Policy Report

An RFI Guide: How Requests for Information Can Improve Government Human Services Contracting

Federal/Local/Nonprofit/State/ 2019/

The Problem:
Governments too often fail to meaningfully engage human services providers and community stakeholders in their procurement processes and, as a result, develop and implement human services contracts that are less effective than they could be in achieving desired outcomes for their residents. By skipping the important information gathering stage and simply releasing Requests for Proposal (which are often recycled from previous years’ procurements), governments miss crucial opportunities to improve results through collaboration and information sharing between the public sector, human services providers, and community stakeholders.

The Solution:
One solution is to develop partnerships between the public sector, human services providers, and community stakeholders to establish a shared vision for success and strategies for leveraging the collective talents of government and human services providers to achieve that vision. Implementing a government procurement process that engages human services providers and community stakeholders allows for greater alignment between sectors and better outcomes for residents. The Request for Information is a tool that can be used to engage human services providers and community stakeholders in the government procurement process.

The Request for Information:
Requests for Information (RFIs) allow government, community stakeholders, and human services providers the opportunity to identify relevant community challenges, co-create strategies to solve those challenges, and design the best procurement structures to achieve the desired outcomes. An RFI is an important step in creating the type of open and inclusive collaboration needed between government and human services providers to support better social service delivery across the United States. Ultimately, improving outcomes for communities in need requires that both government and human services providers commit to improving the government procurement status quo. This work begins at the earliest stages of human services contracting when:

  • Governments use RFIs to gather critical information from human services providers and community stakeholders to inform the goals of upcoming human services contracts and ensure that they are scoped appropriately in order to achieve the desired outcomes for residents.
  • Human services providers use RFIs to provide their expertise and inform the goals and structure of an upcoming human services contract to help ensure that it is designed to maximize opportunities to achieve outcomes for residents.

Project Evident and Results for America came together to develop this RFI Guide because we believe that building stronger, results-focused partnerships between government, human services providers, and the community will contribute to meaningful and sustained outcomes for communities in need. To arrange a training about the RFI Guide or to share examples of how state and local governments and human services providers are using these recommendations to improve results, contact us at info@results4america.org.