FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the key to a winning proposal?

Winning proposals are relevant, responsive and compliant.

What is responsiveness?

Your response is your proposal. Always tailor the proposal to meet the needs of your target client. Nobody cares how great you are. Government agencies only care about whether you will be effective at solving their business challenges. So, communicate how you will address their specific problems.

Unresponsiveness can manifest in subtle ways. You may have a wonderful technical solution, but if a government agency publishes bidding instructions that indicate a page limitation, font size, or even instructions on the file name, you display unresponsiveness by failing to adhere to those instructions.

Don’t assume your solution will be so great that the contracting officer will forgive your oversight. When you fail to follow the submission rules, your proposal never even makes it past the administrative evaluation. No one even gets to see, let alone assess, your solution.

What is meant by compliance?

Compliance is meeting eligibility, technical, and capacity requirements.

Unresponsiveness can manifest in subtle ways. You may have a wonderful technical solution, but if a government agency publishes bidding instructions that indicate a page limitation, font size, or even instructions on the file name, you display unresponsiveness by failing to adhere to those instructions.

Don’t assume your solution will be so great that the contracting officer will forgive your oversight. When you fail to follow the submission rules, your proposal never even makes it past the administrative evaluation. No one even gets to see, let alone assess, your solution.

Can I use my past performance and experience as leverage to become a federal contractor?

Yes. The evaluation factors will be clear on when this is acceptable.

What is the biggest mistake organizations make when vetting proposals?

The first place companies usually look when reviewing a proposal is to the section entitled Scope of Work. They will often determine if they can perform the work, but miss the proposal evaluation factors, which are far more important.

Ranking factors give you an idea of exactly what the government wants. There are hidden ways of knowing exactly what the government is looking for. You usually have to be trained to spot them.

What is the biggest mistake companies make with proposals overall?

Templates. They try to cut and paste content from previous awards. While there are some things that don’t change, no two government agencies are the same. That said, they will not have the same needs, which means it’s not in your best interest to use a one-size-fits-all response to RFPs.

What works for a school may not work for a hospital. What works for a hospital may not work for a commercial environment. Customize proposals to address industry-specific challenges, even down to the organizational or departmental level.

Is it important to attend industry day events and other conferences?

If your budget allows for it, yes. Take every opportunity you can to get in front of the customer. But these may not be the most efficient use of your time and resources. Strong proposal submissions are more valuable. They build relationships like good writing on a television drama creates an alliance with viewers. This is a good time to communicate directly with the buyer, and get a debriefing.

I have past performance with commercial and state government, but not at the federal level. Will that hold me back?

In most cases, it will not. However the evaluation factors are clear about what is relevant when it comes to past performance.

What is the main reason organizations do not win government contracts?

Most organizations have one or more of the falling deficiencies:

Lack of infrastructure – An organization must be able to demonstrate to the government exactly how it will successfully perform the contract.

Businesses that are new to federal contracting often make the mistake of trying to enter the federal space and conduct business in the same way they did in the commercial market. That doesn’t work. You need a method of operations in place for your company that is government-compliant.

In many cases, the government will conduct a “pre-award audit” before awarding the contract. If the organization does not have standardized compliance practices already in place, the government won’t award the contract.

Lack of dedication to contract management – Contracts need contract managers. A contract manager ensures the terms, conditions, and deliverables of a contract are met. What many organizations fail to realize is that having a contract manager is a fee that should be built into the contract price. If the fees are built into the contract price, the federal government will reimburse contract manager fees as part of the indirect cost associated with the servicing of the contract.

Cost price analysis – You must have a pricing formula, so to speak. Often, organizations fail to demonstrate how they arrived at a “lump sum” price. Companies create prices, but not price structures and pricing strategies. Organizations must be able to count the cost – all the costs – of doing business. If the government wants to buy in greater quantities than you are prepared to sell or lesser quantities than you normally sell, you need to already have a pricing strategy in place that dictates how you will be able to deliver on the contract and remain profitable.

Inability to demonstrate capacity – Companies will sometimes have a great proposal, but lack the capacity (money, infrastructure, personnel) to pull complete the project. In that case, the government simply moves on to find a company that’s a better fit.

Inability to demonstrate key personnel – You’ve got the right technical solution… but not the human resources. You may have enough people, but lack the experienced personnel to execute the technical solution.

What is the government’s definition of a small business?

The federal government uses the Small Business Size Standard table to determine if you are a small business.

It starts by identifying your primary NAICS code. The federal government uses your last 3 years’ tax returns averaged to determine if you fall within the size standard set for that NAICS code. Size standards are based on 3-year aggregate sales OR number of employees.

What is a sole source contract?

A sole source contract is a non-competitive award to a company that has demonstrated a unique capability to offer to the government a product or service no one else can offer, or that no one else can offer within the given time restraints. The maximum award for service contracts is $3.5 million, and for manufacturing it is $5 million.

Where are all the government grants for startups?

Most grants for start-up businesses are in the form of technical assistance. Seed capital is very rare. The good news is the government is willing to “purchase” services from startups through a government contract, which is a great option for a number of innovative startups.

If the grant money is not available for startups, what programs are still government-funded?

The government allocates a large percentage of funds to Ex-Offender/Prison-Re-entry Initiatives. These are programs that focus on training ex-convicts and preparing them to be productive members of society. In fact, one of our clients is a company out of Raleigh, North Carolina that serves in this space; we have been quite successful in securing government grants for them.

Can for-profit organizations win government grants ?

Yes. There are several opportunities for for-profits to obtain grants from the government. However, the majority of funding is earmarked for research and development, and technology.

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Contracts and Grants, LLC is a multi-service firm that provides contract and grant support for corporations and agencies looking to do business with the government. The firm has secured over $12. 2 billion in contracts and grants negotiations and awards since 2011.

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