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Government Contracting

Does anyone here have any experience with government contracting. I've always wondered how the contractor selection process works.

- How does a consulting firm get listed on government approved vendor lists?

- Where are the projects posted by state or federal agencies? I.e., how do you find out about them?

- What is the selection process for who is awarded the contract? Are many lowest bidder based?

[BTW, I know that there are many DOD contracts, but I'm not interested in anything that requires a security clearance]

Thanks.

High Ball
Thursday, August 07, 2003

- How does a consulting firm get listed on government approved vendor lists?

There are applications to fill out, criteria to meet.  You're most interested in the GSA schedule.

http://www.gsa.gov/Portal/home.jsp

- Where are the projects posted by state or federal agencies? I.e., how do you find out about them?

Most agencies must release public RFP's .  Check the agenciy web sites frequently- there are often state or regional clearinghouse sites, but dilligent searching is good too.

- What is the selection process for who is awarded the contract? Are many lowest bidder based?

Yes, many are, especially at the municipal / county / city level.  We have lost a lot of contracts for this reason.

Matthew Lee
Thursday, August 07, 2003

My father-in-law does this for a living.  He works in purchasing for my state.  What he does is all day research the different options that the different companies give to solve the problem they need.  If its a HR system (to use a contrived example), he might compare PeopleSoft, Oracle, and whoever else's offerings.

After reading up on them fully, he makes a reccomendation which they go with.  Then, he has to brush up on the stuff again for the inevitable court appearance where the losers of the contract sue the state for the unfair bidding process.  This happens with almost every contract, he says.  He has to testify to why he chose a particular solution.

Its a nasty process, and doesn't sound like one I'd like to be in personally, nor put a company of mine through.  But because it has these quirks I know of a few companies that do all of their business with government, so they can focus their efforts to the quirks of the business model.

Hope that helps/informs.

Andrew Hurst
Thursday, August 07, 2003

hmm... I said does this for a living, but I should have said "deals with government contractors for a living".  Sorry for the mistake/confusion.

Andrew Hurst
Thursday, August 07, 2003

State and Federal contracts can be difficult.  As my state is  required to give full disclosure after bidding, here are some observations:
-  If you are not in the lowest bid range (bottom 3 to 5) you are out.
- Offshore companies can get "bonus" points because they declare minority status (which they are in the US), then ship the work overseas (where they are not).  I am waiting for some MOBs to start complaining about the set-asides being used for such companies.
- US companies are at a disadvantage on build work, because of price, unless they use off-shore resources
- US companies have an advantage in those areas which require on-site support.  Such as desktop support, project management, and business re-engineering.
- My state has the bid "scored" by eight different people.  The total score is then used to determine who wins.  The score is weighted, but they will not tell you the weight, even after winning.  (for example.  100 point, 40 points may go to price, 20 points to technical solution, 20 points to project experience, 10 points for past success on state projects.)

If you contact your state purchasing office, they are a great resource in getting setup and preparing to bid. 

Mike Gamerland
Thursday, August 07, 2003

One last thing...

If you plan to bid on a contract, you MUST do EVERYTHING that is listed as required.  If you miss even one item your proposal is discarded. 

For example, if it says you must supply 10 copies of the proposal on which one is marked "original" and the other nine "copy", that is what they mean.  I watched one get tossed for 10 copies that said "original".  One got tossed because they had 9 copies (1+7). 

This may seem extreme, but the people deciding whether you even get to stay in the bidding, go through the check list.  Their job is to ensure you met the criteria, they have no concern with the content at all. That is someone else's job.

So if you bid, follow the instructions exactly. Don't assume they meant anything but what was stated.

Mike Gamerland
Thursday, August 07, 2003

See that, I would have gotten tossed for 9 (1+7)... ;-)

Mike Gamerland
Thursday, August 07, 2003

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