"How can you help us tackle the economic and technological changes we face as a city in the 21st century, and what methods would you use to create a dynamic, innovative economic strategy that is reflective of our community values?"

This is the question Santa Monica, California is posing in its Economic Sustainability Strategy RFP.

This RFP is worth reading, not just for the subject at hand but also for of the interesting tactics that Santa Monica uses. The result is a cleverly structured RFP that effectively engages the community in a central question affecting all parts of society.

How did they do it?

Santa Monica used the following four techniques to make their RFP compelling to the community and effective at achieving their goals:

A solid set of questions. Santa Monica undertook a year’s work involving staff, public events and working groups to grapple with the question of what trends are likely to disrupt the future of the city economy. The RFP articulates these questions and further makes it easy to understand how the city got to this point by providing access to data, reports and a relevant reading list.

Openness to many voices. The RFP is not tailored toward any particular group that may have the answer. Quite the opposite - whilst a global strategy consulting firm may be well qualified, it could also be a team of academics, a tech start-up, an investor or a group of community organizations and non-profits. Or a combination of them all.

Diversity in approaches. This RFP stands out because it does not prescribe deliverables in the traditional sense, but rather outlines what it thinks will be important - like collecting the various perspectives of residents and other stakeholders. It could be bottom-up, or top-down - the city is not afraid of chosing or matching different approaches.

Who pays for what? A unique feature of the RFP is that it is not prescribing a specific relationship with the bidder. Consultants may propose a fee, experts and non-profits could volunteer, investor types might offer to invest to make the strategy a reality. In effect, the city is offering a variety of resources to maximize the appeal of the question posed.

Santa Monica reminds us that public procurement is much more than the clerical end to a process, but a process by which cities can drive change, innovation, learning and new partnerships.

What is your city’s big question? Reach out to us to learn how Citymart can help you leverage procurement to tap into your future.

Read Santa Monica's RFP

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