Government Contract Proposals, Part 2: Reviewing the Solicitation and Reaching a “Go/No Go” Decision

Government Contract Proposals, Part 2: Reviewing the Solicitation and Reaching a “Go/No Go” Decision

If you are new to government contracting, lengthy, complex Requests for Proposals (RFPs) with tight deadlines, can be overwhelming. A competitive proposal must demonstrate a thorough understanding the RFP and present a clear, compelling narrative as to how your company can provide the best possible solution to the customer’s (agency’s) needs, rising above mere compliance to provide better value than any competing proposals.

This article discusses how to evaluate a specific RFP to determine if the opportunity is a good fit for your company and worth the investment of time and energy to develop a proposal. By this point, you should already have done your homework with regard to assessing your company’s capabilities, your customers’ needs and your competition. See our previous article, Government Contract Proposals, Part 1: Be Prepared – Pre-Proposal Tasks

Part 2: Reviewing the Solicitation and Reaching a “Go/No Go” Decision

Review of RFP and Contract Documents:
All documents – including clauses and provisions “incorporated by reference” (IBR) – need to be read carefully and thoroughly. To make a large RFP more approachable, consider starting with sections “C – Description/Scope of Work”, “L – Instructions to Offerors”, and “M – Evaluation Factors”. If, based upon these provisions, the requirements match up well with your capabilities and the proposal delivery deadline is realistic, the full RFP should be dissected and analyzed before a go/no-go decision is made.

This is an area in which a PTAC counselor can be an enormous help, as he or she can explain the more complex clauses and IBR provisions and flag those that will affect performance or costs, as well as any that might present barriers, such as restricted drawings (which require Industrial Security Clearance to view). You should be watchful for unusual, restrictive, or onerous requirements which might be clues that the solicitation is “wired”(ie: created with a specific vendor in mind).

Identify items that require clarification and be mindful of bid period communication etiquette to maximize the likelihood of obtaining the needed information.

Pre-proposal Conference
Attend a pre-proposal conference if one is offered. Doing so will allow you:

  • To gain better understanding of the government’s requirements and clear up any uncertainties or gaps in the SOW or other contractual requirements.
  • To determine if you should propose and how best to satisfy the requirement given the government’s “primary desirables” and your company’s strength relative to other competitors.
  • The opportunity to identify and resolve concerns regarding the acquisition approach, including the proposed contract type, the feasibility of the requirement, and other industry concerns and questions relevant to the acquisition as proposed.

Articulating a WIN Strategy
Make sure you can answer the question, “Why us” – why does your company offer the BEST value solution to the requirement, above and beyond not only basic compliance but that which will be offered by competitors. The strongest proposals will demonstrate an understanding of the agency’s priorities and concerns and clearly articulate how each will be addressed, emphasizing the company’s strengths and neutralizing any weaknesses.

Go/No-Go
Once the RFP is fully understood and evaluated in light of your company’s capabilities, a decision can be made regarding whether to propose. Some questions to consider include:

  • Does winning the contract fit into your strategic marketing plan? Will winning and performing the job enhance past performance with the issuing agency or other agencies?
  • Is there enough time to bid or propose on the solicitation? Are there adequate resources to propose in a timely manner (estimating and pricing, tech writers, proposal review, connectivity to agency’s solicitation portal)? Is your management team behind winning the job?
  • Can the company be competitive based upon the specification/statement of work?
  • Is there adequate financing to meet payroll and suppliers’ demands in the light of the payment schedule?
    Should you propose as a prime contractor or would you have a better chance of winning as a subcontractor or part of a Joint Venture?.
    Your PTAC Counselor can elaborate on this topic and provide you with additional advice at no cost. Click here to Find your PTAC today!

Watch this space for the final article of the series: Preparing the Proposal.

More about Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs)

Ninety-eight PTACs – with over 300 local offices – form a nationwide network of procurement professionals dedicated procurement professionals working to help local businesses compete successfully in the government marketplace. Funded under the Defense Logistics Agency’s Procurement Technical Assistance Program through cooperative agreements with state and local governments and non-profit organizations, PTACs are the bridge between buyer and supplier, bringing to bear their knowledge of both government contracting and the capabilities of contractors to maximize fast, reliable service to our government with better quality and at lower costs.

PTACs provide a wide range of government contracting help – most free of charge!

Your PTAC can help you:

  • Identify your target agency(ies)
  • Find and understand bid opportunities
  • Pursue SDB, 8(a), HUBzone and other certifications
  • Market your business to agencies
  • Researching procurement histories
  • Network with government buyers, prime contractors and potential teaming partners
  • Proposal preparation
  • Contract performance issues
  • Preparing for audit

 

Click here to Find Your PTAC Today!

 


Government Contract Proposals, Part 1: Be Prepared – Pre-proposal Tasks

Government Contract Proposals, Part 1: Be Prepared – Pre-proposal Tasks

If you are new to government contracting, lengthy, complex Requests for Proposals (RFPs) with tight deadlines can be overwhelming. This three part series of articles hopes to offer some basic principles and definitions particularly with regard to negotiated acquisitions which may help be helpful. Each article will address issues specific to a different stage of the Proposal process.

Negotiated Acquisitions are contracts awarded using other than sealed bidding procedures. Source selection is made based on “best value”, involving an evaluation of price and other non-price factors (“trade-offs”) with award going to the proposal judged to be the best overall value to agency. Award decisions are made by the Source Selection Authority (SSA), which in most cases is the Contracting Officer. Proposals are evaluated solely on the factors and sub-factors in the RFP. A competitive proposal must demonstrate a thorough understanding the RFP and present a clear, compelling narrative as to how your company can provide the best possible solution to the customer’s (agency’s) needs, rising above mere compliance to provide better value than any competing proposals.

Ideally, you will accomplish some important background tasks before you are faced with specific RFPs. Take these tasks up early in your government contracting efforts so you are ready when the right opportunity comes along. Some examples include:

  • Assessment of Business Capabilities: A hard-nosed, realistic evaluation of the company’s core-competencies is essential. You will not be served by exaggerating or misrepresenting your capability. Doing so can undermine the credibility of your proposals and/or result in an award that you cannot perform successfully, with potentially damaging consequences for your business, not to mention your ability to secure government contracts in the future.
  • Establish Pricing Practices: Make sure you understand the accounting standards you must meet (whether the government’s Cost Accounting Standards or Generally Accepted Accounting Practices), and have a sufficient accounting system to be able to calculate Indirect Cost rates. If necessary, work with a Small Business Development Center for general business assistance.
  • You – or your accountant – should understand the principles of allowable, allocable, and reasonable, as well as avoidable or unallowable costs, and in some cases, an Economic Price Adjustment.
  • Know Your Target Customer(s): If you can target an agency which represents the most promising market early on, it allows you to thoroughly research the potential customer’s mission, priorities and past procurement history with regard to similar products/services. Your PTAC Counselor can help you with this research.
  • Evaluation of Competition: Negotiated contracts are seeking the best value from among the offerors, so it is critical that you know your likely competitors and their strengths and weaknesses relative to your business. This understanding will be invaluable in crafting a proposal narrative which demonstrates the ability to provide better value than the competition. Your PTAC Counselor can also help you to find this information utilizing online government database search tools.
  • Identification of Potential Teaming Partners: Small businesses that have established relationships with large businesses and/or HUBZone, 8(a), SDVOSB and WOSB firms have greater flexibility to put together a team when they identify an RFP that would make more sense to pursue as a sub.Your PTAC Counselor can elaborate on this topic and provide you with additional advice at no cost. Click here to Find your PTAC today!

Watch this space for the rest of the series: Reviewing the Solicitation and Reaching a “Go/No Go” Decision and Preparing the Proposal.

More about Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs)

Ninety-eight PTACs – with over 300 local offices – form a nationwide network of procurement professionals dedicated procurement professionals working to help local businesses compete successfully in the government marketplace. Funded under the Defense Logistics Agency’s Procurement Technical Assistance Program through cooperative agreements with state and local governments and non-profit organizations, PTACs are the bridge between buyer and supplier, bringing to bear their knowledge of both government contracting and the capabilities of contractors to maximize fast, reliable service to our government with better quality and at lower costs.

PTACs provide a wide range of government contracting help – most free of charge!