California Rail Authority re-issues RFP

SACRAMENTO, CA: The California High-Speed Rail Authority has canned its most recent agency selection process and re-issued its RFP for a full-service agency.

SACRAMENTO, CA: The California High-Speed Rail Authority has canned its most recent agency selection process and re-issued its RFP for a full-service agency to provide statewide outreach and communications support for the state's high-speed rail project.

This marks the second time the organization has issued an RFP since Ogilvy ditched the account, then worth $9 million over four-and-a-half years, in late June.

It issued another RFP in August. At that time, Rachel Wall, press secretary for the California High-Speed Rail Authority, told PRWeek that the organization expected to select an agency by October.

The most recent RFP for the $4.5 million, multi-year contract was issued October 5, calling for submissions by November 2, according to documents obtained by PRWeek. The authority plans to notify the winning agency by November 10, with work beginning November 21.  

The contract runs through November 2014, and the winning agency will be responsible for explaining key messages and decision points about the project to a broad audience. It will also be charged with tailoring messaging to key audiences, including the legislature and business, labor, environmental, and other constituency groups, according to the document.

The scope of work includes the development of a strategic communications plan, research and analysis, strategy development, stakeholder involvement, internal and external management and coordination, design and production of marketing materials, media events, and earned and paid media.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority could not immediately provide comment outside of confirming that it had issued the most recent version of the RFP.

“The state's contracting process is rigid, and while we adhered closely to it, the outcome of the process led to inconsistent interpretations by the bidders which did not convey confidence that the process was well understood,” said Lance Simmens, deputy director of communications, in a statement. “It is in the best interest of the state to re-issue the RFP.”

Before Ogilvy landed the account in 2009, it had been managed by Mercury Public Affairs. The authority issued another RFP after questions from the news media and board members arose about Mercury's ties to then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's office. Mercury declined to pitch in that RFP process. Previously, the incumbent was Deutschman Communications Group.

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