There are two types of evaluations in a government solicitation:
- The posted evaluation criteria: In the evaluation section of the solicitation the government will say how proposals will be scored and a winner chosen. This is important and should be shaped but that’s for another class
- The certifications: People don’t talk about certifications as part of the evaluation process. But they are arguably the most important part of the evaluation. For example:
- If a solicitation states that bidders must have a security clearance, or PMP certified, or have had a government accounting audit in the last two years
- Every company that doesn’t meet that threshold can’t even big. they could be the best company, but if their government audit is out of date they can’t win
- Advocate for your Certs: If you convince the government to require that all bidders have a certain obscure certification that you happen to have you can basically get a sole source award (since no one else can bid)
Identify your differentiators/ strengths
- Identify your certifications: There are an astounding number of certs out there:
- Government admin: The government has different standards for everything from accounting to setting prices, to security clearances. Do you have any?
- Process management: The government loves commercial certs related to process management like PMP and ISO 9001. Do you have any?
- Technical: What about corporate technical certs, so certs that demonstrate your company’s expertise in construction or a type of IT?
Review the upcoming acquisition
- Stage agnostic: Regardless of solicitation stage (Forecast, RFI, etc) you can and should think about how each of your certs intersect with:
- What it will take to deliver the work
- What it will take to manage the work
Why your differentiator/strength helps the government
- Price: The government cares about lifetime costs of a project, and if you can convince them that
- Excellent project management and execution will save them money in the long run
- Your certs are evidence that you can deliver excellent project management and execution
- You may be able to convince the government to include your certs in the solicitation requirements
- Note on low price evaluations: The government frequently chooses the lowest priced bidder, however this pricing pressure encourages vendors to cut corners to push their bid prices down. Placing certification requirements in the solicitation can safeguard quality
- Quality: Generally it is easy to connect your certs to solicitation requirements in a way that gives the government confidence that the quality of the solution will be better
- Speed: There generally aren’t many speed advantages
- Administrative risk: Many government contracts require specialized financial and security management. If this is the case the government should have corresponding certs.
FedScout codes finder
SAM.gov (Data download)
SAM.gov (Individual contract checks)
List of further reading