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The government's responsibility in evaluating a bid is to determine, first of all, the responsiveness of an offer to the solicitation. This is more of a technical process and consists of checking all the paperwork and making sure there are no unacceptable deviations. The government must then determine whether the proposed winner is responsible and capable enough to handle the contract.
To help make this determination, the government might perform what is called a Pre-Award Survey (PAS). The PAS is made in sufficient depth to assure that the proposed award winner has the ability to meet the requirements of the solicitation. It may involve a full government team coming out to check a company's capabilities first-hand, or it may entail nothing more than taking a look at the pertinent information about the company to determine if it is able to go ahead with the contract.
Checklist for How To Prepare for the Pre-Award Survey
If you are the proposed winner of a government contract, there are certain things you can do to prepare for the Pre-Award Survey to help ensure a favorable outcome for your company:
- Select the person who will meet with the government survey team. This person should be empowered to speak for the company and should be completely familiar with the details of the solicitation and of your company's offer.
- If relevant, make available one or more technicians to answer questions.
- Identify any disparities that may exist between the solicitation and your company's offer that should be resolved during the initial meeting with the survey team.
- Think about how you can demonstrate actual technical capability, or the development of technical capability, on the proposed contract.
- Get your production plan ready and available for review by the survey team.
- Make sure your plant facilities and equipment are available and operable. If they are not, be prepared to demonstrate that they can be developed or acquired in time to meet proposed contract requirements.
- Be prepared to show that you can meet the transportation, packaging, packing and preservation conditions of the solicitation.
- If industrial security clearance is required under the proposed contract, be prepared to show it.
- Make sure that your labor resources have the proper skills or that personnel with the needed skills can be hired expeditiously.
- Gather and make available to the survey team documentation, such as previous government contracts or subcontracts or commercial orders, to demonstrate a past satisfactory performance record with regard to delivery, quality and finances.
- Look over your production plan and make sure that you can demonstrate a capability to meet contract schedules.
- Gather financial documentation for the team financial analyst, including the company's current profit and loss summary, balance sheet, cash flow chart and other pertinent financial information.
- Prepare a listing of available tools and equipment for the team production specialist.
- Make sure that plans are in place for vendor supplies and materials or subcontracts to assure that the final delivery schedule can be met. Make sure that these plans are verifiable.
- Review any technical data and publications that may be required under the proposed contract and make sure you understand them.
- If the contract is a type other than a firm-fixed price or if you have requested progress payments, prepare adequate accounting documentation for review by the audit agency representative of the team.
- Review your quality control program and make sure that it is workable and consistent with the quality requirements stated in the contract. Be prepared to go over the details with the survey team.
- If government-furnished equipment, property or material is involved in the proposed contract, make sure you have established procedures in accord with the regulation stated in the contract.
- Prepare any other information or data that might be pertinent in assisting the government team.
As you become more experienced in the government market, you will find that all this takes less and less time. As with anything new, there's a learning curve.