As Always, the Most Important Aspect of Your Proposal is Whether It Provides Everything that the Solicitation Required

January 15, 2020 | By Maria L. Panichelli

Our clients frequently ask us what the government is looking for when it assesses their proposals for new government contracts. While there are many aspects of your proposal that are important, the first question should always be: did we provide everything that the government asked for? Failure to provide the documents and proof of capabilities requested is more likely than any other factor to cause your proposal to be rejected, even if you are initially successful in securing an award. The GAO confirmed this in its recent decision in the Matter of IT Objects, LLC.

In IT Objects, the protestor alleged that the awardee had falsely claimed that a particular individual would be one of its key personnel for the project.  That individual was employed by another company that had entered into a teaming agreement with the awardee, but he would not commit to working on the project in advance.  The awardee had included the teaming agreement in its proposal, but did not include a letter of commitment from the individual in question (though it had letters of commitment for the other proposed key personnel).

The protestor’s argument was that the awardee had made a material misrepresentation in its proposal when it offered this individual as one of the proposed key personnel, because he had refused to commit to the project in advance. The GAO rejected this argument. While the solicitation required the offerors to obtain a commitment from their proposed key personnel, the awardee had never represented that the individual in question had actually committed to the project. Accordingly, the GAO found there was no material misrepresentation.

However, that was not the end of the GAO’s inquiry. The Solicitation required that offerors submit a letter of commitment for each of their proposed key personnel. The awardee had not provided a letter of commitment for this particular individual (presumably because he would not commit to the project). The GAO ruled that the failure to provide the letter of commitment was a failure to meet a material solicitation requirement, which was sufficient grounds to overturn the award. Consequently, the GAO sustained the protest and the procurement was remanded to the agency for a new evaluation.

The takeaway for contractors is simple: the first step to a successful proposal is to make sure you have included all the required documentation! Omitting any required documents, no matter how seemingly trivial, or even if it would potentially make your proposal better, is the shortest route to a rejected proposal. If you need help assessing the requirements of a government solicitation or protesting a competitor’s failure to include required documentation, call us.

The information contained in this publication should not be construed as legal advice, is not a substitute for legal counsel, and should not be relied on as such. For legal advice or answers to specific questions, please contact one of our attorneys.

About the Authors

Maria L. Panichelli


Maria is a partner and the Chair of the Government Contracting department.   She focuses her practice exclusively on federal government contracting and procurement, guiding her clients throughout the entire lifecycle of their...

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