The ABCs of the RFP


Easy as 1, 2, 3

Or simple as “Do re mi”

 ABC, 1, 2, 3


you and me girl!

by Valerie

As you channel your inner Michael Jackson, or any member of the Jackson 5… feel free to shake it, shake it, baby!

Let’s Dig In!

You must perform your due diligence with the RFP.  Yes, you have to read it.
All of it? Maybe.
For any Federal RFP, read the following sections first: C, L, M then H (if there is one).
These are the sections that inform your decision of whether to pursue an RFP.
They’re really, really, really, ridiculously important, as Derek Zoolander might say.

This section contains all the technical requirements and the Statement of Work (SOW).  It’s important to read and ensure you understand all the requirements in this section early in the process. That way, you have the opportunity to ask questions about any requirements or unusual language before the Q&A period ends.

When drafting your response, you want to follow this section exactly.  Be sure to address each line in Section C to confirm you fulfilled all requirements.  Do not regurgitate the RFP; demonstrate knowledge of each aspect.

Section C

Section L

Come on, come on, come on

Let me show you what it’s all about!

Section L has all the details on how to create and submit the proposal.  It’s a road map to keeping your offer in the KO’s hands and not having it rejected before it’s read.  Follow the map closely!

It states how many pages are acceptable for the offer, including how many pages may be in each section.  Font size, the structure of your document, and whether to include items such as resumes for key personnel will be stated.  Then Section L spells out requirements, limitations, and format for those as well.

If you need to break your response up into separate volumes, Section L will let you know. It will also reveal the acceptable formats (word, excel, and .pdf usually) for all your documents.

Is there is an electronic submittal?  If so, Section L specifies what system to use for submitting your offer.

Section M describes how the proposal will be evaluated.

This section is different for every proposal. Pay close attention here.  This is where the Contracting Officers tell you  exactly what to do to get the most points!  Read it carefully.  You never know what golden nuggets of insight you’ll find.

Sometimes, proposals may be viewed more favorably for teaming, in which case it behooves you to find a small or larger business partner.

In all cases, remembering the evaluator is an individual human person is the way to go. Give them what they are looking for!  Remember the iconic scene from Jerry McGuire and “Help them help you!”

For example, some proposals want “surge capacity.” While I’m sure it’s included in the technical write up, did you explicitly say it was surge capacity, call attention to it, emphasize it, and make it easy to find?  Do yourself and the evaluator a favor, make any items specifically listed in Section M easy to find.  Using of a Table of Contents or Matrix with requirements are good ways to make that look neat and tidy in a proposal.

Section M

How to get an A!

“There’s not always a Section H, but when there is, it’s the most interesting section of the RFP.”

Section H

That’s how easy love can be!

If there is no Section H, don’t sweat it!

If there is a Section H, be sure to address it in accordance with the directions from Section L (likely in the technical part of your response, just after Section C).

Section H has special information the contracting officer wants you to know, such as a specific security clearance or job code/ classification.  In some cases, it might restate items from Section C.

I hope you’ll benefit from my years of experience reading RFPs and scoring the vendor proposals on behalf of the government.
I could continue to hammer home how crucial, key, clutch, important, pivotal, monumental, paramount and instrumental* these sections of the RFP are.  For the sake of your sanity and mine, I won’t.
As always, if Laurel Rock can help you with the RFPs and your response, or any other aspect of your government contracting business, please get in touch.
*BAM! Music pun – in a musically themed blog post!  And you are welcome for the earworm.