I was not at Tyson's Corner earlier this month - it would have been a pretty long commute from California - but I did read the account of the Association of Proposal Management Professionals' Capture and Business Development Conference.
It appears that one recurring theme in the conference was the idea that vendors and customers should talk to each other.
It sounds like a no-brainer, but in the world of Federal procurement (the APMP is very Federal-focused), some contracting officers have interpreted government procurement rules to mean that they should not talk to vendors.
Two of the presenters at the APMP conference believed otherwise.
Featured Government speakers included Melissa Starinsky, Chancellor of the Veterans Affairs Acquisition Academy, who implored industry and government to meet more, face-to-face, which would help end ambiguity in the procurement process. She also called for improved debriefings between government and its customers, to strengthen trust and eliminate distrust.
This point was emphasized by Ralph White, Esq., of the Government Accountability Office.
As the GAO executive who must sign off on every protest ruling, Mr. White revealed that he believes the majority of protests are not frivolous and are the product of a need for better communication between government and industry. He said GAO considers about 2,500 protests a year, and 43 percent are withdrawn before the 100 day ruling requirement. He said that a lack of communications between government and industry often leads to the protest. Once the customer filing receives more information, the protest is withdrawn nearly half of the time.
Now I obviously have a vested interest in this, since I work for a vendor, and we'd love to talk to customers whenever possible. So keep that under consideration.
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