Government Interface With Industry
Competitive Acquisitions. Early, open, and effective communication results in greater understanding of requirements, efficiently tailored and documented requirements, fewer adversarial relationships, a sense of ownership in the end product, and reduced bid & proposal (B&P) costs. Communication must be established as soon as practicable. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways including:
- Program technical libraries.
- Request for information (RFI) via the Federal Business Opportunities (FEDBizOpps) web site.
- Sources-sought synopsis in FedBizOpps.
- Presolicitation conferences (collective or individual).
- Draft request for proposal posted on Business Opportunities area of the NAWCTSD internet.
- Advance planning briefings for industry (APBIs).
Early industry involvement is an iterative and interactive communication process that spans the entire acquisition life cycle. We must take advantage of industry's knowledge of the available products and technology to help define our requirements and acquisition strategy whenever significant benefits can be realized. The PCO is the single point of contact for communicating with industry. However, the Project Manager and the PCO jointly decide the level of industry involvement needed.
There is information that Government may not exchange with Industry:
- Proprietary information
- Specific weights of evaluation factors and subfactors (contemplated relative weightings are okay)
- Names of the source selection authority, panel chairpersons and evaluation team members
- Proposal evaluation plan details, including worksheet forms
- Any information for which release is inconsistent with procurement integrity requirements, including the identity of and/or number of other firms contemplating proposal submission and/or discussion/speculation about other firms that may submit proposals
Communication Methods: The following communication methods
are used throughout the early industry involvement process:
- NAWCTSD projects should establish a presence in the Business Opportunities area of the NAWCTSD internet web site. This is a central location where key, releasable documents are made available for potential offerors' review. The PM authorizes the use of internet and determines, with PCO concurrence what information and at what stage of development it will be posted. If program information is published on the NAWCTSD internet, then it shall also be publicized by a notice on the FedBizOpps web site. This will ensure that all potential offerors have equal and open access to the information. This information can include things such as:
- Program descriptions
- Proposed contract type, terms and conditions
- Description of acquisition approach/strategy (Contracts personnel must process the DD Form 2579 early in order to avoid changes in acquisition strategy after government has provided information to industry)
- Pertinent historical information
- Proposal instructions, evaluation criteria and approach for assessing past performance information
- Draft documents (SOO, SOW, CDRL, projected government-furnished property (GFP) listings, test plans,
DRFP/RFP or sections thereof, etc.)
- Planned schedules
- Presolicitation conference record and responses to previous industry comments and suggestions.
- Other acquisition documentation that may be available.
- Issue a Request For Information (RFI) in the FedBizOpps that will provide a broad statement of need, briefly describe the government's intentions regarding program/acquisition approach, and identifies key events in the acquisition program schedule. In addition, the announcement requests industry comments on how the government can satisfy it's needs; alternative approaches; technology availability and risk; the identification of cost drivers; and suggestions on ways to enhance or sustain competition.
- Issue a letter to all known potential sources that provides and requests the same information as the RFI, above. Letters to individual prospective offerors must contain identical information to ensure that no firm is given an unfair competitive advantage as a result of government actions.
- Issue a sources sought synopsis.
- Conduct a presolicitation conference as an excellent method of conveying information, enhancing understanding of the requirement, reducing adversarial relationships and building a sense of ownership in the program from both the Government and industry standpoint. Industry conferences are publicized on
the FedBizOpps web site to facilitate wide industry participation. The PCO (or designated representative) conducts the conference and ensures that all potential offerors are offered identical information. A record of the conference is maintained including questions raised and responses provided. The record is provided promptly to all conference attendees and any other potential sources to whom the RFP will be provided.
Conferences with industry may be conducted on a collective or individual basis. If individual conferences are used take special care to ensure that no information is provided to one offeror that is not provided to all. If new information is provided to a firm during the individual conference, the PCO shall promptly provide that identical information to all other potential sources to whom the RFP will be provided. Presentations by individual firms are not precluded. The Government may receive ideas and comments from industry; the dissemination of identical information requirement applies to any information provided to the Government.
Industry comment. Any comments received from industry shall be reviewed and analyzed for possible inclusion in the RFP. A synopsis of significant comments received and Government responses are presented to the IPT for consideration. The PCO provides written feedback on the disposition and rationale
responding to comments via an amendment to the RFP. This feedback principle applies throughout the acquisition process. The iterative and interactive communication during this phase allows industry an opportunity to significantly and beneficially affect the strategy and direction of NAWCTSD programs. In addition, the information conveyed allows industry to engage in longer range planning for proposal preparation and/or to start their proposal sooner. This saves time "on-the-street."
Industry Interface for Sole Source Acquisitions
The purpose of communication with sole source contractors prior to and during the contractor's proposal preparation phase should be to ultimately shorten the fact-finding, analysis, and negotiation lead times. For recurring major annual buys, preproposal interface with the contractor is required and should include the Defense Contact Audit Agency (DCAA), the cognizant Defense Plant Representative Office (DPRO), if applicable, and the appropriate Program Office personnel.
The Contracting Officer's request for proposal shall include a detailed list of data that is to be included in the proposal in order to speed up the analysis and negotiation process. This request should be followed up with direct dialogue with the contractor to provide more explicit instruction or clarifications as necessary. The majority of the fact-finding process should take place, in effect, during the proposal preparation process.
Early and detailed interface with the contractor and government field support personnel, during the proposal preparation phase, should result in
- receipt of audit and field reports in a more timely fashion
- shorter fact-finding periods after proposal receipt,
- reduction in the amount of time the contract specialist spends on analysis for,
and writing of, a pre-negotiation business clearance,
- potential reduction in the time required for negotiation and ultimate execution
of the procurement, and ideally,
- the obligation of funds early in the fiscal year.