Many of us who grew up with Dr. Seuss will recall this line from ‘Horton Hatches the Egg’ and know that we need to be careful when making promises. The simplest childhood lessons still apply in adulthood – including when you submit a proposal seeking a federal contract or grant.
When preparing proposals, clients often ask us to respond to RFP requirements for which they have limited, or no, direct experience. Examples include submitting processes for addressing Organizational Conflicts of Interest (OCI), Quality Management Plans (QM), or Personnel Certification (PC) plans. Many firms never needed to have, let alone utilize, OCI, QM, or PC plans – but may be asked to submit one with a proposal.
Clients usually turn to their proposal and BD consultants for help because they often have the experience to develop a draft response. But, be cautioned that ‘checking the box’ by having your consultant prepare your plan submission is not the end game. If you say it, you must mean it, because the Government will hold you to everything you state in your proposal.
Many Government contractors don’t realize that the act of submitting a proposal affirms your ability, and intent, to perform if awarded a contract based on your proposal language. Once the Government makes an award – with or without discussion – you are bound by your proposal and must provide all the services and/or products per your delivery schedule.
Moreover, you don’t need to sign the award document to make it official – you already made the commitment when you signed your offer letter. There’s no opportunity to back away from a commitment.
Remember Horton’s dilemma – because you’ll be held to your promise.