What does "Number of Offers Received" mean?
This may not seem like one of the more important posts I've done, but if you take a moment to read a bit further, you might change your mind. Especially if you are a company currently doing or trying to do business with federal agencies or companies selling to federal agencies.
Before I get started though, if any government acquisition professionals would like to help me out with this one, that would be awesome because I don't want to read into this more than what is there.
You might ask yourself "What's the big deal?" as it only pertains to a number. Seriously, how could a simple number placed in a box on a web form with the phrase "Number of Offers Received" next to it be of any real significance?
If that simple number in the box on that web form is part of the Federal Procurement Data System, the repository of information submitted by federal agencies about the buys they are making for goods and services, it would get my attention. Actually, it already did.
Let's say for example we were trying to find out the level of competition for previous buys for things your company sells, and that box had a number in it. Depending on what the number looked like, you might be inclined to consider changing part of your strategy for a particular organization or part of your offering. Of course, you would use more than just that piece of information to do that.
Still not seeing what's potentially in it for you?
Let's try this. I'll go into the FPDS-NG system and do a simple search to find out how many purchases have been made by federal and defense agencies this fiscal year, where the report is set to look for values where the "Number of Offers Received" is fewer than three. Hold on one second while I add this parameter, set the sort factor to this, and have it calculate that column, okay, got it. Wow!
Umm, so the system is telling me the total dollar value of competitive and non-competitive awards issued this fiscal year where fewer than three offers were received is $51,501,890,689.35. If I narrow that search to just competitive opportunities (not including follow-on's) it gives me, $28,501,603,581.72. If I narrow the competitive search even more and exclude existing contracts such as GSA Schedules, BOAs, BPAs. IDIQs, etc. and only consider definitive contracts and purchase orders, I get $16,684,176,056.56. This is YTD for FY13.
These are big numbers, no matter how you slice them, and I can narrow it even more to look at a specific state, agency, NAICS Code, vendor, keyword, I think you get the idea.
So, it's not that I actually want to know what "Number of Offers Received" means, I need to understand what constitutes a "received offer" for federal agencies. The user guide for the FPDS-NG systems indicates that agencies are to "Enter the actual number of offers received." and further says "These are the actual offers/bids you received in response to the solicitation or number of multiple award contracts/schedules received for Delivery Orders."
Depending on what "received" actually means and depending on the rules in effect for agencies as it relates to populating this field, this could be pretty significant information to append to their current market research efforts.
What will you do if you find out a current or prospective customer has purchased several million dollars worth of what you offer in a no competition, limited competition, or worse, in a full and open competition that you didn't know about?
Hint. More and better market research.
Peace.The Chief Visionary
"The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it."
Visibility and Opportunities for Growing Small Federal Contractors. SAP Task Force™.