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Once the government buyer receives all the bids, the evaluation and award process begins. Here is an outline of what happens.
Non-Negotiated Bids (IFBs): If the solicitation is an Invitation for Bid (IFB) -- a non-negotiated, sealed bid situation where best valued bidder wins -- the bid is opened and the information is recorded on what is referred to as a "bid abstract." This will be used as the bid history database. The abstract contains, in order of opening, the names of the bidding companies, the items being bid, the prices quoted, and any other information that the bidding officer deems relevant.
This is important information that could prove to be very useful to you, whether you get the bid or not. And since the information contained in the bid abstract is considered public information, you can get it just by asking. The government buying office will send you a copy of the abstract if you enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope along with your bid. You should also include a letter stating that you are requesting the bid abstract under the Freedom of Information Act. (See now, isn't the government helpful? You probably won't be able to get similar information from the private business sector at any time in the near future.)
With this information in hand, you can see where you stand in the bidding process. If your price quote is in the upper third of the price ranking, you are outside the competitive range. If you find yourself in the middle third, you're getting there. If you are in the lower third, you are in the right place.
Remember that you will not win all bids. Figure that after you become an old hand at bidding, your rate will be, on average, about three out of ten. Take a look at the investment in time and money you put in going after a commercial contract. It's the same plan of action with the government.
Negotiated Bids (RFPs or RFQs): If the solicitation is negotiated, in other words, if it is a Request for Proposal or Request for Quote, the information on bidding companies, pricing, etc. is not public information. When the award is made, the name of the successful bidder and the contract price become public information.
For more information, see these topics:
- Factors Influencing Bid Outcome
- The Government-Established Competitive Range
- Pre-Award Survey
- You Won It! Now What?