The U.S. government is all about transparency: it posts bids publicly. Yet, just because most opportunities are posted for the world to see, that doesn’t mean a level playing field.
You have to learn how to take advantage of other open sources of information, in addition to your customer intelligence (or instead of it, if you missed the window of opportunity to talk to the customer).
Our government releases unbelievably rich and useful information via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). You can request any unclassified document, including your competitors’ contracts and even winning proposals—and get it!
The government also publishes information as to who holds contracts and subcontracts for what work. It indicates the contract value in the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS; see fpds.gov) and other web sites we have already discussed, such as USAspending.gov. Government agencies also post a slew of information artifacts on the Web that are immensely useful in preparing proposals.
Don’t ever rely on what you read in the RFI, RFQ, RFP, or any other customer document. You have to understand that only the driest, most basic version of the story about what government truly needs, makes it into the requirements. Often an agency doesn’t know how to write an RFP properly and how to express its complex needs succinctly in a set of requirements. Sometimes the well-expressed initial set of requirements has to be simplified and changed based on multiple inputs from other key players or budgetary constraints — distorting the initial intent. Often it is impossible to determine the real intent behind the requirements because there is insufficient information. Only the person who knows the environment and the job can tell.
For example, once I got a call from a potential client who wanted to bid on construction of a child care center on a military base. They were interested in doing this because they had built similar two-story buildings before: how hard would it be to build a child care center? They were determined to bid. I started explaining to them that they had to know the story behind the story — that there is more to writing a proposal on that than just explaining the design build process they use and showing past performance (“Trust us, we’ve done this before!”). For example, did they know the site and its particular issues? They had missed the site visit that had taken place previously and hadn’t visited the base subsequently. They didn’t have any answers to develop a detailed solution. For example, they didn’t know what kind of access they would have and hours for the workers to be at that facility. They also didn’t know what kinds of specific needs the base personnel had regarding the building. The RFP only included the basics—such and such building for this many occupants. To win this bid, the client would have needed to have much more information to tell a credible story.
Presume that everything you will see in the RFP will be limited. It will not be sufficient for you to write a compelling proposal. Furthermore, as you know, the government, unlike most commercial customers, will worry about repercussions from violating procurement integrity, and will shut the door early on. This will especially be true on MACs: as soon as the government decides to issue a task order in the future, they stop discussions about it. Unless you start way ahead of the game, you will be operating in a blind and silent world where you will have to use snippets of information to build a mosaic of the whole picture to compensate for your lack of knowledge. Even if you have contact with customers, they won’t tell you everything—so you will still have to search for information to fill the gaps. In the government world, the best informed player wins.
If you are short-staffed, your proposal load is heavy, or you don’t have the right skills in-house, we can get you the right help, often at a few hours’ notice in the areas of proposal management, proposal development, government contracts, RFP consulting support. Contact us to reach our expert proposal managers and proposal coordinators, proposal writers for your executive summary, technical and management volumes, past performance, resumes, technical plans, and other proposal volumes, volume leads, proposal editors and desktop publishers, proposal graphic artists, cost strategists, pricing specialists, orals coaches, schedulers, and every other professional needed to produce a winning proposal. Learn more at: http://www.ostglobalsolutions.com/services/proposal-development-service.htm
P.S.: If you need Business Development, capture management, proposal management and writing, or onsite proposal training support using OST’s proprietary methodologies, contact us 301-384-3350 or email email@example.com. We have supported 18 out of the top 20 Federal Contractors and have won $19 Billion for our clients not counting the IDIQ ceiling values. We are here to help you to solve your proposal resource problems in a pinch!
OST Global Solutions, Inc.
…Because There is No Second Place in Proposals! TM
Workshops and Seminars
Rockville, MD, or remotely via webcast. Don’t miss early bird registration pricing – it ends 3 weeks before each class. Register at https://www.ostglobalsolutions.com/training/schedule
|Date (2013)||Class Name|
|NEXT week: June 3||FREE webinar: Top 10 Proposal Management Challenges and How to Overcome Them|
|NEXT week: June 4-5||Preparing Winning Multiple Award and Task Order Proposals|
|June 17||Proposal Win Themes Development Workshop|
|June 18-19||Foundations of Proposal Management|
|June 20-21||Foundations of Capture Management|
|June 24||Proposal Graphics Conceptualization and Design Workshop|
|June 25||Desktop Publishing for Proposal Professionals (Microsoft Word)|
|July 16-17||Developing a Winning Cost Volume|
|July 18-19||Advanced Proposal Management|
|Sept 10-11||Foundations of Proposal Management|
|Sept 12-13||Writing Persuasive Federal Proposals|
|Oct 7-8||Foundations of Federal Business Development|
|Oct 9-10||Foundations of Capture Management|
|Oct 22-23||Advanced Proposal Management|
|Oct 24-25||Advanced Capture Management|
|Nov 11||Proposal Win Themes Development Workshop|
|Nov 12-13||Developing a Winning Cost Volume|
|Nov 14-15||Preparing Winning Multiple Award and Task Order Proposals|
|Dec 3-4||Foundations of Proposal Management|
|Dec 5-6||Writing Persuasive Federal Proposals|
|Dec 9-10||Proposal Editing Workshop|
|Dec 11||Proposal Graphics Conceptualization and Design Workshop|
|Dec 12||Desktop Publishing for Proposal Professionals (Microsoft Word)|
If you don’t find a class that suits your schedule, consider us for on-site corporate training at your company or for a webinar for your dispersed workforce if you have multiple locations.
Professional Proposal Tools and Self-Study Training
• Blueprint for Winning Government Contracts
– Explains how to find opportunities, write winning proposals, and get multimillion dollar contracts to grow your small business in the federal market.
• Task Order Manual Template
– Reusable professional tool-set (electronic template) – instant download.
• Executive Summary Secrets
– Self-study course (workbook and audio CD) to persuade evaluators to award the contract to you.
• How to Succeed as a Proposal Consultant
– Tips to get more work, higher pay, and better clients – instant download.
• A Proposal Manager’s Essential Checklists
– Reusable tool-set for consistently successful proposal management and coordination.
• Proposal Resources Estimating Guide
– Guide for determining required manpower and hours to calculate how much a proposal should cost.
• Six Strategies to Grow Aggressively in the Federal Market
– Video course explaining how to succeed and grow in the highly competitive federal contracting market.