(c) P2C2 Group,
Increasingly, the federal government is turning to indefinite-delivery,
indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contracts. Ranging from very specific
requirements to cafeteria-style GSA Schedules for technical and
professional services, the contracts guarantee little or no business.
Most of the revenues hinge on how many Task Orders the contractor wins.
Usually, after winning an IDIQ contract, the contractor must prepare
task-level proposals and compete with other companies to win the tasks.
Order Proposals Are Different
Competitive proposals for tasks are very focused, and the guidelines
for proposal preparation are often defined in the underlying IDIQ
contract. A typical Task Order proposal might contain:
- A one-page executive summary
- A technical approach
including a review of and response to the government's Task
specifications, as well as information about deliverables
- A task management plan that
includes a schedule and GANTT chart, proposed personnel assignments, a
task organization chart, a table with estimated hours for each labor
category, and resumes of key personnel for the task
- A brief cost proposal which
multiplies the estimated labor hours by the hourly rates negotiated in
the underlying IDIQ contract ... plus any Other Direct Costs that may
be necessary to complete the job.
Proposals for tasks omit much of the paperwork and red tape that is
common to full-blown government proposals. The underlying IDIQ contract
takes care of that--where the contractor has already submitted:
- A Schedule B of
cost/pricing data (including hourly labor rates) for the base year and
- Section K, Representations
- Past performance
- Overall business,
personnel, and technical capability information
- Detailed backup about
indirect cost rates and direct labor rates
- Financial statements and/or
Dun and Bradstreet information
- A technical response to the
IDIQ contract's overall Statement of Work.
For competitive task awards, either the government's request for a task
proposal or the underlying IDIQ contract will state the basis for
selecting the successful contractor. It may be strictly on price, or it
may be a "best value" proposal. The criteria for award will affect your
approach to a successful proposal.
For awards made on price, remember that there are several ways to win.
For service tasks, one way to win is to select labor categories with
lower hourly rates. However, there are often smarter strategies.
Assuming that a task award is based on the bottom-line, total task bid
- You may want to consider a
task team with more expensive hourly rates, who may be able to complete
the job in half the labor hours (thereby resulting in a competitive
bottom-line bid price).
- Alternatively, you may be
able to redesign the task workflow or the technical solution--so the
customer gets the specified results for fewer labor hours and,
therefore, a lower price.
For best value, you may
want to emphasize a technical solution that the customer prefers ... or
outstanding personnel that the customer would appreciate having on the
task team. Other best-value strategies include use of your special
corporate capabilities, adding value, or promising to complete the job
faster. Examples of adding value include (1) introducing a solution
that integrates easily with the customer's other processes and systems,
or (2) describing how your solution will save time and trouble for the
But like any proposal, your strategy will depend partly on the
characteristics of your competitors who are also bidding the task. If a
competitor named XYZ Corporation always has the lowest-priced labor or
products, you will obviously need a strategy that offers more than low
unit prices. If another competitor has the most experienced personnel,
you probably won't be able to compete head-to-head on your resumes
Thus, I haven't given you a "cookbook" recipe for winning task
proposals. You have to use experience, judgment, and available
marketing intelligence ... and translate that knowledge into a winning
Your task proposal may not always be a written document. Increasingly,
government agencies are asking for oral presentations--either in
addition to or in lieu of a written proposal. You will probably want to
leave a written document that is effective in reinforcing your
presentation, but the oral presentation will be crucial as a means of
showcasing key personnel and their first-hand ability to discuss
technical solutions and management approach for the task.
Many IDIQ contracts require a quick response to requests for task
proposals -- typically 5 or 10 days, sometimes less. This means that
the Program Manager for the IDIQ contract should prepare effective
boilerplate before it is needed. At minimum, this will include resumes,
typical technical approaches, products, and solutions. The Contract
Line Items (CLINs) should already be in a spread sheet, and it would be
a good idea to set up project management software with the contract's
labor categories and wage rates. Other good ideas include having a
contract-specific cover for task proposals, a boilerplate cover letter,
and electronic versions of any required task bidding forms.
My observation is that many companies knock themselves out in preparing
a proposal to win the underlying IDIQ contract but then become casual
about the task-level proposals. This is short sighted. Putting in 20%
more effort than competitors in winning task competitions may yield
millions of dollars--in a few cases, billions--of additional revenues.
That's a result you can take to the bank.
Accepting New Projects
My intensive consulting work at the Executive Office of the President
came to a successful conclusion in July, and I am eager to identify
several new challenges. After nearly five months of turning away
consulting projects, my schedule is now open. I'm interested in IT
capital planning, acquisition projects, and studies.
enterprise-level management consulting services for federal agencies
and the contractors who support them. Our areas of specialization are
Capital Planning and Investment Control, Enterprise Architecture,
strategic planning, performance evaluation, and acquisition support
including work statements. Our consulting specialty includes experience
in many related areas such as CIO program support, earned value
management, risk management, the C&A process for security, and
customer satisfaction surveys.
|The P2C2 Group, Inc.
4101 Denfeld Avenue | Kensington, MD 20895
Point of Contact: Jim Kendrick, President
phone: 301-942-7985 | fax: 301-942-7986