Prepare for a successful proposal debrief

Implementing a Task Order Management System
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Prepare for a successful proposal debrief

You are entitled to a post-award debrief from the Government if you submit a written request within three days after being notified whether you won or lost. FAR 15.506 requires the Government to officially provide you feedback on your proposal. During the debrief, the government contracting officer and other evaluators will discuss the strengths and weaknesses they found in your proposal. They provide the overall evaluated price and technical ratings given to the winner along with their rationale for award. Knowing what to expect and how to prepare enable you to get the most value out of information provided during the debrief.

Always request a debriefing – win or lose. One of the benefits of attending a debrief whether or not you are the awardee is your ability to gather information you can use to improve the quality of future proposals. It is an opportunity to continue to building your relationship with the government customer and to make them more aware of your products and services. It also enables you to identify aspects of the proposal that should be carried over to contract performance. For example, if the customer indicates that your use of graphics make your solution easy to understand, then you may want to consider using similar graphics in the contract deliverables you provide the customer.

Understand what information the Government is required to disclose at the debrief. This information includes the:

  • evaluation of the significant weaknesses and deficiencies in your proposal
  • overall evaluated cost or price and technical rating of your proposal and, if you lost, the awardee’s proposal
  • evaluation of your past performance information
  • reasonable responses to relevant questions regarding whether the agency followed the terms of the solicitation and applicable law.

Information the Government is prohibited from providing includes anything that would be exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. For example, prohibited information would include trade secrets, privileged or confidential processes, and privileged financial information.

Prepare questions before the debrief.  For example, if you lost, your questions may focus on learning if all proposals were consistently evaluated against the criteria included in the solicitation or why the other offer received the award. Ask questions about the features of your offer help you determine if your assumptions were correct, as well as why the Government liked or didn’t like these features. Possible questions may include:

  • How many bids were received?
  • What was your overall score?
  • What was the winner’s score?
  • How does your score rank you against the other bidders?
  • Did the winner have the lowest price?
  • What differentiated you from the other bidders?
  • Was your proposal easy to evaluate and score?
  • Did it contain any content that should have been substantiated better?
  • Does the customer have any recommendations to help you improve future proposals?

Listen carefully and take notes. You will only find the information you receive helpful if you understand it completely and accurately. Listen to the presentation of material before asking your questions, clarifying anything that wasn’t clear to you. Don’t use this as an opportunity to debate the outcome with the customer. It won’t help you to try to convince the customer the wrong decision was made. Keeping thorough and careful notes will help you remember what was presented so you can apply what you learned.

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