Request for Proposals — Rebuild Websites/Mobile: Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP)

Guide to this RFP

This document conveys our vision for rebuilding the desktop and mobile versions of the IRPP’s three websites. It includes background about our organization, our criteria for a successful project, how we will evaluate the bidders and our desired technologies. We invite bidders to offer alternatives if they believe there is a better approach.


The three IRPP websites currently rely heavily on custom code, unnecessary/contradictory plugins and outdated technology. This creates problems for our user experience, including slow response times, as well as for in-house updating and maintenance. The main goal is to rebuild all sites in one standard WordPress theme/template with the latest technology – or a bidder-suggested equivalent – to solve both problems.

The rebuilt websites must be capable of delivering constantly updated information to our key audiences quickly. We must also have an administration/publishing tool that allows editorial personnel to easily publish and/or update articles, the home page and other areas – without directly accessing source code.

Please note that this call is open to firms based in Canada only.

About the IRPP

The Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP) is an independent, bilingual, not-for-profit think tank that seeks to improve public policy in Canada by generating research, providing insight and informing debate on current and emerging policy issues facing Canadians and their governments. It publishes peer-reviewed research and convenes conferences, roundtables and panel discussions involving stakeholders, academics, policymakers and the public. The Institute’s current research agenda is focused on four themes: Canadian federalism; the social safety net; skills development and adult learning; and the economy.

The IRPP was created following a 1968 commitment by the government of then-prime minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau to establish an “independent and autonomous” institute for public policy research, whose work would be “available to all governments.” It was ultimately established in 1972 through an endowment fund supported by the federal and provincial governments and the private sector. Today, the IRPP is the home of the Centre of Excellence on the Canadian Federation, as well as the publisher of Policy Options, a digital magazine. In 2022, the IRPP marked its 50th anniversary.

The project

The IRPP publishes three websites in French and English:

The project will have two phases: Phase I will involve rebuilding and Phase II will involve rebuilding the other two sites.

Scope of work

The primary goal of the project is to create fast and user-friendly web and mobile sites. In addition:

  • The optimal design solution will be a standard WordPress theme/template for all three sites for the home pages, any section fronts or series landing pages, and the article pages, with either no or minimal custom coding. The successful bidder will be expected to suggest to the IRPP a WordPress theme or themes that meet the scope of work and technical requirements. The successful bidder may also propose alternatives to WordPress, subject only to the two conditions set out in the Overview section above. Our strong preference is one theme/design to be used across all three sites for consistency and to indicate the direct relationship among them.
  • Automatically migrate all existing English and French content within our current WordPress system. Given the volume – more than 11,000 individual items with photos and graphics – and the usual difficulties associated with such a process, the successful bidder will need to have extensive experience in this area from previous projects, as well as experience with bilingual or multilingual sites.
  • A revised site-wide navigation, section format and URL structure optimized for SEO will be provided by the IRPP and implemented by the successful bidder.
  • Improved analytics software, either a WordPress-based analytics dashboard or equivalent.
  • New site search functionality that provides quality results to the user within less than five seconds, and preferably within one second.
  • Paid advertising options must be supported in the chosen theme.
  • All three sites are now fully bilingual. French and English versions of each will be required in the rebuild. The IRPP will provide translation, where needed.

Technical requirements

  • Our preferred solution – recommended in site audits – is that the three websites be hosted on WPEngine’s advanced network with Cloudflare in front and better edge-based caching and PHP 8+. Bidders may suggest alternatives that are comparable or better.
  • All three sites will adhere to the latest industry-wide coding and accessibility standards.
  • Our site audits recommended that future updates after relaunch be done via the Gutenberg editor function in WordPress. Bidders may suggest alternatives.
  • Plugin use should be minimized, and they should be auto-updatable wherever possible.
  • Response time for a user clicking on any content on any page on any of the three websites should be less than five seconds and preferably less than one second.
  • The administration interface should also respond to requests in less than five seconds and preferably less than one second.
  • The successful vendor will provide comprehensive testing, in consultation with the IRPP project manager(s) throughout the process, and will train IRPP editorial and technical staff upon completion.
  • Upon completion, the IRPP will assume full responsibility for website and mobile content maintenance and administration. All content, coding and graphics will become the sole property of the IRPP. The successful bidder may be required to support ongoing maintenance and development, in addition to WPEngine’s services.

Proposed timeline (can be refined in consultation with successful bidder)

RFP deadlines:

  • Until mid-May: Questions from vendors and IRPP answers
  • Mid-May to end of May: IRPP assesses bidders
  • June 1: Successful bidder announced by IRPP

Rebuild deadlines:

  • Mid-June: Contract signed and rebuild begins
  • Mid-June to Labour Day: Rebuild/soft launch
  • Labour Day to mid-September: Final testing
  • Mid-September: Official announcement/relaunch of Policy Options
  • Mid-September to mid-November: Complete work on the other two sites

Evaluation process

Proposals will be reviewed by the IRPP’s executive team and project manager(s) based on the bidders’ experience, capability, references and pricing. Specific criteria include:

  • List the websites, with their URLs, that your firm has produced that best reflect your previous work and its relevance to this project. Briefly list the role your firm played in each project.
  • Describe your experience in producing sites for non-profit and/or community-focused projects.
  • Provide a minimum of three references from former or current clients.
  • Describe how often your projects listed above were completed on time and on budget.
  • Outline your approach to website development (a Gantt chart preferred) outlining what steps you would take to complete this project.
  • Provide a company profile, details on lead and/or team assigned to the project, length of time in business and core competencies.
  • Does your company have any planned IPOs, mergers or acquisitions that might affect this project?
  • Does your company have any contractual hardware/software vendor partnerships that might affect this project?
  • Please outline your testing plan for the various stages of this project and how the IRPP project manager(s) and team will be involved.
  • Please outline a reasonable time frame for completion of this project – both Phase I (the Policy Options site) and Phase II (the other two IRPP sites). The time frame will be a key element of the IRPP evaluation process and the eventual contract.

(The final two bullets could also be covered in the Gantt chart mentioned above).

Submission of proposal

All proposals must be received by the IRPP no later than May 15, 2024.

Electronic proposals are preferred and should be e-mailed to:

The IRPP commits to providing all the information necessary for the completion of this project. Additional information can be found at the IRPP’s website. Consult our recent board reports for further details on the organization.

For any questions regarding this RFP, please contact Cléa Desjardins, Director of Communications, IRPP, at 514-245-2139 or