CategoriesBusiness DevelopmentCaptureGeneralProposal

To Bid or Not to Bid: How to Make the Best Decision

Have you ever thought about how many decisions you make each day? From the clothes you choose to wear to what you eat for lunch or whether or not you feel like making it to the gym, each day requires us to make multiple decisions, and sometimes it can be exhausting to be caught between two very viable options. Luckily in those moments, choosing to get takeout or cooking the groceries from the fridge isn’t typically a big deal. However, when it comes to deciding whether or not to bid on a specific government contract, the stakes are much higher.

Businesses cannot afford to be indecisive when choosing which projects deserve the time and resources necessary to prepare a competitive bid properly. Many contractors aim to bid for every opportunity they can, but this is unwise. Instead, there should be a sense of proportionate balance, primarily depending upon your resources. 

Given the free access to government bids, finding many available opportunities will not be a problem. The ultimate challenge is deciding which opportunities align and make sense to invest time, effort, and money. One or more team members will spend days, if not weeks, drafting a presentable proposal. Therefore, businesses should adhere to a focused approach when deciding on which government projects to bid. This guide to bidding lays out the specific issues you should prioritize to make an informed decision. 

Assess the Eligibility Criteria

Search a government contracts database to find relevant opportunities. First, make a shortlist of those that you think are most lucrative and suitable for your business. Now, assess the eligibility criteria of each of these shortlisted opportunities. 

1. Type of Business

It is not unusual for the government, Federal or local, to invite proposals from certain types of businesses. This may pertain to the kind of incorporation, nature of ownership, size of the enterprise, and a combination of several factors. Accordingly, the proposal issuer may declare a preference for specific types of businesses. 

If you find that the type of business you own is not suitable for the contract, then it is pointless to pursue the opportunity any further; it should not find its way to your ultimate shortlist.

2. Company Profile

Government contracts may stipulate necessary experience or years in business, expertise or specializations, specific locations, and other company profile elements. Many opportunities require firms to operate certain types of facilities. This is not limited to factories and warehouses. Such criteria may also include stipulations regarding office spaces, logistics, supply chain, and transportation. 

Your company profile should perfectly fit an opportunity and its requirements. If you’re missing any criteria, then bidding on that opportunity may not yield any gain. Remember, some of your competitors will fulfill and exceed the requirements, creating a scenario unsuitable for you to engage in competitive bidding. 

3. Quality of Product or Service

You may have the most refined quality product or service, yet it may not be suitable for the government. Distinct government departments have their ways of assessing quality. If an RFP explicitly describes specifications or features you do not entirely satisfy, stop considering that contract and move on to the next available opportunity. 

In some cases, you may be able to tweak your product or service to meet the quality requirements of the government. First, conduct a cost-benefit analysis to bring about such changes, and then decide if bidding for the opportunity is viable for you in the immediate or foreseeable future. 

4. Deliverable Prerequisites

An RFP may necessitate a strict turnaround time, and the frequency of deliverables may not suit your operations. In addition, there may be other such prerequisites that you fail or may fail to fulfill. For example, the government might demand around-the-clock support for a service, and your company doesn’t provide this. Therefore, do not bid for the contract if you cannot meet the RFP, deliverable schedule, or terms.

Most businesses have to tweak their operations to some extent to be able to bid for government contracts. It would be best if you weighed the pros and cons of such adaptive measures. If the changes appear sustainable, you can undoubtedly modify them accordingly and bid for a lucrative project. 

5. Compliance and Certifications

Scan any government contracts database, and you will find that most RFPs require at least a few certifications. Unfortunately, the compliance standards for government contracts can be steep and costly to uphold. However, every business interested in dealing with the Federal government must secure necessary certifications and should fulfill all compliance requirements. 

Securing required certifications takes time. If you try to comply and get certified while your proposal is being drafted, you may miss the closing date. Deadlines for government contracts may get extended, but you cannot take that possibility for granted. Instead, choose government projects for which you are entirely eligible to bid. 

Assess the Competition

You must assess your competition to know the odds of winning. It is not only about expertise, experience, production capacity, and service deliverability. For example, some businesses in your niche may be more familiar with government contracts. As a result, their RFP responses might be more compelling. 

A great way to access the competition is through contract award information which enables you to comprehensively understand the bids that have been won recently. You can use this data to decide on an offer with a greater chance of winning. In addition, competitive intelligence can provide insight into the types of competitors with which you are likely to wrestle, their strengths and weaknesses, and their core expertise and experience.

Assess the Viability 

Free access to government bids empowers all qualifying vendors; businesses can bid simultaneously for multiple projects. A contractor may spend enormous time, immense effort, and a lot of money during the bidding process. Failing to win the bids can result in a tremendous loss of resources. Winning a bid without considering the ramifications can also lead to a massive loss. 

You should ascertain if your business can deliver what the government requires. Conduct a viability study based on how you run your business. Ask practical questions to assess the ground reality. Can you secure a sustainable profit with your bid? What changes will you have to invest in to deliver the goods or services? Does the contract complement your current business plan and company policies? 

A thorough government bid search will lead you to various types of projects. Quite a few in your industry will have lenient prerequisites. Some contracts are not long-term. There could be one-off procurements of goods or services. You have to choose government projects on which to bid that are organically suitable for your business. 

The Smart Approach to Choosing Government Projects to Bid

G2Xchange can help you to navigate the massive and complex federal marketplace. Utilize competitive intelligence and leverage contract award information to find facts that will help you showcase your brand as the most suitable vendor for the government. Then, prioritize these bids and direct all your extra resources to draft a winnable proposal. 


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CategoriesBusiness DevelopmentCaptureGeneralGovernment Contracting 101PricingProposal

Types of Federal Contracts

Federal contracts exist broadly between two categories: products/goods and services. The former includes almost everything from food to furniture and medicine to machinery. The latter includes professional services, research and development, management and administration, and consultancy. The majority of federal contracts, by dollar value, are awarded in the following sectors:

  • Facilities and construction, including real estate purchases and leases, building materials and services, etc.
  • Professional services, including financial, legal, public relations, marketing, and technical expertise.
  • Information technology, including hardware, software, consulting, telecommunications, and security, etc.
  • Transportation and logistics, including delivery, motor vehicles, support, and fuel, etc.
  • Medical, including health care services, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, and consulting, etc.
  • Industrial products and services, including machinery, tools, and maintenance, etc.
  • Security, including state-of-the-art systems and real-time services, etc.
  • Human capital, including educational services and vocational training, etc.
  • Travel and lodging, including event management services and food and beverage supply, etc.
  • Office management and administration, including purchasing furniture and essential supplies, etc.

After classification based on industry sector, product, or service, there is further categorization depending on contract terms:

  • Fixed Price Federal Contracts
    • This type of contract is applicable for both goods and services. Open government contracts of this kind typically invite bids from eligible contractors or vendors. If it is a product, then a specific unit is preset for the pricing— such as by the carton, ton, or some other metric. For services, the pricing is typically per hour. It should be noted that fixed-price federal contracts may have specific clauses that could alter the calculation of billable amounts depending on relevant factors, such as quality or regulatory compliance.
  • Cost Reimbursement based Federal Contracts
    • Federal contracts for typical goods and services are usually fixed-price agreements. Cost reimbursement-based federal contracts are common when a fixed price is difficult to ascertain or predetermine. Research and development services, for example, are difficult to price at the outset. There are myriad variables in such contracts, especially in the deliverables. Hence, a cost-reimbursement policy is pragmatic for contractors and, to an extent, for the government.
  • Time and Materials based Federal Contracts
    • This type of contract is commonly used for services wherein select materials may be requisitioned for the deliverables. The service is billed hourly, and the cost of materials is added for the billable time. There is, of course, a price cap as agreed upon in the bid or proposal. Time and materials-based federal contracts are typical for tasks or operations spanning a relatively short period.
  • Incentive-based Federal Contracts
    • This should not be presumed as a contract that pays only incentives. Instead, it is labeled as an incentive-based federal contract due to a provision. Most incentive-based federal contracts are either fixed-price or cost-reimbursement agreements, with a bonus payable only if a certain quality and compliance standard or other criteria are met.
  • Delivery-based Federal Contracts
    • There are a few types of contracts wherein the deliverables are not precise or wholly defined. The variables in such cases may be time, materials, the type of product or service, and other factors. In these cases, it is practically impossible to have fixed price or cost reimbursement-based contracts. Hence, delivery-based federal contracts are the only feasible option. 

Benefits of Federal Contracts

There are myriad advantages of federal contracts. The most noteworthy benefits are:

  • Financial reliability.
  • The potential for growth and expansion.
  • Enhanced brand value.
  • Long-term business viability.
  • Special advantages.

Financial Reliability

The federal government is a reliable paymaster. Unless there is something seriously wrong with the deliverables, the federal government generally does not delay payments and is consistent as per the billing cycles. Moreover, unlike private or public enterprises, the federal government is not vulnerable to a cash crunch or probable bankruptcy. Hence, companies know they will be paid for their products or services.

Potential for Growth and Expansion

A company can grow and develop its expertise by working on federal contracts. This is primarily due to the stringent regulatory and compliance standards that force businesses to take their business practices to the next level. As a result, most businesses emerge as more efficient organizations after working on a few government contracts. Business expansion also becomes easier when a company starts winning federal contracts due to the infusion of reliable capital. 

Enhanced Brand Value

The importance of having the federal government as a client in a portfolio cannot be overstated. Every industry veteran knows the stringent regulations for federal contracts. If your company has won and delivered on a few federal contracts, your potential clients will be assured that you can and will live up to your commitments.

Long-Term Business Viability

The federal government is never going to be out of business. If your company continues to win federal contracts and deliver the products or services as per the terms, then your business will find its place in subsequent shortlists. The federal government alone can make a private or public business viable in the long term.

Special Advantages

There are federal contracts designed to give advantage to minority-owned enterprises, female entrepreneurs, and others who have been traditionally disadvantaged in various spheres of employment and business. These are called “set asides,” meaning the competition for that work is set aside for those businesses in that category.  

Challenges of Federal Contracts

While you can gain financial viability and grow your business with federal contracts, government contracting is not without its fair share of challenges:

Stringent Rules

As a business, you are undoubtedly familiar with your industry’s regulations. These will be in full effect while working in the federal government space. Additionally, there can be additional regulations or compliance standards for specific government contracts. These rules are quite stringent. Any company vying for federal contracts should be prepared to deal with stringent regulations.

Stiff Competition

Competition is perhaps the most daunting of all challenges concerning open government contracts. You have to prepare well to gain an edge over your competitors. First, you need access to an up-to-date federal contracts database. It also helps to have insights into government procurement contracts to understand what it takes to submit a winning bid.

Red Tape and Bureaucracy 

Red tape and bureaucracy have become more manageable in the last two decades. However, some bureaucrats will still slow down with paperwork, the various processes involved in doing business with the government. You must learn to endure the red tape and bureaucracy if you want to leverage federal contracts.

Intrusive Supervision

In most cases, the government is not unnecessarily intrusive, but businesses must learn to deal with supervision and oversight. On the other hand, intrusiveness can help companies improve their efficacy, efficiency, and compliance, so there is a silver lining.


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CategoriesBusiness DevelopmentCaptureGeneralGovernment Contracting 101PricingProposal

How to Decipher Federal RFP Terminology – A Beginner’s Guide

Identifying federal government contract opportunities can be daunting, especially given the alphabet soup of jargon out there. 

The RFx Spectrum

A government opportunity search may lead you to find an RFP, RFA, RFB, RFI, or RFQ. You may even find an RFT, although the federal government rarely uses it (It’s more common in Europe). RFx is the collective term for the entire spectrum of these acronyms. 

An RFP is a Request for Proposal; RFA, a Request for Application; RFB, a Request for Bid; RFI, a Request for Information; RFQ, a Request for Quotation; and RFT, a Request for Tender. RFPs, RFAs, RFBs, RFQs, and RFTs are all similar in that they are seeking proposals or bids. RFIs, on the other hand, are simply seeking information and do not include a bid element or financial quote. 

Deciphering RFP Terminology

Once you discover an opportunity, you may find the proposal terminology confusing. However, understanding the jargon is key to creating a comprehensive, high-quality proposal response.

There are many terms and phrases used in proposals that are in keeping with their literal meanings. A few common examples are “agreement,” “bid,” “best value,” “period of performance,” “evaluation criteria,” “confidence ratings,” “past performance,” “compliance,” and “assumptions,” among others. However, other terms are not so clear – especially when there are a plethora of acronyms.

Proposal Acronyms

The government uses hundreds of acronyms for their various agencies and proposal types, instructions, pricing details, and performance ratings. 

Once you get through the “alphabet soup” of acronyms, there is no shortage of other confusing terminology you need to understand to formulate your best proposal response. Here are a few common terms used in government proposals:

  • “Issuer” is the issuing authority. Proposals are not always issued by the agency or office seeking the product or service. For example, a government agency may appoint a particular department or outsource the proposal process.
  • “Set-Aside” is where the government limits competition for specific contracts to small businesses and certain types of small businesses, such as Woman-Owned Small Businesses (WOSBs), Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (VOSBs), Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSBs), 8(a), etc. Those contracts are called “small business set-asides,” and they help small businesses compete for and win federal contracts.
  • Executive summary” is a brief overview highlighting the critical elements of a proposal. It is different from a cover letter because it contains a brief synopsis of the salient points in your proposal. Evaluators typically read the executive summary first, and will stop there if not incentivized to read further. Therefore, make it a compelling summary of what is to come in your proposal. 
  • “Lifecycle cost” looks at the total expenditure for a product. It assesses the total cost of an asset over its life cycle, including initial capital, maintenance, and operating costs. A proposed product should have a lifecycle cost lower or up to the current expenditure of the current contract. Otherwise, a government department may prefer an existing contract renewal. 
  • “Spend analysis” is an ongoing assessment analyzing all data related to the procurement. The objective is to enhance efficiency and ensure compliance. Spend analysis is a practice used by both the procurer and the contractor.
  • “Preference” is a set of project-specific advantages available to contractors in a specific location, offering a particular quality of product or service and/or possessing some special business classifications.
  • “Qualified bid” is a proposal response wherein a contractor explicitly exempts itself from the eligibility criteria or prerequisites. This limitation or condition may constitute grounds to disqualify the bid.
  • “Qualified vendor” is a contractor meeting all the prerequisites or eligibility criteria for an opportunity.


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