Don’t rely on second chances during proposal process

Don’t rely on second chances during proposal process

Contractors too often expect second chances on proposals – assuming that agencies will provide the opportunity to correct shortcomings after the initial review. The reality is that this tactic, often used as a way to cut corners, will typically get companies shut out of competitions.

Protesting contractor: Analytic Services Inc., Arlington

Contracting agency: Defense Threat Agency

Protest issue: Whether the agency should have offered opportunity to adjust proposal.

GAO decision, Dec. 28, 2011: Denied.

Post-mortem: Although the Government Accountability Office goes step by step denying Analytic’s numerous protest grounds, the one I found most helpful to contractors is the decision on clarifications and discussion: Analytic said that the agency should have provided some feedback to help the company cure its proposal’s shortcomings — an argument that GAO called plainly false.

I see this argument often, thrown into protests usually when the offeror failed to submit a well-drafted proposal that addresses the government’s needs. It’s rarely successful. The government is seldom under any obligation to use clarification or discussion unless it states plans to do so in the solicitation. Contractors routinely submit proposals that don’t meet the evaluation criteria and plan to make up for their failure in discussions. Then they are shocked when the government does not engage in discussions and dismisses their proposal as unacceptable.

Analytic threw every argument against the wall, hoping something would stick. A better tactic would be to submit a well-drafted proposal that meets the solicitation criteria, and if there are protest grounds, confine your arguments to those that have merit.