Government contractors responding to RFPs understand the need to read the fine print.
Mostly commonly, we discuss this topic in terms of pure proposal acceptability. Protest decisions from the Government Accountability Office GAO and Court of Federal Claims (COFC) make it abundantly clear that the burden falls on the contractor to follow directions and include all of the required information in all of the right places. It is for that reason (among others) that we always recommend having an outsider (be it a consultant, a lawyer, or even just another person from your company not involved in preparing the proposal) do a quality check before a proposal is submitted.
A more nuanced issue – but just as important – is understanding the RFP’s evaluation scheme. That is, not only what information must be submitted, but how that information will be weighed and measured by the Agency.
For example, in the past, we’ve looked at low-price technically acceptable (LPTA) RFPs. The basic idea on an LPTA procurement is that a contractor need only achieve a minimum passing score on its technical proposal – the Agency will not give bonus points for added bells and whistles. The much more important part of an LPTA proposal is price. Among those offerors found to be technically acceptable, the award goes to the offeror with the lowest submitted price. So, the focus on an LPTA proposal should be on getting lean (while maintaining technical acceptability) so that you can get as low as possible (or practical) on price.