How to Influence the Government

As business developers, we often spent a lot of time meeting with our customers and demonstrating an understanding of their requirements. We make it a priority to identify what matters most to them and we try to influence specific requirements to position our company at an advantage.

All of that is important, but many business developers forget one crucial point: they don’t do what it takes to ensure the solicitation is issued on a contracting vehicle (e.g., GSA Schedule 70 or SeaPort-E) that their company currently possesses.

Bringing a Specific Contracting Vehicle to the Forefront

Here are some steps you can take to make sure you avoid this rookie mistake.

1. Evaluate historic award information to determine what contract vehicle has been used by this customer for similar work in the past.
2. Interface with the contracting officer (i.e., KO) and customer to ensure they know what contract vehicles you have at your disposal to meet their needs.
3. Lastly, make sure that you utilize the RFI as an opportunity to get the Government to ask industry what contract vehicles contractors have to provide desired services.

Evaluating Historic Award Information

The best way to determine what contract vehicle is likely to be called on, in this case, is to look at historic award information. This information will tell you exactly what contract vehicle has been used by this customer in the past. Unless influenced otherwise, most customers will continue to use the same contract vehicle they’ve used before.

Interface with the Contracting Officer and Customer

Be proactive about interfacing with the contracting officer to determine what contract vehicles they are considering to use for the procurement. It’s important that the contracting officer knows exactly what contract vehicles you have at your disposable.

Use the customer as an ally to assist in this effort. Take the time necessary to educate the customer, and help them to see the importance of pressuring the contracting officer to explore what contracting vehicles offer the greatest competition. Your goal is to educate the customer that it’s in their best interest to have a contract vehicle identified as early as possible to create the best competition.

Consider telling the customer the following, “You want the best competition to support your requirements, right? The sooner you identify a contracting vehicle and release it to industry; the sooner teams will be created and crafted to meet your specific needs. Hence you get better competition, which results in a better product and/or service.”

Influence and Ensure the RFI is Released

You want to be able to provide the customer and contracting officer information on what contract vehicles industry has to best meet their needs. There’s no better way to do this then by encouraging the contracting officer to issue an RFI to industry.

Focus your argument with the contracting officer on ensuring the RFI contains the following: “Contractors are required to identify the contracting vehicles they currently have that provide access to the services necessary for this procurement.”

When issued, the RFI will provide your company the opportunity to influence the Government to choose a contract vehicle your company has at its disposal. In addition, as addressed in a prior blog, “The Rule of Two,” it provides your company a formal way to shape the procurement towards your social-economic set-aside status.



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