Understanding the Government Bidding Process

Government operations often seem to take on a life of their own, and the bidding process is certainly no exception. Expect the bidding process to vary significantly based on the agency and the scope of the requirement up for bid. Nevertheless, there are certain consistencies to the process as governed by the Federal Acquisition Regulations.

Requests for bids, quotes or proposals (RFQ’s and RFP’s) may be sent directly to pre-qualified companies (such as GSA contractors) or they may be advertised to the public though websites such as “FedBizOps” www.fbo.gov. These requests are known as “solicitations”.

In order to receive a government contract, prospective bidders must be registered in the System for Awards Management (SAM) https://www.sam.gov/portal/public/SAM/. An active SAM registration is required for any company seeking to do business with the government, and should be completed well in advance of submitting any bids.

Companies can also participate on government bids as subcontractors or through joint ventures. For GSA contractors, the use of contractor teaming arrangements (CTAs) can further allow companies to work together to meet a customer’s needs. CTA’s can improve GSA marketing strategies by allowing companies to bid on a wider range of opportunities.


Tips for Preparing Successful Bids and Proposals

• Carefully review all documentation provided to ensure you have a complete understanding of the requirements. Submit any questions or requests for clarification to the contracting officer in writing as early on in the process as possible.

• Carefully monitor opportunities of interest for any updates or modification that may be issued. Solicitations are often modified based on vendor feedback, and any updates must be reflected in your bid.

• Ensure you are eligible to bid based on the terms of solicitation. Many bid opportunities are set aside for small businesses or certain subcategories of small businesses such as veteran or woman owned.

• Never bid on a requirement you are not prepared to deliver on. Do not assume that you can re-negotiate the terms of the contract or the scope of work once a contract is awarded. Failure to perform on a contract can severely jeopardize future government business opportunities.

• Ensure your bid or proposal clearly addresses all information requested by the government, including any required formats that are specified. The agency may determine the bid to be non-responsive otherwise. Don’t’ expect the customer to make assumptions.

• Respond to a bid request even if you have previously bid on the requirement. Agencies often request information ahead of the formal bidding process for the purpose of market research, but this may not be eligible for consideration unless re-submitted.

• Ensure your bid is submitted ON TIME. Bids received after the closing time / date published are rarely eligible for consideration.

• After submitting your bid, ensure that any correspondence received from the agency is addressed promptly and completely. Unanswered requests for information can disqualify a bidder as non-responsive.

Ultimately, the best bidding strategies are though effective sales and business development strategies well ahead of the bidding process. The more you understand about the customer and their mission (and the more they know you), the more effectively your bids can package and communicate the solutions needed to win.