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What to Know When Writing a Proposal or Bid?

Once you've identified a bid or contract to respond to, the next step is acquiring the bid package.

Most of the time, this information is downloadable as a Word or Adobe document. Depending on government agencies, sometimes you will need to contact the purchasing office at the government agency for the solicitation document.

Before writing any proposals, you need to do the following homework:

  • Consider the Return on Investment (ROI) associated with submitting a proposal. Is the cost of writing the proposal acceptable in terms of the potential for new business, even if you don't win?
  • Take time to review the RFP and understand what the government agency wants.
  • Understand the competition and how to beat it.
  • Refine your approach, write a draft executive summary and define discriminators, themes, and features and benefits.

There are two types of offers: - bids and proposals. Bids are used in sealed bidding purchases, while proposals involve awards to be made following negotiation.

Bids and proposals always should be prepared with utmost care. Bids or contracts awarded on erroneous offers may result in serious financial loss or other difficulty for the bidder. Before preparing an offer, close study should be made of the specifications to be sure that all requirements can be met. Particular attention should be given to the instructions to bidders and to conditions of purchase, delivery and payment.

When preparing a proposal on a negotiated procurement, the same care should be taken as with a sealed bid. However, because the negotiated purchase procedure is more flexible than the sealed bid procedure, there is greater opportunity to seek modification of specifications, conditions of purchase, or delivery and payment.

If the contracting officer decides to negotiate on a firm's proposal, a complete cost analysis may be required. Therefore, the firm should be prepared to support the quotation with facts and figures.

One of the most significant changes government acquisition reform is the increased importance of "best value." Best value means that, rather than making awards to the lowest bidder as it generally did in the past, the government can now make awards for the item that best satisfies its needs at a slightly higher price.

If purchasers are going to make an award based on best value, they must state their intent in the solicitation document and include a description of the evaluation criteria, award factors, and factors other than the price that will be considered in making a contract award.

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