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Solicitation breakdown: Better understanding means better business

Vendors are often confused by the various terms used for solicitations, which isn’t surprising since they often differ per state or locality. However, an important first step in responding to solicitations is to understand the difference between them. Whether a request for proposals (RFP), a request for qualifications (RFQ), an invitation to bid (ITB), or one of the many others, each type of solicitation indicates a different level of engagement by the vendor and expectation by the issuing government. Here’s a rundown of key solicitation types and their subtle differences.

Request for Information

A request for information (RFI) is an inquiry made by a government entity to the vendor community in order to gather information and better understand a product or capability. An RFI is typically released when the government is unsure of which path to pursue and seeks input from vendors about the business environment, best practices, and current solutions. An RFI is often followed by a formal solicitation, but rarely results in a direct contract award.

Request for Expression of Interest

Similar to an RFI, a request for expression of interest (RFEI) is an optional stage that is carried out before a formal solicitation is released. It may be issued in place of an RFI or after an RFI to gauge vendor interest on a potential solicitation. An RFEI can also be used to gather information about a project and possible solutions, similar to an RFI. In some cases, governments may use an RFEI to short-list vendors for a subsequent solicitation. As a result, it is important to clarify with the government what the purpose of the RFEI is to avoid being excluded from participating in the future procurement process.

Request for Proposals

A request for proposals (RFP) typically occurs when a government needs to implement a service or solution, but is unsure of the best way to do so. Through the RFP process, vendors propose their recommended solution and pricing through a detailed proposal. With RFPs, price is not the only consideration for awarding a contract; the government also considers a vendor’s solution, qualifications, previous experience, and any other distinguishing skills. It is important for proposals to be thorough and well defined, as the RFP process allows vendors to set themselves apart from their competition. Negotiations with selected vendors often take place after the proposal deadline, and a contract is ultimately awarded. Governments may also call these types of solicitations requests for offers (RFO) or requests for responses (RFR), but RFPs, RFOs, and RFRs all have the same basic format and are used to meet a business need an entity has.

Invitation to Bid/Invitation for Bid/Request for Bids

Invitations to bid (ITBs), invitations for bids (IFBs), and requests for bids (RFBs) are released when a government entity knows exactly what it wants to procure. This can also be called a request for quotations (RFQ). All of these solicitations include specifications of the government’s desired service or solution – including type and quantity – and an award is typically made based on price. As a result, no discussions or negotiations take place with ITB, IFB, or RFBs; therefore, the procurement cycle from solicitation to contract award is typically much shorter than with RFPs.

Request for Qualifications

Requests for qualifications (RFQ) are often carried out as a pre-qualification process in order to identify qualified vendors for a subsequent solicitation. These pre-qualified vendors are placed on a shortlist that the government then uses for future projects. The government sometimes uses these lists for multiple projects and will reopen the RFQ list to new vendors over a period of several years.

In some cases, governments issue draft versions of solicitations prior to releasing the final solicitation. This is done in order to obtain feedback from the vendor community on requirements, technical components, and scope of the solicitation. It is important for vendors to participate in this stage of the process in order to begin building relationships with the government’s project and the procurement staff, which can be beneficial when the formal solicitation is released and the vendor selection process begins.

You can learn more about current procurement opportunities in the GovWin IQ State and Local Opportunities database. Not a Deltek subscriber? Click here to learn more about Deltek's GovWin IQ service and gain access to a free trial.

 

GovWin Recon - February 27, 2015

GovWin Recon, produced by Deltek's Federal Industry Analysis (FIA) team, is designed to support awareness and understanding of the issues impacting the government and the contractors that serve it. Recon highlights key developments surrounding government technology, policy, budget and vendor activities.

Headlines beginning with an * include quotes from Deltek analysts.

Federal IT:

Agency News:

Vendor News:

Cybersecurity:

Cloud Computing / Data Center Consolidation / Virtualization:

Big Data / Analytics:

Defense / C4ISR / Embedded Technology:

Contracting / Acquisition:

Mergers and Acquisitions:

GovWin Recon is Deltek's daily newsletter highlighting federal government contracting news and analysis from around the government contracting world. Get it delivered to your e-mail inbox, free!

GovWin Recon - February 26, 2015

GovWin Recon, produced by Deltek's Federal Industry Analysis (FIA) team, is designed to support awareness and understanding of the issues impacting the government and the contractors that serve it. Recon highlights key developments surrounding government technology, policy, budget and vendor activities.

Headlines beginning with an * include quotes from Deltek analysts.

Federal IT:

Agency News:

Vendor News:

Cybersecurity:

Cloud Computing / Data Center Consolidation / Virtualization:

Big Data / Analytics:

Mobility:

Transparency and Performance:

Defense / C4ISR / Embedded Technology:

Contracting / Acquisition:

Legislation:

Mergers and Acquisitions:

State and Local:

AEC News:

GovWin Recon is Deltek's daily newsletter highlighting federal government contracting news and analysis from around the government contracting world. Get it delivered to your e-mail inbox, free!

Defense Business Transformation Lacks Clear Priorities

The Defense Department (DOD) spends billions of dollars annually on business systems. Since 2005, investments aiming to transform the way the DOD does business have been called out on a high risk list for government efforts. Despite making some improvements in recent years, the DOD’s business modernization initiatives continue on a precarious path. 

Every two years, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) identifies government programs that are more vulnerable to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement or need changes to address major challenges. Recently, the GAO released its updated list of these programs. Not surprisingly, the GAO’s High Risk List for 2015 includes several efforts related to DOD business transformation (e.g. DOD Approach to Business Transformation, DOD Business Systems Modernization, DOD Financial Management). 

Since concerns about defense business transformation arose, the DOD has established management responsibilities and issued an updated strategy for business transformation. Despite these steps, a number of elements contribute to the DOD’s business transformation appearing to be on uncertain footing. Over the past several years, turnover has been high in the Chief Management Officer (CMO) and Deputy Chief Management Office (DCMO) as well as within the Office of the DCMO. This personnel issue is compounded by the fact that no performance management practices are in place. In the absence of leading performance management practices, DOD’s CMO and DCMO have neglected to communicate priorities for its business goals. Further, the focus of leadership has been on reviewing modernization efforts rather than monitoring the overall progress of the defense business functions. 

Over the last year, Defense Business Council meetings have occurred with more consistency and have increasingly emphasized the performance of DOD’s business functions. However, no plans are currently in place to correct the issues that have been hindering business transformation progress. (The lack of corrective actions plans are particularly significant in the eyes of the government watchdog organization. These plans would meet one of the five criteria for this area to be removed from GAO’s High-Risk List.) 

Ultimately, until the DOD addresses numerous issues underlying its approach, challenges will continue to arise around its business transformation efforts. These weaknesses include the continued use of outdated processes and systems for key business functions, like financial management and logistics. For more insight on DOD business systems modernization and efforts across the government, check out Deltek’s recent Federal Industry Analysis report Federal Enterprise Business Systems, 2015.

 

Originally published for Federal Industry Analysis: Analysts Perspectives Blog. Stay ahead of the competition by discovering more about GovWinIQ. Follow me on twitter @FIAGovWin.

 

What Agencies Really Spend on Cloud: A Case Study

Several years ago, Deltek’s Federal Industry Analysis team developed a sophisticated system for estimating what the actual federal information technology budget is every year. FIA did this because the figures released by the Office of Management and Budget capture only a portion of yearly IT spending, meaning government contractors had only part of the picture to work with when it came time to set strategic goals. The deficiencies in OMB-provided estimates on cloud computing spending are no different than the overall IT figures. They also don’t capture everything that is being spent, leading vendors to develop flawed assumptions about where money is going toward cloud efforts.

Basing strategic goals on the estimates provided by federal agencies is a big unstated risk to government contractors. Bid and proposal dollars may be pushed in the wrong direction, sales targets may be set unrealistically high/low, etc., and yet these kinds of decisions are made all the time using the government’s partial data. How far off are the government figures when it comes to spending on cloud?  Let’s look at an example.

According to the Department of the Interior, it spent approximately $11.4 million on cloud services in FY 2014. The programs on which the money was spent are:

So far so good, right? Sure, however, the numbers you see are only part of the picture. According to data from Deltek’s Cloud Computing Database the actual amount that DOI customers spent on cloud services in FY 2014 was at least $21.6 million; $10 million more than was reported by the DOI. The table below shows these investments.

Comparing the two tables we can see that the investments listed in table one don’t match those in table two. This is because DOI contracting personnel reported spending data by service rendered (table two), not by investment title. It follows, therefore, that an investment called “Cloud Hosting & Support Services” could related to one of the program investments mentioned above.

The point of this exercise is to offer a word of warning when it comes to strategic planning. The fact is that the IT spending data provided by federal agencies is incomplete, meaning it can strongly skew our view of where a respective agency’s IT investment dollars are going. Understanding this can make the difference between setting realistic and unrealistic goals, so having the right tools is critical for making the best possible decisions.

 

GovWin Recon - February 25, 2015

GovWin Recon, produced by Deltek's Federal Industry Analysis (FIA) team, is designed to support awareness and understanding of the issues impacting the government and the contractors that serve it. Recon highlights key developments surrounding government technology, policy, budget and vendor activities.

Headlines beginning with an * include quotes from Deltek analysts.

Federal IT:

Agency News:

Vendor News:

Cybersecurity:

Cloud Computing / Data Center Consolidation / Virtualization:

Health IT:

Big Data / Analytics:

Mobility:

Transparency and Performance:

Defense / C4ISR / Embedded Technology:

Contracting / Acquisition:

Legislation:

Mergers and Acquisitions:

State and Local:

AEC News:

GovWin Recon is Deltek's daily newsletter highlighting federal government contracting news and analysis from around the government contracting world. Get it delivered to your e-mail inbox, free!

Industry Leaders Chime In on Likely Federal CIO Priorities

New federal CIO Tony Scott is being welcomed with cautious optimism by federal IT industry leaders.  Most believe he has the right skills and experience for the job. 

A recent Federal Times article speculates about Scott’s likely priorities as CIO:  cybersecurity, IT workforce, and IT project performance. 

Cybersecurity heads the list of expected priorities for the new federal CIO.  Backed by administration support, cybersecurity is allotted $14B in the president’s FY 2016 budget request.  Protecting federal data and networks is a high priority for the administration.   Scott will play a vital role in coordinating cyber efforts, capitalizing on technology and communicating policies to department and agency CIOs.  Forums where CIOs can share best practices and challenges, such as the CIO council, will be very valuable in these endeavors.

Scott is also expected to address IT workforce issues.  To bring government to the cutting edge of technology, the IT workforce must undergo continual training and also bring in private sector expertise.  According to OPM, nearly 50% of the federal IT workforce is over 50 years old.  While age doesn’t limit expertise or creativity, it does call for continual training to be on the cutting edge.  Industry hopes that that training extends beyond the traditional IT workforce and stretches to contract, acquisition and program personnel.

Federal industry executives also believe Scott will focus on IT project performance.  They suggest that the focus should be on using data to improve projects rather than looking at reporting requirements as just required mandates.  

Industry experts also see the new CIO as playing a role in the implementation of new digital service teams across agencies.  The federal budget request calls for creating teams at 25 agencies.     

Scott is the first federal CIO who comes to government with experience as a CIO.  He brings a private sector perspective to the business of government, along with commercial best practices.    “He’s going to be looked at as somebody to be a coordinator and also a leader in terms of identifying what are the top priorities and really leading the federal CIO community,” according to Jason Kimrey area director of Intel Federal.   Federal and industry IT leaders are hopeful that Scott will make a positive and lasting impact on federal IT.

 

GovWin Recon - February 24, 2015

GovWin Recon, produced by Deltek's Federal Industry Analysis (FIA) team, is designed to support awareness and understanding of the issues impacting the government and the contractors that serve it. Recon highlights key developments surrounding government technology, policy, budget and vendor activities.

 

Headlines beginning with an * include quotes from Deltek analysts.

 

Sequestration / Budget:

 

 

 

Federal IT:

 

 

Agency News:

 

 

Vendor News:

 

 

Cybersecurity:

 

 

Health IT:

 

 

Transparency and Performance:

 

 

Waste, Fraud and Abuse:

 

 

Defense / C4ISR / Embedded Technology:

 

 

Contracting / Acquisition:

 

 

State and Local:

 

 

AEC News:

 

 

 

GovWin Recon is Deltek's daily newsletter highlighting federal government contracting news and analysis from around the government contracting world. Get it delivered to your e-mail inbox, free!

 

State and Local AEC Snapshots: Las Vegas, Nev.

Though cities nationwide felt the one-two punch of the Great Recession and its aftermath, Las Vegas, Nevada, was hit particularly hard. Aside from tourism naturally dwindling in the wake of economic collapse, property values in Sin City and surrounding areas also plummeted, resulting in a high number of residents fleeing the state. With Las Vegas’ biggest draw being casinos and entertainment, the city needed to find a way to bring people back – both to live and visit.

In fiscal year 2014, Las Vegas spent $180 million on construction within parks and recreation, far more than any other construction category (see chart, below). General public building construction ranked second for spending, at approximately $120 million. Please note that this data, provided by the U.S. Census, may include projects developed by various city agencies, though categorized under one label.

Las Vegas has upped the ante with spending on parks and other facilities in hopes of attracting new residents. It’s a smart move considering parks and recreational development often boosts quality of life and, in turn, attracts more people to houses that have dipped in value. The overall idea is to increase demand, which will increase property value and, ultimately, revenue for the city.

While Las Vegas is seen as a tourist destination, the city must also focus on improving infrastructure for non-tourists and businesses. The city is currently investing in infrastructure to attract Major League Soccer (MLS), National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Football Association (NFL) teams. While nothing is guaranteed, making a play to offer more parks and entertainment facilities makes the city more alluring for visitors, residents and businesses alike.

Architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) firms, both in the public and private sector, should bet on Las Vegas in the coming years. Construction is already beginning in the public sector and will only increase if the city lands a professional sports team. AEC vendors would be wise to monitor procurement activity and population increases in Las Vegas, all of which point toward more potential business.

You can learn more about current procurement opportunities in the GovWin IQ State and Local Opportunities database. Not a Deltek subscriber? Click here to learn more about Deltek's GovWin IQ service and gain access to a free trial.

 

 

GovWin Recon - February 23, 2015

GovWin Recon, produced by Deltek's Federal Industry Analysis (FIA) team, is designed to support awareness and understanding of the issues impacting the government and the contractors that serve it. Recon highlights key developments surrounding government technology, policy, budget and vendor activities.

Headlines beginning with an * include quotes from Deltek analysts.

Sequestration / Budget:

Federal IT:

Agency News:

Vendor News:

Cybersecurity:

Cloud Computing / Data Center Consolidation / Virtualization:

Mobility:

Transparency and Performance:

Defense / C4ISR / Embedded Technology:

Contracting / Acquisition:

Legislation:

State and Local:

GovWin Recon is Deltek's daily newsletter highlighting federal government contracting news and analysis from around the government contracting world. Get it delivered to your e-mail inbox, free!

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