Black Money Business Jobs : GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS

Discussion in 'Black Money Business Jobs' started by Isaiah, Jan 23, 2006.

  1. Isaiah

    Isaiah Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    How To Write An Effective Proposal To Government

    Each year, billions of dollars worth of goods and services are purchased by government from thousands of suppliers, nationwide. If you're interested in getting a piece of that business, it's vitally important that you understand the ins and outs of the process. It's also important to know what kind of competition you might be up against - according to the North American Free Trade Agreement any contract worth more than $34,100 in products or $72,600 in services must be opened for competition to companies based outside the country.

    What does government look for, in a contract with a supplier? Best value for tax dollars, efficient suppliers, and quality goods and services, just like any other customer. When does government look for suppliers? Throughout the year, but especially in the early new year, before the end of March (the government's year-end), when most departments that have been unable to get authority to issue the large contracts they had hoped to issue will take that budget money and issue several non-related contract opportunities to use it up.

    There are two ways of getting an opportunity to sell your goods or services to government - a tender or a Request For Proposal (RFP). The tender is relatively simple - the government knows what it wants, and will advertise to attract submissions of tenders from interested and qualified suppliers. According to a senior government purchasing authority, in respect to tenders, "you're in or you're out, depending on qualifications to meet specifications, and then we go by lowest price."

    The RFP is a different matter. When government issues an RFP, it is looking for a solution to a problem and often expects to negotiate with one or more bidders. If you are replying to an RFP keep in mind that if you think you have a way to serve the government's needs and save it money (two of the basic tenets of marketing), don't be afraid to say so, in your proposal. The government, like any other business with a problem, is looking for value and ideas for solving that problem. The following guidelines - The Seven Steps To Preparing An Effective Proposal To Government - have been prepared, based on government seminars and interviews with contracting officers.


    Seven Steps To Preparing An Effective Proposal To Government
    1. Promote yourself

    Market yourself to government departments. Get on their 'Material Managers' Contact List', or other Source List. Make the calls, find out who the players are, and meet with them! Spend your time with the person who places the contract, not a non-decision-maker. For non-competitive contracts - those the purchasing agents can simply hand out to a supplier - the contract amount is limited to less than $5,000 for goods and $100,000 for services. Anything over those limits are opened to competition.

    2. Discover Bidding Opportunities

    Government bidding opportunities are listed on MERX™, a third-party on-line subscription service with the internet address, http://www.merx.cebra.com. You don't have to pay for a subscription to search the site for bidding opportunities or to read outlines of "Bid Sets", the documents that contain the details of tenders or RFPs, but you can't download the information without a subscription. Government regulations require that you purchase a Bid Set before you can submit a proposal.

    MERX™ also features an 'opportunity matching' facility which will notify you of opportunities once you have registered, and a listing of other suppliers who are ordering bid documents (to whom you might be able to sub-contract in your market by providing your services and location to a larger national or regional bidder).

    The printed version of Government Business Opportunities, issued twice yearly, costs $550. We do not recommend that you purchase this reference, not only due to its expense, but also due to the fact that approximately 200 new opportunities are posted every month, and it is anything but current except on the day it is printed.

    3. Read and Understand the RFP

    The Request For Proposal is typically very detailed, but if you have questions concerning any part of one, you should direct questions to the contracting officer, not the department for which the RFP has been issued.

    Sometimes, when a small business has been discussing an informal proposal with a government department, a tender is advertised where no RFP has been issued, but which is different in scope from what the small business originally proposed. If such a tender is issued, and you believe it should be changed back to what you originally proposed, you must get to the issuing officer, right away. Formal alteration of a tender is a legal process the government must go through, and if you submit a tender for the altered requirements, and end up losing out to another bidder, you have no recourse, regardless of whether the idea for the tender was yours.

    4. Review Key Sections

    There are three key sections - The Requirement, Standard Instructions, and General Conditions. Read them thoroughly.

    The Requirement contains a statement of work and identifies the period of contract, and is usually done as an attachment by the client department, in detail. The Standard Instructions section will contain the SACC - Standards Acquisitions Clauses and Conditions (for which you should get any manual provided, and read it) - and documentation for you to sign and return. General Conditions of any government contract are spelled out in several different contract forms, copies of which you should have on file (for Goods - DSS9329 and DSS9601; for Services - DSS9676, and for
    Science - DSS9624).

    Pay specific attention to ensuring you complete the following five most important items on a Bid Set:

    Closing Date - if you mail your submission, it must be post-marked no later than 24 hours prior to closing date (stamped by the Post Office, not an office postage meter), and don't depend on last minute delivery - contractors whose bids would have won competitions have often lost out as a result of a tender being accepted before their bid was officially received by the contracting officer. Do not use couriers for last minute delivery, either - cases of couriers being late and trying to convince the contracting officer that the submission's late arrival was their fault and that the contracting officer should consider the submission in light of their error have been, and will continue to be, ignored.
    Return Address - it's amazing how often a submission is sent to the client department, instead of the contracting officer's address (which is specified in the Bid Set). Don't make that mistake!
    Delivery Date - If you can't meet the deadline for delivery of the goods or services, and you can't negotiate a change in the RFP or tender advertisement, drop it. And remember, March 31 is a popular date for delivery of both goods and services - as that date gets closer and closer it may be impossible for you to provide the requirements. Be aware of lead time, especially if you use sub-contractors. And if you believe sub-contractors' prices may change prior to completion of the contract get a price guarantee from the sub-contractor, in writing.
    Signature and Date - It's not a legal document and the government can't accept it, if you forget to sign and date it.
    Full Name and Address - This item, as unimportant as it might seem sometimes, is one of the most important parts of your submission - it cannot be changed, once you submit your documentation, so don't go changing your company name, or moving during the submission period without notifying the contracting officer. Your name and address, as submitted on your bid, should also be the same as the the name and address you gave for a copy of the Bid Set.
    5. Check the Closing Date

    If you're planning holidays, or if you get sick and are absent from the office, it won't help you to get a fair hearing, after the fact. Nationwide industry shutdowns may justify an extension to a submission deadline, but don't depend on it. To request an extension, you must contact the contracting officer, in writing, and follow up with a personal call, to discuss the matter. If the tender or RFP seems to be contradictory or confusing in nature, contact the contracting officer, again in writing, and ask for clarification or an extension. And check MERX™ frequently.

    6. Determine if There is a Bidder's Conference

    A Bidder's Conference is usually part of a Bid Set - plan to attend, as it may be critical. There may be a requirement for a site visit, and it may be mandatory. If you have questions about the tender or RFP, get them in to the contracting officer prior to the conference, to enable him or her to address your concerns. Listen carefully at these conferences - other competitors' questions about new techniques or products can often help your bid.

    7. Prepare Your Proposal

    There are two types of proposal, Technical/Management or Price. The key to making your proposal for either type is to put in what they request, not a lot of extra mumbo-jumbo. Don't paraphrase, by saying, "yes" you meet the criteria and requirements. Explain how you meet them, when you can meet them, and why you can meet them.

    For a Technical/Management Proposal, be sure to fully describe your solution. Be responsive, and identify tasks and deliverables. Tell them about your team, and provide resumes, or add other sub-contracting possibilities. If you've dealt with the same department or another branch of government in the past, don't expect them to know about your organization - too many things change over the months and years, and government departments do not take time from their tasks to share information about contractors.

    Follow the format requested to present your proposal. While contracting officers might claim they won't ignore proposals which don't follow format, they're more inclined to pass them over as too difficult to compare. If you want to suggest alternative approaches, be careful to put a separate proposal together, not an option in the proposal they are expecting to receive from you.

    In a Price Proposal, stick with the established pricing methods, or your bid will be considered non-responsive. Include payment terms.


    Evaluation and Selection Methods
    One of the most asked questions from new potential contractors to government is, "How do I beat the guy who always seems to get the work, if I've never contracted to government?" The answer is simple: meet and discuss all criteria for the project with the contracting officer. Set up an alliance with a more experienced government contractor, or hire one as a sub-contractor. Challenge the status quo!

    The basic principles of evaluation criteria are prepared with the client department before the RFP is issued. Quality, time and cost are considered and then identified in the RFP, as well as appropriateness of the contract to the actual requirement of the department. Do they want a Cadillac or a Hyundai? This is a decision they will make before issuing the RFP, and it is important you know how to respond to either requirement. Ask the contracting officer for a copy of the government's "Professional Services Evaluation Manual".

    If you don't end up getting the contract, don't be afraid to interview the contracting officer about your proposal - and the winner's - to determine how you can improve your submissions, in the future. Part of their job is to respond to such enquiries, for the purpose of ensuring the government gets the best possible submissions.

    Technical/Management Proposals are awarded based on one of three evaluation and selection methods. Find out which one will be used to determine the winning proposal. One such method is 'mandatory requirements', which usually means the contract will be awarded based on price, only. There is also be a 'point rating' method that places specific emphasis (points) on various portions of the work required and the qualifications of the bidder. This method is usually used to determine the winner of the contract based on a company's capabilities. Points are assigned to requirements in order of importance, and they should be in the document - if they're not, get them clarified. Sometimes, both methods are combined. In the case of Price Proposals, the "lowest responsive", or best overall value will win the day.

    Your submission will be determined "non-responsive", which means it will be thrown out if the mandatory minimum requirements are not met, if minimum required points under a specific section are not achieved, or if your proposal exceeds the level of funding stated for the project (only some proposals indicate a budget - if there is no dollar figure given, be conservative).


    FOR THOSE INTERESTED, GO TO THE WEBSITE... THERE IS PLENTY MORE INFO!

    http://www.homebiz.ca/BIC/HowTo/lesson5.htm


    PEACE!
    ISAIAH
     
  2. panafrica

    panafrica Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Immensely important info, thank you brother Isaiah!
     
  3. Isaiah

    Isaiah Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Thank you, brother Pan Africa! Let's make this thread a resource for govenment and small business grants and loans from the FEDS, state, and local governmens... Here is a resource page I found for small business resources for each Federal office... In other words, each office of the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT contracts out it's business... Whichever office fits your needs, it would be on this page... Great Resource!


    http://www.sba.gov/GC/indexresources.html


    Peace!
    isaiah
     
  4. panafrica

    panafrica Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Again brother Isaiah, thanks for the link!
     
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