Who Do You Write to in a Government Proposal?

When you submit a proposal to a federal agency in response to a Request for Proposals (RFP), your proposal is reviewed a government team of evaluators.  Who are they, and how do you write to them?

As Alan L. Heisig, a veteran proposal consultant, points out, you must accomplish a difficult task by writing to three different types of evaluation audiences.  Before you write your proposal, however, you must keep an important principle in mind – your narrative cannot be written from your company’s point of view.  It must be written from the agency’s perspective to be competitive.

There are three audiences you need to keep in mind.  Heisig has posed the kinds of questions each audience will ask about your proposal.

Source Selection Authority

Can your company achieve the goals in the RFP?

Why is your company best qualified?

Source Selection Evaluation Board

Is the proposal logical and credible?

What are its relative merits?

What are the risks for the government?

Contracting Officer

Is the proposal compliant?

Is the cost reasonable?

Does the proposal raise any regulatory or legal issues?

Because these three types of reviewers probably will be evaluating different parts of your proposal, the proposal team should write to different reviewers, who are described below.

Executive Summary.  The Source Selection Authority will evaluate this section as it relates to the government agency’s mission point-of-view.  All members of the Source Selection Evaluation Board will read it too.  This is your first and perhaps last opportunity to make a powerful impression.

Technical Volume, Management Volume, and Past Performance.  The Source Selection Evaluation Board will read these sections with the goal of eliminating as many proposals as possible.  Here it is important to be complete, compliant, and persuasive.

Cost Volume and Contracting Sections.  The Contracting Officer will make sure that the contract that results is consistent with the agency’s contracting rules and regulations.

Because government proposals are evaluated by different people with varied perspectives, you should write the different sections of the proposal to appeal to different kinds of reviewers.  The Executive Summary, however, should be written in non-technical language for all reviewers, and it needs to shine.