A sufficiently detailed approach – common GAO complaints

Did you know that a common complaint found in the Accountability Office (GAO) Protest Docket is that offerors do not sufficiently describe their approach? When an approach is not adequately detailed, evaluators give it a lesser grade or assign it a weakness. In close competitions, an inferior grade can distinguish between a contract award and an unsuccessful protest. Therefore, we built the Detailed Approach Checklist below to address these issues and organized them around the classic seven questions (who, what, when, where, why, and how).

Detailed Approach Checklist

‘Who’ Questions

  • Who is assigned to perform the work, and what are their roles and responsibilities?
  • To whom do they report?
  • Who are their backups in case of absence?
  • Who provides reach-back support if needed?

‘What’ Questions

  • What standards or best practices are you using to implement the approach?
  • What type of knowledge, qualifications, education, or certifications do you possess to implement the approach?
  • What measurements/metrics are you using to measure progress?
  • What tools are you using to implement the approach?
  • What is the level of effort involved in your approach?
  • What is the chronological process for executing the approach?
  • What past performance/proof points are you using to verify the strength of your approach?

‘When’ Questions

  • What is the schedule for performing the work?
  • What are the significant milestones and critical path?
  • When will the customer see payback for their time and labor investments?

‘Where’ Questions

  • Where will you perform the work?
  • Where will backups or other support personnel be located to assist the team?

‘Why’ Questions

  • Why is your approach beneficial to the customer?
  • Why will your approach deliver exceptional services or products to the customer?

‘How’ Questions

  • How do you verify compliance with customer standards or policies?
  • How do you transition the work in and out?
  • How do you align customer objectives with your approach?
  • How do you check the quality of your work?
  • How do you communicate with the customer?
  • How do you mitigate risks and dependencies associated with your approach?
  • How do you monitor your progress?
  • How do you manage your subcontractors and vendors?
  • How do you procure products for the customer?
  • How do you report the status of your work?
  • How will you promote continuous improvement and innovation?
  • How is your approach superior to that of your competitors?

Mitigating Challenges

  • Page limitations: It is not uncommon to have more requirements than pages allocated for the response. First, explain how you are addressing all requirements to the customer. Try to describe your approach at a higher level, use graphics or tables to depict it, and use bullets instead of complete sentences.
  • Unknown details about requirements: It is not unusual to receive vague requirements. Despite this, try to develop a logical, well-thought-out, and comprehensive approach to performing the work using the pointers described in the checklist. Refrain from trying to guess and fill in the blanks with your theories.

By Brenda Crist, Vice President at Lohfeld Consulting Group, MPA, CPP APMP Fellow

Lohfeld Consulting Group has proven results specializing in helping companies create winning captures and proposals.
As the premier capture and proposal services consulting firm focused exclusively on government markets, we provide expert assistance to government contractors in Capture Planning and Strategy, Proposal Management and Writing, Capture and Proposal Process and Infrastructure, and Training. In the last 3 years, we’ve supported over 550 proposals winning more than $170B for our clients—including the Top 10 government contractors. Lohfeld Consulting Group is your “go-to” capture and proposal source! Start winning by contacting us at www.lohfeldconsulting.com and join us on LinkedInFacebook, and Twitter.