A Guide on How To Read Government Contracts.
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
The FAR mandates that RFPs be divided into
three common types of solicitation processes the government uses in contract
Invitation for bids (IFB)
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
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
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).
printed Government contract can look intimidating.
Different sections of
contract packages are often written by different
sometimes boilerplate is inserted without adequate review.
If you don't have a clear understanding of something,
of the listed procurement specialist on the contract.
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:
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.
go to Section M and find out how you will be
graded and what they think is important.
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
Other, key Government Contract
This is where they tell you how to format your
supplies or services pricing.
This is where they say what it is they want you to propose (the
Statement of Work).
Statement of Work and attachments.
This doesn’t mean that the other sections are not necessary
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
Things to look for
in the Contract sections:
When reading Section L:
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:
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
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.
Includes further descriptions and specifications
of the government's requirements as laid out in Section B.
Outlines specific packaging and labeling
Describes the inspection process and quality assurance requirements.
Lays forth the expected schedule of delivery.
Presents contracting administration data such as government personnel
involved and source of funds.
Details special contract requirements not found elsewhere, such as
special security requirements and limited access to facilities
Outlines optional and required contract clauses; if clauses are
referenced, read them from their original source.
Consists of any attachments that have been appended to the contract
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.
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
Helping you to understand about reading a Government contract or Request for Quotation