Understanding the Sources Sought or RFI and Their Value
A Sources Sought Notice and/or Request for Information (RFI) are not an actual bid or proposal solicitations; instead, they are a solicitation of interest. Think of a Sources Sought or RFI as market research being conducted by a government agency to determine what the capabilities and interests of the marketplace are.
The Purpose of the Sources Sought Notice and/or Request for Information (RFI)
For the agency, they are trying to identify sources. They are trying to determine if there is potential for a small business set-aside (SBSA) or other type of set-aside.
For the vendor, it is a chance to help influence the potential for a Set Aside. If capable small businesses do not respond, then a set-aside may be lost. Having lost an out-of-the-gate advantage with your Set Aside, you now risk competing against large firms.
This is also a great opportunity to market and develop a positive image, this may be the agency’s first impression of you and your company.
Often times the “capable” small business does not respond to the Sources Sought Notice. They do not see it for the opportunity that it really is! This also holds true to the Request For Information (RFI) notices that you see on FedBizOpps.
To Respond or Not
It is important that you not respond just for the sake of responding. Some vendors are not capable, but submit a single page standard line card in response to sources sought.
If you are interested, respond specifically to the requirement at hand. Responding also takes time and effort and is an expense that can quickly mount up if you respond to everything. It is important to know where you fit in the market.
The sources sought, is looking for capable sources that will likely respond to the solicitation when published. The government is also interested in knowing what socio interest (set aside) the request could be posted for.
Responding to a Sources Sought or RFI
Responding to most Sources Sought will require submitting a capability statement, but sometimes within the notice they will request that you send a technical capability statement.
Your technical response is usually when the SOW is complex in nature and more detailed information is needed by the government to determine a source’s true capability.
The major difference between the two statements is your capability statement has the following sections:
• Core Competencies
• Past Performance
While a technical statement includes the following additions:
1- Address each task
2- Explain your capability level
3- Subcontractor functions and or plans
4- How you handle (or will handle) issues
5- Key personnel
These notices are a way to gaint an out-of-the-gate advantage by responding, to help influence the potential for a Set Aside. It can also be a great opportunity to market and develop a positive image, this may be the agency’s first impression of you and your company.
So the next time you see one of these requests, see it for the opportunity that it is!