"What we've got here is...failure to communicate."
Those famous words from the classic film truly represent the
current state of affairs that exists when it comes to agencies and vendors engaging
in meaningful conversations for the purpose of mutual market research. Depending
on whom you ask, it’s nothing new and fault resides on both sides of the fence.
Before we get too far into this, let’s take the current
level of budget constraints, LPTA and sequestration off the
table. This communication ‘disconnect’ was festering long before these terms were
part of the daily vernacular or the cause of the daily headaches that accompany
the realities of the day.
Generally speaking, neither side appears particularly adept
at talking to the other, but both perform exceptionally well when it
comes to talking at each other.
To this day, too many companies persist in trying to force a
square peg into a round hole, effectively selling with minimal (if any) understanding
of a prospective customer, the mission, or the true need. This also applies to
procurement and the level of understanding (or not) many companies have about
how a certain agency buys, and positioning themselves accordingly.
It is said "Luck
is where opportunity meets preparation.” All too often it seems quite a few
companies are vying for the benefits of "opportunity” and "luck” without having
paid their dues in the area of "preparation.”
Even with current efforts underway by Uncle Sam to alleviate unnecessary challenges, many agencies have seemingly taken a
path contrary to the guidance in the "Myth-Busting
2” memo issued by OFPP. Some agencies have taken aspects of it to an
extreme in the form of onerous Requests For Information (RFI) that double the
Bid & Proposal spend for companies by requesting critical information
vendors will surely be required to submit again in an ensuing Request For
Proposal (RFP), if one should be issued.
I would still enjoy the opportunity to discuss this current
strategy being employed by some parts of the government, and how they factor in
FAR 10.001(b) that cites "When conducting market research, agencies
should not request potential sources to submit more than the minimum
information necessary." I have to believe being asked to submit resumes,
specific teaming strategies (to include naming partners) and fairly specific
management approaches in a response to an RFI is covered in here somewhere.
The Catch-22 is more than a few of these far-reaching market
research efforts also represent down-selects that means companies who
opt not to respond may be left standing on the sideline when the RFP is
The all too familiar result of responding to these is, well,
NOTHING. This was the subject of a few pieces I penned earlier this year on the
topic of "RFI
TMI” also referred to as "non-price
RFPs” by some in Government.
The level of frustration consuming Government and Industry, and
the chalk outline of many small federal contractors who have succumbed to these
and other environmental pressures continue to mount and cause increasing harm
to the availability of a viable Federal/Defense Small Business Industrial Base.
It effectively detracts from the ability of agencies to acquire quality
supplies and services to support business operations and mission.
The growing revolt against over-reaching agency market surveys and mutual distrust results in:
- the recent snub
by 8(a) companies where SBA Miami hosted a mandatory industry day for a DHS opportunity
worth millions, and no 8(a) companies bothered to show up;
exchanges I have with contracting officials at
multiple agencies where opportunities are posted on FedBizOpps and no
responses are received OR the quality of the responses clearly indicate a
lack of having read and understood the Sources Sought/RFI/RFP/RFQ document or
that those responding simply had no pride in authorship.
Overall, I believe many agencies and contractors have good
intentions but are hindered by a number of necessary and unnecessary obstacles,
some of which are self-imposed.
Peace.The Chief Visionary
"The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it."