Government Officials Can and Do Meet With New Government Contractors

December 15, 2021 | Business Development, Government

Photo by Amtec Photos on Flickr

Seasoned government contractors know that government customers meet with industry to discuss their challenges and a possible solution. Often, businesses with little or no experience selling to the government do not understand the rules around these meetings and believe it is just banned altogether. What is shocking is some government buyers also believe this.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) put out a series of “Myth-Busting” memos to help guide government program managers and contracting officers in working with industry to combat these and other misconceptions. While OMB drafted some of these memos a decade ago, some of the subject matter raised is still relevant today. One misconception in one of the memos indicated the misconception of, “We can’t meet one-on-one with a potential offeror.”

The memo clarifies this misconception about vendor communication and explains specific rules around one-on-one meetings, but they are not banned altogether. For instance, a particular set of rules govern one-on-one sessions after a solicitation is issued. Then there are other rules after proposals are received.

Communications before a solicitation is released generally have less structure. This period is the time for the government to discuss best practices with industry and learn about the solutions provided by vendors. Then the program manager and government subject matter experts can shape the requirement from these discussions. Often vendors worry that sharing their information for a possible need may cause an organizational conflict of interest (OCI) which could exclude them from bidding on an opportunity. However, if the government allows multiple government contractors to provide their input to explore their options, this type of marketing outreach does not raise OCI concerns.

OMB raised numerous misconceptions about vendor communication in the “Myth-Busting” Memo: Addressing Misconceptions to Improve Communication with Industry during the Acquisition Process. We will continue discussing these misconceptions and monitor the OMB for other myth-busting memo releases.

What preconceived notions do/did you have about doing business with the Federal Government?

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MYTH: Government agencies always award contracts based on price alone. Lowest price always wins.

FACT: While some contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, government agencies also make awards based on the best value which includes trade-offs between the ability to perform the work, quality, past performance, and price.