Privatization in Practice: Case Studies of Contracting for TANF Case Management. Providing Information and Assistance to Potential Bidders


After issuing an RFP for TANF case management, some states and localities made special efforts to help potential bidders become familiar with program requirements and submit strong proposals. In all the study sites, agency staff members conduct bidders conferences, in which organizations have the opportunity to clarify elements of the RFP and selection process in a public forum. San Diego County also created a technical resource center to provide materials that would familiarize potential bidders with Californias TANF program, CalWORKs, and the countys plan for implementing it. The resource center contained such information as statistics on the local welfare caseload, a handbook describing the information system that providers would be expected to use, and state program guidelines.

Providing tailored feedback can also improve the quality of proposals that organizations submit. Such advice may be especially useful to smaller providers with less experience in and resources for developing proposals. Hennepin County, which contracts with numerous national and local nonprofits, offered group technical assistance sessions for agencies applying for TANF employment services contracts. When requested, staff members also gave suggestions for improvement to individual organizations that submitted unsuccessful proposals, helping increase their chances of winning a contract in a subsequent procurement.

Delaware employed a more formal method of offering feedback, the "best and final" process. This approach gave organizations the opportunity to improve proposals after initial submission and before review by the selection committee. State staff met with each group that tendered a proposal to provide feedback and engage in initial budget negotiations. Potential contractors could then revise their proposals in response. The selection committee saw only the organizations best and final offers. Although this approach prevented the committee from intuiting a potential contractors capabilities based on the quality of its original proposal, state administrators felt it made the procurement process more accessible to new and smaller organizations, increasing competition. Contractors in Delaware noted that this process enhanced communication with state agencies.

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