Onvia recently conducted a survey of government procurement professionals from around the country to provide useful insights for both buyers and sellers in the business-to-government (B2G) marketplace.

Over 550 procurement staff from cities, counties, special districts, state agencies and school districts nationwide participated in the survey, revealing useful findings for creating effective B2G commerce.

One of the highlighted findings that the survey revealed was that 42% of procurement staff reported that on average their competitive bids and RFPs did not receive enough bidders. We think this is something that can be improved with better collaboration between the procurement community and vendors. Here’s more:

What’s Behind the Perception of ‘Limited’ Vendor Response?

Procurement Professionals: Sufficient Response to Bids/RFPs - Onvia

As shown in the chart above, four of our ten agency respondents indicated that they are failing to attract enough interest among vendors and contractors in their formal, competitive solicitations.

Some of the most common answers related to issues with “cumbersome” or difficult regulations, rules and requirements that may be playing a role in limiting potential bidders. Further analysis showed that the largest agencies and those who have seen recent growth in spending tended to have more problems in this area, an interesting finding that may seem counter-intuitive. Despite this, Onvia believes that government buyers and vendors have an opportunity to work better together to improve this issue.

How Public Sector Buyers and Sellers Can Collaborate to Attract More Bidders

The most successful government contractors often note that the process of competing for government contracts requires hard work, intelligence and focus, even if the solution is appropriate and competitively priced. Furthermore, vendors are challenged with finding out about bids with enough lead time to respond, and secondly, the decision to respond at all requires collecting and weighing additional information about the opportunity to justify the marketing expense of that effort. For example, one vendor responding to Onvia’s 2016 Survey of Government Contractors noted the following:

Our biggest issue is retrieving the bid and then researching to find out who won it before and what products had been awarded.

Food services vendor

Perhaps more importantly, in order to be able to reach a decision to “bid” or “not-to-bid”, the most successful contractors are finding ways to get early awareness on upcoming bids. Proven strategies include: Developing consultative relationships with target agencies, studying past awarded contracts, tracking upcoming multi-year contract renewals and anticipating upcoming bids and RFPs by studying agency budgets and spending plans.

Vendors who attempt to monitor thousands of agency websites for this data manually report a high level of inefficiency. On the other hand, those who have strong relationships with their targeted agencies and are using a government spending intelligence system like Onvia are finding the most government contracting success.

To help agencies improve bid response rates, vendors should take advantage of the opportunity to act as more collaborative partners. This can include responding to RFI’s issued prior to RFPs, as well as attending other pre-proposal conferences and vendor fairs. Efforts such as these help businesses raise awareness of their value, features and brand and also allow vendors the opportunity to influence the project scope and specifications prior to issuance of the bid or RFP.

Likewise, agencies can help improve bid quality and vendor response by seeing the vendor community more like collaborative partners who can offer new ideas and perspectives. Onvia recommends that agencies can invite more vendor collaboration by practicing some of these proven tactics: Issuing more RFI’s before RFPs, holding more pre-proposals conferences and vendor fairs and in general, seeking more vendor input along the way.

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