Pre-Award Tips for Potential Government Contractors

Have you ever wondered what advice a Contracting Officer would give you?

Carter Merkle, of Oklahoma’s Bid Assistance Network, shares the following Pre-award tips provided at a briefing by Tinker Air Force Base. Taking these to heart can help you avoid some of the most common mistakes made by small business vendors – mistakes that result in lost contract awards every day.

  • Read the solicitation carefully and do so prior to the pre-proposal meeting. Each solicitation is unique. Identify any provisions which seem unclear or about which you have any questions. Take all instructions seriously, including details such as page limits, formatting requirements, and submission procedures.
  • Ask questions during the solicitation phase and ensure that you understand all of the requirements.
  • Know which evaluation criteria are more important than others. If you are uncertain – ask.
  • Know the basis of award as it is discussed in the solicitation. Is it “Lowest Price Technically Acceptable” (LPTA) – or is it the “Trade-Off Method”? Will the award be made with – or without – discussions? Depending upon the specifics, you may – or may not – have the opportunity to improve your proposal during the evaluation phase.
  • Provide past experience relevant to the Statement of Work/Specifications.
  • Consider Joint Ventures or Teaming as a subcontractor with another firm to gain experience in a specific field, with a specific agency, or in contracting overall.
  • Know that Contracting Officers take Past Performance very seriously. They will make phone calls to confirm your performance record.
  • Highlight any deficiencies in your ability to perform the Statement of Work up front and explain how they will be mitigated.
  • Make sure that you understand the risks if you are awarded the contract – both to the government and to your business.
  • Do not fill your proposal with “fluff”; the source-selection board does not want to see marketing material/language. Make sure you provide all of the information required by the solicitation; anything missing will result in a deficiency.


For help in understanding and responding effectively to solicitations, contact your local PTAC.


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C Merkle Headshot
Carter Merkle has been Program Manager of the Oklahoma Bid Assistance Network PTAC since 2002.  Previous to that, he managed the agency’s eCommerce training initiative, in addition to work in retail and corporate management and journalism.

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