Acquisition Process

Our Acquisition Process

Step 1: Market Research & Planning

A typical federal acquisition project starts with the development of strategies that will manage the full acquisition process, from planning, soliciting and evaluating offers, to awarding and administering contracts, through closeout. Market research & acquisition planning are key components to ensure that the government’s needs are met in the most effective, economical, and timely manner.

The acquisition planning step determines the fundamental character and defines strategies to be executed during the entire acquisition process. The planning step combines efforts of all staff members responsible for essential aspects of the acquisition. Market research is conducted to collect and analyze information about the capabilities available in the market and to identify the most suitable approach to acquiring, distributing, and supporting products and services. This research is a combined effort by the program manager and the acquisition team.

Step 2: Solicitation

After market research & acquisition planning are completed and all required documentation is available and approved, the contract specialist will develop the solicitation document. Once the solicitation is released, bids or proposals from prospective offerors are collected and evaluated for award.

A solicitation is any request to submit offers or quotes to the government for the purpose of acquiring products and services. Contracting officials prepare a solicitation that fully describes and specifies what it wants to purchase, the terms and conditions of the purchase, delivery schedules, and support needed for the product or service. All acquisitions are competed to the maximum extent practicable. However, it is generally during this preparation time that the government determines if a sole source acquisition will be necessary.

Step 3: Negotiation & Award

Every action in the earlier stages of the acquisition process share one underlying goal – to award a contract representing the best value to the government with other factors considered, such as price. During this discussion/negotiation/award stage, this goal becomes clear.

The purpose in negotiations of every contracting officer (CO) is to get a “good deal” within the boundaries of the applicable laws and regulations. The contracting officer must also see to it that all parties arrive at a common understanding of the requirements document and at a fair and reasonable price and all contract terms. Once proposal submissions are evaluated – by the contracting officer and/or the source selection committee – and an offeror is deemed the strongest, the contracting officer signs the contract, which becomes the award.

Step 4: Administration & Closeout

The fourth step in the acquisition process is administration & closeout. Once a contract is awarded and a post-award orientation meeting takes place, the day-to-day oversight begins. During this period, any contract modifications are administered by the contract specialist. Closeout is the last stage of contract administration, and it occurs when the period of performance has ended, and the final bills are being agreed upon between the government and the contractor.

Contract administration begins as soon as a contract is awarded. A post-award orientation meeting (by teleconference, in-person or some other form of communication) should kick off the actual process of contract administration. The collaboration between the program manager, the contracting officer’s technical representative (COTR) and the contracting officer (CO) is one of partnership. Since COTRs will be in constant dialog with the contractor, they must read the contract thoroughly to know the details of what the government is buying, whether it is a service or product or both. COTRs cannot give direction outside the scope of the contract. Any contract changes will require the input and agreement by the contracting officer, which will then be issued as a contract modification. The official closeout process only begins when the contract is complete.