VA’s VECTOR RFP is now out. At first glance, it is a highly lucrative opportunity for all SDVOSB firms. It is for 10 years, its overall budget is $25 billion, and it gives you the freedom to participate in one, combination or all of the Service Groups. You can also partner with other companies to increase your chances of winning. But what are the hidden facts that you should be aware of? This article tries to cover some of those issues that all SDVOSB firms should consider. Here are some issues that I think are of paramount consequence:

1. No Past Performance Section

Although in the draft section and the PowerPoint for VECTOR, reference was made to Past Performance as one of the sections of the proposal, it is now removed. So what? Small companies with little past performance but with good proposal writing capabilities have a good chance to win now. Larger firms should take heed.

2. Proposal Development Capability

Winning this RFP is all about how you write your proposal; especially since the technical section is significantly more important than Price. Except for Service Group 4, Outreach, the rest of the Service Groups do not require you to prove your experience in similar projects by providing evidence of those projects. If you have the expertise to answer the questions properly and can professionally develop your response for each Service Group, you have a good chance to win. What this means is that the company that puts more effort and quality into its proposal is the one who is going to win. Period.

3. To Sub or Not to Sub

The evaluation and award process is done in such a way that priority is given to firms that do not have subs or if they have, they are all SDVOSB or VOSB firms. Building on what I mentioned in points 1 and 2, only partner with another company if:

  • You do not have the expertise to respond to targeted Service Group and need input from another source. Note that this deficiency can be overcome by hiring a suitable proposal development company; of course, this is if you can actually perform in that Service Group.
  • You cannot perform in that Service Group but would like to have a chance of winning and then subcontracting for execution.
  • Don’t risk partnering with non-SDVOSB or non-VOSB companies. You will be considered “2nd Tier” with less chance of winning as there are surely many 1st Tier (solos or those with SDVOSB/VOSB subs) that are participating.

4. Competition

The Government intends to award approximately ten contracts per Service Group. Again building on items 1 and 2 above, this means that there is a very stiff competition involved. Again to increase chances, all your guns should shoot for the proposal quality. That is going to be the decisive factor.

In summary and to reiterate, winning this RFP clearly rests on how well you write your proposal. Small firms have equal chances of winning if they concentrate on their proposal development effort; thus, we are going to face stiff competition in all Service Groups. You need to invest well in a capable proposal development team, either in-house augmented with outside help or a professional proposal development firm. Your investment will pay off, for 10 consecutive years, if you win a piece of this pie.