“A request for proposal (RFP),” according to SearchITChannel, “is a document that an organization posts to elicit bids from potential vendors for a product or service.”
Governmental agencies–federal, state, and local–release RFPs for projects large (several billions of dollars) and small (hundreds of thousands of dollars).
For example, I’ve worked with companies on proposals 1) to improve a federal agency’s tsunami warning system; 2) to ensure the security of a state court system’s file sharing program; and 3) to outsource a county’s IT department.
More and more frequently, private sector companies and organizations are releasing RFPs as part of their procurement process. Construction companies and architects, for example, often win (or lose) contracts based on their responses to an RFP.