While debating what would be the next topic to address in this column, I decided we could all benefit from a “Myth Busters” version of Public Sector knowledge. I feel that with any specialty topic, there is a good amount of incorrect information out there. Whether it is placed by people who do not want competition in the field, the specialty may have a lot of differing opinions, change that confuses, or simply a hard-to-understand area. This mix of misinformation and opinions makes any specialty even harder to navigate. By the way, I believe all of the above is true of the public sector, especially the Federal Government. So, for as many articles as it takes, we will dive into some of the myths people believe that are simply not true. Some may be 100% false, and others may need just some clarification, but either way, I think we need to dig deep to clear the air on behalf of Public Sectors Specialists everywhere! Since we are in Federal year-end and, let’s be honest, there is a lot of questionable information floating around in the Federal specialist’s world; I thought we would kick off this series with some Federal myths. As a bonus, we will sprinkle in some acronyms and best practices for you.
Myth #1 Government bids always go to the lowest bidder
As a taxpayer, we should hope that the government cares about what they pay for products, but in all honesty, they are more concerned with Low Price Technically Acceptable (LPTA), and even that is not true 100% of the time. First, I think we could benefit from some clarification so let’s define what LPTA means. The government is very tied to their specifications, so they usually issue technical specifications. When they bid it out, you need to respond with a product that meets these specifications. Low Price is self-explanatory, I think. So, this is saying the award will go to the lowest-priced bid that meets the technical requirements.
Best Practice Hint #1: Digging in deeper, someone has to put together the specifications, sometimes called Statement of Work (SOW.) The goal here is to be the company that is setting the specification, which is setting the bar for the quality and technical specs of the products. You can accomplish this by ensuring you are providing the government with valuable information for their technical write-up.
Best Practice Hint #2: Additionally, keep in mind that the first company that meets the technical specifications regardless of the price competitiveness would be the lowest price technically acceptable. This is why having someone who knows how to put the bid response together is valuable. If you can provide the agency with what they ask for and show that your products meet the specifications and others get redlined, then you can be awarded regardless of whether you are low price or not.
Additionally, the government has other goals, such as socio-economic spending and their “use it or lose it budget,” that could drive decisions closer to year-end. Sometimes you will see opportunities where they give a percentage preference to a socio-economic status that they need to increase spending. When this occurs, this provides anyone with that status an advantage where they could be more expensive but win due to their status. There are also ways for the Federal government to procure through some of the socio-economic statuses without a bid at all, known as Sole Source, in which case low price is not the target here, but instead they need it to be fair and reasonable which your GSA pricing is considered to meet that requirement.
Best Practice Hint #3: This is why it is essential to be willing to partner with other companies that have socio-economic statuses that you do not have. Whether you are a dealer, rep, or manufacturer, you need to make sure you have partners that meet all of the socio-economic goals the government has: Small Businesses; Woman Owned Small Business (WOSB), Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB), Historically Underutilized Business Zone Small Business (HUBZone), and Small Disadvantaged Business (8a.)
Well, with just one myth, we have six acronyms and three best practices, so not a bad start! As always, I hope this is helpful as you Delve into Public Sector. If you have any myths or information you want clarification on, please reach out, and I will do my best to demystify it for you.
ABOUT MICHELLE WARREN
Founder, President Catalyst Consulting Group
Michelle Warren is President of Catalyst Consulting Group, a firm specializing in providing strategic solutions to the commercial furniture industry to enhance their sales, positioning, and distribution.
With 25 years of industry experience on the dealer and manufacturer side of the industry, Michelle has been recognized as an innovator in selling to the Federal Government, State/Local Government, Higher Education and Cooperative Purchasing. Her expertise includes: sales strategies, strategic planning, 3-5 year road mapping, targeted marketing plans, distribution development, hiring reps, and training for reps and/or dealers.
Michelle is known as a “serial networker” in the furniture industry and enjoys meeting people and making connections happen. If you’re interested in connecting - reach out at:
www.strategic-catalyst.com to learn more about her work.
As seen in Delve | July 2022 V.28