The latest trend in government contracting has been building for a few years now.
The government is asking for more information from potential bidders, and sometimes that discourages companies from competing.
But if your company decides to go for it, Guy Timberlake with the American Small Business Coalition says to know the risks.
“When you respond, it’s at your own discrection, and at your own risk,” Timberlake advises. “There is no expectation from industry that the government will come back and say, ‘Here’s our decision.’ It’s simply going to happen.”
Often, a Request For Information (RFI) never turns into a contract — or even a full-on competition. The government, instead, tacks a task order onto an existing contract.
That might leave you wondering, “Did they just take my approach, and create a task order?”
Timberlake says that’s just one reason why you need to decide early on whether you want to get involved in the first place.
“It really is about taking your current bid/no bid approach, or go/no go approach, and enhancing it to include RFIs and sources sought notices at the early level,” Timberlake says.
If you don’t see a fit, the contract may not be for you.
“If you don’t know the customer, if they don’t know you, if you don’t have any in-building experience or never worked in that agency before, or if you’ve never done any work of a similar size and scope, why would you respond to the RFI?” Timberlake explains.
The government is not required to respond to the documents you submit for a Sources Sought Notice, Timberlake says, because it isn’t really a competition at this point.