How To Read Government Contracts

 

A Guide on How To Read Government Contracts.

FBO Solicitations

DIBBS - Defense Internet Bid Board System

Viewers For Government Documents

Overview of the Federal Contracting Procurement Process.

The Federal Acquisition Regulation ( FAR )

Basic Government Contracting Requirements

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Getting Started in Government Contracting

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Military Packing Requirement Codes

Military Specification Packaging

 

Misunderstanding the requirements and information requested from federal contract sections can cost you a contract so filling them out improperly, will cost you the chance of being awarded the job.

The format for most Federal Contracts proposals are fixed by Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR).

The FAR mandates that RFPs be divided into Sections A through M.

There are three common types of solicitation processes the government uses in contract packages.

  • Invitation for bids (IFB)

    • Used for applications where price is the most important decision factor; the sealed bid includes a firm-fixed price.
      an IFB is also referred to as a “sealed bid”. It is usually for requirements over $100,000, it is competitive and the lowest bid will win.

  • Requests for proposals (RFP)

    • Require best-value analysis that weighs the level of service, type of service and other factors against a fixed price.
      Request for Proposals  are generally used for requirements of $25,000 or more, is often employed for requirements where the selection of a supplier cannot be made solely on the basis of the lowest price. An RFP is used to procure the most cost-effective solution based upon evaluation criteria identified in the RFP.

  • Requests for quotation (RFQ)

    • Inquiries into fixed price and are not considered binding contracts.
      Instead, the price quoted is considered an offer that the government may wish to negotiate, accept or decline. Request for Quotations are normally sent out when a requisition is received for goods and services valued at less than $25,000. The bid documents are kept simple so that the contract can be awarded quickly. You will find RFQs on the Defense Internet Bid Board System (DIBBS).

A complete printed Government contract can look intimidating.
 
Different sections of contract packages are often written by different people, and sometimes boilerplate is inserted without adequate review.

If you don't have a clear understanding of something, ask questions of the listed procurement specialist on the contract.
Send an e-mail to the listed POC with the solicitation number referenced in the e-mail subject column.

When you get an answer print it out and save it. That way you always have a paper trail. Keep a record of all corospondance.
With experience you will learn how much of a government contract is boilerplate, because Government Regulations say it has to be there, it becomes more manageable.

Section of a Government Contract

When you first find a Request for Proposal (RFP) from the government which you have determined you have interest in Start by reading:

  • Looking at Section A  (usually the cover page). In a box on this page is the due date and delivery point and method. Now you know how much time you have to prepare your response and how to deliver the contract.

  • Next jump to Section L and focus on how they want the proposal organized. Whether you think it makes sense or not, you must follow their outline.

  • Then go to Section M and find out how you will be graded and what they think is important.

  • Pay close attention to Section D Packaging and Marking Requirements. This is an area many contractors fall short in. In some instances packing can cost as much as the product.

  • Look at Section E the inspection process and quality assurance requirements.
    In this section you will find critical information on the inspection ad acceptance requirements of a contract. This also could be a costly process.

     

Other, key Government Contract Sections are:

  • Section B.
    This is where they tell you how to format your supplies or services pricing.

  • Section C.
    This is where they say what it is they want you to propose (the Statement of Work).

  • Section J.
    Statement of Work and attachments.  

This doesn’t mean that the other sections are not necessary or important.

Some sections may have things that you must respond to, like Section K, where they put the “Certifications and Representations” (Where you may have to “Certify” or “Represent” that you are a U.S. firm, a minority firm, that you haven’t defaulted on previous contracts, etc.).

Others parts of the legal form or contract are boilerplate, and you won’t have to read them the same way you will the Statement of Work and Evaluation Criteria.

Things to look for in the Contract sections:

When reading Section L:

Section L spells out the specific preparation requirements for submitting your bid. Read carefully, a misunderstanding could lead to your bid or proposal being rejected. Once you understand all conditions listed in this section, check to see if comparable instructions found in Section C and Section M are consistent.

When reading Section M:

Section M list the factors the government uses to compare each bid and which criteria is most important to them. Understanding the weight attached to each specific bid component (price, materials used, etc.) will allow you to tailor your application answers to maximize your potential for winning.

When reading Section C:

Look for requirements (are they explained, understandable, and/or ambiguous?), contradictions (between requirements as well as Section L and M), feasibility, and opportunities for differentiation between you and your competitors.

When reading Section B:

 Look for correspondence to the requirements and evaluation criteria.

BACK

Sections of a government contract form 33 are listed below.

Section A -- The Contract Form:

In most solicitation applications, Form 33 (Section A) outlines the basic information as set forth by the government agency requesting the bid or proposal. In this document, you should make note of the type of contract, deadline for return of forms, mailing address of the government office and the name of the individual who will serve as your point of contact.

Section B -- Services And Price:

This portion of the solicitation form outlines the specific quantities of items that need to be packaged. Each unique item or service is placed on a separate line and given a Contract Line Item Number (CLIN). Next to each item, you will be asked to place your price in the blank space provided. Be sure to read over the requested option rights as outlined in Section B as well. This will help you understand how the contract might change in the future, including the government’s right to order future packaging services.

BACK

Section C:

Includes further descriptions and specifications of the government's requirements as laid out in Section B.

Section D:

Outlines specific packaging and labeling requirements.

Section E:

 Describes the inspection process and quality assurance requirements.

BACK

Section F:

Lays forth the expected schedule of delivery.

Section G:

Presents contracting administration data such as government personnel involved and source of funds.

Section H:

Details special contract requirements not found elsewhere, such as special security requirements and limited access to facilities

BACK

Section I:

Outlines optional and required contract clauses; if clauses are referenced, read them from their original source.

Section J:

Consists of any attachments that have been appended to the contract solicitation.

BACK

Section K:

Certifications and Representations, You may have to “Certify” or “Represent” that you are a U.S. firm, a minority firm, that you haven’t defaulted on previous contracts, etc.

Section L:

Instructions, Conditions and Notices:
Section L of a government contract lays out the specific preparation requirements for submitting your application. Read this section carefully, as improper interpretation could lead to your bid or proposal being rejected. Once you understand all conditions listed in Section L, check to make sure comparable instructions found in Section C and Section M are consistent.

Section M -- Evaluation Factors:

Section M relays the factors used to determine how the government plans to compare each bid and which criteria is most important to them. Understanding the weight attached to each specific bid component (price, materials used, etc.) will allow you to tailor your application answers to maximize your potential for selection.

BACK

Helping you to understand about reading a Government contract or Request for Quotation (RFP)

 


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