contractual relationships between the public
and private sectors. Therefore it must be conducted in a manner
such that the public has the highest degree of confidence that its
interests are protected. This can best be achieved if the city ensures
fairness among those offering competing proposals while placing
the city in the strongest possible negotiating position. The city
must also see that citizens and their representatives are informed
to the greatest degree possible.
Unfortunately, the goals of fairness, effectiveness, and openness
sometimes conflict in this context. For this reason and concerns
about collusion, coercion and other forms of illegal procurement
tampering, state law and the city code allow for nondisclosure of
information during the time period between the submission of proposals
and the final negotiated outcome so that any entity whose proposal
is selected for further negotiation does not have information regarding
offers proffered by others. Such knowledge could both facilitate
procurement tampering and damage the city's ability to negotiate
the best contract, thereby significantly increasing the cost of
the product or service to the government, and ultimately, the cost
to its citizens and taxpayers.
The position of the city is to maximize openness to the extent
that fairness and the public interest are not unduly compromised.
Assigning hard-and-fast rules is difficult because each project
may have unique elements. In general the following guidelines will
Products and services other than engineering or architectural
services are easiest to compare and proposals are evaluated primarily
based on financial considerations. Thus, proposals will not be made
public until the proposer has committed to the terms of a contract
and it has been submitted to Council for review. At this time all
proposals, evaluation committee members and the recommended negotiated
contract will be available to the public for review.
1. Proposals for products and services other than engineering
or architectural services:
2. Proposals for architectural, design and engineering services
and proposals for planning and development, that require Council
While such proposals have a financial component they often involve
elements about which stakeholder groups and the general public have
great interest. The objective of this process is to select the "most
qualified firm" rather than "most responsive low bid."
The names of evaluation committee members and the proposals will
be available for public review following the deadline for submission.
Exceptions to this process will be when price, rather than the scope
or nature of the service provided, is central in the evaluation
criteria. Finalists' presentations will be held in public when the
administration deems there is a significant public interest in the
selection. Evaluation committee deliberations and negotiations with
proposers will be private to ensure the most effective deliberations
regarding the strengths and weaknesses of each and the best outcome
for the taxpayer.