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BUS505 Week 9 DB1 Proposal Reviews

"Proposal Reviews"

Evaluate the list of common cost proposal mistakes based on the recommendations in Chapter 15 of the textbook. Select three from the list, and determine the most likely cause of each. Then, recommend a strategy that either the federal government or offeror could take to avoid the mistake in the future.

Chapters 1, 14 and 15 in our textbook by Dr. Osbourne provide many kinds of common proposal mistakes that contractor’s make when bidding on government work. The three (3) mistakes that I would pick from the list would be:

1. Not being responsive to RFP instructions. This mistake is at the top of the list as it pretty much sums everything up. The bottom line here is that this condition is most always caused by a proposal poorly written. This can be caused by several things such as an inexperienced team, not starting early enough, inadequate planning or preparation, etc. Some strategies that the contractor can implement in order to avoid making these mistakes again in the future include scheduling plenty of proposal reviews. They are an indispensable activity to ensuring that your proposal meets the requirements of the RFP. There are many types of reviews such informal or in-process reviews and there are also formal reviews like Story Board, Pink Red and Gold team reviews. These reviews are designed to capture and correct all forms of mistakes ranging from simple spelling errors to incorrect cost estimates and poorly formulated strategies. A thorough review of the proposal needs to be conducted so that it matches what needs to be achieved in the RFP and it is imperative that the contractor address all the requirements clearly and concisely.

2. Not following instructions to complete costing forms provided in the RFP. Our textbook mentions several times that although the goal of the government’s procurement process is to achieve a best value” for the tax-payers, cost is most always the deciding factor when it comes to selecting a winning bid. This can be caused by insufficient research, poor data gathering technique and inadequate preparation by the contractor in completing these forms. Some strategies that the contractor can implement in order to avoid making these mistakes again in the future include thoroughly reviewing the RFP and identifying the format and outline for the proposals’ work breakdown structure cost information and other requirements. The award decision will be based on how well the contractor followed the instructions in Section L and how they met the criteria in Section M. These Sections in the RFP will tell the contractor what the customer is interested in achieving, and explains how the contractor should prepare and submit the proposal.

3. Not providing historical cost data for labor hours, staffing levels/labor mix, etc. Our textbook mentions the need to have a broad mix of people and skills so this particular mistake can be attributed to not having the right skill mix or enough proposal experience. Furthermore, gathering up historical data or actuals can take a large amount of time especially if the contractor does not keep good records or at least a database that can be readily accessed to obtain this information by year, labor category, labor rates, etc. Some strategies that the contractor can implement in order to avoid making these mistakes

again in the future include having the contractor contact the Government Contracting Officer (CO) to answer any questions or clarify any vague or ambiguous language in the RFP. It is also a good idea to take full advantage of this activity by asking to meet with the Contracting Officer in person to get to know the customer better and their concerns so the contractor can tailor their proposal to the customer’s needs.

Determine which proposal review would be the most effective in gaining a competitive advantage based on the reviews in Chapter 15 and explain why. Create a new review that’s not part of the review process listed in Chapter 15 and describe how the review adds value to the process.

Obviously the Black Hat Review is the most effective in gaining a competitive advantage as that group performs a detailed assessment of your major competitors. The purpose of a black hat review is to determine the most likely bid strategies of your competitors. In some cases this review might be in the form of a “straw man” proposal, intended to represent what your competitor is expected to submit. This information is then used to develop offset- ting strategies. To be effective, black hat reviews must be conducted during the pre-proposal phase to allow enough time to use the results (Osborne, 2011, p. 297). Our textbook goes on to say that the Black Hat reviews are very expensive to conduct and that they should be limited to strategically important contracts. On the other hand, the Red Hat Review in my mind is pretty much the most important of all the proposal reviews as it is a formal review that utilizes the same instructions, requirements, and evaluation criteria (primarily Sections L & M) that are covered in the RFP (Osborne, 2011, p.296). It is the purpose of the Red Hat team members to identify any proposal deficiencies and define corrective actions.

I believe that the only proposal review left that one can do is a “Historical or Previous Proposal Review.” Our textbook also mentioned several times about the importance of keeping and maintaining a database of the competitor’s proposal information as well as a database of the contractor’s own winning and losing proposals with information from each debriefing. The purpose of conducting a Historical or Previous Proposal Review would be to make sure that your proposal team understood “why” you won or lost the last RFP bid and to make sure that your carried forward any lesson’s learned or information from the previous government debriefings and incorporated them into this new proposal. At this point, I don’t think that there’s any more reviews you could conduct prior to submitting your final proposal to the government.


Osborne, S.R. (2011). Winning Government Business – Gaining the Competitive advantage with Effective Proposals. 2nd Ed. Vienna, VA: Management Concepts, pp. 296-297.

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