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Federal contractors often call me after they see a solicitation posted and ask, “What were they thinking? How did they come up with this approach? What does this strategy mean for me and my chances of winning a new government contract?”
As someone with more than 30 years in acquisition roles with the federal government, I’ve outlined below the issues the government must consider before publishing a solicitation.
For ease of understanding, let’s use the example of a recently published US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Request for Information (RFI) #HSICE-19-12 for Agile Software Development Contracting Strategies. The government sought input from interested sources on potential procurement approaches.
The government will use the responses to the RFI to develop the procurement strategy for this requirement. Next, what appears in the Request for Proposal is the result of the careful analysis of the responses, coupled with the decisions made by the program office as they answer these questions:
All answers to these questions provide key input to the procurement decisions that are made prior to publishing a requirement such as:
Often, crucial procurement decisions must be made without enough time to fully evaluate the need or market. Industry input can be instrumental in making some of those decisions, and hopefully, we are moving towards an environment where that input is encouraged.
When considering whether to pursue an opportunity it is critical for any company to understand the environment that gave rise to the requirement. A careful examination of the solicitation and supporting documentation can help make that determination more informed.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bill Weinberg spent more than 30 years in highly complex acquisition roles within the U.S. Departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Commerce solving program issues and budget challenges through innovative acquisition solutions. Prior to joining Guidepost Solutions, he was the Director of the Office of Acquisition Management at the Department of Homeland Security U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement where he led an authorized workforce of 184 employees, contracting officers and program analysts, and managed the execution of more than 8,000 transactions exceeding $2.7 billion annually. Mr. Weinberg spent part of his career serving in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as Director of Procurement. He also served in the Department of the Navy, at the Naval Sea Systems Command where he was responsible for acquisition program efforts for major weapons systems and associated services.