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Government Proposals vs. Private Sector Business Proposals

Many companies do business exclusively by responding to government RFPs. Specialists are often employed by government contractors to help write their proposals. Government procurement processes are very complicated and highly regulated. And the regulations and process is different for each government. Federal, state, local, and international governments all have different regulations and processes.

Many government procurement processes are based on those used by the Federal Government. The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) is the primary set of rules governing how the Federal Government manages the procurement process, including how it issues RFPs and receives proposals. The FAR specifies that at certain dollar thresholds, business opportunities must be announced and anyone who wants to bid may obtain the RFP and submit a proposal. The RFP contains a “statement of work” describing what is to be proposed, instructions for how to format and submit your proposal, and evaluation criteria that tell you the scoring and selection process. Submitting a government proposal involves responding to the RFP.

With a Government proposal, the due date is absolute. You cannot be 1 minute late. It is not unusual for companies to ship two complete copies, just in case one gets lost in the mail. When companies issue RFPs, they usually have due dates, and sometimes they even mean it. But most of the time you have a little wiggle room if you run into a problem. You have to manage things differently when your due date is absolute.

Businesses often use proposals to provide a written description of a transaction as a basis for approval. Large companies sometimes even issue RFPs and use proposals as a competitive process to begin negotiations. Unlike Government proposals, there is little or no regulation of proposals between businesses, although larger companies may be bound by a significant amount of policies and procedures.

In a Government proposal, it is critical to be strictly compliant with everything in the RFP. In a business proposal, you can be as non-compliant as you think you can get away with. And the customer might not even mind if it makes sense or saves them money! There are many kinds of proposals used in the private sector. A brief list might include:

  • Investment proposals
  • Real estate proposals
  • Sales proposals
  • Banking proposals
  • Funding proposals
  • Insurance proposals
  • Construction proposals
  • Product development proposals
  • Marketing proposals
  • Janitorial service proposals
  • Joint-venture proposals
  • Software proposals
  • Advertising proposals
  • Etc., etc., etc.

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By Carl Dickson,
Founder of and PropLIBRARY

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