Ironic Issues Affecting All Federal Proposal Managers? (Part 1 of 2)

  |  February 19, 2019

Tim Birdsell–

In this article I want to share some of the many issues I have seen that can bring the federal proposal process to a screeching halt.

Capture Management:

Early in my career, I was working with our Ops group. They were doing a great job of working with the client to develop a new requirement. This gave me the opportunity to develop a White Paper the customer could easily paste into the SOW. We were even able to provide recommended evaluation criteria. This was going to be an easy win! Reading through the RFP after release, it looked almost identical to the document I last saw, except one of the evaluation criteria had changed – I didn’t change it. So, I called the Ops team to ask about the new item. They admitted to adding it to their document. “Great! So you can meet this?” The answer was “No”. WHAT? Why would you put in something you can’t do? We wanted to make it look like we weren’t involved in writing the SOW. Uuuuuugh! I was glad they were a couple thousand miles away and it was close to end of the day.

RFP Release:

We were preparing for an On-Ramp opportunity well in advance. We had the original RFP and sent many questions. The RFP was a train wreck. With 13 years of federal proposal experience, I could not come up with an outline that made sense. Our client understood but wanted me to keep working it until the new CO sent out an amendment. When the RFP came out, the new CO had fixed all the issues from the previous release. But they changed the past performance requirements, which eliminated us from the competition, and we were no longer able to bid. Time to stop by the store for something to drink.

Pink Team Review (PTR):

I am certain that, for every company that has PTRs, there are 3-5 expectations for the material being reviewed. And it doesn’t matter how many times you explain to the writers and reviewers – they are going to do it their way. Even companies that have a well developed process still can’t execute the PTR in agreement. Is it an outline? Annotated mark-up (AMU) outline on steroids? 60% prose? Or some combination? It’s amazing that intelligent people can’t follow the agreed upon guidance from the PTR Kick-Off. I had one executive who had a well documented process for PTR. The policy called for AMUs at pink team. We discussed it at the initial and PTR Kick-Off meetings. Ten minutes after getting the document, he called me to his office and asked where the text was. Grrrrrrrrrr…… This is why federal proposal managers drink!


    L. A. Calkins

    Thank you so much for this article. Being a proposal manager / business owner / multiple hat-wearing person is difficult enough. Adding more unnecessary stuff to managing proposals will do more than drive one to drink; it’ll make you lose your mind. So, thank you, again.