8 min read

The Simple Way to Convey Strengths in a Federal Government Proposal

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Before you start writing a proposal, it's important to understand the evaluation criteria. Most federal government agencies use a standardized evaluation process, which typically includes technical capability, management capability, past performance, and price. By understanding these criteria, you can tailor your proposal to address each one effectively.

When reading the evaluation criteria for federal GovCon Requests for Proposal (RFPs), Proposal Managers review Section M to see exactly how evaluators will score their response to the RFP. Here is an excerpt from an actual US Army RFP:


“Each sub-factor will be evaluated to determine the degree to which the proposed approach associated with each sub-factor meets, exceeds, or does not meet the minimum performance or capability requirements through an assessment of the strengths, weaknesses, deficiencies and risks of the proposal.” 

It is probably self-explanatory that strengths are good, and that weaknesses, deficiencies, and risks are not so good. This post will discuss how to convey your strengths and ensure your team is viewed as low-risk. Both of these tactics will help you score higher in the evaluation process and get closer to your goal of winning the contract.


Ensure Your Solution is Rated Low-Risk

Evaluators review submitted proposals in accordance with the Section L – Instructions to Offerors, Section M – Evaluation Criteria, and Section C – Performance Work Statement (PWS) / Statement of Work (SOW). After reviewing a factor or sub-factor, they compile a list of strengths, weaknesses, deficiencies, and risks, for the proposal they are evaluating.  

The goal of all offerors or bidders is for their proposal to have multiple strengths, no weaknesses or deficiencies, and be deemed low risk. Here are more details from the RFP on how evaluators assess and define risk.

Rating Description
Outstanding Proposal indicates an exceptional approach and understand of the requirements and contains multiple strengths, and risk of unsuccessful performance is low.
Good Proposal indicates a thorough approach and understanding of the requirements and contains at least one strength, and risk of unsuccessful performance is low to moderate.
Acceptable Proposal meets requirements and indicates an adequate approach and understanding of the requirements. Strengths and weaknesses are offsetting or will have little or no impact on contract performance. Risk of unsuccessful performance is no worse than moderate.
Marginal Proposal has not demonstrated an adequate approach and understanding of the requirements, and/or risk unsuccessful performance is high.
Unacceptable Proposal does not meet requirements of the solicitation, and thus, contains one or more deficiencies, and/or risk of unsuccessful performance is unacceptable. Proposal is not awardable.


Make sure your capture team carefully reviews all proposed solutions and identifies any risk that is created by your proposed approach. The way to ensure the evaluators view you as low-risk is to identify potential risks and corresponding mitigation or avoidance procedures to ensure the risk does not impact mission success. See the previously posted blog, 'What is Risk Management and What Do I Need to Know?'


Emphasize Your Team Strengths

One strategy for many GovCons, is to specifically call out solutions in their proposal as a strength. It has long been a best practice to highlight solutions, innovations, initiatives, or other strategies that evaluators would deem as strengths for your team. Proposal Managers and Writers can use the word ‘strength’ throughout the proposal to make it easier for evaluators to recognize those solutions and hopefully add these to their list of strengths.

You can portray strengths in the proposal in a graphic or in the narrative text.

  • Portray team strengths in a table highlighting efficiencies and advantages. The sample table shown below lists strengths, efficiencies, and innovations in the first column, and the associated advantage or benefit to the customer in the center column. This table can easily be included as part of the technical and management approaches. It makes a good end of approach section where you are reminding the evaluator of key items they just read in the approach. 

    In this example, each strength and benefit map to the Contract Goal supported in the right column. Read more about developing Contract Goals in the 4th blog of this series, ‘How to Turn your Incumbentitis into a Winning Proposal Strategy.’

Efficiencies and Strengths Advantages/Benefits Goal Supported
Acme developed many maintenance procedures currently used on ITSS I, which we will also use on ITSS II. Decreased equipment downtime ad reduction in number of major repairs. Improved safety and qualify as timely, routine maintenance repairs circumvent fewer large-scale repairs.

#4 Process Improvement

#1 Automation

Innovation Advantages/Benefits Goal Supported
Checklist for urgent and non-urgent repairs flowchart - Facility POCs validate repairs are made by Base Ops contractor Saves rework, time, and money.

#5 Cost Control

#1 Process Improvement

  • List your team’s strengths in the proposal in a summary at the end of each sub-factor or section. This means a list of strengths is the last item that the evaluator reads or reviews before moving to another section. Take this idea a step further, and make this a bulleted list using checkmarks for the bullets.

The idea here is that evaluators are checking items off on an evaluation form. When we see checks, we subconsciously think – CHECK, which is very close to the idea of checking items as done or complete. This is a positive action, and a checkmark bullet at the beginning of each sentence provides a good visual that is easy for the Evaluator to locate.


Example Strengths List

The Example listing below provides a sample introduction paragraph and strengths list. In the example, ACME is a placeholder for the Prime Contractor Name, USG is the customer name, Agency is the Government Agency name, and ITSS II is the contract name.

The XXX Team approach includes Customer Name insight at all levels and ensures mission success across all PWS elements. The XXX Team is the lowest risk and most capable team and provides several advantages for USG.



Evaluators have even been known to pull strengths for inclusion in their award adjudication justification notes.

Whichever way you choose to portray your team's strengths of your federal government proposal, make sure that the strengths are:

  • Easy to read - set apart from rest of the narrative by using bullets, bold font, or way to denote this different that most of the text on the page.
  • Easy to understand with simple language the customer uses - bulleted pointed allow you to start the lines with strong verbs or descriptive text.
  • Easy to locate when the evaluator searches for them when compiling their list of strengths, weaknesses, deficiencies, and assigning a risk rating.
  • Consistent - keep each 'strength' section in the same format and evaluators will expect to see that in each sub-section of your proposal.



This is the 11th and final blog post in the 11-part series, "Playing to Win: Strategies to Scoring Higher and Winning Federal Government Contracts". There is a companion download, which includes editable customizable PowerPoint and Word graphics based on each blog post topic. 

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OneTeam is a complete, secure, cloud-native collaboration platform for GovCons to track, qualify, capture, propose and win more contracts with fewer resources by streamlining and automating processes. Our experienced team writes extensively about business development topics and best practices.

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