How to Secure a Government Contracttract

Bids and proposals always should be prepared with utmost care. Contracts awarded on erroneous offers may result in serious financial loss or other difficulty for the bidder.

Before preparing an offer, close study should be made of the specifications to be sure that all requirements can be met. Particular attention should be given to the instructions to bidders and to conditions of purchase, delivery and payment.

When determining the amount of the offer, the small firm should be especially careful to include all costs of material, labor, overhead, packaging, and transportation. Also, it should be sure to comply with such important provisions of the solicitation as submitting the required number of copies, mailing the offer in sufficient time to reach the purchasing office before the closing date, and properly tagging, marking, and mailing any required samples well in advance of the opening date.

If a firm wants to change or withdraw a bid, it may send a letter or fax to this effect to the purchasing office. However, the notification must reach the office prior to the time set for the bid opening.

When preparing a proposal on a negotiated procurement, the same care should be taken as with a sealed bid. However, because the negotiated purchase procedure is more flexible than the sealed bid procedure, there is greater opportunity to seek modification of specifications, conditions of purchase, or delivery and payment.

If the contracting officer decides to negotiate on a firm's proposal, a complete cost analysis may be required. Therefore, the firm should be prepared to support the quotation with facts and figures.

Some common phrases to avoid using in the proposal include:

  • “The information provided in the proposal is intended only for you and is subject to change.”
  • “This proposal is not intended to be of contractual nature...”
  • “The proposal is for preliminary uses only…”
  • “Prices are subject to change.”
  • “This proposal is to expire within X days of the bid due date unless…”

Checklist of required program information

  • The nature of the product and how it will be conducted
  • The timetable for the project
  • The anticipated outcomes and how best to evaluate the results
  • Staffing and volunteer needs, including deployment of existing staff and new hires