Busting Five More Myths About Government-Vendor CommunicationsPosted: May 31, 2017
We’ve been digging up some myths and facts about government-industry communications during the acquisition process. This document from the OFPP has been around for several years, and so have these myths.
The first myth-busting memo from 2011 (there have been two more since then) identified the 10 most common misconceptions shared in a series of meetings with various stakeholders in the acquisitions process. I covered the first five in a previous post, and now here are the rest.
Misconception 6: When the government awards a task or delivery order using the Federal Supply Schedules, debriefing the offerors isn’t required so it shouldn’t be done.
Fact: Providing feedback is important, both for offerors and the government, so agencies should generally provide feedback whenever possible.
Note from Bill: Yes, yes, yes! Feedback is amazingly necessary to learn the next steps for small businesses. What did we do wrong, and what can we do better? Help us succeed the next time; that’s not going to create protests.
Misconception 7: Industry days and similar events attended by multiple vendors are of low value to industry and the government because industry won’t provide useful information in front of competitors, and the government doesn’t release new information.
Fact: Well-organized industry days, as well as pre-solicitation and pre-proposal conferences, are valuable opportunities for the government and for potential vendors – both prime contractors and subcontractors, many of whom are small businesses.
Note from Bill: Industry days rock! More communication, in a controlled environment, that’s always the ticket.
Misconception 8: The program manager already talked to industry to develop the technical requirements, so the contracting officer doesn’t need to do anything else before issuing the RFP.
Fact: The technical requirements are only part of the acquisition; getting feedback on terms and conditions, pricing structure, performance metrics, evaluation criteria, and contract administration matters will improve the award and implementation process.
Note from Bill: Draft RFPs also rock – just because you’ve written many of these before doesn’t mean industry won’t find the logistical problems and special needs for this procurement. Publish a draft and encourage feedback, please!
Misconception 9: Giving industry only a few days to respond to an RFP is OK since the government has been talking to industry about this procurement for over a year.
Fact: Providing only short response times may result in the government receiving fewer proposals and the ones received may not be as well-developed – which can lead to a flawed contract. This approach signals that the government isn’t really interested in competition.
Note from Bill: Procurements with only a few days notice usually means someone lost track of the time, or that they were completely and irrevocably wired for a specific vendor.
Misconception 10: Getting broad participation by many different vendors is too difficult; we’re better off dealing with the established companies we know.
Fact: The government loses when we limit ourselves to the companies we already work with. Instead, we need to look for opportunities to increase competition and ensure that all vendors, including small businesses, get fair consideration.
Note from Bill: Absolutely – new blood is often good. Of course TAPE just won a job for the 3rd consecutive time, but we’re doing a good job as seen in our CPARs and customer comments. Get fair competition and everyone will benefit.
The OFPP released two other sets of myths and facts, and we’ll be delving into those in future blog posts. Stay tuned!