Department of Design and Construction RFPs and RFQs

Applying for contract work with a city government can be a confusing process. The Department of Design and Construction (DDC) hires numerous contractors to help build New York City’s public buildings and infrastructure. Access to job opportunities for contractors is essential for DDC to accomplish its goals.

Our current RFP and RFQ page.

Our current RFP and RFQ page.

To work with DDC, contractors must submit a request for qualification (RFQ). By filling out an RFQ, a business proves they can meet required qualifications to do business with us. Once a contractor submits an RFQ and receives approval, they’re added to our pre-qualified list (PQL) of businesses. Any business on our pre-qualified list may then respond to a request for proposal (RFP). An RFP is a document that invites businesses to apply to work on a DDC project.

Several years ago, DDC created a web application to display RFPs and RFQs. This application works with external and internal data sources to display the latest information. This is how people seeking to work with DDC download and apply for contract job opportunities. But since RFPs and RFQs were listed on the same page, the user experience was confusing. Our contracting office decided that RFPs would remain where they were, but RFQs would receive their own page.

Our agency’s IT team set to building a new application to display RFQs on their own page, a process that took about six months to create and test. I’m supporting the process by writing introductory copy for the RFQ page, while rewriting the existing copy for the RFP and PQL pages. The IT team also added a new feature to the application; business seekers can choose to receive emails when changes have been made to an RFP or RFQ they’ve downloaded. There are five different instances that trigger these emails, which contain automated text. I’m writing these automated emails in a tone that’s direct and simple. Here’s an example:

Dear Contractor: 

Based on our records, it appears that you downloaded RFP documents for project 8502016QB0001C from the New York City Department of Design and Construction website. The status of this RFP has changed. 

To download the update, please follow this link. If the link doesn't work for you, please copy and paste this URL into your browser:

Thank you,

NYC Department of Design and Construction
30-30 Thomson Avenue
Long Island City, NY 11101

One of the most difficult aspects of this process is that it’s acronym soup. It’s easy for a person to get lost in letters, especially when RFP and RFQ are so similar. Another major hurdle was that many of the DDC staff members overseeing this project retired halfway through this process. Several weeks passed in which we shifted our focus to onboarding new staff. After several weeks, we established new project owners and continued with user testing. The stakes are high—if the application doesn’t work properly, or if our text is confusing, DDC could potentially lose business. We're continuing to test the new page, and look forward to launching it in the summer of 2016. 

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2015 - present