The Art of Writing Proposals for Government Contracts
Guess Blogger: Miss Jeanette M. Cochran
Miss Cochran CEO of Limitations Unlimited has an extensive background in federal government contracting, and is very well respected regarding submitting successful proposals. She is highly admired in the industry specifically referencing far. regulations and positive interactions with federal government agencies.
Part 2 The Proposal
Know what the government wants to see in a proposal. You will be surprised how many contractors actually look through the proposal and simply rearrange the response on to what they want requirements to say. This is a critical mistake. You must always summarize each section of the Statement of Work (SOW) for what the government wants. Each government proposal suggests that the agency has a problem that it wants you to fix. If your proposal response does not demonstrate your understanding of the problem, then you will never get the award.
· Summarize the important aspects of the initial proposal before you respond
· Understand the agency’s problem – even do some outside research. Are your contractual representations correct?
Another simple, but common mistake, is that businesses are not registered in the correct government portal and fail to later update either their small business status, points of contacts or their information is incorrect. False representations incur stiff penalties and even get your bid thrown out. When submitting a proposal, always ensure that you have listed the appropriate NAICS codes for the products and services your firm provides.
Understand how to legally utilize teaming agreements and subcontractors. Oftentimes, you may want to propose a subcontractor or teaming partner to reach larger contracts. However, a huge mistake can be made if you do not understand the Ostensible Subcontractor Rule. If you are caught subcontracting the forbidden parts of the project, then you will certainly forfeit the award in a bid protest. It is not a pleasant feeling to submit a successful proposal and then give up the project in a bid protest. Always understand what you can and cannot sub out to other companies. Is your pricing fair and reasonable? The agency usually composes an Independent Government Estimate before advertising its requirements. It is true that many agencies do not conduct sufficient market research to see what services actually cost in the commercial sector. However, the reality is that you stand about a 1% chance of challenging this aspect in a bid protest. The better approach is to not think that the government is a “cash cow.” You should stick to a reasonable profit margins on contracts over $ 3 million per year and a slightly lesser amount for contracts over $ 5 million. You don’t want to run the risk of finding out that your price was unreasonable.
Failure to overcome past performance problems can cost you a contract award. Did you know that 58% of proposal submissions go to the back of the pile because of a lack of relevant and recent past performance? The government wants to see what you have done in the industry. However, bidders (especially small businesses) may not always have the past performance that is similar in size and scope of the project they are interested in bidding on. How do you get past this hurdle? Answer – always have a relationship with a large business that has performed well on large projects. The government can consider the past performance of a subcontractor. However, you must still be aware of the Ostensible Subcontractor Rule and affiliation pitfalls.