The best place to look for definitions of terms used in Government contracting is in FAR 2.101. There are many definitions elsewhere in FAR but Section 2.101 is a fairly comprehensive and a good place to start.
Lets begin with the term "solicitation". "Solicitation" is a generic term used to describe any request to submit offers or quotations to the Government. There are several types of solicitations,
- RFQ - Request for Quotations - Solicitations under Simplified Acquisition Procedures are called RFQs.
- RFP - Request for Proposals - Solicitations under competitive or negotiated procedures are called RFPs.
- IFB - Invitation for Bids - Solicitations under sealed bid procedures are called IFBs.
Contractors (or prospective contractors) make offers to RFQs, RFPs, and IFBs. An offer is a response to a solicitation that, in the case of IFBs and RFPs, if accepted, binds the offeror to perform the resultant contract.
- Responses to IFBs are called bids or sealed bids
- Responses to RFPs are called proposals
- Responses to RFQs are called quotes.
RFPs are used in negotiated acquisitions to communicate Government requirements, anticipated terms and conditions that will apply, information required to be included in the offeror's proposal and factors and significant sub-factors that willbe used to evaluate the proposal and their relative importance.