IC Week: Jennifer Dewey on Consulting and Subcontracting to Partner Organizations

My name is Jennifer Dewey, and I am a Senior Director with Walter R. McDonald and Associates, Inc. (WRMA). Over the years, I have worked for organizations that receive a substantial amount of business in health and human services from Federal, state, and local-level entities. A key method to obtaining this work is partnering with subcontractors and consultants to respond to requests for proposals, or RFPs.

“Prime” responders (those who will take 51% or more of the work) look to subcontractors (an organization) and independent consultants (an individual) to enhance their bids. Subcontractors and consultants do this by providing content or technical knowledge that the prime doesn’t have enough of, or doesn’t have at all. For example, a history of working with certain populations (e.g. military and veterans, indigenous peoples) or specialized statistical expertise (e.g., social network analysis). Subcontractors and consultants may enhance a bid by being based in one or more locations where the project will take place, bringing their knowledge of the local government, population(s), and community structure to the work.

Many of these partnerships are generated through networking, where a prime representative knows an independent consultant or staff member at a potential subcontractor that can bring the needed knowledge and skills to an RFP response.

Rad Resource: Familiarize yourself with available Federal contract vehicles, such as AHRQ (www.ahrq.gov), CDC (www.cdc.gov), GSA MOBIS (www.gsa.gov), HHS PSC (www.ngsservices.com/program_support_center.html) HRSA (www.hrsa.gov), SAMHSA (www.samhsa.gov), and others to learn about past and future contracts. Consulting organizations often list their contract vehicles on their website.

Hot Tip: Make yourself and/or your organization easy to find through LinkedIn profiles with direct contact information, and websites with detailed descriptions of services, projects, and staff member qualifications.

Once you establish a partnership, prove your worth by delivering high-quality, timely work as part of the RFP process. Brainstorming and generating ideas about the scope of work, while challenging in itself, is easy compared to the business of putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard).

Hot Tip: Leverage your unique subject matter expertise and technical knowledge by being a thinking partner with the prime, helping them understand and work through the challenges implicit in the project. As requested, follow up with well-written tasks that address the RFP’s evaluation criteria within the allotted page count.

Hot Tip: Cement your value by providing professional bios, resumes, project examples, and organizational capacity statements per the prime’s timeline and in the requested format.

Primes view subcontractor and independent consultant contributions to the RFP process as a litmus test for contract performance. Whether the bid is won or lost, high performance will increase your opportunities for future work.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Independent Consulting TIG Week with our colleagues in the IC AEA Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our IC TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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