Securing a win in the government contracting industry is quite difficult. It usually takes 18 to 24 months for a government contractor to win the first contract, so one needs to be patient with it. However, the proper groundwork increases the chances of winning a government contract.
One of the greatest fears is the fear of the unknown! In the dynamic world of government contracting, this fear can get intensified. Many bottlenecks and intrinsic risks can throw you off the track while you attempt to win contracts successfully. This blog guides you about the opportunities to bid for, where to look for them, and how to utilize past performance as the right track toward success.
Key Factors Helping in Winning Government Contracts:
Knowledge of the System: Perform Market Research on Government Contracting Spending
Once you plan to bid for a government contract, the last thing to do is to rely on your stocked knowledge to gauge the dynamics within the federal contracting space. Instead, conduct extensive market research before starting to respond to a proposal. The valuable information derived from the extensive and planned research will help draft a relevant and effective proposal response. Start by researching the federal contracting dollars assigned to various government departments or agencies to lay a roadmap for your journey. Understand which department has what percentage of the annual government contracting dollars and what products and services they bought in the past to map companies offering to the relevant departments.
As per the U.S. Government Accountability Office, in FY 2020, the Government spent more than $665 Billion on the contracts, out of which a major chunk of $421.8 Billion was allocated to the Department of Defense and $243.3 Billion to Civilian Federal Agencies. Here is a snapshot of government contracting spending in various departments and agencies in 2020.
Knowledge of the Opportunities: Perform Market Research on Government Contracting Opportunities:
The urge to win a government contract might often trick contractors into responding to any opportunity. Responding to opportunities without proper research and matching them to your strengths can be a huge mistake. To avoid this, choose the contract that not only fits your strengths but also provides room for growth. The chances of winning a contract increase when the right opportunity is identified.
Government issues the opportunities on various platforms such as :
- Subcontracting Network (SubNet): SubNet is a database of subcontracting opportunities in the federal contracting space. The platform is managed by the Small Business Administration (SBA). If you are a small business venturing into government contracting, then subcontracting is the best way to showcase your presence, grow the profile and build a strong portfolio. You will be working with a prime contractor and not the government itself, but it helps to have the flavor of working on government projects. It will help you determine whether government contracting fits the vision and mission of your business.
- Dynamic Small Business Search (DSBS): DSBS is an online search tool managed by the Small Business Administration. The government uses it to search small businesses for contracting opportunities. Moreover, small businesses can also look up other small businesses to work with on a project using this tool.
To get your business listed on DSBS, register at the System for Award Management (SAM) website for free.
- Contract Opportunities: Contract Opportunities formerly known as FedBizOpps. It is a database of opportunities valued at $25,000 and above in federal business. The tool is housed on the website of SAM.gov.
Writing a Winning Past Performance
Most government customers utilize past performance to assess the program’s likelihood of failure. Government contractors should write the past performance proposal parts to reassure the customer that they have successfully completed a similar project in the past.
How to write a winning past performance:
The first step is to look at a bigger number of prospective contracts to see which ones should be included in the past performance section. Choose contracts similar to those you’re bidding on and have a good track record for your organization. It’s a good idea to define what “similar” means—in this case, matching the new proposal’s technical requirements to work completed on the candidate contracts. However, it also entails picking contracts that are comparable to the one you’re bidding on. Is it a task-oriented IDIQ? Is the workforce distributed geographically? Is the usage of an Earned Value Management System required?
Consider these suggestions once you’ve chosen the high-performing, highly relevant contracts to include in the past performance section and are ready to create the past performance write-up for each contract:
- Create a uniform, repeatable format for each past performance contract citation (often done in a table format),
- Provide the information sought in the citation in the sequence specified in the proposal specifications for the procurement,
- Check and double-check the contact information for your customers, and
- Check and double-check the most up-to-date contract information, such as contract values and dates.
The following is a narrative description of the work done:
- Organize the narrative to match the technical specifications of the solicitation to which you’re responding, so you can show how your work is relevant to the new contract’s requirements,
- Use keywords from the solicitation in the narrative to emphasize relevance, and
- Quantify the outputs and outcomes of the work on the contract you’re quoting.
Pro-tips for getting the highest possible score based on your previous performance:
Here are some pointers to help you earn the highest possible score on your past performance evaluation:
- Validate performance with the Program Manager: For ongoing projects, ensure there are no surprises or recent issues by checking in with the current Program Manager.
- If necessary, manage the past performance questionnaire: If your clients must complete a questionnaire, designate someone to follow up with them and ensure they complete and submit the form on time.
- Don’t try to hide poor performance; instead, make a lesson: If the contract requires you to list any performance difficulties, don’t say “none.” Tell the truth about any performance difficulties, then explain what steps were taken to resolve them; these steps prove that the problems will not recur.
- Examine the performance of contracts you didn’t mention: Client evaluators may conduct their research beyond the contracts you gave in your past performance section.
- Organize the CPAR procedure. Keep track of your customers’ performance evaluations for government contracts, and engage with them to remedy any erroneous performance reports.
References within the Agency: What Makes Someone A Good Reference?
Although government-owned organizations depend primarily on the Past Performance Information Retrieval System (PPIRS) for analyzing past performance, other sources could include phone calls to individuals within agencies where the government contractor previously worked, even if they are not listed as references.
Contracting officers on minor government contracts that aren’t subject to past performance reviews keep track of performance difficulties and frequently ask for references for previous work. As a result, the selection of references should be prioritized. They should be chosen early enough so that you can notify them of their inclusion and give them enough time to respond.
When providing a list of references, provide
- a current contact name,
- e-mail address,
- phone number, and
- a description of the work done.
You are responsible for informing references that the Contract Officer may contact them regarding the purchase. It is recommended that you prepare all requested information ahead of time and assist your references in learning about the solicitation and essential areas to discuss. You must make this simple for your references, as you may need their help again in the future. The following are some helpful hints for choosing references:
- Select references who will vouch for your work.
- Check your contact details twice. Keep in mind that in the fast-paced federal sector, the contracting officer or reference you dealt with may have moved on to a new position.
- Know when the reference contacts you. Before contacting references, ensure that any downsides from a previous contract have been clarified.
- Choosing someone who will provide an excellent reference is likely more helpful than choosing someone who has done work more directly similar to the desired contract.
The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) is the most important item to remember while working in the federal RFP government area. Everything done is governed and regulated by the FAR.
It focuses on how government assessors and procurement officials can connect with industry stakeholders before and after a request is released. The FAR also explains how the government examines proposals and how they are required to give specific information once a decision has been made.
Here are a few key points to keep in mind while responding to government RFPs:
- Prepare to work inside the FAR’s very limited framework.
- Ensure that your proposal complies with all FAR standards.
- Engage and communicate effectively with the government.
What can RFP responders do to improve their chances of winning?
- Write RFP responses that demonstrate your familiarity with the customer: Submit a suggestion that addresses the evaluator’s issues and concerns. They don’t simply want to hear about your abilities as a contractor. They want to make sure that what you have to offer is relevant to their requirements.
- Use a standardized and adaptable procedure: Government solicitations range from 2-3 day task order turnarounds to 120-day comprehensive RFPs with five volumes and several production criteria. You’ll need a uniform process to guide your team from solicitation to submission, but it must be flexible enough to accommodate changing requirements.
- Make government RFPs a priority for your company: Everyone takes a step back when an RFP comes in, leaving whoever is standing there to work on the responses alone. Many government contractors are competing for contracts these days. In a tighter market, it’s critical to engage and involve the best in your government RFPs to achieve success.
In general, RFP responders may find it challenging to locate resources. When it comes to the government, there’s a lot of documentation and reporting about agency and sub-agency demands. Government CIOs speak to not only Congress but also industry journals. Most agencies make their information public, so we should keep our eyes on the news and industry sites.
Understandably, winning government contracts is quite tricky, but with a streamlined process and targeted approach, the chances of winning increase. We at iQuasar can help you lay the foundation for getting closer to winning the government business. Our proposal writers are well versed and experienced in finding the right opportunities for your business, refining your past performance, and writing a compliant proposal response.
Also Read: Inflation – Impact on Government Contractors