7 Tips on How to Write a Bid for a Government Contract

If you’re looking to secure a contract with the federal government, it’s not enough to have a great business. You must know how to write a bid for a government contract. In your proposal, you must show government agencies not only that your business is easily able to satisfy their needs, but also that you can do it better than your competitors.

You must make it clear that you understand the solicitation. Your response must include all the appropriate information, well-written and error free. And your pricing must be fair but competitive. You’ll need to put together an executive summary that makes a compelling case that your business is the government’s best option.

If you’ve never written a bid for a government contracting opportunity, it can be overwhelming at first. The U.S. Small Business Administration’s proposal workbook can show you how to write a bid for a government contract. Meanwhile, this article will offer seven tips on how to win federal contracts with airtight bids. 

Make everything customer centric

Once you’re past the cover page, there’s a creative way to use every form and paragraph to your advantage. One way to do so is to write from the customer’s point of view. Everything from your company bio to your team members’ bios should be written to highlight how you and your team are uniquely positioned to service the customer in this contract.

When you draft your compatibility statement, keep in mind that contracting officers have limited time and, in most cases, many contract proposals or bid packages to review. Your goal is to write a thorough but short statement that outlines your business’s strengths. It should include your specific capabilities and skills, a past performance history citing previous projects and contract values, any awards or commendations you’ve earned, and resumes of key management. 

Proposal sections should be clearly marked and easy to find. The information within should stand alone, meaning any relevant information should be included in each section so that if someone were to randomly select a section, they could find all necessary information and wouldn’t have to look elsewhere to fill in the gaps. 

Keep this statement down to a single page. That will make it much easier for a contracting officer to read. Try to grab their attention quickly.

Mind your P’s and RFQ’s

There are several types of contracts, and it’s up to you to know the difference between them, and what rules and formatting apply for each kind. You should always adhere strictly to the instructions and use the indicated format. This can include specifications for pages, fonts, binding, and printing requirements, so make sure you know what is expected of your completed bid.

While each contract proposal will be different, here are the basic details of the most common types of government contract proposals:

  • RFI: A request for information is the formal method for government agencies to seek information from potential contractors about a project. This is seen as an advance notice to communicate to potential bidders the government’s interest in research and development projects. These can be used as market research and often are used to determine the potential interest for a specific project.
  • RFP: A request for proposal is a document a federal government organization provides to announce a new project available through a bidding process. They’re generally used in negotiated acquisitions to communicate the government’s requirements and solicit proposals. These are time-sensitive and subject to change, so it’s important to keep up with the RFP at all times and submit your proposal as soon as possible. This document will list all the specific needs and requirements of a project. An RFP bid package will likely include a Standard Form 33 or Standard Form 1447. If you’re using the GSA’s eBuy platform, you can use an electronic RFP system. 
  • RFQ: A request for quotation aims to gather information about how much a solution will cost. The purpose for the quote is to give the government entity the financial details behind a solution so they can make an informed decision. This solicitation type is generally used when the estimated value of the government’s need will be under $150,000. Simplified acquisition procedures will apply, and the RFQ bid package will typically include Standard Form 18. Like with RFP’s, the GSA’s eBuy platform has a fully electronic RFQ system.
  • IFB: An invitation for bid is referred to as a sealed bid solicitation. Generally, there are no discussions or negotiations with the government agency and the bid package is considered complete for bidding purposes. Price is often considered the primary factor by the government when awarding the contract. Non-responsive bids are typically eliminated. An IFB bid generally includes Standard Form 33 or Standard Form 1447.

Learn from the past

Take the time to browse previously awarded government contacts. They provide useful information and insights into what government entities value in a contract proposal. 

Those contracts show how detailed the information should be and what a clearly-filled out form looks like. They also reveal what vendors have previously charged for goods or services and what your competitors are able to offer. This can help you craft stronger proposals in the future.

Mark the milestones

While writing your contract proposal, take extreme care to show through your responses that you understand each milestone associated with the project. Use the opportunity to show how your company can meet each milestone within the schedule, too. 

It’s important to stress that your business will be able to accomplish major goals on the expected timeline to keep the project moving and on budget. If you can detail how your business is able to do this and less likely to face any barriers, you’re one step closer to a successful bid.

Show, don’t tell

When responding to a government contract proposal with your bid, you must go much further than saying you can meet the specific requirements. You can’t just tell them you can do the job, you must show them how you can do the job

This is your time to shine! Take the time to describe how you plan to achieve their needed goals or project completion. Has your business performed a similar project recently or another job of this magnitude? Use that experience to illustrate how you have done it before and why your bid is the best value for the job at hand. 

If you can find a way to make points with visual data like charts or graphs, include them to strengthen your case.

What you should never do is make any unsubstantiated claims, include information irrelevant to the project at hand, or submit a proposal with information that falls short of the requirements. This can tarnish your credibility and your overall ability to win contracts.

Establish a connection

Before you begin drafting your bid, take the time to reach out to the contracting officer to learn more about any pain points, concerns, bigger goals, and more. Once you’re equipped with the additional information, you’ll be able to communicate how you plan to work with the program or project manager throughout the project and, more importantly, how you will address any potential snags along the way. 

Double check

This part of the process is extremely important. Once you are done, double check your work. Go through each response and form to make sure you are answering all questions in a clear and concise manner.

Ensure that you’re meeting the format standards and not missing any opportunities to strengthen your bid. Make sure you haven’t missed any sections or left any insufficient answers. 

Everything look good? Now, read it once more. And if you really want to make sure it’s airtight, have a third party review your bid. There are third-party organizations that will do this. The APTAC, or the Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers, for example, can connect you with an experienced eye to review the bid before you submit it. 


Writing your first bid can be confusing. GovCon Wealth, a division of Cope Corrales, is known for helping government contractors solve business problems. We’re here to help you land your first win. 

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