Government Proposal Writing
Budget & Plan for Government Effective Proposal Writing
By Theodore P. Watson , Esq.
A common stumbling block for most government contractors is the expensive costs for proposal writing. Responding to a government RFP can range between $16,000 and $50,000 (if you are seeking quality government proposal writers with experience and knowledge about the procurement rules.) There are several ways that you can save thousands in proposal writing efforts. They include:
- Avoiding companies that build on numerous hours on unnecessary drafts. Reviewing the RFP and developing a compliance metrics up front will pave the way for gathering information on award criteria. Once the information is gathered, proposal writers are in a better position to start writing the first draft. You should never have to pay for four or more drafts. This is overkill.
- Developing a plan of action up front on how to beat potential competitors. This is a highly missed, but very important, area because the government wants to get an instant impression of your company. Things to include:
- Addressing risk mitigation strategies
- Consider any warranty or free re- performance ( service contracts)
- Not trying to gain too much profit (the government is looking for lower pricing – not necessarily cheapest)
- Explaining why past performance (previous projects) are relevant ( it is your job to explain why)
Budgeting for government proposal writing is a critical aspect of obtaining government contracts. Our company finds that may bidders wait until a requirement for government opportunities is published to then scramble for funds. The result is that they try to find the cheapest person out there. There are many technical writers around the country but there are very few that truly understand the government contracting source selection process and how the federal agency thinks.
The end result is that you spend for cheapest proposal writing efforts that have no substance. This leads to no awards and a repetitive cycle that gets no results. As proposal writing consultants, we advise clients to increase the substance and depth of what you propose to the government and then increase the amount of bids. This strategy will increase the probability of award.
Avoid Common Mistakes in Proposal Writing & Teaming
Another way to save thousands of dollars in government proposal writing is avoid pitfalls when teaming with another contractor. This is especially important when small businesses are teaming with large contractors. In this scenario, a large business will probably supply the proposal writer. If you spend funds for proposal writing but let the large company create substantial input, you could run the risk of losing the bid on a SBA size protest. When our consulting team writes government proposals, our attorneys also ensure that the efforts avoid this commonly missed mistake. Simply put, don’t spend thousands in a response to solicitation only to lose on a bid protest. Other common mistakes that can save money in the long run include:
- Hiring proposal writers based solely on technical writing (winning a government bid needs a more high-level and in-depth thought process.)
- Spending money on a ‘fluff’ only government RFP (the government agency knows this approach and will immediately discard your proposal.)
- Using proposal templates must be avoided at all cost. This is a costly mistake simply because each government RFP is unique and specific. Companies utilize templates over and over again in hope of landing millions. The truth is that agencies take the time to conduct market research, write the statement of work to suit a particular requirement.
When you use templates you run the risk of:
- Not addressing specific concerns in the current response to solicitation
- Immediately losing credibility
What Does It Really Take To Succeed in a Government Proposal?
This is the six million-dollar question for many contractors. The key to successful proposal writing is to:
- Understand what the government is asking for. Many contractors respond to government RFPs by attempting to change the requirement to what they want it to say. This is considered ‘the kiss of death.”
- For each solicitation you must create a proposal development strategy that sets you apart from the competition. Only one person gets the bid.
- Show the agency that you present the least risk (quality assurance plans).
- Strengthen your management team. The government wants to know who is in charge (for this particular project.) Many bidders make the subtle mistake of just sending in an every-day organizational chart – another fatal mistake.
- Take advantage of teaming partners or experienced subcontractors. For small businesses, this can be a very powerful way to escape the brutal hurdle of substandard past performance. The Federal Acquisition Regulations and case law allow the Contracting Officer to consider the prime’s past performance (they don’t have to). Note: A winning proposal must avoid allowing subcontractors to appear in control of the project.
In sum, government contractors should budget for meaningful proposal writing services. The adage that “you get what you pay for” applies in responding to government RFPs. Assuming that you have a proposal writer that understands government contracting and procurement (inside and out), the cost of a quality response to a government solicitation ( above $1Million) should cost between $16,000 to $40, 000 ( for contracts above $10million). If you need additional information or looking for high-level government proposal writers, contact us or call toll free at 1-866-601-5518.