No Proposal Consultants Welcome – Census Bureau follows VA with ban on Consultants

Second Federal Dept Bans Proposal (2)

As you may remember we reported previously that the Department of Veteran Affairs banned proposal consultants from assisting offerors on RFP VA118-15-R0558. Unfortunately, we have more bad news. A second federal agency has followed suit. On May 18th, 2015 the US Census Bureau issued an RFP that restricts technical consultants participation. The draft RFP in question is YA 1323-15-MS-0003 for Multi-Tiered Acquisition Framework for Systems Engineering and Integration.

Proposal Consultant Ban

The draft RFP stipulates:

“In order to ensure proposals reflect the technical abilities of offerors and their subcontractors, not those of outside technical experts who will not be involved with performance post award, the use of technical consultants to help prepare the proposal is strictly prohibited unless the technical consultant will be part of the offeror’s team as a subcontractor after award of the ESF.

As part of their written (and oral if applicable) proposal, the offeror shall certify, in the proposal introduction, that their proposal was prepared only by the offeror and its subcontractors.”

APMP Reaction

Once is an anomaly, twice is worrisome

The ever-diligent Richard Harris APMP executive director has already taken action. He submitted a request to the Census Bureau for the removal of this stipulation.

He had this to say:

“We find it particularly disturbing that after the VA “no consultants” language, most of the professionals in Government we met with were also appalled but told us not to worry because they believed it was an isolated, one-off attempt.

A few months later, and we see similar, exclusionary language from a completely different agency. Our fear was then and continues to be that this could become a regular requirement for all of the wrong reasons. Once is an anomaly, twice is worrisome and three times is a trend. “

What You Can Do

Unfortunately the deadline to submit comments passed on May 19th. However, there is action you can take. We recommend sharing this news and syncing with fellow APMP members to identify if this is in fact becoming a common a trend. We saw this before when the VA imposed the same restriction. For Proposal Shops that regularly use consultants, you will need to take action. Things like systematizing your color team process and looking at tooling to free up your Sales & Technical FTEs (Full Time Equivalents) to get more involved and productive. See more here.

Also in case this is becoming a trend we’ve created a new ebook: How to complete a compliance matrix in 5 minutes. It explains how proposal managers can save time creating compliance matrices. We created this, as if this trend continues we know proposal managers will need more time to focus on other areas. We hope this helps.

——Post Update 4 June 2015——

Since going to “print” the draft RFP has been updated. Richard Harris’ campaign has been successful. The Census Bureau add the text: “This does not preclude the use of contracted technical writing, marketing, and communications support in the preparation of the proposal.” Great news for proposal consultants!

As always if you have any questions let us know in the comments box below.

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4 thoughts on “No Proposal Consultants Welcome – Census Bureau follows VA with ban on Consultants”

  1. I’ve been working proposals of varying kinds since 1977, and we’ve actually seen attempts to block proposal consultants before. The Government in this case seems to have a misunderstanding of the role played by proposal consultants and “technical experts”. In either case, use of proposal consultants can be justified simply by including one of their number as a subcontractor during the kickoff meeting, should that become necessary.

    As for technical experts, their exclusion is ridiculous. Advice from experts is one way contractors become able to provide cutting edge solutions that may piggyback on existing technology and thus move the subject effort further up the development curve.

    One part of the restriction is fair: our customers deserve to know who developed the proposal – by name and position – and their proposed role in any subsequent contract. The customer also deserves to know why the contractor used the person(s) so named. Transparency in procurement is achieved by this mechanism, allowing the customer to make a value judgment about the impact that the person(s) disclosed had on the proposal and may have on contract performance.

  2. Wondering how this will affect capture – one are where we definitely utilize outsiders to drive intel on competition.

  3. A technical consultant is NOT a proposal consultant. I believe the best approach would be to ask the KO for clarification rather than get all up tight over something we don’t know for a fact.

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