The RFI2: Procurement of the Future


Shreya Arora

May 1, 2022

Procuring a solution to a tough challenge is often when RFPs all too frequently fall short.

What is an RFI2?

Agencies who use a Request for Innovative Ideas (RFI2) seek innovative ideas to solve a well-defined problem statement, then select a solution provider based on their ability to build a working prototype to demonstrate its effectiveness. These working prototypes will be awarded a contract.

The concept was first brought to light when Gavin Newsom signed an executive order to create this new method of procurement in 2019, asking for solutions to test in response to the wildfire challenges in California.

The vision of this procurement methodology was to leverage the innovative vendor, academic, scientific, and entrepreneurial communities to solve the agency’s most pressing challenges.

How is this approach different from an RFP?

Request for Proposals (RFPs) articulate both a problem statement and a particular solution, with specifications clearly laid out. This happens for primarily 2 reasons:

  1. Many procurement regulations require you to be specific. This helps avoid the issue of comparing apples to oranges solutions.
  2. If you aren't specific with what you're looking for, it’s possible that you may receive responses that may not match your existing infrastructure or processes.

So why are RFI2s valuable?

When asking for a particular solution, the way traditional RFPs are written, agencies are ultimately saying that they're confident that the type of solution they're looking for is the best way to tackle the challenge at hand. Given recent strides in technology and the variety of services we can access across the globe, it's unlikely that agencies know all the possible ways to tackle the challenge.

Can my public agency run RFI2s?

  1. The California executive order has explicitly allowed RFI2s for some state agencies including the California Department of General Services (DGS) the California Department of Technology (CDT) and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). This doesn't mean that you aren't eligible, even if you’re in a different state. Reach out to UrbanLeap and we’ll do some digging around for you.
  2. If you cannot run RFI2s, start by redefining how you run your RFPs. Instead of coming up with a very specific solution for your challenge, spend time defining your problem statement to yield better responses.

Curious about other ways to innovate your procurement process? Reach out to UrbanLeap.

Ready to take the leap?