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Government Express eNews:

Actionable Information for Companies Targeting Federal Government Business

Volume 1, #1, March, 2007

This monthly newsletter is sent free to companies doing business with the Federal government. Sign up for your free subscription at www.GovernmentExpress.com and if you like this newsletter, please pass it along to your colleagues. To unsubscribe, see directions below. Government Express eNews back issues will be posted at www.GovernmentExpress.com .

March 2007 Contents…



Welcome to the premier issue of Government Express eNews. Each month we will provide information that will help you make more money doing business with the government, from experienced professionals. We will keep each issue short, no longer than 4 printed pages, often with articles continuing at www.GovernmentExpress.com.


By Russell Smith, president, OCI – www.Orgcom.com

Our customers frequently ask the question, “How much does it cost to prepare a proposal?” or a variant on the same question, “How much should it cost to prepare a proposal?”  The answer to this question is complex and is affected by many variables.  It is a little like the question, how much does it cost to build a house?  The answer is affected by the size, materials, skill of the craftsmen, cost of the lot, and other things.

Usually, the people asking this question want a cut-and-dried answer.  They want to be told, “a proposal should cost you X percent of the contract value”, or “Y dollars per page” or something like that.  A meaningful answer is more complicated.  Following below, I attempt to examine some of the variables affecting proposal cost and then provide some measuring yardsticks on what a proposal should cost.

An even better question than “What does a proposal cost?” is the question asking, “What does a winning proposal cost?”  The key factor in answering this question depends on what type of Business Development philosophy an organization is pursuing.  At the two extremes, there are companies who are extremely good at business development and other companies who are not.  The companies who are good at (invest a lot in) business development do so much work on the program during the two years before it is even released as a Request for Proposals (RFP), that they may win  90% of the contracts where they submit a bid. 

Other companies have more of a shotgun philosophy.  They may not invest much in business development.  And sometimes, they may not even be aware of a program they will bid until they see the Sources Sought announcement or even see the final RFP being released.  It comes as no surprise that the shotgun approach to proposal selection / writing may produce a result such as 10% winning proposals or less.  Of course the proposal cost for the companies using the shotgun approach is on the order of 10 times higher per won contract than the firms using a classical business development model.

Probably the most important overall variable affecting proposal cost is the type of proposal being prepared.  Is it a simple quotation or is it a complex proposal?  Is it services or products?  Is it an old fashioned page unlimited proposal, or is it a current simple style services proposal limited to past performance and resumes?  Does it require simply a paper proposal, or does the bidder also have to prepare an oral proposal; provide a product demonstration, prepare a product design, manufacture a model product, or go through other arcane rituals? (too see the rest of the article, go to http://governmentexpress.com/articles.html .

(Mr Smith and OCI offer courses on the Bid and Proposal process.)



Amtower and Company along with Government Market press have released the first of several planned self-paced learning tools for the government contract community. The Ultimate Government Sales Jumpstart Program is a 4 CD set with a workbook designed for the novice in doing business with the government. It offers a broad government market overview, details on the Federal GSA Schedule contracts, information on marketing to the government, details on how to get started in government contracting and much more.  The program also comes with 2 bonus CDs. Visit http://governmentexpress.com/jumpstart.html for details. If you decide to order, type “GE ENEWS” into the “Order Code” box for an automatic $100 discount.

More CD programs (the government sales process, business development skills, and more) are scheduled for release soon.



There are many free resources on the web and we will highlight some good ones as we find them. One good source of information for small business is Information Strategies, which publishes several free enewsletters.  The titles include Healthcare and You, Small Business Digest, Managing Small Biz, and My Company Today. Subscriptions are free at www.2sbdigest.com/signup.aspx



There is continuing growth in the Federal small purchase credit card program, the SmartPay program, administered by the U.S. General Services Administration. The Federal FY runs from October 1 through September 30.

The FY 2006 total spent by the program rose to $17.758 billion despite fewer cardholders and fewer overall purchases. This is about $325 million more than FY 2005. The average FY 2006 purchase rose to $700.72 from $672.15 in FY 2005. The number of actual cardholders across the federal government continued to fall slightly to 299,564, significantly lower than the high of FY 1999, when there were 517,082 cardholders.


Mark Amtower will share the three key factors to winning government business in an interview conducted by Guy Timberlake, CEO of The American Small Business Coalition. The U.S. government market (federal, state and local) represents 25% of the GDP - 25% of the money spent in the country is government spending on products and services needed to meet the needs of this great country. Go to http://governmentexpress.com/3keys-teleseminar.html for exact April date and details.


There are hundreds of events each week around the country for companies that want to do business with the Federal government. Many of these are excellent, many are not. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list,, but does include events I am comfortable  endorsing. Just because an event is not listed below does not imply it is not worth attending..

April 12, 2007 OUTLOOK, McLean Hilton, Vienna, Virginia.  www.FedSources.comthis is THE big information technology budget conference, and it will probably sell out.

April 19, 2007: 17th Annual OSDBU Conference, Upper Marlboro, Maryland www.fbcinc.com/osdbu  - the definitive OSDBU event, a must for small businesses regardless of what you sell.

May 9-10, 2007, GovSec, Washington Convention Center, www.GovSecinfo.com - the annual conference on government security, both physical security and information security.

May 15-17, 2007. GSA Expo, Orlando, Floridawww.expo.gsa.gov this is the annual General Services Administration conference with excellent networking and education sessions.

June 3-5, 2007, ACT Management of Change Conference, Richmond, Virginia.  www.actgov.org -  high-level event for the information tech community.

June 25-28, 2007, National Veteran Small Business Conference & Expo, Las Vegas www.Nationalveteransconference.com while I have not yet attended this, I am told by many sources that this is an excellent event for the Veteran-owned business community.



Amtower Off-Center airs Monday at 10:05 AM (Eastern) on WFED 1050 AM in Washington, DC and is simulcast on  www.FederalNewsRadio.com.  Every week experts on various aspects of doing business with the government join Mark Amtower for a lively discussion of current issues facing the government contractor community.

Government Express eNews  is published by Amtower & Company, and is written for companies targeting the government marketplace. The opinions expressed are those of respective authors unless otherwise noted. Contact us at Amtower & Company, PO Box 314, Highland, MD 20777-0314,, or through the www.GovernmentExpress.com .  This material is copyrighted and may not be duplicated, reprinted or otherwise replicated without written permission of the publisher.  Email subscriptions are free by request: sign up at www.GovernmentExpress.com .


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