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The Procurement Process
How to Respond to Solicitations
The procurement process typically is initiated when a particular requirement is identified and a request is submitted to the Procurement Office. The assigned contracting officer, together with the small business representative and the technical officer, make several key decisions. One of these is whether the supplies or services are available from the other government sources such as GSA. Firms interested in getting their products listed in the Federal Supply Schedule should contact a Business Services Center of the GSA for additional information. Procurements may be either through sealed bidding or via negotiation. Solicitations are called Invitations for Bids (IFB) in sealed bidding, and Requests for Proposals (RFP) for negotiated actions. Solicitations will contain specific instructions and/or formats for data that bidders/proposers must follow.
Another decision is whether the procurement should be set aside for small business exclusively. The appropriate method of conducting the procurement is also decided - whether it should be sealed bids (Invitation for Bids - IFB), competitive proposals (Request for Proposals) or other competitive procedures. Once these decisions are made, the contracting officer then begins the preparation of the solicitation package and arranges its announcement through various means.
The Federal Business Opportunities (FBO) is the official medium for federal procurements. Notices are usually placed prior to the issuance of the solicitation. Solicitation are electronically downloaded by interested companies. A solicitation is a formal written request by the government to obtain proposals to furnish the required goods and services. The preferred approach of the government in contracting is through the competitive process.
In addition to the information above, there are many special and important aspects of the procurement process involving bonding, oral and/or written discussions, representations and certifications, etc. Other considerations include integrity, reliability, maintenance and quality assurance, safety and health programs, industrial relations, and security clearances.