In the next installment, I listed the seven stages of the process, and gave general guidance on influencing outcomes to favor your company. The last month, I focused on the first three stages in that process:
- Agency submissions to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) (typically due September 15)
- Submission of the President’s Budget to Congress (at the beginning of each congressional session, typically in January)
- Agency testimony to Congress
- Budget approval, through congressional actions (both Authorization and Appropriation bills)
- Agency creation of formal Procurement Plans for major procurements
- Release of solicitations (RFPs; RPQs; Requests for Bids, others)
- Contract Award and Notices to Proceed
The Congress – (whether Republicans or Democrats are in power) – has an unenviable record of being late to the September 30 deadline for approving funds for the new fiscal year. But eventually, the budget bills move through the authorization (it’s OK in principle to spend the money) and appropriation (the funds may now be provided by the Treasury) processes, and Agencies may actually spend the funds.
Often in anticipation of the release of funds, Agencies begin to build formal plans on how to spend the money. It is illegal, under the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921, as amended, to actually commit funding until the authorization and appropriations bills are signed into law by the President.
Based on these high-level procurement plans, the procuring agencies then release the detailed solicitations. These may be in the form of a Request for Proposal (RFP) – typically the most competitive procurements – or a Request for Quotation. (RFQ). A major difference between these is that Agencies use an RFQ when they know, rather exactly, what they want; for example, a Model 455 Left-Handed Framazoid. Typically, RFPs are awarded on the basis of so-called
“best value”, where the Agency may choose a winner on the basis other than price. RFQs are awarded to the qualifying offer or with the lowest offered price.
A Contract Award is NOT the same as a Notice to Proceed. Often there is a significant time gap between these two, as the Agencies negotiate the fine details of the contract.
My purpose in creating these articles has been to give a very high-level look at the process. There are many layers of detail below each step, not only in practice, but in procurement law. I am not an attorney, and these articles should not be relied upon as an exclusive source of guidance.
This paper relies on the work of Gerald Francis, of GLF Associates, and was a part of a two-day course covering selected topics of business development, and jointly developed by Mr. Francis and the author.