Proposals - Scored or Read

I recently heard someone say that government proposals are scored not read. Once upon a time (really not that long ago – say 20 years) this was true. The government used ‘scoring’ templates to assign points to various components, elements, and details in a proposal. This practice, however, led to many a nasty discussion between the government and the bidders who lost (maybe by just a point or two) regarding how the score was actually derived. And, those discussions often became protests.

The advent of Best Value procurements in combination with the most common “evaluation system” now used by Government – Adjectival Scoring – was designed to make the evaluation process more subjective in the hope that it would also be more thoughtful. The expectation was the adjectives (which relate to color assignments) would provide general guidance, but the evaluation team would have to reach a consensus on ‘value’ based on the narratives they prepare.

What does this mean for the way in which proposals are prepared? It means that storytelling and presentation become much more significant because there really is no mathematical scoring process. The evaluation is based upon a reading of the document and the impression that it makes. Are strong component elements important, yes. But, if they get lost inside a terrible story and an ugly presentation you are not likely to be a winner.