Imagine submitting what you consider the perfect proposal. It includes great insight and understanding of what the entity is hoping to accomplish. You’ve even provided additional benefits and discriminators that go beyond the minimum requirements for what the federal government is contracting for. Then your proposal is rejected as nonresponsive due to compliance issues.
Compliance is defined, in part, by Merriam-Webster as the act or process of conforming, submitting and adapting to a desire, demand, proposal or regimen.
When responding Request for Proposals (RFPs), Request for Qualifications (RFQs) or other procurement solicitations, compliance is first and foremost the single most important element. The government will often evaluate proposals on a Best Value or Low Price Technically Acceptable (LPTA) pass/fail basis. Before a proposal will even be considered on its merits, failure to meet the proposal factors and minimum requirements, typically outlined in Section L and M of the RFP, as well as the FAR regulations can result in the proposing contractor or service provider being ineligible for further consideration.
Creating a Proposal Directive (elaborate outline) is the first step in ensuring compliance. Whether the RFP is pages with a simple explanation or a thousand pages of in-depth information, the outline will serve as your check-list to ensure you have met all the mandatory requirements.
Even then, the Proposal Directive is not something that can be created and assumed complete. It must be updated as amendments are issued. Often, changes to the procurement documents will occur between the initial release of a project and what is awarded, including but not limited to the contract statement of work and/or the project management plan.
Formatting for Compliance
It is imperative that your proposal be structured to the exact specifications of the procurement document (Sections L and M) as well as the requirements within the Performance Work Statement (PWS) or project specifications, if applicable. Following the required format, you must address every item noted either in the body of the proposal or through appendices as instructed in the same order as required so the government can literally “check the box” for compliance.
Don’t forget that compliance also includes following the requirements for font type/size, minimum margins, page numbering, single or double sided printing, paper type, submission process (electronic versus hard copy), number of proposal copies, etc.
Those evaluating submissions compare proposal to proposal, point-by-point, and easily see how your expertise and approach are going to make their project better, more cost effective, and/or allow for faster completion.
Most procurement periods offer a time period in which bidders may submit questions for clarification, which is also identified early in the RFP. Those Q&As are made available to all registered bidders. Be sure to always review the Q&As before final review and submission. Often, the answers provided during this phase provide insight to the entity, their values and any unstated, but underlying, project goals.
Review for Compliance
Don’t forget an interim and/or final review against the Proposal Directive and RFP requirements ensures a compliant end product is delivered.
With more than 18 years of successful proposal expertise in Federal, State, Municipal, and Commercial procurements as well as with private clients in diverse markets, we understand the importance of all aspects of proposal submission. Contact Meridian West today to explore how our experience with over 1,000 proposals can give your proposal the best chance for selection, beginning with compliance.