How To Write a Proposal – Part 1?

Listen to Nancy as she walks you through the proposal writing process for IFB, RFQ, RFP and other types of contracts.

Today we will be discussing “How to Write a Proposal? – Part 1”.  We will be using the words solicitation and bid interchangeably in this episode.

You have been searching Fed Biz Ops for solicitations otherwise known as bids.  You came across one that matches your core business.  Now, what do you do?  Well, that is what we are going to be discussing today.

But first the intro.

Welcome back.

READ the BID Package

Bid or solicitation is used interchangeably in this video. The first step after downloading the bid or solicitation package is to spend some time reading the package. Not just once but multiple times.  Why is this important?  In most cases when responding to a bid it involves filling out some forms and sending it in the proposal package.  But there is a catch!  Even though the government itself generated the proposal package when you respond and send in the documents now become your proposal.  In other words, the government will look at it as if you had put the entire package together yourself and as if they had never seen it before!!!

Therefore, you need to understand what’s in the bid (solicitation) package because it is more than a solicitation for a bid.  Also, if the government and you sign the package the entire package becomes a binding contract.  If you did not read the bid package thoroughly and won, the contract then you will be held liable to complete the package.  So, if you perform the contract based upon what you thought was in the contract and not was actually in the contract you can be held liable.  Or worse,  you will no longer be eligible to bid on government contracts.

Important Information

The solicitation or bid package contains all the information that you will need to bid intelligently on the bid.  All you have to do is read it.  Remember that if you win the bid but missed one important piece of information you will be held accountable for whatever was in the bid package.

Now let’s take a few moments and review the Types of Bids/Solicitations that the government uses.

Types of Bids/Solicitations

A solicitation package will normally range from 10 to 50 plus pages in length depending on the dollar value, the Statement of Work (SOW), and any other requirements.  They will include clauses and instructions and other information that will tell you the who, what, where and how of the contract.

How to Read a Solicitation Number?

One of the first things you need to understand when responding to a bid or solicitation is the solicitation number.  Let’s look at the following solicitation number.

The first six digits represent the Department or Agency.  In order to help you, we are going to break out the codes so that you know which Agency issued the requirement or contract.  The first digit usually indicates the Agency.  See below for examples:

The next two digits indicate the fiscal year.  Next digit indicates whether it is a requirement (R), Contract (C), Information for Quote (Q), Purchase Order (W) or (M), Manual bid (U), Invitation to Bid (B). The rest of the solicitation numbers is a sequence number.


Solicitation Number


Identifies the Agency (W911SA)   Fiscal Year (19)  Solicitation Type (B)  Sequence Number (2012)

The first six digits on a bid indicate the Department or Agency.  For DoD, it will also tell you the location.  The next two digits (in places 7 & 8) indicate the Government’s fiscal year.  The ninth-placed digit indicates the type of solicitation.  The rest of the digits is a sequence number.

Under the solicitation type with an alpha character of Q or T are used on requirements under $100,000.  Usually, T bids do not have technical data packages included with them.  In this case, you would need to reverse engineering or contact the original manufacturer for the technical data.

Bid Package

Let’s look at the three most common types of bids.

Invitation for Bid (IFB)

An IFB is an advertised contract often referred to as a “Sealed Bid”.  There are not any discussions and the bid package is considered complete for bidding purposes.  The prices is a major consideration and the signing of the solicitation form by the bidder and the government creates a binding contract.  Standard Form 33 is generally used for an IFB.

Request For Proposal (RFP)

An RFP is a negotiated contract.  There will be discussions, and the bidder may get the opportunity to change bid pricing, technical requirements, etc.  Like the IFB the Standard Form 33 will be used and again once signed by both parties is a binding document.  When looking at the solicitation number the ninth digit will usually contain an “R” to indicate negotiated contract.  The government will review the bidders pricing factors in order to determine a winner.

Now let’s look at the last type.

Request For Quote (RFQ).

An RFQ  is requesting information that may include price but is not a binding contract or document.  This is also considered a negotiated contract.  The government will want to talk about the information contained.  Referring to our solicitation number the ninth digits will usually have a “Q” in it.  This indicates that the government is looking for information and pricing.  These contracts are negotiated and may be valued greater than $100,000.  If a contract is issued the government will use Standard Form 26 Award/Contract.

Well, that is it for this video.  Next week we will learn how to read a bid.  Please remember to subscribe, comment, like our videos. For more topics go to our blog. As always. Until next time be safe.