How to Talk to the Contracting Officer

First, a word about their legitimate interests.  Well, three words: a good competition.

What is a good competition?

For a contracting officer, it’s one that does not require them to explain to their bosses any of the following:

  • Why their RFP attracted just one bidder
  • How their evaluation criteria produced just one qualified bidder
  • Why the lowest qualified bidder didn’t win the award
  • Why an unsuccessful bidder is suing

Is a good competition one that generates best value or the best technical solution?  Not necessarily.  Those aspects are more the purview of the technical authority.

What does that mean for you, as a bidder?

Do not confuse the contracting officer’s genuine commitment to keeping bidders in the hunt with a guarantee of a level playing field.  Evaluate your chances of winning for yourself.

Do not waste time trying to get them to do things against their interests:

  • Restricting competition by demanding experience levels only your company can meet
  • Setting personnel qualifications unreasonably high

For best results, align your suggestions with their interests and feel free to comment, respectfully, on the following:

  • The probable effect of existing RFP terms (SOW, draft contract, procurement methodology) on your decision to bid
  • The apparent fairness or objectivity of an evaluation criterion
  • The link between the procurement methodology and some stated client policy, especially in government procurement

 

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