The government Request for Proposal, or RFP, is a process for bidding on government projects. Once an RFP is released by a government agency, bidders can submit a proposal and attempt to win the work contract.
The bidding process for a Government RFP is a very specific proposal application that is public to ensure transparency and help reduce costs.
A government RFP is usually a lengthy document, with many sections that detail what is expected of all parties in a federal contract.
The RFP occurs as part of the federal bidding process, and many firms and businesses reply to the request with offers of how their group is best qualified to perform the project.
As you can guess, writing a successful government RFP is crucial to winning the bid.
If you are looking to research some of the projects currently on the market or to be released, visit the System for Award Management
WHAT COMPONENTS MAKE UP A GOVERNMENT RFP?
A federal government RFP is made up of thirteen sections, each one overseen by the Federal Acquisition Regulation, or FAR.
The following are basic descriptions of each of the thirteen sections described by the FAR:
Section A – Information to Offerors or Quoters:
This includes important information, usually on one page, to bidders. This section also identifies the title of the procurement, procurement number, point of contact (POC), how to acknowledge amendments and how to indicate “No Response” if you decide not to bid.
Section B – Supplies or Services and Price/Costs:
This is the section in the RFP that includes all pricing information for the entities interested in the RFP.
It defines the type of contract, identifies Contract Line Items (CLINs), and Subcontract Line Items (SLINs) that identify billable items, describes the period of performance, identifies option periods (if any), and provides cost and pricing guidelines.
This section is often presented and responded to in tabular form.
Section C – Statement of Work (SOW)
The SOW is the most significant section. This is the statement of work, and it informs the bidder of the exact work that is expected from them.
Outside of your pricing, most of your proposal will be responding to this section by informing them of how you will deliver what they need.
Section D – Packages and Marking
Section D outlines the method of deliverables, such as reports, and how materials will be packaged and shipped.
This information is important as these instructions may affect costs and raise logistical issues.
Section E – Inspection and Acceptance
This section provides more information about how the government will officially accept deliverables and what will happen if those criteria are not met. The inspection and acceptance of deliverables can also affect costs.
This section of the RFP will identify some tasks the company must be prepared to undertake.
Section F – Deliveries or Performance
Defines how the Government Contracting Officer will control and regulate the work performed and how the company will deliver certain contract items.
Section G – Contract Administrative Date
Describes how the Government Contracting Officer and the company will interact by providing details on how the information will be exchanged in the administration of the contract to ensure both performance and prompt payment.
Section H – Special Contract Requirements
Covers a range of special contract requirements important to the procurement, such as procedures for managing changes to the original terms of the contract, government-furnished equipment (GFE) requirements, and government-furnished property (GFP) requirements.
Section I – Contract Clauses/General Provisions
Section I lists clauses to be placed in the government contract. While it does not require a separate response, its terms will be obligatory.
Section J – Attachments, Exhibits
This covers a list of add-ons, appendices, and attachments for the RFP. It generally is used to demonstrate the data needed in order to respond to the Statement of Work.
Section K – Representations/Certifications and Statements of Offerors
It contains a list of items that you must certify to bid on this contract. This includes, but is not limited to:
- certification that you have acted according to procurement integrity regulations
- your taxpayer identification
- the status of personnel
- ownership of your firm
- type of business organization
- authorized negotiators
- whether you qualify as a small business
- disadvantaged business
- and/or women, veteran, owned business, etc.
Section L – Proposal Preparation Instructions and Other
Provides guidance on how to formulate a government RFP response.
These include any formatting requirements, how the government wants the material organized/outlined, how to present questions regarding the RFP or procurement, how the proposal is to be delivered, and, sometimes, notices, conditions, or other instructions.
Section M – Evaluation Criteria
Defines the factor, subfactors, and elements used to “grade” the proposal. After proposals are graded, the government considers the costs to determine who wins the award and receives the contract.
Looking for a more in-depth analysis into the 13 sections?
HOW TO READ A GOVERNMENT RFP?
A government RFP can be an intimidating booklet of information that, when stacked up, measures a couple of inches thick. We at SAS GPS have some quick tips to get to the meat of the government RFP and decide whether this is a bid you want to participate in.
Here are the sections you need to read to understand the government RFP and how you can prepare the proposal:
- Section L: Where you’ll find the instructions for formatting, organizing, and submitting your proposal
- Section M: Where you’ll find the criteria and scoring system that will be used to determine whether your proposal wins.
- Section C: Where the government says what the contract is and how they want you to propose (often called the “Statement of Work”).
- Section B: This is where the government tells you how to format your pricing. If you need help with pricing your RFP, check out our price-to-win-analysis and consultation services that you can use to have a greater chance to win your government bid.
- And sometimes, Section J. Sometimes important aspects of a government RFP are in this section, so make sure to read carefully, just in case.
Just to be clear, this does not mean the other sections are not important or necessary. But some of the other sections are not as easy to read which is why, if your company is looking to grow into the government-industry or is looking to win more government bids, SAS-GPS offers free consultations to businesses who need them.
The best method to read a Government RFP is not to read it from start to finish, the way you would read a book.
As an alternative, first inspect Section A (usually the cover page). This page contains a box with the due date. Now you know how much time you have to prepare your response.
Then read Section L and focus on how they want the proposal organized. Whether you think it makes sense or not, you unquestionably must follow their outline.
After, go to Section M and find out how you will be graded. Pay attention to what they think is imperative.
Now go back to Section C and find out what you must propose doing or supplying.
To really comprehend how and what to offer, you’ll also need to look at Section B, so you can see whether they want it priced by the hour, in fixed price units, or some alternative way.
Keep in mind that how you present the proposal will be bound by the instructions in Section L and how you will be graded is in Section M.
Example: Section C may take 100 pages to describe something that is only 10% of the grade, and only 5 pages to describe something that is 50% of your grade. Read Section C with the evaluation criteria in mind.
Here are some additional items to look for in a government RFP:
- When reading Section L: Look for guidelines regarding page count, page layout (margins, fonts, page sizes), submission method, and outline/content.
- When reading Section M: Read and look for the scoring method, score weighting, evaluation process, past performance approach, and “best value” terminology.
- When reading Section C: Look for requirements (are they explained, understandable, and/or ambiguous?), contradictions (between requirements, as well as Section L and M), feasibility, and opportunities for differentiation between you and your competitors.
- When reading Section B: Look for correspondence to the requirements and evaluation criteria.
Different sections of the government RFP are often written by different authors, and sometimes the boilerplate text is inserted without adequate review. Do not be surprised to find contradictions and ambiguities.
HOW TO WRITE AND WIN A GOVERNMENT RFP?
Ask better questions. To better your government RFP writing skills, try analyzing the entire process and every aspect of what you and your company will need win.
In all honesty, this can be difficult if you are new to government contracts or have not won the amount you were projected to win last year.
Depending on the resources and time that your company has, it may be good idea to bring in outside help to provide you the strategy to win.
SAS-GPS has won over 30 billion dollars in government contracts in the past 16 years, and with that amount of experience, we consider ourselves the go-to-company for helping you write winning government RFPs.
We are a veteran and female-owned firm, with U.S. military veterans as key members of our management team.
We have extensive firsthand proposal development experience, expertise in contracting practices, and connections with the Department of Defense, the U.S. Armed Forces, and other Federal agencies, as well as those of the private sector.
Our clients range from brand-new start-ups to Fortune 500 firms.
We offer free consultations on proposal development, price-to-win analysis, helping you connect with other businesses, and any website or marketing needs you may need.
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