Oh the mistakes that are made leading to some very expensive losses are ever so avoidable. Bear these in mind so you can avoid spending bid and proposal funds on losing proposals and then more on legal fees for a losing protest.
Sin #5: You don’t understand the evaluation tendencies of the agency
This sin is perhaps the most egregious one of all.
You failed to study evaluation tendencies of your intended customer!
Every U.S. Government agency has different award tendencies. This includes what an agency typically assigns as strengths or weaknesses, what non-cost criteria is a usual differentiator, and most importantly whether an agency favors technical solutions with low risk or just low price.
Different agencies can behave very differently in the same situation. Consider Sin #3, cutting the level of effort. Many agencies will treat insufficient level of effort as an instant deficiency. The result is an unacceptable technical score and then an express journey OUT of the competitive range. Consider two examples of how this worked in two different agencies and opportunities with the same situation. Both deals are for operations, no price realism was scored for either example and both awards were made for about $60M in total evaluated price.
|Operations of HRConnect HR management system||Internal Revenue Service (IRS)||Octo Consulting lowers staffing levels and offers 13% lower price than incumbent Northrop Grumman. Octo is assigned a significant weakness for vague efficiencies proposed to offset lower staffing levels.||Octo is given a “Marginal” Technical score and eliminated from competitive range|
|Information Management Services||Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)||Dell lowers staffing levels and offers 29.5% lower price than incumbent HPES (now Peraton). Dell is assigned weakness for vague description of efficiencies proposed to offset lower staffing levels.||Dell is given an “Acceptable” Technical score and is awarded over higher scoring legacy HPES.|
What is the lesson learned?
Every agency has different preferences. You cannot simply take the same proposal features and pricing strategy and apply it to every agency or every group of evaluators. There is NO “one-size fits all.”
Sin #6: You submitted personnel who do not meet requirements!
While it is not always clear why an underqualified staff member is proposed, it is a clear fact that bidders are regularly removed from competitions due to this failure. Many bidders assume the worst that will happen is a weakness will be assigned, this is a foolhardy approach for two reasons:
- Weaknesses should always be avoided. The bidder with the highest number of strengths and lowest number of weaknesses wins the vast majority of competitions, regardless of price.
- You’re giving an easy excuse to dismiss your proposal. Unless otherwise stated in the RFP, a bidder must understand that missing a personnel qualification gives an agency ground to assign a deficiency and remove the proposal from award consideration without discussion. Regardless of the strength of the overall proposal.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Integrated budget, acquisition, and planning system support BPA
Protest Date: February 6, 2020
Summary of the evaluation:
- Deloitte was originally awarded the $112M single award BPA with the highest value proposal of all bidders
- Guidehouse protested the decision, and proposals were reevaluated
Deloitte’s otherwise best value proposal was scored “Unacceptable” and Guidehouse was awarded the contract.
What is the lesson learned?
It is always a bad idea to propose underqualified staff and simply hope the government will not score it too harshly or will not investigate claims of experience. The best time to mitigate potential issues with personnel qualifications is Pre-RFP or during RFP Q&As. You may have an opportunity at that time to get the agency to relax qualifications or allow time post-award for certain personnel to achieve required certifications or clearances.
FedSavvy Strategies Takeaway
Avoiding these deadly sins can increase your chances to win. Beyond winning more than your fair share of U.S. Government contracts, you can avoid making protests that are simply going to lose which may serve only to increase your legal costs.
Are you interested to find out more about our analysis on trends in evaluations? Contact us today!
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