The Laziest RFP Ever

By: Ben Wood, Published on Aug 13, 2013

Bad RFPs - out of date, vague or just plain confusing - are common. But this RFP is on a whole other level. It is as if no one even looked at it before the project was put out for bid. A small town doing this is perhaps understandable, but it is far more perplexing when a US federal agency that should have the resources to come up with something better does this. In this update we review an RFP for a 2013 project using specs so old you might have to visit an antique shop to find some of the equipment.

The highlights from this RFP

VCR Storage

If someone can find standard 1/2 inch VHS tapes, that would be one way to fulfill the storage requirements for this RFP which lists time-lapse VCRs as an option. It says VCR must allow for repeat recording, a built in time and date generator and a tape counter. It also must have a daylight saving time setting, an automatic head cleaner and 120-second rewind.

The other option, for storing digital video, is a DVR or NVR with at least an Intel Pentium III processor (originally released in 1999) and 256 MB RAM. It should record at 30fps and have built-in motion detection and masking accessible from the Internet, Intranet or PDA. Windows 98 is the specified operating system.

According to the RFP, "The type of recording device utilized should be determined by the size and type of CCTV System designed and installed, and to what extent the system is to be utilized." One of the bidders we spoke to says the only response to questions about the spec was that if an integrator was "not supplying specified material, submittals will need to be approved as an equal," essentially leaving it up to the integrator what the final equipment will look like.

Server Requirements

A PC with 256 MB RAM, 120 MB of memory using a Pentium IV to run Windows XP and Internet Explorer 5.5 or better. Both Pentium IV processors and IE 5.5 were originally released in 2000. 

Facial Recognition

The VA first said the system must have facial recognition software for cameras at entrances "for identifying individuals.” However in response to a potential bidder’s question during a Q&A period, it said analytics software was not required, and they only wanted capability to see a face clearly using optical zoom. See the full Q&A here

Mix of Analog and IP Cameras

The technical specifications are for analog cameras (fixed and PTZ) and IP compressing in MPEG-4 or MJPEG. The RFP specifies both, although says analog and digital will not be integrated systems.  

As for image quality, the specs are not very specific. 

  • "Interior cameras need to provide equal quality or higher than the current cameras installed."
  • IP cameras must produce a picture equivalent to an analog camera
  • "Exterior camera’s need the following: Facial recognition, good resolution, TPZ, color/black and white, cover’s over the cameras to protect them from the elements [sic]."

FIPS Compliant 

"All DVR's and NVR's that are viewable over an Intranet or Internet will be routed through an encryptor," the RFP says. The RFP originally also said encryptors must comply with FIPS PUB 140-2. That changed after a potential bidder called out the fact that the existing system was not FIPS compliant. 

"[A] system does not allow us to have some FIPS compliant and some not. It is either all or nothing," the bidder wrote. The VA responded, "FIPS compliance is not required. Please ignore any references to FIPS compliance." The VA might want to triple check this before this system gets installed. It wouldn't be the first time they had some trouble over using noncompliant devices

Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News


From only reading the spec (the VA Center declined to answer questions about the project) the center already has some existing surveillance infrastructure. The winning bidder will be responsible for re-locating six existing cameras, installing another six cameras and installing eight door alarms. The winning bidder is tasked with examining the existing system to make sure the new equipment is compatible and provide a report to the contracting officer on what it would cost to correct any deficiencies.

Camera placement diagrams were included. 

First Floor:

Second Floor:

Terrible RFP

Does the VA even know what they want at all for this project? They should be embarrassed for releasing a spec like this in 2013 or at all. It is clear that no one took a second look at this after they pulled it out of whatever dusty folder it was tucked away in and it would put our for bids hoping the integrators would pick up the pieces. Surprisingly, the solicitation only got six questions from potential bidders. And none of them asked “Why the VCR?” or the myriad other questions that it seems would take to make sense of this. Indeed, many probably ran the other way after seeing such a bizarrely outdated spec.

Unfortunately, the joke is on the VA because if the winning bidder uses a VCR or 10 year old PC, it is going to be hard for them to object given the way the RFP was written.



Comments (11) : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Verkada Wins $783,000 Memphis Deal on Apr 29, 2019
The US city, most famous in video surveillance for standardizing on Hikvision, has issued an RFQ for 962 Verkada cameras due Wednesday, May 1,...
City Physical Security Manager Interview on Mar 14, 2019
This physical security pro is the Physical Security Manager for the City of Calgary. He is a criminologist by training with an ASIS CPP credential....
Hikvision Chairman Warns Of AI New Entrants Victimizing Customers on Mar 12, 2019
Hikvision chairman Chen Zongnian has warned that customers will become “victims” of AI hype from new industry entrants, even saying such newcomers...
Massive Leak Of Chinese VMS Provider Exposes Xinjiang Surveillance on Feb 20, 2019
A subsidiary of China’s claimed largest VMS provider is tracking the precise location and ethnicity of millions in China’s Xinjiang region,...
Casino Surveillance Pro Interview: James Lathrop on Feb 15, 2019
James Lathrop [link no longer available] has been working in casinos for almost 25 years. During that time, he says he has held "just about every...
Intersec 2019 Show Report on Jan 23, 2019
The 2019 Intersec show, held annually in Dubai, is now complete. IPVM attended for 3 days, interviewing numerous Chinese and Western video...
NYPD Refutes False SCMP Hikvision Story on Jan 18, 2019
The NYPD has refuted the SCMP Hikvision story, the Voice of America has reported. On January 11, 2018, the SCMP alleged that the NYPD was using...
The False SCMP Story on Hikvision NYC AI on Jan 14, 2019
In the past week, one of Asia's largest publications, the South China Morning Post (SCMP), posted an article about "Chinese [facial recognition]...
CES 2019 Show Report on Jan 10, 2019
IPVM was at CES 2019 for the second year (see our CES 2018 Show Final Report) and is reporting on announcements and interesting news from the show...
IPVM Best New Products 2019 Opened - 70+ Entrants on Jan 07, 2019
The inaugural IPVM Best New Product Awards has been opened - the industry's first and only program where the awards are not pay-to-play and the...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Hikvision Markets Uyghur Ethnicity Analytics, Now Covers Up on Nov 11, 2019
Hikvision has marketed an AI camera that automatically identifies Uyghurs, on its China website, only covering it up days ago after IPVM questioned...
Open vs End-to-End Systems: Integrator Statistics 2019 on Nov 11, 2019
Preference for open systems is on the decline, according to new IPVM statistics. We asked integrators: For video surveillance systems, do you...
Biggest Low Light Problems 2019 on Nov 08, 2019
Over 150 integrators responded to our survey question: "What are the biggest problems you face getting good low-light images?" Inside, we share...
US Issues Criminal Charges For Fraudulently Selling Hikvision And Other China Products on Nov 07, 2019
The US government has made an unprecedented move on the video surveillance supply chain, charging a US company, Aventura for "having conspired with...
The Access Control Codes Guide: IBC, NFPA 72, 80 & 101 on Nov 07, 2019
For access, there is one basic maxim: Life safety above all else. But how do you know if all applicable codes are being followed? While the...
Rhombus Cameras, VMS and Analytics Tested on Nov 06, 2019
Rhombus boasts they have created "the new standard in Enterprise, cloud-managed video security" and told IPVM in January 2019 they offer twice the...
"Stress in the Residential Market" - Major Lender Exits on Nov 06, 2019
The residential security / 'alarm' market is getting worse, at least for traditional players. Now, one of the biggest lenders in the industry has...
Aiphone Video Intercom Tested (IX Series 2) on Nov 05, 2019
Aiphone was one of integrator's favorite intercom manufacturers but how well do their products work? The company's newest offering, the IX Series 2...
90+ Companies Profile Directory on Nov 05, 2019
While IPVM covers the largest companies in the industry regularly (like Axis, Dahua, Hikvision, etc.), IPVM strives to do a profile post on each...
Hikvision USA Fights LTS on Nov 04, 2019
Hikvision's USA subsidiary is fighting with LTS, having recently quietly dropped LTS as an authorized distributor amidst ongoing face-offs between...