A few of my recent posts have addressed federal agency Requests For Information (RFI) that seemed to reach far beyond what could (or should) be considered reasonable. After all, RFI's and Sources Sought Notices are tools to help agencies assess the viability of their approach to a particular need and/or to determine what part(s) of the marketplace might be capable of (and willing) to respond based on a number of factors.
Here's one issue. While Industry is often willing to play ball and expend company resources to provide the information on the off chance it might provide them at least an opportunity, if not a definable edge, one of the major gripes I hear from companies is "What happened?" In other words, was the response received? Did the Government find the information useful or was it all crap? Most important, what's your next move Mr. or Mrs. Government Agency?
Companies are left hanging with not even a "thanks, but no thanks."
While some may argue that it's the cost of doing business, I agree and I disagree. I have listened for years and years while senior leaders invoked the partnership between Government and Industry as all too critical to everything under the sun. Is this how partners treat one another?
It wouldn't be so bad if the level of distrust that existed did not have substance based on hundreds, if not thousands of lesson's learned. How many times has information submitted in this fashion (good ideas that helped clarify approach) ended up being used by the Government, only to have it awarded under an existing contract or sole-sourced to a company that is already engaged with that agency? Especially when the information that helped push it over the edge came from another company (small or large) who was shut out of the opportunity?
While I've been pondering these and other related issues, one of the folks I chat with regularly came across a piece of information in the course of his market research. It was the "policy" prescribed in the FAR for how market research should be conducted. Generally speaking, it all makes complete sense to me and represents what I experienced during my years on the selling side.
But (you knew there was going to be a "but" right?), one line in FAR Part 10.001 really made me scratch my head. Not so much because of what it says, but more to do with how someone came to issue the RFI's we've seen recently based on this part of the policy specifically about market research activities by government agencies.
FAR 10.001(b) cites "When conducting market research, agencies should not request potential sources to submit more than the minimum information necessary."
Can someone help me with this one? Anybody?
The Chief Visionary
"The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it."
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