Government–Industry Communications
(OFPP’s “Ten Misperceptions”)

There is a failure to communicate.

Misconception #1

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Government Perspective

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Vendor Perspective

Questions educate competitors

Fact # 1

“Government officials can generally meet one-on-one with potential offerors as long as no vendor receives preferential treatment.” 

Misperception # 2

“Since communication with contractors is like communication with registered lobbyists, and since contact with lobbyists must be disclosed, additional communication with contractors will involve a substantial additional disclosure burden, so we should avoid these meetings.” 
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Government Perspective

Vendors only want to get rich.
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Vendor Perspective

Of government reluctance to have meaningful dialog

Fact # 2

Disclosure is required only in certain circumstances, such as for meetings with registered lobbyists. Many contractors do not fall into this category, and even when disclosure is required, it is normally a minimal burden that should not prevent a useful meeting from taking place.” 
“The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
-George Bernard Shaw

The bottom line is this: to harness the power
of industry requires communication.

Misperception # 3

“A protest is something to be avoided at all costs -even if it means the government limits conversations with industry.” 
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Government Perspective

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Vendor Perspective

Protests protect against government incompetence

Fact # 3

“Restricting communication won’t prevent a protest, and limiting communication might actually increase the chance of a protest –in addition to depriving the government of potentially useful information.” 

Misperception # 4

“Conducting discussions/ negotiations after receipt of proposals will add too much time to the schedule.” 
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Government Perspective

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Vendor Perspective

Of C.O.s who dodge discussions

Fact # 4

Whether discussions should be conducted is a key decision for contracting officers to make. Avoiding discussions solely because of schedule concerns may be counter-productive, and may cause delays and other problems during contract performance.”

DFARS §215.306
"For acquisitions with an estimated value of $100 million or more, contracting officers should conduct discussions"

Misperception # 5

“If the government meets with vendors, that may cause them to submit an unsolicited proposal and that will delay the procurement process.” 
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Government Perception

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Vendor Perception

FAR §15.603
Unsolicited proposals allow unique and innovative ideas that have been developed outside the Government to be made available to Government agencies for accomplishing their missions. Unsolicited proposals are offered with the intent that the Government will enter into a contract with the offeror for research and development or other efforts supporting the Government mission.

Fact # 5

“Submission of an unsolicited proposal should not affect the schedule. Generally, the unsolicited proposal process is separate from the process for a known agency requirement that can be acquired using competitive methods.”

Misperception # 6

“When the government awards a task or delivery order using the Federal Supply Schedules, debriefing the offerors isn’t required so it shouldn’t be done.”
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Government Perspective

Too busy!
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Vendor Perspective

Feedback enables future improvement
FAR §1.102-3
The definition of acquisition team includes contractors. Acquisition is a continuum “beginning with the customer and ending with the contractor of the product or service.”

“Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time.” 
-George Bernard Shaw

Fact # 6

“Providing feedback is important, both for offerors and the government, so agencies should generally provide feedback whenever possible.”

Misperception # 7

“Industry days and similar events attended by multiple vendors are of low value to industry and the government because industry won’t provide useful information in front of competitors, and the government doesn’t release new information.”
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Government Perspective

Of vendors
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Vendor Perspective

Of industry day

Fact # 7

“Well-organized industry days, as well as pre-solicitation and pre-proposal conferences, are valuable opportunities for the government and for potential vendors –both prime contractors and subcontractors, many of whom are small businesses.”

Misperception # 8

“The program manager already talked to industry to develop the technical requirements, so the contracting officer doesn’t need to do anything else before issuing the RFP.”
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Government Program
Manager’s Perspective:

"its only paper..."
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Vendor Perspective

Fact # 8

“The technical requirements are only part of the acquisition; getting feedback on terms and conditions, pricing structure, performance metrics, evaluation criteria, and contract administration matters will improve the award and implementation process.”

Unreasonable Risk Allocation?

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Misperception # 9

“Giving industry only a few days to respond to an RFP is OK since the government has been talking to industry about this procurement for over a year.”
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Government Perspective

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Vendor Perspective

Fact # 9

“Providing only short response times may result in the government receiving fewer proposals and the ones received may not be as well-developed -which can lead to a flawed contract. This approach signals that the government isn’t really interested in competition.”

Misperception # 10

“Getting broad participation by many different vendors is too difficult; we’re better off dealing with the established companies we know.”
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Government Perspective

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Vendor Perspective

Incumbent contractors

Fact # 10

“The government loses when we limit ourselves to the companies we already work with. Instead, we need to look for opportunities to increase competition and ensure that all vendors, including small businesses, get fair consideration.”

Summary of Misperceptions

Failure to appreciate the symbiotic relationship between industry and government

Procurement is complex; to reduce risk, communicate