06.03 Solicitation methods and thresholds

For the purpose of selecting the adequate solicitation method, the following thresholds apply.

(equipment / goods / services) 
Requesting &
receiving offers
Small value  < US$ 2 500

 Compare three quotes 
Lowest-priced, technically acceptable  Written or oral solicitation, written quotes 
Request for Quotation (RFQ) ≥ US$ 2 500, but
< US$ 25 000

Obtain three to five quotes

Allow a minimum of five working days to quote
Lowest-price, technically acceptable  Written solicitation; sealed offers are not required 
Request for Proposals (RFP)

If requirements cannot be clearly expressed qualitatively or quantitatively
≥ US$ 25 000

Obtain at least three valid proposals.

Allow 20 working days to make proposals - or 15 days, only after approval or justification
 Cumulative analysis

Best value (combined technical/financial evaluation)
Written solicitation in standard template, offers received in two sealed envelopes (technical and financial proposals separate)
Invitation to Bid (ITB)

If requirements can be clearly expressed qualitatively or quantitatively
 ≥ US$ 25 000

Obtain at least three valid bids.

Allow 20 working days to bid - or 15 days, only after approval or justification
 Lowest-price compliant with criteria in the ITB Written solicitation in standard template, offers received in a single sealed envelope containing both specifications and price

Multiple or split contracts should be avoided, as the cumulative amount rule applies in cases of the same supplier and therefore may require a different procurement method/approval level due to the applicable threshold.

6.3.1 Small-value procurement

Small-value procurement is an appropriate method for the procurement of readily available off-the-shelf goods, standard-specification commodities or simple services or works valued at less than US$ 2 500.

This solicitation method is based on the comparison of prices obtained from potential suppliers through informal means.

Small-value procurement is not allowed to award Purchase Orders or contracts exceeding a cumulative value of US$ 2 500 in any calendar year.

Quotations can be solicited through telephone calls or emails, or by using prices advertised in recognized media (the advertisement must be documented, but any vendors contacted must confirm the quotation in writing) or websites.

6.3.2 Request for Quotation (RFQ)

A Request for Quotation (RFQ) is the solicitation method used for limited-value procurement when the expected contract value is greater than or equal to US$ 2 500 but less than US$ 25 000.
Procurement best practices suggest that a firm deadline for submitting quotations is set for all invited companies, although initially uninvited companies may be added to the process until the deadline is reached. Quotations received after the expiration of the deadline will not be considered.
The period for seeking quotations and allowing response is at least five working days.
At least three suppliers should be invited to quote but, in the best interests of UNAIDS, the recommendation is to invite more bidders, with the aim of receiving three to five quotations.
  • Offers should be received in writing (fax, email, etc.).
  • There is no need for a formal bid opening, and no need to send the offer to a dedicated fax/email address.
  • Staff conducting procurement may receive the offers directly, but a separation of duties is highly desirable (if resources permit).
Requirements of a similar nature shall not be split into several RFQs in order to avoid issuing a proper Invitation to Bid (ITB) or Request for Proposal (RFP).

6.3.3 Request for Proposals (RFP)

A Request for Proposal (RFP) is used for procuring of services and goods when requirements cannot be quantitatively and qualitatively expressed in sufficient detail in the tender specifications (e.g. procurement of consulting or similar services, or complex goods where requirements may be met in a variety of ways).

An RFP is required for procurement valued at US$ 25 000 and above.

An RFP can also be used for procurement actions valued at below US$ 25 000 if requirements are not clear and specific, or if the end users want to improve the quality of the procurement process.

An RFP requires (to the extent possible) the use of functional specifications that are clear, comprehensive and preferably performance oriented:
  • a technical proposal offering a solution to the requirements specified in the tender document; and
  • a separate financial (price) proposal indicating all costs associated with carrying out the tasks and activities identified in the technical proposal.

6.3.4 Invitation to Bid (ITB)

An Invitation to Bid (ITB) is used for the procurement of goods with standard and clear specifications. It can also be used for services that can be expressed qualitatively and quantitatively.

An ITB is required only for procurement valued at US$ 25 000 and above.

A standard ITB template has been developed, and its use is mandatory.
All efforts should be made to ensure maximum exposure to the marketplace in order to receive a minimum of three compliant bids. If a smaller number of compliant bids is received, it must be documented that real efforts were made to reach the available market and that enough time for the preparation of bids was provided.