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How to Find Subcontractors that Help you Win a Government Contract

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Winning a Government contract depends on many variables – and one of those is having a good team. A winning team is built specifically for a bid, with the right past performance to successfully execute the PWS. It is helpful if one or more of the team members has worked with the agency releasing the RFP, so their agency experience will be a positive impact.


Set Aside Requirements

Determine if the solicitation is a set-aside for a specific socio-economic category, small business set aside, or if it is a full and open competition. A full and open competition requires that at least a minimum percentage of contract value be performed by various small business socio-economic categories – Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB), Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB), 8(a), HUBZone, and Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB). There may also be a requirement for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and Ability One contractors.

If the solicitation is set aside for a small business socio-economic category, and as the prime contractor, you fit into that category, you do not have to fulfill the socio-economic requirements as a full & open competition does. You probably want to have a larger business as a subcontractor to provide staffing depth and reach-back, particularly if the contract requires performed at multiple locations.


Assessment Begins with a Gap Analysis

Before discussions with potential subcontractors, the Capture Manager should complete a Gap Analysis based on the company’s past performance to assess the PWS against company capabilities and past performance. It is not enough to simply have experienced personnel who can and have performed the work, the offeror must have relevant past performance experience that can be cited in the Past Performance volume to show the team’s ability to successfully perform all of the PWS elements.

The Capture Manager works with technical personnel in the company to assess other contracts and how they fit the proposed RFP. Before making any decisions on teaming, know exactly where your company stands in regard to experience and past performance. The Capture Manager must determine:

  • Which contracts can be used as Past Performance Citations. The period of performance for the citation contract must meet the current RFP recency requirements.

  • If the prime offeror can provide references for more than 50% of PWS with their past performance citations. If the offeror cannot cover at least 50% of the PWS, it is time to rethink the bid decision.

  • Which contracts cover specific PWS elements. For example, if the RFP allows 5 citations for Past Performance and there are 12 PWS elements, those 5 citations should cover all 12 elements. If there are still some PWS elements not covered by the prime offeror’s references, the remaining elements need to be covered by a teaming partner for 100% PWS coverage.

  • If there are any performance issues with the Program Manager or other personnel on any of the past performance citations. The Capture Manager must be confident that all cited contracts will result in an excellent reference.

Assess how many additional past performance examples you are allowed to submit based on instructions in Section L.


Find the Strategic Partners and Incumbents

Most companies have strategic partners that they know well and are confident in their capability to successfully support the capture and proposal process. Look to the company’s strategic partners first. Also, look at the incumbent on the current or previous iteration of the contract. They may be excellent candidates for teaming partners.

The Capture Manager needs to evaluate each potential teaming partner and build the winning team – but this requires research and multiple discussions with potential partners. A lack of teammate assessment during the Capture Phase can lead to big problems in the Proposal Phase.

The Capture Manager reviews the Gap Analysis and determines where there are holes that a teaming partner can fill. They also assess what other non-PWS holes need filling – such as a great customer relationship, unique tool or product, or other factors that are strengths for the team.


This is the 6th in a 13-part series focused on learning about Government RFPs and your response to RFPs as a government Contractor. Be sure to read the last post on getting to know your contracting officer 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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