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January 10, 2014 — A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.
By Brett Housholder, Wyoming Entrepreneur program manager
“I found a government contract I’m interested in pursuing, but the request for proposal is long and confusing. Where should I start?” Carrie, Lovell
When putting together a request for proposal (RFP) for a job, it can be a bit overwhelming to look through the document and realize that you will be addressing 13 different sections (lettered A-M). However, by law, agencies are required to prepare RFP solicitations to follow the Uniform Contract Format, and these 13 sections will appear in every proposal document.
The good news is that many of them are pretty straightforward and simple, and there are a few sections of the RFP that should be given special attention. It is important to fill out every RFP completely to be considered for a contract, but pay particular attention to the following portions and make sure you understand and address them thoroughly.
Section C: Statement of Work -- There is nothing in this section that you need to prepare, but this is where you will learn the details of the job. Go through this section in detail and make sure you are indeed able to do the required work. The last thing you want to do is commit to a job that you are not sure that you can complete. It will only cause problems down the line.
Section L: Instructions, Conditions and Notices -- This section outlines exactly what you have to include in your response to the RFP. Make sure you follow all instructions in this section to the letter. It may request certain font sizes, headers, margins, etc. Make note of these and give them precisely what they ask for. If a proposal is submitted and the government deems that it does not meet the requirements outlined in this section, the government can reject it based on that alone.
Section M: Evaluation Criteria -- This is perhaps the most important section for you to understand. Essentially, this section tells you how the team reviewing the proposals will make its decision on who gets the award. It is the same as a professor telling you at the beginning of the semester what factors will determine your grade and what percentage of your grade is assigned to each factor.
Again, it’s important to pay close attention to every section in the RFP. But, if you focus on these three, you will have a clear idea of what the job involves and what you need to include in your proposal to increase chances of winning the award.
A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments is available at http://wyen.biz/blog1/.
The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email firstname.lastname@example.org or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.