Home' Army Acquisition Logistics and Technology Magazine : Army ALT July-September 2012 Contents 136 Army AL&T Magazine
Government should hold vendor days
45 days before the release of a request
for proposal (RFP), she said. "Don't cut
that time short, because they need time
to react, and you need time to react to
what they say.
"Honestly, industry---especially in the
area of services---they're the experts, and
they are happy to share with you to make
a better procurement, to help you get bet-
ter value for the taxpayers' dollars. We are
all taxpayers, so we are in this together,"
Giving industry just a few days to
respond to an RFP is OK if you've been
talking with them for a while.
"No, no, no," Newhart said. "The feed-
back that we get back is that we need time.
And don't put out your RFP on a holiday
weekend. Give industry the time it needs,
especially if you're secure about getting a
good proposal." Otherwise, you risk cre-
ating "the appearance that you don't want
competition, even if maybe you do but
your timeline is a little off."
negotiations after the RFP takes too
"You have to do this upfront planning,
Newhart said. "The key is when you get
your integrated product team together
and develop your milestone schedule, you
don't want to surprise anyone." The result
is a better acquisition outcome, she said.
"Understand your customer ... go to their
staff meetings, take them out for a cup
of coffee," Newhart said. "Just have these
partnering meetings, when you will learn
Government contracting personnel
can't meet one-on-one with a potential
Newhart stated that the FAR specifically
allows one-on-one meetings, but that it's
important to keep in mind exactly where
you are in the acquisition process. Meet-
ings aren't allowed after issuing an RFP,
but before release they are considered a
perfectly legitimate way to find out how
industry views a problem.
Newhart refuted the idea that meeting
one-on-one with a vendor gives the com-
pany a competitive advantage. "It's okay
to meet one-on-one with vendors. We
encourage it," she said. "It's mostly trying
to get information on what's out there,
industry, what's the latest solution? ...
It's very, very helpful information as you
build your requirements."
If the government meets with a ven-
dor, that may lead to an unsolicited
proposal that will delay the entire
"It's not going to happen, because that
puts [the proposal] in a separate 'bucket,'
a different process," she said.
A protest is something to be avoided
at all costs, and it's necessary to limit
conversations with industry to help
In fact, Newhart said, restricting commu-
nication just might increase the chance of
a protest. If the procurement process is
not open, a company may protest out of a
lack of understanding and may well make
up information. "The OFPP lawyers
really encourage more communication
with vendors. So if you're nervous about
this one, talk to your lawyers. They are
When the government awards a con-
tract under the federal schedule, a
debriefing is not needed.
Newhart said government should debrief
at every opportunity; she pointed out
that a lot of agencies are now debriefing
the winning offerors. "It puts everyone
on the same page; they want to do better
next time. There's always a way they can
improve, and they want to know what
that is so they can be more competitive."
For more information, contact Newhart
MICHAEL P. TRUMAN provides contract-
ing support to the U.S. Army Acquisition
Support Center through SAIC. He holds
a B.A. in English from the University of
North Florida and has attended the M.F.A.
Program at George Mason University. He
has worked in various communication
capacities at the Missile Defense Agency; the
Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for
Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, Test
Resource Management Center; the Office
of the Director, Operational Test and
Evaluation; and the Business Transforma-
GIVE INDUSTRY THE TIME IT
NEEDS, ESPECIALLY IF YOU'RE
SECURE ABOUT GETTING
A GOOD PROPOSAL.
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