The government has a responsibility to evaluate every bid, first of all, by the responsiveness of an offer of solicitation. This is a very technical process of making sure the paperwork you’ve submitted conforms to all the essential requirements of the solicitation. This means exact conformance to all the specifications, drawings, descriptions and standards, as well as materials, delivery dates, packaging and marking requirements.
In other words, the government will be checking all the paperwork to ensure there are no unacceptable deviations to its specifications. Any deviation is unacceptable. If your proposal is not compliant in every way the government has specified, the review process for your proposal will likely end here. Simply put, miss a requirement and you won’t be considered for the contract.
Next, the government will be looking at your capability. Just because you know you can perform the contract is not enough for the agency reviewing your proposal to choose your business. They’ll look at your technical capability and make sure you have the know-how and experience to do the work.
What about factors such as production capability or place of operation? Trying to create 10,000 widgets with a small drill press out of your garage will probably not get you the contract. Remember, if you win the contract you will be legally required to perform the scope of work as specified in your proposal. Make sure you are capable of doing the work BEFORE submitting the proposal. Don’t try to win the bid first and then build your operation around it.
Another major factor that the government will be considering is your financial capability. If your business is not financially healthy, a government contract is the last thing you want to win. While government contracts can be lucrative and help build your business, the margins will probably be tight and you may not be able to get additional financing after you’ve won the contract. Don’t think that a government contract will fix your financial troubles — it won’t.
More to the Evaluation Process
There’s more to the evaluation process than dotting all the i’s and crossing all the t’s in the proposal paperwork. Factors such as past performance (what happens if your business doesn’t have a track record?) and quality control are also important.
You know that the government takes the proposal evaluation process very seriously. You know that attention to detail, financial stability and production capabilities are all key elements in the evaluation process. These evaluation factors not only make it fair to all who compete, it also serves as a kind of pre-project quality control check. After all, if a company does not follow all the rules when bidding on a contract, what does that portend for the future if they are awarded the contract?
One way the government evaluates the future is by looking at a company’s past. You should do the same. Have you been faithful in meeting deadlines and delivery schedules on prior contracts? If not, the government will not want to do business with you again.
Past performance is becoming increasingly important. Why? Because the government tends to operate on strict schedules and does not tolerate missed deadlines and late deliveries. Even when cost is the major deciding factor, keep in mind that your past performance will be used in calculating real costs and can make the difference between winning and losing a contract.
Does your company have a quality control plan? Of course, you plan to provide the highest quality product or service. However, the government wants some assurance that you will do so. A well-documented quality control program speaks volumes about the integrity of your company to ensure the quality of your products and services.
Every company that offers a product or service to the federal government, and many state and local governments too, must have an operating procedure to insure the quality level of that product or service. The purpose of a Quality Assurance/Quality Control program (QAP) is to establish a standard operating procedure (SOP) for all segments and personnel of a company to assure the highest possible quality for their product or service.