When you are ready to write your proposal, there are two situations that you should be prepared for: writing a proposal when the solicitation is an Invitation for Bid, and writing a proposal when the solicitation is a negotiated bid, such as a Request for Proposal.
Writing a proposal for an IFB
When the solicitation is an Invitation for Bid, which is the case most of the time for small businesses, writing your proposal will consist of filling out the forms that you received from the government in the bid package and sending them in.
But it's not as simple as that sounds. Even though all you basically have to do is fill in some blanks on forms that the government has provided and send back the bid package, you must still be very careful. As we pointed out earlier, when you send back the bid package, the government will look at it as if you had put it together yourself and as if they are seeing it for the first time.
To give you a first-hand look at some of the standard forms that you can expect to see with an IFB, we are reproducing some of the more common ones, along with a line-by-line explanation of how to fill them in.
The examples we'll look at here are completing DD Form 1707 and Standard Form 33.
Filling out DD Form 1707
The first form that we will look at is DD Form 1707, Information to Offerors or Quoters. This is the cover sheet that accompanies the solicitation itself and is mainly informational. One of its main purposes is to gather information on why a company does not want to bid. This form is used for most Department of Defense (DoD) large dollar solicitations, which are those over $100,000.
Let's start with the cover page and proceed block by block.
Block 1: Solicitation number: We are using the example number SP0700-00-Q-HE22. This is the number that will identify this specific solicitation throughout the life of the buying action. Any amendments to the solicitation will use this number plus the amendment number as the identifier.
SP0700, the first six alpha/numeric sequence, identifies the buying office where the order originates. The second grouping, 00, is the fiscal year the solicitation was issued. The single alpha character Q indicates what type of solicitation it is.
- B = Invitation for Bid
- P = Purchase Order
- C = Contract
- Q = Request for Quote
- R = Request for Proposal
The last alpha/numeric sequence, HE22, is the sequential order number for that solicitation.
Block 2: Type of solicitation: As previously mentioned, there are three types of bid packages:
- Invitation for bid (IFB): This is a method of contracting that consists of competitive bids, public opening of bids (yes, you can be there when they are opened), and award. Most of these bids are for buys over $100,000. With this type of bid, the government knows specifically what it wants, how many it wants, and where it wants them sent. The award is based on price and price-related factors.
- Request for proposal (RFP): The government uses this type of contracting when it is not sure of what it wants and is looking for a way to talk to you on how you plan to fulfill their need for the item or service. This type of bid may be competitive or non-competitive.
- Request for auote (RFQ): This method is often used to solicit prices or market information. The quote submitted does not constitute an offer. Therefore, it cannot be accepted by the government to form a binding contract. An SF 26, which is a two-signature document, would have to be used.
Tools to use
Block 3: Date/time response due: This information, supplied by the buying office, tells you when you need to have your offer into the buying office.
The next section titled "Instructions" contains information about responding.
Block 4: Issuing office: This is the office that issued the solicitation.
Block 5: Item to be purchased: This is a brief description of what is needed.
Block 6: Procurement information: This is where you will find out which, if any, restrictions or set-asides apply to this solicitation. It will be marked either "restricted" or "unrestricted." If it is marked "unrestricted," that means that any business, large, small, or in between, can bid on it. If it is marked "restricted," that means it is earmarked as a set-aside for either Small Business or Hub Zone Concerns, or restricted to 8(a) firms.
Block 7: Additional information: In this block you will usually find any additional information needed to bid on the contract, such as where to send the bid, when it has to be received, who to contact or what website to visit.
Block 8: Point of contact information: Here will be listed the buyer's name, address and telephone number. We should also add that, these days, you may only get an e-mail address for the buyer, and it's likely that the buyer might accept inquiries only in that form.
Block 9: Reason for no response: As previously mentioned, if you are not going to bid on the solicitation, for whatever reason, be sure to fill out this block and send the form back to the buyer. This is very important! If you don't, you will probably be dropped from the buyer's bidders list and have to start all over again.
Most forms include a "Reason for No Response" section or block. (For example, in the case of DD Form 1707, this section is in Block 9.) If you decide not to bid on a solicitation, for whatever reason, be sure to fill out the "Reason for No Response" section of the form and send the form in anyway. The government buyer will thank you and, better yet, you will not be dropped off the bidders' list the next time an opportunity comes up. Some buyers give you only one chance. If you don't send in the form to indicate that you are not responding to a bid, you go back to "Go" and start over.
If the buyer gives you an e-mail address, you may send in your response that way, but remember to identify your company with your name, the company name, and your CAGE Code.
Block 10: Mailing list information: Here you indicate whether you want to be left on future mailing lists for an item. Respond either yes or no.
Block 11: Responding firm: This is you! This is where you fill in your information, including your bid price.. Review the Bid. You need to read and understand all the applicable sections. Remember that the sections of Block 11, when taken together, make up the whole solicitation and resulting contract.
Back side of form: The back side of the form is set up as a fold-over mailer. Just address it, put your stamp on it, and drop it in the mail.