Receiving a Debriefing Critical for Successful Government Contractors

February 15, 2022 | Business Development, Government

So you’ve decided to throw your hat in on a Request for Quotation (RFQ). You may not have done a whole lot of outreach to the government agency in question, but that’s ok. This RFQ only has a few evaluation criteria. You estimate it will only take a few hours to write a thoughtful response, formulate pricing and update your past performance matrix. You decide to “Swing the Bat.” More on “Swinging the Bat” can be found here. So you submitted, and you didn’t win. Now what?

You Lost

You lost to someone who bid lower than you on a Low Price Technically Acceptable (LPTA) bid. No need to ask any questions, right? Closed case. Right Wrong. We encourage companies to get a debriefing each time they lose. The information shared could be valuable.

Knowledge Gained

  1. How Can I Improve Next Time – Often, debriefings share where you lacked in your bid. Even if it is based on the lowest price, knowing the lowest price, as well as the number of proposals received, could give you valuable intelligence on how to price your bid the next time. One example is that it might trigger a conversation with your supplier about the competition and the need for more competitive pricing.
  2. Uncovering Flaws in the Government’s Evaluation Process – One time, the government did not choose us on a bid because we were not the lowest-priced offeror. As a follow-up, we asked for a debriefing and specifically asked which model the government chose since it was a “Brand Name or Equal” RFQ. The government provided this information, and we compared the products’ specs against the salient characteristics specified in the RFQ document. We uncovered the model they chose did not meet the salient characteristics. This discovery led us to protest the bid. The government canceled the contract, and they re-issued it for competition again. We won this time. A little bit more homework turned a loss into a win.
  3. Determining The Fit Between Your Company and the Agency – The information or the lack of information they are willing to give (contracting officers have a lot of discretion in this area) can help you decide whether or not to spend more time submitting bids to a specific agency. Furthermore, you may also learn they consistently write a set of specs to cater to one particular brand, or their interpretation (again, contracting officer discretion) of a specific rule may not benefit your company. Again, this information is valuable because it helps you prioritize who we respond to in the future.

Not As Easy as Moving On

Debriefings take a little more time. It’s tempting to move on to the next bid. Consequentially, spending the extra time could help you in your decision to submit your next offer and what to include in your submission.

Feel free to contact me here if you want to continue this conversation one-on-one. What are some other bits of information you have learned through your debriefings?

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MYTH: Companies cannot do business with the federal government if they aren’t connected politically to the party in power.

FACT: The federal government’s procurement process is designed to be one of the most objective, transparent processes in the world of business. Contracting officers are forbidden to award federal contracts based on politics. Furthermore, elected officials are forbidden to interfere with the agency’s contracting process.