The Truth About Proposal Evaluators

When you write your proposals, you need to make it very simple for the evaluators to give you the highest score. The burden is on you to make your proposal clear, compelling, compliant, and easy to evaluate.

Here is the reality of what’s going on with the evaluation. Very few proposals, which are usually high profile procurements, get a highly qualified source selection evaluation board. Majority of the procurements get a board of evaluators many of whom do not care about the project, and know nothing about its specific issues and technology, other than what they get in the evaluation instructions. For example, the only people who usually care about the procurement and understand what it’s all about are the government program manager, their technical “eyes and ears” who is usually a SETA contractor, their boss, and possibly the contracting officer. The remainder of the source selection evaluation board may be those who get pulled in because it is their turn to serve a “jury duty.” The only way you can get a high score from those evaluators, no matter how conscientious they may be, is by making your proposal easy to score, and packing it with visuals such as graphics and focus boxes that explicitly spell out your offer’s benefits.

To make this story worse, the Professional Services Council (PSC) just released a survey that reports lack of skills and training concerns for government acquisition professionals. According to this survey, workforce issues, including deficits in training and the number of skilled acquisition experts, continue to be the biggest concern in the federal acquisition community. The report about the survey said that the dollar amount and complexity of procurement has increased dramatically while the number and, in many cases, the capability of acquisition professionals has stayed constant or decreased. The survey findings show that acquisition professionals lack such crucial skills as business experience, ability to write requirements for and carry out performance-based acquisition, and ability to choose the appropriate contract types for specific needs.

The moral is – dedicate a lot of time and effort to make your proposals easy to follow and comprehend, no matter how technical the topic may be. Put in lots of attractive graphics and explain exactly why you are the best choice. Do not make the evaluator guess and search for answers. You may luck out and your evaluator may be someone who really cares about the program, knows you, has the experience, and can read between the lines of your brilliant technical approach, but don’t count on it. Picture the worst case scenario – your audience may be junior personnel who dread being stuck reading boring proposal after proposal instead of doing their day job. Make it worthwhile for them too, and you will raise your chances of winning.

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