How much time does an offeror need to submit a proposal? How much time is not enough? How much time is too much? What is the contractor doing with that time? As contracting officers, we didn’t know the answers to these questions (or even to ask all of them sometimes). This cast explains both sides of the proposal response time question and how to find a balance between the extremes of too little and too much time.

Zone 2 and 3

What does “Color of Money” mean?   This episode explains different types of appropriations and how they impact acquisitions and the Government’s behavior.  Kevin and Paul give examples of why the color of money matters and what goes on behind the scenes in a Government acquisition as a result of the appropriation type.    Learn why the Government cares about the color of money and why Industry should.  Why is September 30th such a busy time for acquisition offices?  Give this podcast a listen to find out.

Zone:                          Zoneless

Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes of a Government source selection?  In this episode Kevin and Paul provide a glimpse behind the curtain and answer a listener’s questions about the source selection process.

Specific topics are:

  • Subjectivity in proposal scoring
  • The value of past performance evaluations
  • What does “significantly more important” mean?
  • Can evaluations be revised to favor a particular contractor?

Zone 4 – The Source Selection Zone

J&A (Justification and Approval) is the common term used to describe the documentation required for a contracting officer to proceed with an acquisition using other than full and open competition.  (also known as sole source contract)  In this episode Kevin and Paul discuss when J&A’s are needed, the seven exceptions to full and open competition that the FAR allows, the content of a J&A, and who approves the J&A.

Zone 2

Targeting is a critical element of winning in the federal market. Poor targeting creates many of the problems we discuss on the Contracting Officer Podcast – from miscommunication between buyer and seller, to adversarial debriefs, and yes, even to protests. Regardless of where you sit in the federal buying and selling process, it is critical that you understand the importance of target-ing.

In this cast, we explain how to identify your Ideal Target Market by stitching together into the three elements that make up your Ideal Target Market: your Reachable Market, your Target Market and your Weight Class.

Zone 2 (Market Research) and Zone 3 (RFP Zone)

The last in a 4 part series describing the Acquisition Time Zones in greater detail.  (see Episode 003 for an overview of the Time Zones) In this episode Kevin and Paul discuss what happens after industry submits their proposals in response to an RFP.  Topics include the types of communication that are allowed between Government and industry during the evaluation process, what the Government team goes through in order to complete their evaluation and select a winner, and the importance of schedule to both industry and the Government.

Zone 4 – The Source Selection Zone

The third in a 4 part series describing the Acquisition Time Zones in greater detail.  (see Episode 003 for an overview of the  Time Zones) In this episode Kevin and Paul describe what information must be included in a Government Request for Proposals, what types of communications are allowed during this part of the acquisition process, and what really happens after the RFP is released on both the Government and Industry sides.

Zone 3 – RFP Zone

The second in a 4 part series describing the Acquisition Time Zones in greater detail.  (see Episode 003 for an overview of the  Time Zones) In this episode Kevin and Paul discuss the types of market research the Government uses and what Government and Industry are doing (or should be doing) during this phase of the acquisition cycle.  As always, communication between Government and Industry is stressed to make the process faster and improve results.  (and make it easier on everyone involved!)

Zone 2 – Market Research Zone

This is the first in a 4 part series describing the Acquisition Time Zones in greater detail.  (see Episode 003 for an overview of the  Time Zones) In this episode, Kevin and Paul describe how the Government creates and refines their requirements.  The discussion covers real world examples of what the Government is doing (or should be doing) and what Industry is doing (or should be doing) during this phase of the acquisition process.

Zone 1

What is Section L?  What is Section M?  In this 2 part episode, Paul and Kevin explain how the Government provides proposal preparation and content instructions in Section L and provides the evaluation criteria that define how to win (or lose) the competition in Section M.  Part 1 (Episode 010) focuses on describing “what” Section L and Section M are.  In Part 2 the conversation strives to give deeper insight into “why” Section L and Section M are important.

Zone 3 – RFP Zone

What is Section L?  What is Section M?  In this 2 part episode, Paul and Kevin explain how the Government provides proposal preparation and content instructions in Section L and provides the evaluation criteria that define how to win (or lose) the competition in Section M.  Part 1 (Episode 010) focuses on “what” Section L and Section M are and describes how their content can impact the Government and Industry.  In Part 2 (Episode 011) the conversation gives further insight into “why” Section L and Section M are important.

Zone: Zone 3 – RFP Zone

In this cast, we provide an overview of the Request for Information (RFI), the Draft Request for Proposals (DRFP) and the Request for Proposals (RFP). Contracting Officers use all of these in different ways and at different times for a variety of acquisitions. In this cast, we provide some insights from our experience on when and how to best use these tools. We also provide industry with some understanding of when they should, and should not, reply to each. This topic straddles the Market Research Zone and RFP Zone. Since we had a lot to cover, this session ran almost 30-minutes J.

Zone:Zone 2 and Zone 3

In this cast, we explain the basics of what Contracting Officers do. We define the role of the CO, along with some detail on how they are appointed. We also describe the different types of contracting officers along with some of our personal experience mixed in, of course. This cast has a bit more ‘in the weeds’ FAR language, but it should give you some context on what the CO does and why they do it. Enjoy! And please provide comments below after you listen.

Zone: Zoneless

One of the many unique elements of federal contracting is the Debriefing. In this cast, we continue our discussion on the nuances and lessons learned on the enigmatic debriefing. During Part 2, we cover some detailed examples of what we found that worked well and what did not work well from our experience.  We also talk through some of the specific items to expect during a debriefing as both a CO and an offeror. While we didn’t cover every element of the debriefing, we hope we gave you a real head start on understanding this uniquely interesting topic. Enjoy!

Zone:Zone 4

Zone:Zone 4

Listen and Learn…   One of the many unique elements of federal contracting is the Debriefing. In this cast, we explain what a debriefing is (and what it isn’t). We also describe the debriefing process from both the contracting officer and industry perspective. We describe our perspective on why both the government team and the offeror should invest their energy in a meaningful debriefing.  This cast turned into a deeper conversation so we broke it into two sessions for you. Enjoy!

Ever wonder why it takes, or at least feels like it takes, so long to get an RFP out sometimes? In this session, we discuss what the government team is doing while contractors wait for the RFP to come out. We talk about schedule drives, mandatory reviews and approvals, documentation time, the relationship between the complexity of the requirement and that of the acquisition plan, and others. We share some of our experiences on why we took “so long” to get things done as COs. The requirement is the “what.”

Zone:Zone 1 and 2

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The topic of “Federal government contracting” is huge.  It’s too huge, we decided, to just start creating our Contracting Officer podcast sessions(on a wide array of topics)without some sort of structure. To address this, we separate the sessions into groups to align them with the chronological phases of the government acquisition process. We call these phases theAcquisition Time Zones. These Time Zones help our listeners understand the content on each podcast session by knowing where it fits in the overall buying process.The Time Zones are, in chronological order:

The Requirements Zone

The Market Research Zone

The Request for Proposal (or “RFP”) Zone

The Source Selection Zone.

This podcast session gives a brief overview of these Time Zones. We will cover each Time Zone in more detail in future sessions as well.

Time Zone:All

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Click Here to Read This Podcast Transcription

One often-overlooked difference between the federal market and the commercial market is that federal market sales are won more by process than by relationships. Contracting Officers (COs) cannot buy based on relationships alone. Relationships matter (see FAR Parts 3 and 9), but relationships are usually not the most important factor. The relationship is 20% of the decision. The other 80% is the competitive process.

Compare this to the commercial market. Here the ratio is reversed. Our relationship with a company is often 80%, or more, of our decision to buy from them. The other factors such as price and past performance do matter, but not nearly as much as our relationship with the seller. How did you selected your doctor, your homebuilder, your banker, your car dealer, your airline, your computer, your grocery store? Was the decision to buy from a particular company driven by relationships with friends, customers, or because you bought from them before? I bet so.

Understanding this Relationship-to-Process ratio in the government market is key to winning. The relationship you build with an agency, a program manager, or even a contracting officer will only get you so far (about 20%). You win in the other 80% (the competitive process). Even on existing contracts, regardless of how good the incumbent’s relationship is with the customer, the CO must eventually re-compete it.

Both relationships and process matter. Just be sure to get your ratio correct. You will win more often by aligning your time and resource around 80% process and 20% relationships.

Time Zone:2 & 3

Click Here to Read This Podcast Transcription

Companies need help. They are awash in information (and data),but they are starving for insights on the COs’ perspective. As contracting officers, we saw so many companies overwhelmed by the rules, the process, the seemingly limitless options and the shear volume of opportunities in the market. They were, and still are, looking for insights to help them better understand how our federal government’s processes work. We created this podcast to improve the acquisition process by sharing COs’ collective perspective.       

Contracting officers need help. They are awash in information (and data), but are starving for insights on the contractors’ perspective. Since leaving our contracting officers positions, we see how some of our actions as COs, while well-intended, impacted companies in ways we did not know. We wish we knew then what we know now. We also created this podcast to offer COs some insights on the contractors’ perspective.                         

We want to “be the change we wish to see in the world”.
Many say that the procurement system needs more regulation(or less), or more oversight (or less), or more funding (or less),or more people (or fewer), and so on. We decided we’d startwith more communication (not less).