Yes, I have been there, on both sides actually LOL. Sometimes the business actually REQUIRES some sort of bid document and generally it is safer to propose the preliminary design phase before committing to the rest of it, as one generally does not know what is involved before actually finding out what is needed. That is, asking over and over again, what do you need to know and when do you need to know it? Anything bigger than a breadbox requires a bit of planning.
The point is not that you have to produce a document. You really have to find out what the project is. One of my jobs back when I was a consultant was to help produce a Request for Proposal for the US Navy. Now that was a document! Even for that, I had to find out what we were trying to buy and what the reasonable shape of it would be.
But you are quite right about bloat, lard, narcissism, and petty bureaucracy. The worst thing is that at some level you run into management who have no idea of what they are going to need, because they don't use it anyway. But they feel threatened by the people who DO know what they need, so you don't get to interview them.