Government Notices and Communication (Part 2)

In the previous blog post in this three-part series, we discussed government communication cues, why they are essential to understand, and the first phase of the procurement process, or the Plan Phase. We are using the Seven Steps to the Service Acquisition Process as a general framework for this discussion. Still, you should be aware that there are other processes the government follows for procurement. Agencies may focus on systems acquisitions, or their mission may be aligned with construction requirements. There’s also research and development, base-level operations, and many other agency missions. Depending on what the agency is charged with accomplishing, their process may look a little different. However, the Seven Steps to Service Acquisition Process is an excellent demonstration of the procurement process and has similarity to most other procurement processes. As a reminder, here is a visual of the process:

Picking up from Part 1, we are now in the Develop phase. At this point, the government has done the bulk of the market research they are going to do for the specific procurement. This does not mean they won’t continue to engage industry for input and feedback. In this phase, industry must exert its knowledge in a given area to provide the most significant impact on shaping the acquisition strategy.

What does it mean to shape an acquisition strategy?

FAR Part 7.105 describes the elements government offices are required to include in acquisition plans. 7.105(b)(1) and 7.105(b)(2) compel contracting officers to consider what sources are available to deliver the requirements and what competition is expected. Depending on the company’s socio-economic situation, responding to the government’s communication can help them reach set-aside decisions that favor the company.

Another consideration for businesses trying to influence the procurement process is to provide government information about their requirement that would affect the language they use to describe their requirement. FAR 11.105 instructs agencies NOT to write requirements that lend themselves to a specific vendor, as this would severely limit competition. In this respect, you should be careful not to overdo your recommendations to the government. However, providing them with feedback that allows them to state their requirement in a way that ensures your business can be competitive is a great way to walk that tightrope.

So what are the communications typically seen in Phase 2? Here is a couple that, if seen, you should take full advantage of the opportunity and provide input and feedback:

Step Four – Define Requirements

By this point, the government is swimming in information if they’ve been active at all in the market research step. The procurement team will be looking to collate this information and sift through what is pertinent and extraneous. This sifting activity is why you don’t want to send the government a bunch of information they didn’t ask for, without first giving them as much as possible along the lines of their specific request.

During the Define Requirements step, industry is likely to see more requests for information (RFI) or a targeted industry forum. The government is looking for answers to specific questions at this point and will use these types of communication to get answers. These are both great ways to demonstrate your willingness to partner with the government to assist them in achieving their desired outcome.

Step Five – Develop the Acquisition Strategy

Theoretically, the government will take everything it has learned to this point and then put together their acquisition strategy. However, in reality, the government often starts working on the strategy very early and continues to refine things as they go. In this step, the government is documenting the decisions for competition and small business set-asides. It could be too late at this point to influence which way the government is going to go in a significant manner; however, there are nuanced changes they may still make. Perhaps they were going to set the requirement aside for small businesses. Still, because of the responses they’ve received, they have a reasonable expectation of having adequate competition among capable Woman-Owned Small Businesses (WOSB). As a result, they decide to set it aside for WOSBs instead of small businesses.

If the government is going to issue a draft request for proposals (RFP), it will most often happen at this step. They are working to finalize their strategy, but they may need to “test the waters” for their approach to the contract type, incentive structure, or some aspects of the requirements documents. The government will issue the draft RFP asking for input and feedback on their approach. This is an excellent opportunity to help guide the language in the RFP to ensure you are able to put together a competitive proposal. As an example, the government may put in significant cost-reimbursable line items, but your company does not have an approved accounting system, which may cause challenges in RFP compliance. Your feedback could be that the government’s requirement appears to be refined enough in most areas that they don’t need to use cost-reimbursable line items to the extent they are and recommend switching to a fixed-price arrangement. There are several examples of what you might provide for feedback, but there is no shortage of areas that can help the government and cast your company in a good light. Take this opportunity and run with it!

As always, FP&C is here, and our expert staff can guide you through the myriad ways in which the government communicates with industry. Let us help you take full advantage of every

opportunity to interact positively with the government throughout the entire procurement process. Remember, if you’re waiting until the final RFP is issued, you are probably too late.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Online appointments

Initial Consultation

1h | Free

Sign up at your convenience for a meeting with one of our staff members. We can discuss with you where you're at, any challenges you are trying to overcome, and your goals you are striving for. FP&C is ready to advise you on navigating the Federal government procurement arena!



SCHEDULE time with us

Copyright © 2021 FP&C Consulting - All Rights Reserved.