Q & A – The Brattleboro Website RFP

Hey. I see in the agenda that your web design company, MuseArts, didn’t get the gig to do the new town website…

That is correct!

Sorry to hear. Your bid must have been too high, eh? Didn’t like your response to the RFP?

Nope.  They never saw our proposal.

Okay, now I’m confused… did you want to respond to the RFP?

Very much so! MuseArts has been wanting to re-do the Town website for 20 years, and have been patiently waiting for the opportunity. At first mention of a new site being planned, I started working on our response. We’ve had 20 years of thoughts on this project and there was a lot to cover. I refined it as time went by and additional comments were made during selectboard meetings about the new site.

But you didn’t apply?

We never saw the RFP announcement.

Hold on. You follow Town government as close as anyone. How could YOU miss it?

Almost immediately upon hearing Patrick Moreland mention the possibility of the new website to the selectboard in November of 2020, I sent him an email expressing our interest and asking to be sent an RFP so that we can bid on the project.  I thought our interest would be obvious, but I wanted to make sure we were first in line for that RFP.

You must not have been very clear….

I wrote: “11/11/20

Hi Patrick, 

I assume you’ll be a key person in the web site upgrade project, so I thought I’d let you know of our interest to bid on this project when an RFP is available. 

Let us know when something is available and we’ll get you a bid. 

Thanks in advance! ”

That’s pretty clear. But that was so long ago.

I also wrote to Planning Director Sue Fillion in June of 2021 commenting on the information they were gathering from residents, and suggested they ask about web sites that people especially like or dislike, as it is a question we web designers like to ask. She liked the suggestion.

And when I interviewed Town Manager Yoshi Manale in January 2022, we talked a bit about the new website and I told him of our longstanding interest in working on that project and the possibility of working with him in the next few years.

But surely you saw the selectboard announce the RFP?

I don’t recall this happening. I recall them approving the creation of an RFP, but no approval or announcement of it. Knowing this board, I think Ian Goodnow would have spoken at length about it.  I may be wrong, but I really don’t remember seeing an RFP announcement in any selectboard agenda.

What about in the media? You run iBrattleboro. You get all the press releases….

Nothing was sent to us. Patrick says they paid for announcements in other newspapers, but nothing was sent to iBrattleboro.  If you get the Keene Sentinel….   : )

It wasn’t odd to the Town that there wasn’t a proposal from MuseArts in the submissions? They didn’t reach out to you? You are such an obvious contender.

I guess not.

Well, obviously this is just sour grapes. You didn’t get a gig and now you are complaining….

Not so. We’ve been in business for just shy of 25 years and we fully expect to win some and lose some. There are many proposals that have been accepted, and some get rejected.  We have thick skins for this.

What we didn’t expect was to not be given the chance to compete on our ideas and merits. That’s unusual.

So you want them to start over and let you apply?

No. That would be a waste of time and energy. 

Then why bring this up?

A few reasons.  

First is, people are asking about this. Many people in town know us, and knew that we were interested in doing this. It wasn’t a secret, and many expected to see MuseArts in the running. This is our apology to them for somehow missing this RFP, despite our many efforts to get our hands on it.

Second is to point out that the Brattleboro may or may not be getting the best option. I’m sure the firm chosen is the best among the proposals submitted.  But the Town didn’t get our response. They’ll never know what we were going to propose, and the opportunity for an even lower bid from a a well-known web design team with decades of experience with Brattleboro, history, civics, and town government was missed.

Third is to continue with our coverage of this project.

Lessons learned?

Our big error, it seems, was being a bit too prepared. We expressed an interest in receiving the RFP too soon, and it was somehow forgotten.  Another error was trusting that people we have worked with for years would make sure we were in the loop. 

What’s next?

I think I’ll skip the selectboard meeting this week. 

And again, apologies to everyone who was expecting us to participate in this. We very much wanted to compete.

Comments | 3

  • Welcome to the new Brattleboro

    Sorry to hear this. At least Rescue Inc is not the only one getting the shaft.

  • Shameful!

    This takes the cake. Even years ago (when viewers of your site were more participatory), it seemed you weren’t appreciated as much as you should be by The Powers That Be. So sorry. Plus ça change……

  • Disappointing.


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