Unsolicited proposals or unsolicited contracts?


Involving private companies in shaping

public project portfolios


Let’s talk about public projects!



By Stanisław Gasik

Warsaw, Poland


Do private companies have to wait until the government announces a tender in line with their capabilities and qualifications? Or can they themselves take the initiative to implement a public project, which will then be financed from the budget?

In this article, we will discuss how to involve private companies in the process of deciding on the implementation of public projects. An important question related to their inclusion in this process is its scope: should it be limited to the proposal itself, or is its implementation by the proponent always an integral part of the proposal?

The three main stakeholder groups in public projects are society, public administration institutions and companies (usually private) implementing the projects. Communities can influence the selection of these projects in various ways so that they bring social benefits (Gasik, 2023a, 2023b). But public projects should also offer benefits for the companies implementing them.

One of the goals of governments is to ensure the socio-economic development of the country. Citizens and their communities should live better and companies should develop. Quality of life is the enjoyment of an increasing amount of public values ​​(Moore, 1995). Increasing the amount of available public values ​​takes place in the vast majority of cases through the implementation of public projects, which in turn are mostly carried out by private companies. The main purpose of private companies is to make a profit. If a private company does not see any direct or indirect profit prospects in a public project, it will not be interested in implementing it. Therefore, an external public project must meet two basic conditions: providing public values ​​to citizens and providing private companies with an appropriate level of profit (Jackson, 2004). Private companies operating in a specific area know best what can be produced. Also due to their knowledge of the functioning of a given area, they know a lot about the needs there. Therefore, it is natural to enable them to submit proposals for the implementation of public projects.

This situation has led to the emergence of the term unsolicited proposal (USP), which is a proposal to implement public projects (funded by public institutions) outside existing plans (e.g., World Bank, 2017; USA GSA et al., 2019; NSW Government, 2017; Arizona Government, 2005).[1]

The most important advantages of USP for private companies are stimulating innovation and creativity, as well as the opportunity to conduct business with the government in a legal and transparent manner. For the government, it means supplementing the portfolio with projects that solve existing social problems and/or bring material benefits. In this way, USPs contribute to the development of the state and its economy.

In the following sections, we will describe two main variants of USP implementation processes.

Australian states’ USP

A good example of an unsolicited proposals process is the NSW Government procedures (2017).


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Editor’s note: This article series is related to the management of public programs and projects, those organized, financed and managed by governments and public officials.  The author, Dr. Stanisław Gasik, is the author of the book “Projects, Government, and Public Policy”, recently published by CRC Press / Taylor and Francis Group.  That book and these articles are based on Dr. Gasik’s research into governmental project management around the world over the last decade.  Stanisław is well-known and respected by PMWJ editors; we welcome and support his efforts to share knowledge that can help governments worldwide achieve their most important initiatives.

How to cite this paper: Gasik, S. (2024). Unsolicited proposals or unsolicited contracts? Involving private companies in shaping public project portfolios, Let’s talk about public projects, series article, PM World Journal, Volume XIII, Issue VII, July. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2024/07/pmwj143-Jul2024-Gasik-Unsolicited-proposals-and-contracts-2.pdf

 About the Author

Stanisław Gasik, PhD, PMP

Warsaw, Poland


Dr. Stanisław Gasik, PMP is a project management expert. He graduated from the University of Warsaw, Poland, with M. Sc. in mathematics and Ph. D. in organization sciences (with a specialty in project management). Stanisław has over 30 years of experience in project management, consulting, teaching, and implementing PM organizational solutions. His professional and research interests include project knowledge management, portfolio management, and project management maturity. He is the author of the only holistic model of project knowledge management spanning from the individual to the global level.

Since 2013, his main professional focus has been on public projects. He was an expert in project management at the Governmental Accountability Office, an institution of the US Congress. He is the author of “Projects, Government, and Public Policy,” a book that systematizes knowledge about government activities in the area of project management.

He was a significant contributor to PMI’s PMBOK® Guide and PMI Standard for Program Management and contributed to other PMI standards. He has lectured at global PMI and IPMA congresses and other international conferences.

His web page is www.gpm3.eu.

To view other works by Dr. Gasik, please visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at https://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/stanislaw-gasik-phd-pmp/

[1] An overview of projects implemented in this mode can be found, for example, on the NSW Government website (https://www.nsw.gov.au/business-and-economy/unsolicited-proposals/completed-unsolicited-proposals) or in a World Bank publication (WB PPIAF, 2017c).