The Dream Proposal Product Does Not Exist

Federal proposal writing cannot be automated for one simple reason: the proposal preparation instructions in Requests for Proposal (RFPs) are not standardized. The Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) defines the basic content of RFPs, but broad section definitions are not enough. To compound the problem, a significant percentage of RFPs do not even follow the section standards specified in FAR. And even worse, proposal instructions can be scattered throughout an RFP, and if you miss a one-sentence requirement, your proposal can be rejected.

All proposals should start with a compliance matrix to make proposal evaluation easier and more efficient. The content and structure of the compliance matrix should dictate the proposal organization structure. Accordingly, a standard RFP template with a standard compliance matrix would clean up the scattered RFP mess and make proposal writing easier and much cheaper for bidders. It would also make proposal evaluation easier and less costly for the government.

Don’t lie awake waiting for a standard RFP template. The irrationality of the federal bureaucracy is legendary. Even the Department of Defense doesn’t follow standards for posting a bidding opportunity at

Commercial proposal products currently available are all over the map including:

  • Database products assisting in organizing and accessing proposal content
  • Proposal scheduling and management products
  • Products featuring proposal writer collaboration
  • Products telling you how to write win themes and selling points
  • Products that tell you how to organize a proposal
  • Products that claim to automate the proposal writing process (dream products).

All of these products provide some value but are not the answer to the “make it easy” dream. Proposal writing is not easy and never will be. A winning proposal has to be written by experienced proposal writers.
Fedmarket’s “Recipe for Writing a Compliant Federal Proposal” is different than any other available products. The Recipe teaches inexperienced writers how to write a compliant federal proposal using a “clean” RFP. Then the Recipe provides writers with detailed procedures for filtering messy RFPs (the norm) and using the resulting compliance matrix to produce a draft proposal ready for technical input.

Procedurally, the Recipe:

  1. Untangles an RFP into a compliance matrix and then uses the matrix to set up the proposal volumes to meet the government requirements.
  2. The Recipe then supplies pre-written materials and guides writers on how to provide compliant technical materials to complete the proposal.
  3. The Recipe does not provide required technical content in response to a Statement of Work but sets the organization for the technical response (if there is a technical response requirement in the RFP) and provides instructions on where and how to insert technical content in the draft proposal.

In summary, the Recipe is the closest an application can come to automating federal proposal writing. Applying the Recipe to writing a federal proposal is difficult for inexperienced writers, but the Recipe provides a training tool that reduces the learning curve. And, most importantly, the Recipe makes it possible for an inexperienced writer to write a compliant proposal if time is spent using the training tool.
Unfortunately, the dream product that writes technical content for you doesn’t exist. The Recipe gets as close to a complete draft proposal as possible in the unpredictable and messy world of federal contracting.

Read about Fedmarket’s Recipe for Writing a Compliant Federal Proposal at

Questions about proposal writing? Call Richard White at (301) 960 – 5813.

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