Last week, Red Team VP, Jeff Shen attended the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Technology Acquisition Center (TAC) Industry Day in Eatontown, NJ. During the event, he met with several individuals from the TAC and had the opportunity to interact with their contracting staff, as well as listen to their best practices on proposal preparation. Many valuable takeaways came out of the event.
Proposal Preparation Do’s
- For past performance submissions, it is acceptable to cite an example where your performance was not optimal. However, take the time to turn the negative instance into a positive one. If you share a negative instance from a past performance, the TAC wants to know more than how you worked to resolve the issue. You should couple it with an explanation on how you will ensure similar issues won’t come up in the future.
- If you cite a past performance where you performed as a subcontractor, give the total value of the portion you worked. Also, provide the contact information for the prime, including at least one prime POC the government can contact.
- PRO TIP: Copying content from government sources or Wikipedia is a dead giveaway to evaluator SMEs. They’ll immediately assume you don’t know the subject matter.
Proposal Preparation Don’ts
- Understandably, companies want to include assumptions to address unclear or confusing requirements; take the step to submit questions to the TAC to try and better define any area of the PWS that is unclear. The VA TAC does not like to see proposals with multiple assumptions (especially ones that are not even tied directly to the solicitation or PWS). Placing these assumptions will put your proposal at risk – the government does not want to figure out how to account for your assumptions in the evaluation.
- Don’t include technical assumptions in volumes other than the technical!
- When describing your solution or approach, stay clear of using generic high-level processes. For example, the VA TAC often sees companies just cite CMMI or a generic risk mitigation approach to address a risk management requirement. These often include generic high-level risks and potential impacts. Instead, the VA TAC wants to see actual examples of risk related to the problem and the resultant mitigation strategies. Be specific! The VA TAC knows when companies try to reuse the same process over and over again.
- PRO TIP: Companies won’t get credit for executive summaries for VA proposals. While it might impress an inexperienced evaluator, the VA cannot give you credit for anything you write in an executive summary.