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What is a Sources Sought Notice?

Bureaupat has your answer

By Bureaupat Nov 24 2009, 12:03 AM

President Obama talks small business

Chuck Kennedy/White House

President Obama talks small business

Dear Bureaupat,

I'm a small business contractor who wants to do contract work for the government, and so I've been spending a lot of time on FedBizOpps. I recently saw mention of a Sources Sought Notice. What is this?

Dear Entrepreneur,

With all of that Recovery money floating around, you're not the only one trying to figure out how to do business with Uncle Sam. Meanwhile, the government is trying to figure out how to obligate those funds; in other words, how to dish out its considerable coin. One way the gov does this is through the use of the Sources Sought Notice.

Specifically, the federal government uses Sources Sought Notices as a way to perform market research, verify requirements, validate an approach to a solution (i.e. socioeconomic goals), and ensure competition.

As you observed, notices are also posted on the FedBizOpps website, much like a Request for Proposal (RFP), during the pre-solicitation phase of a requirement. However, a Sources Sought Notice is much different than a RFP, and requires a different strategy to respond. If done right, a well crafted response to a Sources Sought Notice can pay dividends to your small business, give you exposure to contracting and program offices, and also give you valuable insight on opportunities that you may otherwise be shielded from.

Here are some tips if you choose to respond to this Sources Sought Notice:

1. Answer the Mail — A Sources Sought Notice is not an opportunity to show off fancy marketing materials or slick presentations. It is a response to specific information being requested by the Government. Specifically, the information that needs to be conveyed includes:

- Specific and relevant experience and expertise to perform the requirements;
- Ability to perform the required requirements at an acceptable level of quality within cost, schedule, and performance metrics; and
- Demonstrated understanding of requirement.

2. Read the Instructions — This seems counter-intuitive. Unfortunately, many firms see a Sources Sought Notice as a marketing opportunity and do not address the information requested by the Government. If done properly a Sources Sought will be a more effective marketing marketing tool than the best glossy brochure. Also, remember this is the government. That is, you need to ensure you respond in the proper format, to the right address, and to the right person. If you have any questions or need clarity on any issue, ask the point of contact listed in the notice. Do not assume anything.

3. Know the Strategy — A Sources Sought Notice helps inform industry that the Government has a need. To formulate an effective response, you should perform due diligence to gather as much information about the customer and the need as possible.

4. Ask to Receive — Responding to the notice is another step in the process of developing a relationship with the Government and the office having the requirement. Parts of your marketing efforts are to inform the requesting office that firms in your socioeconomic designation are capable and willing to meet the need. Request the requirement be made a small business set-aside, specifically for your classification as applicable. Also, don't be afraid to ask to meet with the requesting office, specifically the program office, as they are the ones with the funding. Ensure you follow up with the Contracting Officer to ensure receipt of your submission. These are the types of actions that give your firm an advantage and make your firm stand out.

5. Submit a Quality Product — First impressions are hard to change. Ensure you submit a polished response that has been proofread, edited, and that has been vetted against a compliance matrix that should be created to ensure the response covers all aspects of the notice. Sloppy and rushed responses also have a tendency to stand out, and could create a negative impression or your small business.

If you follow these steps with Sources Sought Notices not only may you be a successful awardee, but you will increase the number of opportunities and your brand for future needs.

Yours in Gov,



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