How the Government Buys – Competitive Bidding

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Thousands of new sales opportunities are posted every day – from simple products to complex services; from less than $3,000 to many millions of dollars. How does the agency make these purchases? The Contracting officer must follow Federal Acquisition Regulation’s competition requirements, and will determine the appropriate way to get the best value for the agency.

Contract Size
For purchases below $3,000 the buyer does not need to solicit formal offers, and may purchase items with a simple Purchase Order, or with a government issued purchase card(SmartPay). For larger purchases the Contracting Officer must attempt to get three quotes from contractors, in order to meet competition requirements.

Set-Asides
Each agency has a goal to award 23% of their contracting dollars to small businesses, and 3-5% to woman-owned, veteran-owned or disadvantaged small businesses. Most purchases under $150,000 are set-aside for small businesses if at all possible.

The contracting officer will research the market to determine if there are small businesses capable of performing the service or providing the product. They may post Request for Information/Market Research/Sources Sought notice FedBizOpps; search the System for Award Management site or the SBA’s Dynamic Small Business website. If the Contracting Officer has reason to believe that at least 2 small businesses are capable and interested in this opportunity, then it may be set-aside for that set-aside category.

Procurement Vehicles
For simple products and services the buyer may post a RFQ to FedBizOpps or to the agency’s site, evaluate offers and make an award. For recurring requirements within the agency(office supplies, janitorial services) they may use an Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract, a Blanket Purchase Agreement(BPA) or a multiple-award contract. In these cases companies have a one or two year contract with the agency, who may then issue task orders as needed during the life of the contract.
For more complex services the agency will issue a Request for Proposal, and may require a detailed Technical proposal, as well as information on your company’s experience(examples of work you have done of similar size and scope).

There are also several multi-agency contracts for specific products and services, including GSA’s Schedules program, NASA’s SEWP contract, the Army’s CHESS program for IT products, and several more.

Evaluating Offers
While a simple product purchase may be awarded based on price and delivery, more complex requirements require a more formal evaluation process.
The agency will list exactly how offers will be evaluated, and will detail the relative weight they will give to each area. Awards may be made on an overall Best Value approach, usually a combination of Technical capability, past performance and price. More recently agencies are making awards based on a Lowest Price Technically Acceptable (LPTA) approach – all offers are evaluated for technical acceptability on a pass-fail basis; then all successful offers will be evaluated on price.

At Sell2Gov we offer targeted, focused opportunity searches. We don’t simply plug in some codes and numbers and leave you to wade through it all! We find opportunities appropriate for your company, and collaborate with you to adjust the search parameters so we find that ‘sweet spot’ – the targeted opportunities that you can bid on, without being buried in RFQs that are only vaguely applicable to your company!

We work with you to understand the requirements, find any specifications or drawings you may need, explain the impact of various Federal Acquisition Regulations, help you to understand shipping and labeling requirements, collaborate with you to create your capability statement, work with you to write a Technical Proposal if one is needed, clarify the submission requirements, and follow up on the proposal until it is awarded.

How We Can Help

  • Targeted Opportunities, from many federal government websites (not just FBO!)
  • Proposal Preparation and Advice
  • Technical Proposal Writing Assistance
  • Capability Statements
  • Explanation of Requirements, Regulations
  • Drawings, Specifications, and Standards, if available
  • Award tracking

Contact Us for help with all aspects of the competitive government contract bidding process – including finding opportunities; understanding requirements; proposal preparation, Technical Proposal writing assistance; and market analysis.

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