“Contracting with the federal government is often frustrating, but agencies are trying hard to broaden their base of participating businesses. But it is incumbent on the business sector to try harder too.“
“Selling to the federal government can be complicated, particularly for startups, smaller companies, and those unfamiliar with government contracting. The procurement process creates a jungle of barriers including crushing complexity, awkward communications and significant expense just to try and compete for business.
As a result, a number of companies with innovative products and services have chosen either not to work with government at all, or have given up in futility after trying. That represents a real loss to the public as well as to the business community, and it’s one that federal procurement professionals are well aware of.
In a recent podcast underwritten by my company, two procurement officials – Sandra Oliver Schmidt from the Department of Homeland Security and Jaime Garcia from the IRS – talked about some of the ways their agencies were responding to these acquisition barriers and using innovative approaches to the purchasing process.
DHS for example, established a Procurement Innovation Lab whose teams are testing the flexibilities built into the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). Its mission is to reduce the barriers to competition and bring more non-traditional companies into the supplier mix by creating their own terms and making multiple awards from a single solicitation. Together with the Department of Defense and General Services Administration, the agency established the Commercial Solutions Opening Pilot, which allows participants greater discretion and flexibility in buying innovative products valued below $10 million.
The IRS is also attempting to push the envelope with its Pilot IRS program. Its goal is to work with non-traditional and small business to quickly prototype and test emerging technologies. It is also looking carefully at project phasing to avoid becoming locked into a single vendor’s solution when there are better options available.
In addition to the complexity of federal contracting terms and conditions, one of the most off-putting aspects of selling to the federal government has been the cost of writing a proposal. Proposals that follow FAR’s prescriptive guidelines are lengthy, time-consuming, and expensive to prepare. Whereas a commercial deal can often be closed in a matter of weeks or even days, the federal sales cycle can run anywhere from 12 to 18 months. Beyond that, it has been somewhere between difficult and impossible for potential suppliers to meet with the decision-makers who hold the fate of business proposals in their hands.
One way that DHS is trying to open up the process is with phased proposals. The first phase could involve a lightweight proposal of perhaps five pages, or maybe even a 30-minute phone interview. The agency then advises the company on how competitive it thinks the idea is and leaves up to the vendor to decide whether to move ahead with the detailed proposal. The agency is also welcoming oral presentations and product demonstrations using a paperless process. Not only does it give suppliers a better opportunity to showcase their wares, but it gives the government more confidence in making an award. Initiatives like these also show suppliers that the government is cognizant of small suppliers’ costs and resource limitations, which allow suppliers to remain willing to engage across multiple bids and projects and preserves a competitive and innovative supply base. “
“We all know that, at a minimum, proposals must be compliant and responsive. If a proposal meets this minimum bar, the evaluator is likely to award it an Acceptable rating. But what if, despite several rounds of color team reviews, the proposal barely meets this mark?
A Mediocre Proposal
We can assume that an Acceptable proposal will not win in a federal government competitive best value trade-off, unless other bidders also submit Acceptable proposals, and price is the determining factor.
Under the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), government evaluators must make an award based on benefits offered by the proposer. Those benefits may include features of the proposed offering with proven benefits, or a low price, or some combination of the two. Still, unless the win strategy is based on a low bid, the goal of our color team reviews is to improve proposal quality. As a result, we would hope that our proposal rises from merely Acceptable to Good or even Outstanding as we move from Pink to Red to Gold Team.
However, we encounter situations where despite the best efforts of reviewers and writers, the proposal never rises above mediocre. Why did this happen? In the case of some recent reviews we at Lohfeld Consulting joined as consultants, there were too many reviewers with no training or direction, too many comments and too little consensus, too little time to recover between reviews, and an ill-defined solution.
A Compelling Solution is Rich in Strengths
Writers cannot create masterful text with no direction. Communicating the win themes to writers is not enough direction. Writers need annotated outlines and/or content plans with Strengths mapped to evaluation factors.
If the capture team did not work with subject matter experts and solution architects to craft a solution of merit, and/or failed to vet potential Strengths with customers, then the writers will not write about Strengths. The reviewers will therefore not find any Strengths. The proposal will therefore remain mediocre.
Ten Lessons Learned
The lessons learned below assume that the team has developed and vetted a solution rich in discriminating Strengths. Assuming there is a well-defined solution, here are ten lessons learned our team identified to improve color team reviews and proposal quality.
Types of Reviews: Not all color team reviews are created equal. Determine, up front, what type of color team reviews you will conduct and the purpose of each. We recommend that at least one group of reviewers act like a mock government source selection board to score and rate the proposal like the customer evaluation team. Every type of review should have discrete, well-defined roles that are clear and manageable.
Team Composition: Get the right people committed early and get the reviews on their calendars. Keep review team membership consistent across reviews. Involve proposal professionals in the review to inspect for quality of proposal writing tradecraft (including graphics). Also, involve independent reviewers who know nothing about the opportunity.
Training in the Art of Review: The right reviewers are trained reviewers. Make sure all the reviewers understand the proposal color team protocol. Set expectations for the reviews, provide agendas and scoresheets, and offer guidance/training on using automation, virtual proposal sites and/or evaluation tools.
Team Size and Review Duration: Size the review team and review duration to the proposal size and complexity. Ensure each reviewer has adequate time to review assigned sections. A good rule of thumb is 25-30 pages per day per reviewer. Ideally, two or more reviewers will review each assigned evaluation factor or proposal section for a complete picture.
Preparation: Ensure all review team members prepare in advance. Advance preparation includes reading the RFP, Q&A and amendments. The review team should also have access to the proposal manager’s compliance matrix and the capture manager’s win strategy. (If some reviewers are to act completely independent, do not provide the win strategy in order to see what a fresh pair of eyes finds).
Horizontal and Vertical: Review horizontally for cross-section consistency. Review vertically to determine if the proposal is compliant and responsive (Acceptable) as well as persuasive and compelling (Outstanding). Do reviews at multiple entry points in case customer evaluators review only one section or one evaluation factor.
Consensus: Review teams should have different roles. Some may be reviewing like a government evaluator. Others may be doing a compliance review. Still others may read the proposal for persuasiveness. No matter how you divide the roles, require each review team to provide a consensus out-brief including the proposal score or rating as well as perceived Strengths, Weaknesses, Deficiencies and Risks.
High Level Out brief: Avoid time wasting, long-winded out briefs. Instead keep the group out brief under an hour with a focus on a prioritized set of recommendations for improvement. Save details for one-on-ones with authors to speed recovery and improve quality.
Writer One-On-Ones: Too often, writers receive hundreds of comments and must fend for themselves during proposal recovery. Assign reviewers to fully brief the writers on consensus findings. Conduct iterative reviews before the next formal color team to ensure recovery is on track.
Lessons Learned: After proposal submission, conduct an internal lessons learned using a standard template. Which review processes worked, and which didn’t? Do you need more training in proposal solutioning, writing, and/or reviews? Develop and implement corrective actions as needed.
It All Begins with a Solution
Just write and solution later is the worst way to develop winning content. Yet, too often, reviewers are expected to evaluate proposal drafts that reflect the lack of a compelling solution. If you want color team reviews that work, solution before you write. Give writers effective templates and fully developed content plans with Strengths mapped to evaluation factors. Then, implement the ten lessons learned above, and see your color team reviews improve and win rates soar.”
“Is a winning proposal a good proposal? Some argue that by definition, yes, a win is a good proposal. However, we all know that a proposal can be the winner for reasons unrelated to proposal quality—such as a price shoot out.
Therefore, when we look back at our win-loss track record, we miss a lot of important data if wins and losses are the only measures of successful performance. As a result, we may re-use a poor-quality proposal or dismiss a losing proposal that has some successful elements.
Are your proposals good?
In a Deltek webinar, Bob Lohfeld polled the audience to ask: “Are your proposals compliant, responsive, AND compelling?” Interestingly, only 15 percent of 150-plus respondents believed that their proposals were consistently achieving all three measures of quality. Another 35 percent responded that their proposals sometimes achieved all three. Meanwhile, 35 percent stated that their companies consistently do NOT achieve all three, while the remaining 15 percent responded that their companies do not even understand the importance of all three performance measures.
In my experience, bidders do focus on compliance (although often do not achieve that measure as I pointed out in a recent Washington Technology article). However, many do not fully understand the difference between a compliant proposal and a responsive proposal. And, many do not grasp what makes a proposal compelling.
Compliant versus responsive
Your proposal can be compliant but not responsive. How does that happen? The narrative complies with the instructions, evaluation criteria, and work requirements. The format, whether electronic or hard copy, conforms with the instructions. The proposal even includes a compliance matrix. However, the content fails to focus on the meaning behind the RFP words. The outline is correct, but the proposal narrative misses the mark, perhaps providing too much detail on topics the customer does not care about and too little on what they value.
Another common mistake that makes a proposal non-responsive is focusing too much on your company rather than the customer. The proposal can be compliant, but if every paragraph begins with your company rather than the customer, it is not responsive. Too much fluff, words that don’t matter, and unsubstantiated bragging can all reduce responsiveness. When evaluators read non-responsive content, they lose interest. Non-responsive content also reduces the evaluators’ trust in the bidder as a potential contractor.
Responsive versus compelling
Similarly, a proposal can be compliant and responsive, but not compelling. A proposal is compelling if it is rich in Strengths. Strengths in the federal market are features with proven benefits that have merit: exceeding requirements or significantly reducing mission or contract risk in a manner the customer values. The only way to understand what the customer values is to spend a lot of time with the customer listening to needs and then returning to discuss potential solutions. It is an iterative process, leveraging information gathered from a variety of customers to formulate potential solutions and then gathering feedback to refine the solution.
Using a Strength-based solutioning approach helps you identify potential Strengths, vet them with customers, and then articulate them in your proposal as part of your discriminating value proposition. Strengths make responsive content more compelling and make it easier for government evaluators to score your Strengths. Strengths also build trust because the proposal then demonstrates that the bidder understands the customers.
Other measures of goodness
Certainly, there are other valid measures of goodness. Lohfeld Consulting has seven proven quality measures that include compliant, responsive, and compelling as well as customer-focused, easy to evaluate, well-written, and visually appealing.
In proposal post-mortems, consider not only whether the proposal was a winner, but also whether it met the seven quality measures. If not, why not?
Was capture insufficient?
Did capture fail to identify Strengths?
Did proposal writing fail to articulate the value proposition in a compelling and customer-focused manner?
Was the proposal hard to read and lacking in visuals?
Was the narrative simply poorly written?
Even if your proposal resulted in a win, asking these questions is still valid because the proposal may have won despite its faults. There is always room for improvement.
Winning doesn’t validate the proposal’s goodness
I do a lot of proposal reviews and post-mortems. I have read proposals that are good and lost as well as proposals that are bad and won.”
“This article is template to apply to your marketing operations for accommodating federal government contract proposal preparation. Proposals are special, sometimes exhausting projects, but a necessary part of doing business with government agencies.
Like many other aspects of business, the more proposals you prepare, the more you learn and the more can borrow from past practice for the next one. “
Your marketing efforts have resulted in locating a solicitation for supplies and services that is exactly suited to your business. The solicitation by the government may be a result of your self-marketing efforts or you may have located it at FEDBIZOPS, the gateway for all federal government business in excess of $25K. The fact that the government has now converted a project requirement into a formal solicitation means that the funding is available for a contract and the authorities within the government agency have authorized a source selection process.
BID/NO BID DECISION
Government contract proposal preparation is time consuming and can be costly. Meeting the agency Request for Proposal (RFP) requirements with a responsive proposal can be well worth the effort if a winning strategy can be formulated. When considering submitting a proposal to a given government solicitation, conduct a bid/no bid exercise. By going through that process you will begin formulating your win strategy or you will discover that you should not bid this job for lack of such a strategy. The elements of the process are discussed below in the form of questions to ask yourself against topics for key consideration. Affirmative or non-affirmative answers to the topical questions and ability to fill in the blanks below will drive your decision to bid or not bid a solicitation.
Do you know this customer? Yes __ No ___ Does this customer know you? Yes___No ___ Do you have any idea of the available funding for which the customer has obtained authorization? Yes___No ____ Specify the marketing contacts which have been made with the customer thus far: Date: Contact:
B. Supplies and Services:
Specify the supplies and services to be delivered in the prospective contract:
Line Item (s): Description:
Are the supplies and services in the RFP Statement of work a good match for what the company sells? Yes ___No ___ Is the RFP Statement of Work specific enough to identify risks? Yes____No ____ Is the RFP schedule specific enough to determine the delivery requirements? Yes____No____ Can the delivery schedule in the RFP be met? Yes ___No _____ Specify the delivery schedule for the prospective contract:
Line Item: Delivery Date:
C. Contract Type/Value/Start/End Date:
Does the proposed contract type (FFP, CP, T&M, etc) suit the nature of the work? Yes___ No ___ Specify the contract type for this program: _______________. Are there any unusual terms and conditions specified in the government RFP? Yes ____No___ Specify any unusual terms and conditions: ___________________________________________
What is the Rough Order of Magnitude (ROM) value of the prospective contract? $___________. What is the anticipated start date of the contract? ________. What is the anticipated end date of the contract? ________.
D. Company Strengths: Is this prospective contract for effort in which the company has strong skills? Yes____No ____ Specify the strengths the company will utilize in meeting the product specificaton or statement of work:
E. Company Weaknesses:
Are there any company weaknesses in meeting the product specification or statement of work? Yes ___No ___ Specify any weaknesses for which the company must compensate and manage associated risks:
F. Teaming Arrangements (If any):
Does your company plan to team with other companies in the performance of the prospective contract? Yes ___No ___ Identify the other team member companies:
Will your company be a prime or a subcontractor? Prime___Subcontractor ____ Have NDA’s and Teaming Agreements been executed? Yes____No ______
Is this a sole source set-aside procurement to your company? Yes____No____ If this is a competitive procurement, identify the prospective competition and their associated strengths/weaknesses:
H. Win Strategy:
Identify the proposal features and themes which will be utilized in the proposal as descriminators to win this program:
I. Proposal Budget:
Estimate the man hours and dollars for proposal labor, any travel expenses, shipping, packaging, samples and other expenses associated with preparing the proposal. The government does not reimburse the contractor for proposal preparation under the subsequent contract. Proposal expenses must be included in the cost center overhead or G&A and accounted for as marketing expense allocated across the cost center or the company.
Labor Hours __ Labor Dollars $______ Material _______ Travel _______ Reproduction _______ Samples (if any) _______ Packaging/Binding/Ship _______ TOTAL $_______
J. Bid/No Bid Decision:
If you can answer “YES” to at least 5 of the questions under paragraphs A through D above, it is likely you should bid this procurement. If the answers to 7 of the 10 “YES” or “NO” questions under paragraphs A through D above are “NO” it is unlikely you should bid this procurement unless the answer to G is “YES”. Even then, examine your answers and carefully review whether this business is suitable for your company. If the answer to E is “YES”, it is unlikely you will bid this procurement successfully unless the answer to G is “YES”. Even then, determine how you will overcome the weaknesses you have identified in your company associated with doing this work before you decide to bid it. Carefully compare the competitive analysis under Item G to the win statagy under H before you make your final decision.
BID _____ NO Bid _______
YOUR PROPOSAL You have decided to bid a prospective project. You have downloaded the RFP from the government agency and the clock has started on the proposal due date.
Visit the federal government on line certifications and representations web site and complete the standard information there, which can be utilized for all federal agency proposals. Certifications and representations are required for virtually every proposal submission. That web site is at:
The following information addresses the proposal process. It is from an independent consultant named Deborah L. Kluge, who is a specialist in proposal writing and consulting. The below is an extract from Deborah’s Web site.
If you are preparing a FAR Part 12 Commercial Proposal, certain elements of this material may not apply, but you are encouraged to utilize the information and the checklist to insure you have covered all the bases.
Read it once, then read it again. And again. Experienced bidders know that several readings of an RFP are necessary for a complete understanding of what is required. Learn what the lettered sections of an RFP are (e.g., Section B refers to your pricing, Section C is the scope-of-work, Section K contains Representations and Certifications, Section L provides instructions to the bidders, Section M specifies the bid evaluation criteria, etc.). The titles of the lettered sections are generally the same in every RFP. Be aware that information critical to your bid may be scattered among many different sections of an RFP. Put the RFP in a 3-ring binder for easy use as a reference document. You might also want to insert dividers in front of each important section for quick reference. Use small “Post-It”™ notes at the edge of a page to mark important pages or paragraphs. That way, you can find them quickly.
If you don’t understand some of the information in the RFP, you can submit written questions to the Contracting Officer. Some RFPs specify a date by which questions are due. Make sure you send in your questions before the due date or they may not be considered. Be aware that the Government’s response to all submitted questions are distributed to all bidders, usually through a written amendment to the RFP. Although you and your firm will not be identified as the “asker” of specific questions, the way in which you word your questions could provide important information to your competitors. Word your questions carefully to ensure that you don’t give away information on your strategy or pricing. If you call the Contracting Officer to obtain or clarify information in an RFP, be aware that verbal information given to you by the Government is not binding.
THE PROPOSAL OUTLINE
If you have downloaded an RFP from the Internet, you can use that file to begin constructing your proposal outline. If you do not have the RFP on disk, use a scanner to scan in important sections for use in preparing your outline. Some people prepare an annotated outline as well as a basic outline. An annotated outline can contain important points from the RFP, as well as your own information on what you are planning to say in each section. If you prepare an annotated outline, copy your file, save it under a different name, and delete the annotations. The result will be a basic outline which you can use for easier viewing and tracking of proposal sections and subsections. For each section and/or subsection of your outline, indicate the estimated number of pages that will be written, the person responsible for doing the writing, and the evaluation points. Put important instructions on the first page or at the top of your outline, so you don’t have to rummage through the RFP to find them. These instructions might include: proposal due date and time, number of copies, page limits, font size, page margins, packaging and delivery instructions.
THE PROPOSAL SCHEDULE
Make one and stick to it! Work backwards from the proposal due date. You might want to make a separate schedule for preparation of the cost/business proposal. Make sure you leave plenty of time for copying, binding, and delivering the proposal. Remember, the copier knows that an important document is being copied, so it will break, jam or smudge. Have a back-up plan that includes having extra paper and toner on hand and sending the proposal out to be copied. Distribute the schedule to all members of your proposal team.
Make sure you are familiar with the instructions in Section L of the RFP. Study the proposal evaluation criteria and the points allocated to each section/subsection of the technical proposal, as well as the points that are allocated to cost. This information will tell you what to emphasize and where to put your efforts with regard to proposal preparation. Hold an intial and regular follow-up meetings with your proposal team to discuss strategies, progress and problems. To the extent possible, your Technical Approach and strategy should provide answers to the following questions: who, what, when, where, how, and why. Depending upon the instructions in the RFP, your Management Section might contain a discussion on how you will manage the overall project, a discussion on how you will manage and oversee the work of your staff and subcontractors (if any), an organization chart of the project, and position descriptions of project staff. In your Personnel Section, you may be required to include narrative information on the experience and skills of the staff members you are proposing for the project and/or their resumes. In your Related Experience or Capabilities Section, you may need to demonstrate that you have performed similar or related work for this or other clients. Your proposal may have other sections such as an Executive Summary, a discussion of your Understanding of the Problem, Appendices, or other required information as specified in the RFP.
Don’t assume that the Government knows your organization’s capabilities, staff or the projects you have carried out. The Government is supposed to evaluate only the specific information contained in your proposal. That means it must be written down in accordance with RFP instructions. Use tables, charts and graphics to summarize information (“a picture says a thousand words”) or to break up your narrative. Check the entire proposal for the following: technical consistency; spelling; page numbering; section/subsection numbering or letting; consistency of appearance of headings, subheadings, font types and font sizes. Make sure you have filled in and signed all the forms in the RFP that you must return with your bid. Before and after copying your technical and cost proposals, check to see that each copy contains all pages and that they are in the proper order.
You have a technical strategy — you should also have a costing strategy! Don’t wait until the last minute to begin gathering cost information that you will need to prepare your cost estimate. Be aware of and understand the type of contract you are bidding: fixed-fee, cost-plus, cost-reimbursement, time and materials, etc. This will likely affect the way you price your proposal. Prepare a spreadsheet template or checklist of items to include in your cost estimate. Make sure your cost estimate is consistent with what you are proposing to do or provide. You may need to develop some specific assumptions for pricing purposes. If appropriate, you can include these assumptions in your cost/business proposal on a separate page or as footnotes to your estimate. In any event, always document your assumptions so that you can refer to them later and make changes if needed. Check and re-check your numbers and formulas. Review the hard copy of your estimate to help in spotting errors. Make sure that your cost estimate can be easily read. Don’t use a font that is too small. IF YOU WIN Celebrate! Uh oh — you now have to actually manage and implement your project.
IF YOU LOSE
You can call the Contracting Officer to arrange an in-person or telephone debriefing to find out the reasons for your loss. Try not to get too discouraged — no one can win all the time. Learn from your experience and apply that learning to your next bid.
PROPOSAL PITFALLS – Don’t Let These Happen to You!
Failure to follow the RFP instructions regarding organization of the proposal, inclusion of required information, page limits, volumes, etc. Failure to take evaluation criteria and allocated points into consideration when preparing your response. Failure to understand and to demonstrate an understanding of the problem (i.e., the reason why the agency is issuing the RFP). Failure to submit your proposal on the required date and time. Failure to include all of the information requested by the Agency. Failure to tailor your response to the specific RFP. Costs/Prices are unreasonable (too high or too low) or incomplete. Costs/prices do not provide any detail or breakdown information (if required) for line and sub-line items. Failure to include specifics of your proposed approach to the project. Proposal is unprofessional in appearance (e.g., typos, blank pages, unnumbered pages, smudges, no whitespace, sloppy-looking, etc.). This reflects poorly upon your company. Proposal is poorly written (e.g., information is not presented/organized in a logical manner, proposal is difficult to follow, poor grammar, etc.). Proposal merely repeats or paraphrases the RFP. Proposal does not explain how or by whom the project will be managed. Proposal does not contain RELEVANT information about your firm, its capabilities, and/or its management and staff. Proposal does not demonstrate that your firm/organization and personnel have the experience and capability to carry out the project.
Obtain complete copy of RFP Distribute RFP to appropriate staff. Review RFP for missing pages/sections. Prepare questions for submission to Contracting Officer. Receive and review responses to questions. Collect, distribute and review pertinent background documents.
Identify partners to participate in bid. Determine type of partnership arrangement. Prepare teaming or other type of appropriate agreements. Receive signed agreements from partners. Determine each partner’s level of effort for project. Number and type of long-term staff. Number and type of consultants.
3. TECHNICAL STRATEGY
Hold strategy meetings. Identify the partnership’s strengths and weaknesses. Identify competition and their strengths and weakness. Identify ways to differentiate partnership from competition. Develop strategic themes. Develop strategy for each component and overall.
4. TECHNICAL PROPOSAL
Prepare draft outline/revise as needed. Identify & select writers for each section. Determine page numbers for each section. Determine document format (font, major/minor headings, etc.). Provide writers with written formatting guidelines/instructions. Prepare/distribute list of nomenclature, abbreviations, acronyms. Identify and provide writers with relevant sections from past proposals. Prepare schedule/identify due dates for draft sections. Determine review, feedback and editing process for written sections. Ensure compatibility of software packages and versions. Ensure compatibility of document transmission via e-mail. Ensure sufficient quantities of appendix materials are available.
Prepare packet of materials for long-term candidates. Prepare personnel checklists/tracking list for candidate documents. Prepare commitment letter(s) for signature by candidates. Recruit long-term staff and consultants. Collect Resumes Sort Resumes by category/areas of expertise. Review Resumes Identify best candidates and alternates. Confirm candidates’ interest/availability. Obtain additional info from candidates for Resumes, if necessary. Obtain signed letters of commitment from candidates. Review personnel checklists for missing items. Determine format for re-written Resumes. Re-write Resumes. Prepare skills matrices.
6. PAST PERFORMANCE REFERENCES
Use RFP format if required. Update and/or prepare past performance information as needed. Review for accuracy and completeness.
Select cover design (map, picture, graphic, etc.). Identify info for cover (RFP #, date, submitted to/by, etc.). Prepare cover. Determine how proposal will be packaged. Purchase binder rings and covers, if needed. Purchase notebooks if needed. Purchase dividers/tabs if needed. Ensure sufficient quantities of all packaging items are available.
8. FINISHING TOUCHES
Spell check all sections. Gather appendix materials. Prepare Table of Contents. Prepare Transmittal Letter. Prepare Inside Cover Sheet for Technical Proposal. Prepare Section Tabs/Dividers for Technical Proposal.
Determine where and by whom proposal will be reproduced. Insert special pages, charts, etc., if required . Insert appendix materials. Check pages in each copy for legibility. Check each copy to ensure no pages are missing.
10. PROPOSAL DELIVERY/LOGISTICS Preparations for Delivery Obtain packaging materials (boxes, wrapping paper, tape). Purchase box handle (if needed for hand carrying). Prepare label for technical proposal. Prepare outside address label. Mark “original” on 1 copy of proposal. Prepare receipt (for hand carrying). Mailing Check courier service schedules (# days required for delivery). Wrap technical proposal and affix proposal label. Affix outside address label. Hand Carrying Identify person to carry proposal. Make airline and hotel reservations. Wrap technical proposal and affix “technical proposal” label. Affix outside address label. Affix handle, if required. Provide receipt to person who will hand-carry proposal. “
This article has offered guidance as a template to apply to your marketing operations for accommodating federal government contract proposal preparation. Proposals are special, sometimes exhausting projects, but a necessary part of doing business with government agencies. Like many other aspects of business, the more proposals you prepare, the more you learn and the more can borrow from past practice for the next one. As a final note please read the following carefully. Your proposal data may contain rate information, proprietary data or strategic technical solutions which you would not want to fall into the hands of a competitor. The government does not sign Proprietary Data Agreements (PDA’s). The government’s obligation to protect your information is covered in the following FAR clause and requires protective markings by you on the title page of your proposal and on each subsequent page.
FAR 15.509 Limited use of data.
(a) A proposal may include data that the offeror does not want disclosed for any purpose other than evaluation. If the offeror wishes to restrict the proposal, the title page must be marked with the following legend:
“The data in this proposal shall not be disclosed outside the Government and shall not be duplicated, used, or disclosed in whole or in part for any purpose other than to evaluate the proposal; provided, that if a contract is awarded to this offeror as a result of or in connection with the submission of these data, the Government shall have the right to duplicate, use, or disclose the data to the extent provided in the contract. This restriction does not limit the Government’s right to use information contained in the data if it is obtainable from another source without restriction.”
(b) The offeror shall also mark each restricted sheet with the following legend: “Use or disclosure of proposal data is subject to the restriction on the title page of this Proposal.”
(c) The coordinating office shall return to the offeror any unsolicited proposal marked with a legend different from that provided in 15.509(a). The return letter will state that the proposal cannot be considered because it is impracticable for the Government to comply with the legend and that the agency will consider the proposal if it is resubmitted with the proper legend. “