How To Read a Solicitation (Bid)

Hello and welcome to the wonderful world of government contracting.  I am your host, Nancy, and today we will be going over “How To Read a Bid?”  Can you believe it?  We are already on episode number 84.  But before we get started let’s roll that intro.

We left off on our last episode with you reading the solicitation multiple times. But before we go on let’s review where the government posts its solicitations.  Remember the Federal Business Opportunities website is where the government lists all bids over $25,000.  The only exception to this is the Federal Aviation Administration.  The purpose of reading the solicitation was to make sure that you thoroughly understood what the government is wanting to accomplish.  You may have highlighted certain items in order to draw attention to them later.  Now you can begin to break down the solicitation. We have broken this down into the following five steps.

Step 1

The first and most important sections that you should read together are Supplies or Services and Prices/Costs and Instructions, Conditions and Notices to Offerors.  Make sure that the product or service is something that you can provide and whether you can comply with the requirements.  Make sure to take plenty of notes!

Step 2

Next read section L (Instructions, Conditions, and Notices to Offerors) and Section M (Evaluation Factors for Award).  Yes, you read Section L in the first step but you need to read it a second time in conjunction with Section M.  These sections tell you which factors the government is going to use to evaluate the bids and deciding on who will receive the contract.  It will specify any key personnel, technical capability, or financial or transportation resources that will be needed.  Check these factors carefully to see whether your company is deficient in any area.    If you are, correct the problems prior to sending in your bid or you may elect not to bid on this contract.  This is ultimately the bid, no bid decision that you need to make.

Important Tip.  You must consider all the factors in the contract, not just some so take notes.

Step 3

Now spend some time and determine the general and specific requirements of the contract.  You will find this information in the Description, Specifications, and Statements of Work.  What is the government looking for?  Review the specifications carefully.  You must be able to comply with all of them.    Now let’s move on to Step 4.

Important Tip.  Any questions that you have must be addressed prior to contract award.

Step 4

In step 4, we are going to read the Contract Clauses, Special Contract Requirements, Packaging and Marking, Inspection and Acceptance, Deliveries or Performance, and Contract Administration Data.  These sections will tell you the technical requirements on which you will need to perform.  Some of the requirements might sound extreme but remember that the item has to withstand extreme conditions.  Let’s move on to the last step.

Step 5

Read the certification provisions.  Currently, you don’t have to answer these reps and certs in each solicitation that you respond to.  You only need to certify that the data you put into SAM is current or to indicate any changes necessary for the specific solicitation.  However, read the Section Representations, Certifications and Other Statements of Offerors. Here is where you will certify that you are a small minority, HUBZone, 8(a), SDVOSB, or woman-owned small business that you have not been debarred by the government.  You will also certify that you are an Equal Employment Opportunity Business and that you agree to certain other policies or programs of the government.

Make sure that you read each section word for word so that you can bid intelligently.


Remember to review the sections of the solicitation together so that you have a complete picture of what the government is asking for.  Also, it is best to submit any questions that you have to the government prior to contract award.  It is our hope that by providing you with this information that you will be able to put together a winning bid package.

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