Behind many contracting issues today is the implied topic of who is or isn’t winning contract awards. In the private sector, it’s rare to attribute lack of business success to the customer. Certainly in a commercial market, industry success and failure is usually laid at the feet of company management and its ability to understand and meet market needs. Not so in government contracting.
Along with well-structured protest procedures, industry can and does appeal to government legislative representatives, investigatory bodies, contracting managers, trade groups, and agency leaders concerning any real or perceived unfair treatment before, during, or after contract performance. One regularly hears rationale that the buyer, not the seller, was at fault for lost business and revenue. It’s common practice, if not encouraged by government, for industry to openly critique customer policy, processes, strategy, requirements, and staff. These critiques include time of awards; market conditions; workforce training; communication; sensitivity to private sector concerns; selection methodology; risk mitigation; receipt of external advice (program, technical, incumbents, business, legal, trade groups, etc.); past performance criteria; and more. That’s the nature of an open and fair process.