Winning the Business

Government Bids: Register to Stay Informed

Bidder registration ensures compliance of competitive proposals

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Wedged in among 52 other broad topics, Part 6 of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) provides the top-tier rules for sponsoring U.S. government competitive solicitations. Whether the solicitations are government-sponsored or business-sponsored for government, the sponsors must enforce one important principle: Maintain a level playing field for all interested, qualified bidders.

That means all bids for each federal competitive solicitation are evaluated by one set of rules. It also means the information provided by the sponsor—whether internally generated or in response to questions from bidders—is shared with every known interested party simultaneously.

If the program sponsors don’t know you are bidding, they can’t (and won’t) keep you current on changes to requirements and evaluation criteria. In other words, you could lose an opportunity to win a valuable contract, and they could lose a potentially great new contractor. That’s why properly registering as a bidder is so important.

Government solicitation sites and customer-owned registration sites exist so that all interested, qualified bidders have equal access to vital changes at the same time.

Fear of Ghosting

A common myth is that registering as an interested vendor or signing onto a private bidders list tips your hand and gives the competition a potential ghosting advantage. The truth is that your industry rivals probably make these strategic guesses regardless of tangible proof.

Government solicitation sites and customer-owned registration sites exist so that all interested, qualified bidders have equal access to vital changes at the same time. Providing your contact information ensures that you receive everything the sponsor determines to be bid-relevant at the same time that every other registered bidder receives the information.

Why Watch?

Changes come in all shapes and sizes. A sponsor’s point of contact might get promoted, requiring someone else to receive and time-stamp compliant offers. If you are not watching for the announcement, how will you know where to send your bid?

Based on bidder feedback, sponsors might issue clarifications, host meetings to answer questions and define any unclear elements, change deadlines, etc. Here are some important reasons to watch competitive proposal announcements throughout the bid preparation effort:

Mini-Deadline Announcements

  • Pre-registration/authorization to access locked files online or receive classified/sensitive information on CDs (or printouts)
  • Bidders meeting registration and eligibility confirmation (citizenship and employment status)
  • Window for creating a user ID for submissions (can require a pre-screening that takes several days)
  • End of the Q&A period

If a sponsor requests that interested parties state their intent to bid, follow the instructions provided to ensure that you receive any relevant announcements promptly.

Solicitation Modification Announcements

  • Addenda (changes in scope, evaluation criteria, point of contact, and proposal delivery address/method/format)
  • Q&A updates
  • New/modified/canceled tasks
  • Extended deadlines
  • Canceled opportunities

Government proposal sponsors often announce updates, amendments, and Q&A postings on FedBizOpps.gov, but there are other sites, too. The solicitation announcement typically provides instructions on how to ensure you get timely updates so your response is compliant.

Remember to Register

If the source of the opportunity is a public announcement (FedBizOpps, agency website, etc.), either add your contact information to the bidders list or add the solicitation number to your watch list to ensure any relevant announcements are sent to your email account. Some sites require you to check for updates on your own, but all competitive bid announcements have one equal-access information path for bidders.

If a sponsor requests that interested parties state their intent to bid, follow the instructions provided to ensure that you receive any relevant announcements promptly.

Remember: When bidding any competitive proposal, registration with the sponsor is critical to ensure that amendments, clarifications, and important administrative notifications reach your desk as soon as possible. Scope clarifications and changes to deadlines or compliance requirements impact your team’s strategy and could impact your bid’s value to the customer.


Shelley Owrutsky is a Cockeysville, Maryland-based technical writer for Saft, a global battery maker. She can be reached at shelley.owrutsky@saftamerica.com.

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