Addressing Questions to the Government

Part of the responsibility of the proposal manager is to elicit questions from team members to be addressed to the government. Associated with many RFPs, is the possibility of submitting questions to clarify aspects about the work to be done, the preparation of the proposal, and other factors that may impact the proposal to be written. There is normally a deadline specified in the solicitation for when the questions need to reach the government. In turn, the government will assemble questions from all respondents, purge duplicate questions, and sanitize them so that their source cannot be inferred. Finally, they publish a set of answers for all offerors to see.

All team members who are in any way participating in the proposal effort should be asked to submit questions. This will force them to read the solicitation, (what a concept!) and the team will be sure that the solicitation will be read from a broad set of angles, hopefully driving an insightful list of questions. In addition, the more eyes looking at the solicitation, the more exhaustive the read of it and the more that niggling details can be teased out.

A standard questions worksheet can be used to help the proposal manager assemble questions from the team. This should be distributed to all team members who may have questions and can be made part of the standard proposal package since there is a good chance that many responses will call for questions. The team members should then record their questions on this worksheet and return them to the proposal manager. At a minimum, this worksheet should contain the following fields:

  • Solicitation section
  • Solicitation page
  • Question
  • Submitted by
  • Comments

The proposal manager can then collate all of the questions into a master worksheet and prepare this information for transmittal to the government. This preparation may include transferring information into a more appropriate format such as a Word document.

If the secret to selling is asking questions, you want a standard process to help you along. This standardized approach to a mundane task (see Storyboards Save Time and Effort for another standardized approach to a mundane task) will help your team produce a more incisive set of questions while saving valuable time.

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