For newer vendors, bidding on a contract for the first time may seem rather intimidating. Solicitations are generally crowded with unfamiliar Federal Acquisition Regulation terminology and it may not always be obvious to newcomers just how an interested vendor is supposed to submit an offer. The exact method for submitting an offer and the information required will likely differ somewhat from one contract to the next.
To help guide you on your path to submitting a bid, here’s an overview of what you should do if you’re interested in bidding on contracts.
First, read through the entire solicitation and take some notes. Don’t be intimidated by the length, the solicitation is going to tell you everything you need to know: what the requirements are to be eligible for the contract, what information the agency needs to determine whether to award the contract to you, when the information must be submitted and in what format, and what laws and regulations you are agreeing to abide by if you are awarded the contract. While you’re reading through, take note of deadlines and requirements to perform the work. If you miss a deadline or aren’t even qualified for the work required, then there’s little point in focusing your energy on this particular contract.
Next, consider your company’s capabilities. Does your company meet the contract’s eligibility requirements? Are you capable of fulfilling the government’s needs for the products or services specified? Will you be able to fulfill these needs on time and on budget? Can your company afford to perform the work, financially and otherwise? Are there any other current or upcoming projects you are committed to that may conflict with this contract?
If the contract is a good fit for your company, it’s time to determine how to submit a bid. Many solicitations will reference a Federal Acquisition Regulation that governs how vendors are to submit an offer. Look up the FAR referenced on Acquisition Central to get a basic idea of the minimum requirements. Many solicitations will require more information than the minimum mandated by the FAR, so be sure to refer to the actual solicitation before you prepare your offer. The FAR is also useful in determining the format or form to be submitted if it is not clearly defined in the solicitation.
Some contracts on FBO.gov will allow electronic bidding; others will not. It is important to read through the listing on FBO.gov to determine exactly how the purchasing officer wants vendors to submit their offers.
Here are some additional contracting tips to keep in mind:
- Be sure to proofread and double check all the information in your offer. Not only do misspellings and typos look unprofessional, mistakes can disqualify you from the contract and serious errors can even result in penalties.
- When listing quotes, remember the lowest bid does NOT necessarily win the contract every time. Buyers are more likely to consider other factors such as past performance, experience, capability and business stability before they consider price.
- Remember that FBO.gov connects to your SAM registration and DSBS listing. Make sure these are current and complete before you start looking for contracts!
- If you aren’t certain how to proceed, don’t be afraid to reach out to the Point of Contact listed in the solicitation. However, it is recommended that you prepare yourself before you call: be sure you’ve read through the solicitation and write out all your questions ahead of time so you make a good first impression.
- If you’re not ready to take on a big, high competition contract on your own yet, consider other options such as teaming, subcontracting or going after smaller no-bid contracts.