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Contracted service

Request for Proposals (RFP): Remote simultaneous interpreting (RSI) services


The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) is the global organization of national parliaments. It has a membership of 179 Member Parliaments. The main regional and other parliamentary organizations are also part of the broader IPU community, as Associate Members and Permanent Observers. The IPU promotes democratic governance, institutions and values, working with parliaments and parliamentarians to articulate and respond to the needs and aspirations of the people. It works for peace, democracy, human rights, gender equality, youth empowerment and sustainable development through political dialogue, cooperation and parliamentary action.

At its creation, in 1889, the IPU was founded to promote inter-parliamentary dialogue and diplomacy between nations. Today, we continue to provide a platform for the global parliamentary community to come together, exchange good practices and identify avenues for action.

Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 and the subsequent lockdown in many countries, a number of meetings to be organized by the IPU have had to be cancelled, postponed, or their format changed to virtual or hybrid meetings. Since early April, the IPU Secretariat (based in Geneva) has been researching and testing various videoconferencing platforms, with and without interpretation. It has conducted its own preliminary comparative analysis of the various options available on the market (including advantages, disadvantages and cost implications).

The purpose of this request for proposals is to secure competitive and high-quality remote simultaneous interpreting (RSI) services that are adapted to the lockdown restrictions and the new reality of virtual and hybrid multilingual meetings going forward. These RSI services will be provided through various videoconferencing platforms (depending on the event).

The IPU expects the selected service provider to provide qualified and certified conference interpreters to service IPU meetings. These highly skilled professionals will have proven experience working with various online platforms and should provide the flexibility to work remotely either from home (with their own equipment) or from a hub set up by the service provider. Each team of interpreters should have a team leader or project manager to be the focal point with the IPU Secretariat (for working documents, updates on working arrangements, etc.). The IPU expects to work regularly with the same interpreters in order to develop their familiarity with the Organization’s bodies and areas of work.

The service provider should, wherever possible, undertake to recruit conference interpreters who are affiliated to a professional association and/or accredited by multilateral organizations. Knowledge of the IPU, the UN system and/or parliamentary settings (national/international) is an asset.

The interpreters recruited should work mainly into their mother tongue. If an interpreter is also required to work into a language other than their mother tongue, their capacity to do so should have been checked and approved by the service provider. As a general rule, the team of interpreters should be recruited with language combinations such that the use of “relay” is kept to a minimum.

The IPU organizes many events throughout the year, with participants from all over the world. Its events and meetings range from small working groups of less than 10 persons to its two main Assemblies which take place in March/April and October. IPU Assemblies attract 1,500+ delegates (170 to 190 delegations) from IPU Member Parliaments, Associate Members, and Permanent Observers, involving both plenary sessions and multiple smaller meetings in parallel.

The official meetings of the IPU vary in their characteristics and specifications:

  • Nature: national capacity-building programmes, regional seminars, specialized parliamentary conferences, global events with the participation of the full IPU membership
  • Format: working groups, drafting committees, training sessions, interactive debates, working sessions of IPU statutory bodies, high-level parliamentary conferences
  • Size (number of participants): small (15–30 persons), medium (100–200 persons), large-scale (in the range of 1000 participants – as is the case with IPU Assemblies and the World Conference of Speakers of Parliament (WCSP))
  • Languages: meetings in the two IPU official languages (French and English); meetings (e.g. Assemblies and specialized conferences) in the four IPU working languages (English, French, Arabic and Spanish); and meetings in the six official UN languages (WCSP).
  • Virtual meetings tend to be shorter than face-to-face meetings; one full-day meeting can become two 3-hour meetings over consecutive days, for example. The RSI provider should therefore offer full-day and half-day (or even hourly) rates. The proposal should also address the issue of the cost of meetings overrunning.

The service provider will be expected to:

  • work with the platform chosen by the IPU to host its meeting/event
  • provide the services of interpreters in the languages required for the meeting/event
  • provide proof of the interpreters’ professional qualifications and experience
  • optimize the distribution of languages among interpreters, e.g. where possible reduce the number of interpreters through efficient language combinations while ensuring interpreters are working mainly into their mother tongue
  • ensure that interpreters have received in advance the background documentation from the service provider as provided by the IPU
  • ensure that interpreters are adequately prepared for specific meeting requirements, and among other things:
    • have good general knowledge of the IPU and its work
    • are aware of the background regarding the meeting/event they will service
    • have good knowledge of the structure and nature of the meeting/event (have the list of participants, the agenda or programme, etc.)
    • have researched the specific terminology for the meeting/event, particularly if the background documentation is not available in their target language
  • ensure that, regardless of whether they are working from home or the service provider’s hub, interpreters have a suitable work environment and equipment for providing interpreting services
  • ensure that quality control mechanisms are in place to identify possible areas of improvement linked but not limited to linguistic knowledge, technical aspects, etc.

The service provider must indicate their legal status and must not be subject to any liquidation, judicial reorganization or similar proceedings. Companies must also demonstrate that their employees have social security cover.

Selection criteria
Proposals will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Quality of responses to stated requirements
  • Past experience
  • Financial sustainability
  • Overall cost and cost-effectiveness.


  • Describe the fee structure/breakdown and payment schedule.
  • Details should be provided about the cost structure including:
    • Full day rates (and time period covered)
    • Half-day rates (and time period covered)
    • Hourly rates
    • Overrun time limits and costs.
  • The quoted price should be inclusive. If the price excludes certain fees or charges, provide a detailed list and explanation of excluded elements.
  • Include your rates for the provided services.

Note: The IPU is an international organization exempt from Value Added Tax (VAT) in Switzerland.

How to apply
  • Provide a brief profile of your company, including employees, where it is based and in what time zone the teams will work.
  • Provide relevant case studies.
  • Describe any subcontractors/outside resources necessary to deliver the services.


  • Proposals must contain the signature of a duly authorized officer or agent of the company submitting the proposal.
  • Bidder must disclose any relevant conflicts of interest and/or pending lawsuits.
  • The IPU will negotiate contract terms upon selection. All contracts are subject to review by IPU legal counsel, and an agreement or contract will be signed outlining terms, scope, budget, timeline, and other necessary items.
  • The IPU will not cover costs related to preparing or issuing proposals.

Please send proposals to Ms. Andrée Lorber-Willis, Director, Division of Support Services, at, by no later than 1 July 2020.
No late or incomplete proposals will be accepted.