Earlier I criticized requests for proposals (See my post of July 18, 2006.), without making mention of the older sibling, requests for information (RFI). An RFI precedes an RFP and typically confirms basic information about a herd of vendors and their offerings. Law departments that have a large group of vendors to slog through use the RFI responses to sift them to a more manageable number.
My feeling is that an RFI accomplishes little, but takes time, costs money, and justifies more meetings. Other than that, they keep paralegals busy and produce nifty tables.