Proposal Debriefings: Everything You Need to Know

Oct 26, 2022

Have you ever thought about your proposal’s shortcomings or winning points? What if you can receive it directly from the horse’s mouth?

After every proposal submission, whether a win or a loss, it can be beneficial to collect feedback from the evaluators of your proposal. It can help improve the win rate for subsequent proposals by incorporating lessons learned. This is achieved through “debriefings.” A debriefing (or a debrief) is a meeting between the government agency or buyer and the contractor who submitted bids for a proposal. The goal is to provide contractors with comments on their strengths, weaknesses, and areas of improvement in their future proposals. This blog describes various aspects of proposal debriefings, including their importance, components, benefits, and expectations.

Why are Debriefings Important?

Proposal debriefings provide an opportunity for you as a responder to receive feedback on your proposal submissions and ask questions about the process followed. It enables you to understand the customer’s requirements better and figure out how you can strengthen your offering for future proposals. Notes taken during debriefings comprise a key element of an unsuccessful offeror’s knowledge library. The government contracting officer and other evaluators discuss the advantages and disadvantages of your proposal during the debrief. It allows you to gain an understanding of the competitiveness of their offer. In this way, debriefings provide an opportunity for the Government to implement transparency in the procurement process and help pave the way for better submissions in the future. They provide clarity from the Government’s perspective on what worked well in the procurement process and what could be improved for future opportunities. In case of an unfair evaluation, attending a debriefing helps you capture important information that can help you in any subsequent bid protests. They can also act as critical inputs for your legal team.

When and How Should you Request a Debrief?

FAR 15.506 requires the Government to provide feedback to the responders on their proposal officially. You are entitled to a post-award debrief from the Government after you submit a written request within three days of being notified whether they won or lost. You can send the requests via email to the person identified as the point of contact in the letter from the unsuccessful offeror, with a copy forwarded to the procurement specialist. The following details must be included in the debriefing request from the offeror:

  • Solicitation number and title
  • The offeror’s official legal name
  • The attendees of the debriefing and their titles

What Happens in a Debriefing?

Generally, in a debriefing, the evaluating team outlines what was lacking, so the offerors can do a better job when they submit their next bid/bids for the same customer or someone else. Whatever you learn in the debriefing can help you enhance your process, increasing your chances for a win the next time. Debriefings are a perfect opportunity to assess whether or not you should consider adjusting and/or improving your internal proposal development process.

Debriefing allows you to ask questions to the customer after you have submitted a bid, including but not limited to the following:

  • What were your major strengths and deficiencies?
  • What was your score relative to other bidders or the successful contractor?
  • How many bids were received, and who was the winner?
  • Was the choice of the winner influenced by cost or technical evaluation capabilities?
  • Were you competitively priced?
  • What were your features and benefits, or where did you score the highest?

What to Expect After Debriefing?

After a debriefing, you can expect to see where you ranked well or fell short against the evaluation criteria mentioned in the RFP, including but not limited to the following areas:

  • Price rating
  • Technical rating
  • Past performance
  • Reasonable responses to questions per client expectations and RFP requirement

Proposal debriefing allows the contractor to ask about the evaluation process and analyze and modify their proposal response. Preparing questions to ask and optimizing the proposal process can be overwhelming and time-consuming. Our team at iQuasar is skilled at assisting you in developing a required set of questions and capturing the feedback shared during the debriefing in the form of debriefing notes and lessons learned. Our team will assist you in improving and fine-tuning your proposals to position you better for future wins.

To know more how we can make your debrief useful and productive

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