Should You Worry About Your Competition on Government Proposals?

If you have been following our company and reading our blogs, you know we support company’s in the Federal sector and with corporate strategic initiatives. As we go about working with Capture and Proposal Development teams, so often we see folks spend countless hours analyzing their competition on an upcoming solicitation. Capture Managers spend lots of time gathering “intel” on the competition. Is this necessary and does it pay off in the end? I and the Agility Development Group think not. The hours worrying about the competition could be better spent on knowing the customer and developing a clear, comprehensive response to the PWS and evaluation criteria.

There are various and sometimes contradictory schools of thought on doing a typical “Black Hat” exercise where team members role play as your competitors and then determine how to offset their strategy in your approach. Proposal teams often stress how they need to “ghost” the competition in their response to the solicitation. Their main reason for doing so is they think they can put a reason for doubt in the evaluators mind about another company bidding on the same effort. Ghosting your competition can be dangerous for it tends to antagonize the evaluator. If you do decide to ghost your competition never ever mention them by name. Techniques to this is another topic for another blog.

It is rare, if ever, that the Source Selection Evaluation Board (SSEB) compares proposals against one another. The fact of the matter is the SSEB evaluates each proposal separately against the stated evaluation criteria. Governing rules and regulations in the DoD Source Selection Procedures, section mandate that the SSEB:

  • Conduct a comprehensive review and evaluation of proposals against the solicitation requirements and the approved evaluation criteria. Identifies strengths, weaknesses, and deficiencies (found in section 3.1.2)
  • Ensures the evaluation is based solely on the evaluation criteria outlined in the RFP
  • Neither the SSEB Chairperson nor the SSEB members shall perform comparative analysis of proposals or make source selection recommendations unless requested by the SSA

To further reinforce why ghosting and worrying about the competition is wasted energy, below is the language from a RFP just released by the APG ACC:

“Quality Evaluation and Rating System: The Government will perform an in-depth review of the proposals. The Technical Evaluation Board will rate each evaluation factor for each proposal against the specified evaluation criteria in the Request for Proposal. The evaluation committee will not compare proposals against each other.”

In summation, the key to getting to “Blue” in your submission is to write the proposal as it is evaluated and clearly demonstrate your understanding of the requirement by addressing what you are going to do, how you are going to do it, and not worry about what the competition is going to propose. We offer training and seminars on this and if you are interested visit our website at for more information or contact one of our team members.

Let us help you succeed!

-Dave Mock

Works Cited
The Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics (OUSD (AL&T)) Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy (2011), “DoD Source Selection Procedures.”