Industry Shares Thoughts on Acquisition Process with GSA
More than 300 attended (200 virtually) a GSA hosted Reverse Industry Event July 10 in Washington, DC. During the event, which included three panel sessions, industry representatives shared their perspectives on our acquisition process, along with suggested areas for improvement.
The “To Bid or Not to Bid” panel, moderated by Cos DiMaggio of The Tauri Group, was asked, “What are the challenges associated with participating in a federal market?” Industry panelists commented that a small business can’t look at every federal opportunity available, saying it’s key for the government to communicate the exact moment when a contract is going small business to help everyone with partnering strategies. In many cases, larger companies build relationships with small businesses and build partner teams. This allows small businesses to participate as subcontractors instead of trying to compete as the prime contractor. Panelists also noted the importance of a business evaluating the statement-of-work with the contracting officer to clearly determine what’s actually being asked for and if it’s feasible to bid on.
The “Reading the Tea Leaves: Interpreting Solicitation Requirements” panel, moderated by Ann Sullivan of Madison Services Group, Inc., discussed Requests for Proposals (RFPs), protest causes, market trends and improving acquisition of commercial items. Regarding RFPs, industry panelists advise GSA to “skinny down” proposal requirements and to communicate early and often. Market trends related mostly to speed, including examples of software and cyber security acquisitions completed in four to six weeks and the emergence of short term contracts for cloud services. Industry representatives noted the need to understand where we are headed in the future to determine if they are adequately positioned.
During the “Debriefs: Forecast for Today–Unpredictable with a Chance of Vague” panel, moderated by Elizabeth El-Nattar of TRI-COR Industries, Inc., industry representatives voiced their support for the debrief process. They noted that debriefs allow them to understand how to better position themselves for future opportunities. Losing a contract is disappointing, but effective debriefs from GSA contracting officers–especially in person where tone and body language come across–help clarify what was done well and what wasn’t. The better the debrief, the less likelihood of a protest. Effective debriefs help companies understand what they need to change to excel.
We’d like to thank all of our industry panelists for participating and look forward to more opportunities to engage industry in these types of discussions in the near future. Cultivating these relationships and engaging in these exchanges foster better acquisition outcomes for both government and industry.