Federal contracting agencies typically start the government proposal writing process by having the end user involved in procurement planning. Here, each end user qualifies and quantifies their individual needs. Mission essential requirements come first. If there is a budget for the requirements, the procurement process moves along.
Depending on many procurement requirements, and the dollar value, the end user typically approaches the contracting office for further directions. A statement of work is then developed. If there is a unique requirement, the rules provide for the agency to post a sources sought.
The part of the process seeks interested vendors and creates data to help the agency decide on the procurement type. For example, if no small businesses show an interest, the agency may decide to post an “unrestricted” Request for Proposal (RFP).
The government procurement law requires most agencies to post their requirements on FBO. In the solicitation, the agency tells the public about the requirement, should articulate to offerors the proposal requirements, provide a statement of work, and the evaluation criteria that will be used.
Various Government Processes
The government utilizes various proposal strategies for posting and evaluation of its requests for proposals. The following will discuss the general steps for common practices.
FAR, Subpart 12 (Streamlined Procedures for Evaluation and Solicitation for Commercial Items) provides optional procedures for (a) Streamlined evaluation of offers for commercial items; and (b) streamlined solicitation of offers for commercial items for use where appropriate. These procedures are intended to simplify the process of preparing and issuing solicitations, and evaluating offers for commercial items consistent with customary commercial practices.
Under FAR Subpart 15.2 (Solicitation and Receipt of Proposals and Information) the process prescribes policies and procedures for
- Exchanging information with industry before receipt of proposals;
- Preparing and issuing requests for proposals (RFPs) and requests for information (RFIs); and
- Receiving proposals and information.
Negotiated Proposal Writing Process
Negotiated procurements in government proposal writing are regulated and extremely important. For example in FAR 15.202, Requests for proposals, it specifically outlines how the agency publicizes its requirements to the public.
After receiving the solicitation, you want to read it carefully to make sure that the language is clear and unambiguous; the solicitation is not unduly restrictive. If so, you must challenge any problems in a bid protest before bid closing. The basics of government contract bidding rules do not allow you to wait until award to protest the issues.
Writing your proposal: When preparing your bid, you should look at your government proposal writer‘s experience. The proposal writing process requires more than just good graphics, and great content about your customer service. Since the proposal process is heavily regulated, your proposal writing efforts should be aligned with how the government evaluates proposals and must be aligned with the solicitation’s evaluation criteria.
Questions and Answer Session
In developing your proposal writing process, the government may sometimes state in the solicitation either a site visit or a date for questions and answers. This gives bidders the opportunity to clarify certain proposal requirements and get specific answers to questions.
Writing a government proposal means understanding the evaluation criteria and how the proposal process works, how to submit solid technical proposals and the nuances of developing competitive federal proposals. Most companies are busy with the day-to-day operations and are not well-versed in proposal preparation, the bidding process and how to align themselves in a way to improve their chances of actually winning. See additional information on preparing a government contract bid.
Proposal Evaluation Phase
After bid submission: After you submit your bid, the proposal process requires the agency to evaluate your offer in accordance with procurement laws and regulation. A source selection board will be responsible for technical evaluations, pricing evaluation and to see whether you complied with the solicitation’s requirements.
After receiving proposals from the public, the proposal writing process also requires that bid packages are handled very delicately because each package contains proprietary information such as pricing and strategies.
In negotiated government contracts, the evaluation process first starts by evaluating each proposal against the solicitation requirements. This allows the agency to dispose quickly of non-compliant bid packages and those that will not be seriously considered for an award.
The process now provides for establishing a competitive range. This is where the source selection proposal review team uses its plan to analyze a set number of top contenders.
Discussions: Once the competitive range is met, the agency, as stated in the solicitation may choose to conduct discussions with each offeror. The procurement proposal process mandates that when the agency chooses to conduct discussions, it must be meaningful discussions; that is, discussions must identify deficiencies and significant weaknesses in each offeror’s proposal that could reasonably be addressed to materially enhance the offeror’s potential for receiving award. See Federal Acquisition Regulation FAR Part 15.306(d)(3).
Best Value and Trade-off Proposal Review Process
Revised proposals: After discussions, bidders may be allowed to revise their proposals. This leads to the best value and trade-off process.
- This part of the government proposal process allows for the agency to compare each proposal against each other.
- The agency should analyze the strengths and weaknesses of each contractor’s bid.
- This is a very sensitive part of the process.
The Proposal Procurement process requires source selection teams must document the rationale for choosing one proposal over another. Failure to document the source selection file can create problems for the government in a bid protest.
Once the government makes its award the decision, everyone is notified. Afterward, unsuccessful offerors can request a debriefing ( if required). Later the proposal process allows for unsuccessful offerors to file a bid protest at the agency level, Government Accountability Office (GAO) or U.S. Court of Federal Claims.
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