the high value of the anticipated contract, by the circumstances involving the potential outsourcing of work, and by the high political profile of photo radar.
While the province had issued some general guidelines for RFPs, there was little direction for large information technology projects involving outsourcing. The use of an RFP process and the full-time services of an RFP officer would help ensure that the selection of a supplier was easily defended in the press and in the Legislature, to the public and to the losing suppliers. The project team was aware that suppliers could spend several hundred thousand dollars to develop their proposal and market their ideas. It was important that the process be seen to be fair and open to all.
In June, the project acquired the services of an RFP officer, whose sole responsibility was the quality of the RFP document and the evaluation process. This person was responsible for ensuring that the form and content of the RFP was accurate, that the RFP was easy to follow, consistent with policy and best practices, and that proposals submitted in response to the RFP would be easy to evaluate and lead to an effective solution provided by a responsible supplier.
The RFP officer and the project manager constructed the RFP in about 60 days. RFP deadlines always precipitate a flurry of activity since the RFP must contain accurate descriptions of the requirements and constraints. Often, these issues require the attention of senior executives and are sometimes not dealt with until the deadline is at hand. During this time, requirements were finalized, major tactical decisions were made, and the RFP document was approved by the Stakeholders Forum.
THE RFP PROCESS
The RFP was announced in the newspapers at the end of June, 1995. Over the next few weeks, about 60 RFPs were issued to suppliers, to politicians, to interest groups and to curious citizens. About 30 suppliers attended the bidders meeting. In August, three proposals were received. The winning proposal was from a consortium consisting of a systems integrator, a computer manufacturer, a radar camera manufacturer and a software firm specializing in photo radar systems. The resulting contract was for equipment, software, support and processing services over three years and exceeded $11 million.
The RFP dealt with all the usual administrative, project and contract issues. However, two of its features -- the project structure and the evaluation process -- were instrumental in ensuring that proposals were responsive and capable of satisfying the province's functional and contractual requirements.
The RFP described the project in terms of three objectives. Each of these objectives was, in turn, expanded into a series of sub-projects, which were described in terms of major activities. Suppliers were required to respond to each objective separately. In doing so, the province could evaluate each objective as a separate option.
The RFP stated that the objectives were to identify a responsive and responsible contractor to:
Implement speed monitoring cameras and processing systems as a "turn-key system."
Be a strategic partner.
Operate the system on behalf of the Motor Vehicle Branch, the sponsoring agency.
Each objective was then expanded into a series of subprojects. For example, objective one was expanded into seven tasks: to complete the system design; to develop and implement the system; to test the system; to modify the system; to submit the system for acceptance testing; to provide on-going support and maintenance; and to provide additional cameras and vehicles.
Further details were then provided about each task. Suppliers were instructed to construct their proposals using this same layered approach, addressing each objective, subproject and task.
EVALUATING THE PROCESS
The evaluation process was rigorous and provided for testing of the cameras by a special traffic unit. The winning proposal had the best combination of all