We received a lot of audience questions during our recent Top 20 bids for 2017 webinar. Here is part 3 of our Q&A.
Question: With more and more work going to task orders that have less visibility, how can you find out more about what task orders to bid?
Brenda Crist’s Answer: That’s a great question, and it’s really tough too because I use most all of the government research services and it’s sometimes hard to find out, although GovWin does provide some of the old RFPs. So, if you don’t have that service, go to the contracting officer and go through your old emails. You have to find that old RFP. Then you can start doing your traditional capture on it. That is definitely hard.
Question: Everyone is going after these high-profile bids. How can we make our proposals stand out?
Lisa Pafe’s Answer: What we recommend to our customers is to use our seven quality measures approach to proposals. That’s one tactic and you can go to our website for lots more information on that. It helps you to prepare a proposal that will stand out to evaluators. It also includes our strength-based solutioning approach, which is focusing on the evaluation factors and sub-factors and their relative importance and making sure that you have the most and possibly the best strengths of any competitor and no weaknesses, risks, or deficiencies.
Question: With 18F on the way out possibly and the future of the U.S. Digital Service in question with the Obama administration’s exit, who should industry look to to define guidance on the government’s IT transformation efforts?
Lisa Pafe’s Answer: You can look to the Office of the Federal CIO. They’ve been putting out some guidance. I would definitely take a look at the IT Modernization initiatives that have been proposed by this administration for consideration. That would be a really good place to start and maybe start vetting those with agencies you work with to see whether those would be of interest to them as they try to make use of the $3.2 billion IT Modernization Fund.
Brenda Crist’s Answer: I would say also to keep an eye on NIST because they could be coming out with new security procedures and guidelines as well as the upcoming new redefinition of security labor category descriptions.
Bob Lohfeld’s Answer: I wouldn’t count 18F out yet. They’ve take a blow from GAO saying that they don’t have a credible business plan, but they’re trying to recover from that. I’d say pay attention to two things. One, Tony Scott is stepping up and doing a great job as the Federal CIO and he’s really bringing leadership to the entire Federal Government. So that’s one place to look. The other is lots of organization are writing position papers now for the transition team, and if you’re not out there doing it and you have some thoughts, jump in because they’re looking for good content and you can submit to the transition teams directly or you can submit through industry organizations that are writing papers. Make your mark—jump in and do it.
Question: Although a number of government procurement leads are stating their acquisition strategy will be based on best value, they list both LPTA and technology/price trade-off as viable decision tools. When technical proposal evaluators are not able to “significantly” differentiate offers, contracting officers almost always default to LPTA. When do you think real best value awards will be here to stay?
Bob Lohfeld’s Answer: Let’s make a distinction here. LPTA is very different from awarding to the lowest price offeror when the technical scores are essentially the same. LPTA is in my view a terribly bad procurement strategy because it takes decision making discretion away from the evaluators. It says you can say “pass” or “fail.” But here in a tradeoff procurement, it’s not that case. If the technical scores match up, then shame on industry because we failed to do our jobs to provide a proposal or a solution that differentiates us adequately. The government will go to where it tells you in the RFP it’s going to go if the scores are essentially the same—the lowest price offeror will win. But, that’s a long way from being LPTA. They’re very different.
Brenda Crist’s Answer: My best response is an offense. Make sure you talk to your contracting officer early and often to make sure that they have a fair and logical solution for the pricing evaluation.
Our procurement experts:
Lisa Pafe, Vice President, CPP APMP Fellow and PMI PMP, has 25+ years of capture and proposal experience. She is President of APMP-NCA, and was VP and Speaker Series Chair for 2 years each. Lisa writes extensively about federal procurement trends for Washington Technology and on LinkedIn. Prior experience includes: VP of Corporate Development, Ace Info Solutions, Inc.; President of Vision Consulting, Inc.; VP of Business Development, GovConnect; and Director of Marketing, MAXIMUS. She holds a BA from Yale University, MPP from Harvard University, and MIS from GWU.
Brenda Crist, Vice President, CPP APMP Fellow, has 25+ years’ experience providing capture, proposal, and program management support for IT companies serving the federal market. Prior to becoming a full-time proposal professional at Lohfeld Consulting Group, Brenda held management roles at OAO Corp. and Harris Corp. She holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration, is a former President of the APMP-NCA, an APMP certification trainer, and current APMP Chesapeake Chapter Board Member.
Bob Lohfeld, CEO and Founder of Lohfeld Consulting Group, CF APMP Fellow, has 30+ years’ experience winning contracts in the government market and is recognized consistently for leadership in business development, capture management, and winning proposals development. Bob writes the Capture Management column in Washington Technology. Prior to forming Lohfeld Consulting Group, Bob served as Division President at Lockheed Martin, Vice President of Lockheed Martin Information Technology, Senior Vice President at OAO Corp., Systems Engineering Manager at CSC, and Program Manager at Fairchild Industries. Bob has served on the APMP Board of Directors. He is a three-time winner of Federal Computer Week’s Federal 100.