Top Five Reasons Why Companies Fail on Solicitations

By Greg Faulkner, Director,
Illinois Procurement Technical Assistance Center

The Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) is the guidebook government contracting officers use to acquire the many goods and services utilized by the federal government. The FAR is comprised of 53 parts and is codified in Title 48, Chapter 1 of the US Code of Federal Regulations.

At a recent workshop, government contracting officers discussed the top five reasons why companies fail in their responses to government solicitations. One might think failures result from complicated written solicitations or that the offerors are unable to find what they need in the solicitation to adequately respond.  However, according to the survey of procurement officials, the top five reasons why company’s responses fail are: 

  1. lack of attention to detail;
  2. failure to demonstrate an understanding of requirements;
  3. not following solicitation instructions;
  4. lack of responsiveness to solicitations; and
  5. not making it easy to check references and establish past performance records.

To avoid these simple, but common mistakes, companies should understand that almost all solicitations are organized in the same way in accordance with the Uniform Contract Format. Pertinent details and instructions can be easily found in sections B and C of Part 1 and sections L and M in Part 4 of the solicitation. Section B in Part 1 outlines the supplies or services required, including a brief description and the quantity needed by the contracting agency. Section C provides the statement of work and specifications according to the agency’s needs. Section L in Part 4 contains the instructions and conditions, and section M identifies the evaluation factors used to award the contract. If companies read and understand these sections first, not only will they quickly understand the solicitation but will also understand exactly what the agency is asking for and know exactly what the evaluation factors are to be successful.

On your next solicitation, take the time to read it in its entirety and pay special attention to sections B, C, L, and M. If you have questions, contact Greg Faulkner by email or (309) 677-3297 for assistance and also know the contracting officer writing the solicitation must respond to inquiries as well.