Tips for Increasing the Ease of Evaluation

As an enthusiastic reader of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) Protest Docket, I often see that proposals are not highly scored if the customer doesn’t find the required information in the proposal. In the worst-case scenario, the customer eliminates the proposal from the competition; however, in most cases, the customer gives the proposal a lower score. In my experience, this rule also applies to commercial proposals.

So, how can we facilitate the reviewer’s identification of evaluated criteria to increase our proposal score? Here are seven quick tips:

1. Include compliance matrices

Whenever the customer’s instructions allow, include a compliance matrix. If it isn’t permitted, describe how the proposal complies with the instructions in the introduction and use compliance indicators in the headings and text.

2. Design your proposal to be scored

Create your proposal section headings and inline text headings per the solicitation’s instructions and evaluation criteria. If the instructions or evaluation criteria are combined in long sentences or paragraphs, separate them. Create lower-level sections and inline headings. Refer to the specific paragraph or sentence references—like Paragraph 2 and Sentence 3—in the sections and headings. Allow enough white space between headings and paragraphs so they are easily seen.

3. Restate requirements and buzzwords

Use the solicitation’s instructions and evaluated criteria words in your response. For example, if the solicitation asks for a staffing plan rationale describing the right number, mix, and type of staff, name your section: Staffing Plan (The Right Number, Mix, and Type of Staff). Then, use those exact words to create sub-headings or inline headings to describe how and why your plan optimizes the right number, mix, and type of staff.

4. Use the document’s layout and white space to draw the reader’s attention

Readers can easily miss your key points if your document is a “wall of words.” So instead, use white space, vertical spacing (leading) in headlines, typefaces, colors, and bold text to draw the customer’s attention to your compliance, strengths, and how your approach mitigates weaknesses.

5. Use images to support the ease of evaluation

Likewise, use visual images, icons, tables, and text boxes to draw the reader’s attention to your compliance. Showcase your strengths and how you mitigate weaknesses in your approach using formatting, typeface, graphics, and images to verify that the reader does not miss these critical points in your proposal.

6. Use clear and concise wording

Ease the customer’s evaluation by using clear and concise language and eliminating vague words that might confuse them. Use quantitative/qualitative examples of your experience to substantiate your claims.

7. Provide multiple entry points for accessing evaluated criteria

Use the introduction, compliance matrix, proposal design, typeface, visual images, wording, and summary to provide multiple entry points for your evaluators to find the information they need to evaluate and transfer to their scorecards.


Making a proposal easy to evaluate increases the likelihood of a higher proposal score. In addition, it mitigates the possibility that the customer will identify weaknesses in your proposal, thus increasing your company’s chances of a contract award.

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 and join us on LinkedInFacebook, and Twitter.