It is that time of year, we’re about halfway into Q1 of Fiscal Year 2013 when the holidays (read : time off for federal employees), budgets, and, this year, sequestration, all impact government spending. Many people think this is a slow time of year, which it can be, but your company can take advantage of Q1 to set course for the remainder of the year.
Right now is the time to reach out and be known. Requests for Information (RFI’s) and Sources Sought are bubbling up through FBO.gov daily. Although responding to these requests is not mandatory, not responding to these requests could hurt your future chances. Per FAR 10.001(a)(2), agencies must conduct market research:
i) Before developing new requirements documents for an acquisition by that agency;
(ii) Before soliciting offers for acquisitions with an estimated value in excess of the simplified acquisition threshold;
(iii) Before soliciting offers for acquisitions with an estimated value less than the simplified acquisition threshold when adequate information is not available and the circumstances justify its cost;
(iv) Before soliciting offers for acquisitions that could lead to a bundled contract (15 U.S.C. 644(e)(2)(A));
(v) Before awarding a task or delivery order under an indefinite-delivery-indefinite-quantity (ID/IQ) contract (e.g., GWACs, MACs) for a noncommercial item in excess of the simplified acquisition threshold (10 U.S.C. 2377(c)); and
(vi) On an ongoing basis, take advantage (to the maximum extent practicable) of commercially available market research methods in order to effectively identify the capabilities of small businesses and new entrants into Federal contracting, that are available in the marketplace for meeting the requirements of the agency in furtherance of—
(A) A contingency operation or defense against or recovery from nuclear, biological, chemical or radiological attack; and
(B) Disaster relief to include debris removal, distribution of supplies, reconstruction, and other disaster or emergency relief activities. (See 26.205).
In addition, agencies are seeing more benefit in gathering industry input prior to releasing a solicitation. So agencies are using RFIs and Sources Sought even outside the required FAR situations.
Providing timely, and informative responses to the government helps your company in the long run for a number of reasons:
1) You have the ability to present your company and capabilities directly to the CO – This is great because unsolicited proposals or cold calling CO’s is typically not the way to make friends with them.
2) You have the opportunity to provide input, as the expert in your industry, towards the future solicitation – Your professional input provides a better chance that when the solicitation is released, it will make more sense from an industry perspective and will be easier to respond to.
3) You are allowed a more open dialogue with the acquisition team during this time- Your company can make more personable connections with decision makers and requirements developers and those connection can go a long way.
By missing the opportunity to respond to the government’s market research, you are missing an opportunity to connect. It is well-known among industry and government that winning proposals out of the blue is rare and difficult. The winners are those that invest the time AHEAD of the solicitation’s release and jumping on those FBO RFIs and Sources Sought is a simple and easy investment to make.