The Anatomy of a Solicitation: How to Read the Standard Sections of a Federal Solicitation

Being familiar with the structure of a solicitation is imperative if you hope to be a successful federal government contractor. However, the solicitations that accompany competitive procurements, in the form of a “request for quote,” “invitation for bid,” or “request for proposal,” are often lengthy, making it easy for contractors that are new to federal government contracting to get lost in the legalese, and unable to pinpoint the vital information. Does that mean that parts of the solicitation are not important? Not at all. Contractors should be familiar with all parts of the solicitation. But knowing what to expect, and how to quickly find information that may make or break your decision to submit an offer will increase your efficiency and effectiveness when drafting proposals, saving you precious time for other important things.

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When You Assume: Proposals Don’t Automatically Include “Industry Standards”

When preparing a proposal for a Government solicitation, ensuring that your product or service meets all of the requirements specified by the Government’s solicitation is essential. Simple enough, right?

Not necessarily. One of the most frequent pitfalls in proposal preparation is assuming the Government understands your products and industry as well as you do, which may not be the case.  A recent GAO bid protest demonstrates that a “well-written proposal” sometimes must include information that a contractor might expect the Government evaluation team ought to know.

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GAO: “Minimal” Solicitation Changes Justified Cancellation

An agency was entitled to cancel a solicitation when its needs changed–even though the anticipated changes in its needs “might be characterized as minimal.”

In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO confirmed that a procuring agency has broad discretion to cancel a solicitation when the agency’s anticipated needs change, and that discretion extends to cases in which the agency’s changed needs could be addressed by amending the existing solicitation.

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GAO: No Protests Of “Insufficiently Restrictive” Solicitations

The GAO generally will not consider a protest contending that a solicitation’s specifications should be made more restrictive.

In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO declined to consider a protester’s contention that the solicitation should require offerors to demonstrate specific experience in the type of work to be performed.

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