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Review the Bid

Here is where you get to look at your first bid package. And here is where we let you in on the secret to winning and making a profit on the contract you are bidding on:

Read the bid. Then read it again. And after you think you're finished, read it again.

Why is this so important? In most cases, when you submit your bid, all you have to do is fill in some of the blanks on the forms contained in the package and send the package back to the government. But here's the catch: Even though the government itself generated and provided the package, when you send it back to the government, it becomes your offer, and the government will look at it as if you had put the entire package together yourself and as if they had never seen it before.



A small safety equipment company had been doing government work for the military and doing quite well at it. When the owner died unexpectedly, the owner's widow and son continued running the business. Later, they received a bid package for a stretcher for the Navy, and since this was an item that they supplied, they submitted a bid and won the small dollar purchase order.

When the inspector came out to check the stretchers before shipment, the owners discovered that they had made a very serious error. The requirement in the contract called for more than a stretcher, it also called for the stretcher to be enclosed in a hanging unit for use on the wall of a ship, a requirement that they had missed because they didn't read the bid carefully. And since their bid reflected the cost of the stretcher, not the added cost of the hanging unit, completion of the contract at the price quoted would have broken their company.

We recommended that they try to plead their case to the commander at the buying office and ask to be let out of the contract. Luckily for them, the commander must have been having a good day and canceled the contract: a very rare occurrence for the government.

So, not reading the bid carefully could have cost the owners their business. They were lucky, but you may not be if you fail to carefully review the contract.

Therefore, you need to understand what's in the bid package because it is more than a solicitation for a bid; if and when the government signs it, it is also your binding contract. That means that you must carefully check out all portions of the contract, not just the description and specification portion. That also means that you can't just gloss over parts that you do not completely understand: You need to take notes as you go so you can address those parts later on.

The package contains all the information you need in order to bid intelligently. All you need to do is read it.

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