You have submitted your first government bid. Well done! Now what happens? Well, that is exactly what we are going to talk about today.
Now that you have finished your part of the process, the buyer must take over and do his or her part. Before the buyer can start, he or she must wait until the deadline due date. Once all the bids have been received the buyer will begin the evaluating process. Ultimately, making a final decision on which company wins the contract.
What Happens During the Evaluation Process?
The evaluation process will differ depending on the type of solicitation used by the Government.
Non-Negotiated Bids (IFBs).
We discussed Invitations for Bids (IFBs) in previous episodes. Generally, a IFB is a “Sealed Bid” where the best valued bidder wins. The government will open the bid and the information is recorded on a “bid abstract” sheet. What information does the government record? Well, they will record the following information:
- Company Name
- Items being Bid
- Prices Quoted
- Other information deemed relevant
The information obtain is important and could prove to be very useful to you, whether you receive the bid or not. And since, the information contained in the bid abstract is considered public information, you can obtain it by just asking for it. You will need to enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope along with your bid. Also, you should include a letter stating that you are requesting the bid abstract under the Freedom of Information Act. (FOIA). Remember, that we discussed FOIA in previous episodes.
Why Request the Bid Abstract Sheet?
The bid abstract sheet will tell you where your bid stood in the bidding process. If your bid was in the upper third of the price ranking, then you know that you were outside the competitive range. If your bid was in the middle range, then you know that your bid is getting better but not ideal just yet. The best place to be is in the lower third. You may not have one the contract, but your bid was in the right place.
Didn’t Win Invitation for Bid (IFB)?
Don’t be upset or down because you did not win the contract. After all no one will win all bids. If you remember from a couple of episodes ago, we talked about win-loss ratio. I said before that an average win-loss ratio is one out of ten. The goal is to get your win-loss ratio as high as possible. One of the ways to do this is to analyze where your bid was in the bidding process. When your win-loss ratio is three out of ten then you will be smack dab in the middle of most successful small businesses. Now, look at the investment in time and money you put into developing your bids. This is the same thing that you should be doing with your commercial work.
Negotiated Bids (Request for Proposals and Request for Quotes)
If the solicitation was a request for proposals (RFP) or request for quotes (RFQ) which is considered a negotiated bid then the information on the bidding companies, pricing, etc., is not considered public information. Only the successful bidders name and contract price will become public knowledge.
In order to evaluate where you were in the bidding process you can only compare your bid to the successful winners bid. That information may not tell you where you ranked in the bidding process, but it will give you an ideal of your standing.
Influencing Factors Affecting Bid Outcome
Are there any factors that the buyers consider in looking at your bid and deciding on the selecting the winning company? Here are some of the most important factors.
Did your bid meet all essential requirements?
The first thing that buyers will do is review your bid and see if it conforms to all essential requirements contained in the solicitation. Does your bid meet all evaluation factors? Did your bid include exact conformance to all specifications, drawings, descriptions and standards specified in the solicitation? Also, did the materials, delivery dates, packaging and marking requirements, past performance history meet the requirements in the solicitation. May times these factors are referred to as “Best Value”.
Are You Capable?
Remember that buyers must determine whether you can perform and deliver on the contract. They cannot just take your word on it because you know in your heart that you can do the work. Buyers will review your technical capability and try to make sure you have the experience and know-how to do the work.
In addition, the buyers will also review your production capability. If the contract calls for 10,000 gadgets and you have only one drill press, milling machine and only one part-time employee…. Well that is not going to meet the requirement is it?
Another major consideration is working capital. Many small businesses think that a government contract will get them out of financial trouble. A government contract is not going to fix your problem. You still need to have adequate working capital or finances in place to perform on the contract. It is not feasible for the government to get you out of your jam.
Certificate of Competency
Now if the buyer determines that you are not capable of performing the contract, you may ask the US Small Business Administration (SBA) to perform a Certificate of Competency, otherwise known as a COC. (we discussed this previously). But you must prove to SBA that you can perform the contract. SBA will review your business documents and may even perform a site visit in order to make a determination!
Your Past Performance
A buyer is going to review your past performance record. If you failed on your first contract or if you have a history of not delivering on past contract the government is not going to want to work with you. In order to work with the government, you must meet strict deadlines and delivery schedules. If you are late the government is like an elephant, they tend to get upset and they NEVER forget. Even if price is the deciding factor the government will consider past performance in figuring out the real cost for an item. In other words, if you have poor past performance do not bid on a government job until such time as you resolve your issues.
Business Partner Network (BPN)
Now you can find out your company’s delivery status by going to the Business Partner Network at www.bpn.gov website. This is the single source for vendor data for the federal government. The BPN search tool provides unprecedented access into several key databases across federal agencies. In addition, this site will also list your past performance record.
Yet another Government Database
The Past Performance Information Retrieval System (PPIRS) will contain past performance information for the point of contact in your SAM (System for Award Management) profile. Hold the presses. PPIRS has now been merged with Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System. ( CPARS.) This is a new change. You will need your Marketing Partner Identification Number (MPIN) to enter into this system. Government selection officials will use the information contained in the CPARS as one of several factors determining which company should be awarded a new contract.
How to enter CPARS?
The only person within your company that has access to CPARS is your SAM POC. You may discover that there are not any records for your business. This is because you have no contracts meeting the thresholds for report cards (DoD=$1Million, for services and IT and $5 Million for systems and operations support; or $100,00 for all other agencies). Now these numbers may have changed with the recent changes in databases. So, take this information with a grain of salt please.
If you have federal contracts but do not have any reports yet, please contact your buyers on your past contracts and encourage them to write something into the system.
Buyers want assurance that you can provide a quality product. You may not have to be certified through international quality standards, but you should have a well-documented quality control program that tells all your customers how you guarantee that you will provide quality products and services.
We have all experience the “good ol’ boy network” at one time or the other. Well, many buyers are now implementing new technologies allowing for more buying decisions to be made automatically by computer-based software. This will “hopefully” eliminate the “good ol’ boy network” in the future.
For example, in Columbus, Ohio the Defense Supply Center makes 85% of the procurement awards without human input!
This system is known as DLA-BSM Internet Bid Board System (DIBBS) is a web-based application that allows you to:
- View & submit quotes
- Look at Request for Proposals (RFPs)
- View long-Term contracts and EMALL opportunities
- Access award information
- View provisions, clauses, and packaging specifications
- Look at price history
- View technical data.
- Review Acquisition Forecasts
- Look at your Past Performance through the Automated Best Value System (ABVS), your Performance Score used in award decisions.
- Access the DoD Procurement Gateway at http://dibbs.dscc.dla.mil
- Review award information
- View provisions
Buyers must use the Business Clearance Memorandum (BCM), to demonstrate the fulfillment of statutory and regulatory responsibilities. (Remember this is only for computer-based awards). This system has an audit trail for post award review and service as key evidence to support the contracting officers’ decisions in case of disputes or reviews.
How Does the Government Compute the Competitive Range?
I am not going into detail on how the government computes the competitive range. I can tell you that the government must compute a competitive range in order to evaluate offerors. If they did not properly establish a competitive range the offerors that were eliminated based on this range would file a protest and as such could be allowed to revise their offers. Also, the government needs to know how much the requirement is going to cost in order to obtain funding for the requirement.
We have covered quite a bit in today’s episode. We started discussing the evaluation factors, past performance and competitive range. It is our hope that you learned something of value that you can take back and implement in your business.