Although many people use the terms "bid" and "proposal" interchangeably, they actually have two different, but somewhat similar definitions. Bids are used in sealed bidding purchases that usually last from 30 to 45 days from the time the procurement officer gets the specifications for the invitation to bid to when it is awarded. For most government competitive procurements, there are four primary types of solicitations, says Kenneth Hayslette, the owner of Atlantic Beach, Fla.-based Hayslette & Associates, a company specializing in professional procurement training and consultancy.
ITBs and IFBs are awarded solely on lowest responsive price (i.e. the least expensive bidder that meets the minimum requirements) and sometimes referred to as “sealed bidding.” Solicitation (ITB/IFB and RFP) postings are usually done on an agency’s website, Hayslette says, and it’s up to potential contractors to search online and find them. Bids can be found on bidnet.com, a website that showcases local, state and federal job postings, or on fbo.gov, which showcases roughly 25,000 active federal opportunities at any time. This type of bid is usually used any time the government can specify exactly what it wants, such as the purchase of a product — guns, chairs, cars, lightbulbs, tanks, etc. — or sometimes a service, in a finite quantity.
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