Before the Formal Solicitation is Posted
At the beginning of the procurement process, any communication with industry is considered market research.(FAR Part 10), which can help the Contracting Office decide on the best approach to take before they issue a formal solicitation document.
The amount of market research can vary, depending on how quickly they need to make the purchase, the estimated dollar value, or the complexity of the project. Market research may include:
- Small business conferences
- Contacting experts in either the government or commercial sectors.
- Publishing formal Requests for Information, Sources Sought or Market Research notices.
- Pre-solicitation notices, or draft RFPs
- Meetings, pre-solicitation conferences, site visits or Industry Days.
FAR 15.2 discusses communicating with industry, and notes that exchanges of information among all interested parties are encouraged, from the earliest identification of a requirement through to the receipt of proposals. This can help potential vendors understand more clearly what the agency is looking for, and identify concerns about the type of contract, terms and conditions, proposed schedules, statements of work, or evaluation criteria.
After The Solicitation Is Released
Once the solicitation has been released, the focus shifts to ensure that all potential offerors receive the same information. Any questions or requests for clarifications are sent directly to the Contracting Officer. Any answers will be available to all other potential offerors, to avoid creating an unfair competitive advantage. So if you ask for clarification on something in the solicitation document, the answer will be made available to all potential offerors – except of course for any proprietary or confidential business information.