Proposal:  n.

      1. The act of proposing.
      2. A plan that is proposed.
      3. An offer of marriage.

proposal1Can you think of how this word makes you feel?  Perhaps it brings up memories of a time in youth when there were strong emotions of love.  Maybe it makes your palms sweat (again) about whether you got the right ring or would say the right thing.  It could make you giddy or regretful in some cases.

A single word can emote so many feelings one way or another.  “Proposal” is one of those words in government contracts.  I have been working for a B2B company for quite some time now and my days of writing proposals were basically behind me.  Then, in late December 2012, just as I was settling in “for a long winter’s nap,” in my e-mail there “arose such a clatter” I sprang to my memory to see what I could do about it.

I am currently managing a proposal to offer our amazing healthcare product for a large organization.  Partially because I “like” to write proposals – partially because I like the product as it would apply to Gov Con (hopefully by late 2013).  Either way, I found myself at the helm of a large proposal that was going somewhere other than a government agency.

proposal2Is it wrong that I am enjoying this?  Managing the expectations of the customer throughout the response is great.  There are so many books written on “the best way,” but when it isn’t going to a government professional, it makes it a lot easier to manage.  The structure required is minimal as long as the questions are answered, and, get this, there are NO PAGE LIMITS!  (Admit it, if you have been part of a proposal before your mouth just dropped a little or you sighed in empathy for my good fortune).

I have often daydreamed about how to solve all of those thoughts you are having about proposals in the government contracting realm:


  • “How do I manage page limits?”
  • “How do I handle required formatting?”
  • “What about the different volumes?”
  • “Are there forms required to go with this based on the Provisions in the RFP?”
  • “How do I work through Pink, Red, and Gold without losing my original thoughts and ideas?” (remember in school how you would erase an answer to change it and find out later that your first instinct was the right one?

I imagine technology has come far enough that we should be able to automate this.  Has anyone seen a package like this?  I know the government has the ability to “automate” RFP writing to some extent, but is there a tool out there to “automate” proposal writing?  What have you seen?

About Marty Herbert

With 13 years of government contract administration, analysis, finance, and audit experience, I have established a firm baseline in ethics and a specialization in government contracts that has prepared me to become a subject matter expert in my field. I am currently working on enhancing government contracts management and compliance through workflow tools and product offerings - attempting to make the process proactive as opposed to reactive.
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