Above, Beyond, and Then Some: Proposal Disqualified for “Excessive” Extras

Like Pavlov’s famous dogs,  government contractors are almost conditioned to offer the government more than the minimum requirements.  Think back to your own proposals—how many times have you offered the government a steeper discount, a more qualified person, or a superior technical solution than what was required?  It happens all the time–and often, the government seems to expect it.

Going above and beyond the minimum is usually a good thing, but, as the GAO’s decision in D’Andre Insurance Services, LLC, B-405046 (July 21, 2011) demonstrates, it is possible to go too far, and give the agency concerns about your understanding of the technical requirements.

The D’Andre Insurance Services case involved a Department of Agriculture solicitation for professional services.  The agency rejected D’Andre’s proposal as technically unacceptable, due in part to the “excessive effort” D’Andre proposed in some areas.  For instance, D’Andre proposed a weeklong kickoff meeting with the agency, but kickoff meetings were usually conducted in 2 hours or less, and by teleconference.  Similarly, D’Andre proposed to have three individuals prepare and attend each listening session, whereas the government believed this was unnecessary.

The GAO denied D’Andre’s protest.  It found that the agency reasonably rejected D’Andre for the perceived weaknesses in D’Andre’s proposal, including the “excessive effort” D’Andre proposed in certain areas.

The D’Andre Insurance Services case doesn’t mean that you should not offer the government more than its minimum requirements—indeed, in many cases, that’s exactly what the government wants.  But be careful that your proposal does not go too far and suggest that you will expend time and resources performing activities the government believes are redundant or unnecessary.  And remember that the government’s time is valuable—proposing a week of meetings with government officials, when an hour or two will do, like D’Andre did, is unlikely to win you any favors.

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