Over the past few years, industry watchers have seen a trend in government contracting.
The federal government is asking for more information from potential bidders, even for a Request For Information. An RFI usually only asks for the basics; it’s the Request For Proposal that gets more in-depth.
Guy Timberlake, the chief visionary officer with the American Small Business Coalition, understands why the government wants more information from the very beginning.
“It’s separating the wheat from the chaff,” Timberlake says. “Who is serious about this [contracting opportunity] and who isn’t?”
What concerns Timberlake is the redundancy — all of that information submitted for the RFI will be repeated in the RFP.
“Why is industry having to produce the same information twice? Creating the same capture team? All for a document that won’t result in an award? It might make them eligible to receive an RFP,” Timberlake says.
In other words, Timberlake says, companies are doing twice the work, just for the chance to take a shot at bidding on a contract with the federal government.
In addition, Timberlake says the government can, at its discretion, pick and choose who to send the information to, or not.
Which, Timberlake adds, means businesses have to do their own due diligence to see if the RFI is worth it.
“Especially now, you need to start looking at the trends within the agencies,” Timberlake explains. “How are they doing their market research? Was it an open bid? Was it limited only to companies that ‘made the cut’ at the RFI level?”
Timberlake says there is an upside and a downside for everyone involved.
“It changes the competition. But if the intent is for government to get more qualified responses, this will likely work,” he says.