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Government RFP 101: What you Must Know to be Successful

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The US General Services Administration (GSA) website lists these steps to contracting with the Government: 1) Learn about Government contracting, 2) Compete for a Contract, and 3) Manage your Contract.

This is a good start, but most people need more. Here are how-to examples and proven best practices, because there is no time for trial and error when it comes to starting a new business venture.

OneTeam created a guide to provide easy access to key websites and explain key topics with examples to help you understand how you can be successful in Government contracting and Win the Contract!

Getting Started as a GovCon

There is a lot of terminology to learn in Government Contracting. Here are a few terms to get started with the BD lingo. 

BD: Business Development

GovCon: Federal Government Contractor

Past Performance: An Offeror’s or Contractor’s performance working on current or past contracts.

RFP: Request for Proposal – an agency solicitation for responses from offerors to perform specific tasks.

Prime: Company submitting the proposal and signing the contract with the Government customer. They are responsible for ensuring contract execution.

Proposal Manager: Manages the proposal process but does not necessarily write the proposal. The Proposal Manager develops the schedule, works with Capture Manager to set reviews, gives writing assignments, determines format, leads proposal meetings, and communicates often with the proposal team.

Solicitation: The RFP or RFQ released from the Government agency. Includes requirements and instructions to prepare a proposal or response to RFP.

Subcontractor: A company selected by the prime contractor to be part of their team and perform some of the proposed tasks. The prime contractor subcontracts some of the work to the Subcontractor.

Blackout Period: The time period after the RFP is released, and government personnel cannot discuss bid details with potential bidders.


Knowing where to start is important. People who start a GovCon, usually have experience at a GovCon, so they understand the process. Starting as a small business, or as a business that is expanding from Commercial bids to Government bids, begin with free guidance from these sources.

Small Business Administration (SBA) – The place to start in Federal Contracting. The SBA offers a contracting guide, counseling, and contracting assistance programs, including 8(a), HUBZone, Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB), Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB), Service Disable Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB), Joint Ventures, and Mentor-Protégé Programs. 10 Steps to Start your Business is a good primer on the legalities including business registration.

Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC) – Funded by the Department of Defense, PTACS provide no-cost advice on all aspects of selling to federal, state, and local governments. Workshops, one-on-one counseling, Matchmaking events, and System for Award Management (SAM) registration assistance.

Women’s Business Development Centers – Helps entrepreneurs gain economic self-sufficiency through coaching, workshops, and digital learning.

The Catalyst (Huntsville, AL) – Supports small business owners in every stage of business. They offer coaching and relevant programs to foster small business success. Successful Government Contracting 101 and 102, mentors, and specific programs for HUBZone, WOSB, VOSB, and SBA 8(a) businesses.

This is the first in a 13-part series focused on learning about Government RFPs and your response to RFPs as a government Contractor. Be sure and download our complete guide, Government RFPs: What you Need to Know. Check back each week for another installment in the series. Happy Bidding!

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OneTeam is a complete, secure, cloud-based collaboration platform for GovCons to track, qualify, capture, propose and win more contracts with fewer resources by streamlining and automating processes. OneTeam was designed and developed by a federal government contractor to address the lack of resources and time, as well as the pain associated with winning government contracts. Our team of Proposal Managers, Capture Managers, and BD Managers write extensively about business development topics and best practices.



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