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It's tough for an incumbent to be confident with a bullseye on its back (01-29-15)

Privately the pundits are saying that retaining a federal contract incumbency at recompete time is, at best, a 1 in 10 proposition these days. It is true that most government customers would like the outcome of their contract recompetes to be the return of: the existing staff; the incumbent contractor; or, both. To ensure that the acquisition mavens are suitably appeased, incumbents invariably have to bid to accomplish their existing work at a lower price. This puts great pressure on an incumbent contractor because:
  • they must devise a strategy that (appears to) retain some, or most, of their incumbent staff;
  • they must be able to credibly propose to accomplish the required work at a (reduced) price that wards off insurgent low-ballers; and,
  • the incumbent has to try to neutralize the large and magnetic bullseye that incumbency has painted on its back!
Losing an incumbent contract is a hard lesson for any contractor to learn. But, even in the prevailing insurgent-friendly acquisition environment, there are effective ways of making incumbency loss avoidable. Overcoming the odds of losing an incumbency, however, is a long-term process. It starts at contract award and continues without pause throughout the period of performance. Anyone seeking a short-term fix should consider purchasing lottery tickets.
The importance of planning to retain incumbencies is the subject of The Recompete Guide, the second book that CAI/SISCo published in our Roadmap To BD Success series. This volume was authored by Nigel Thacker, arguably the thought leader in the art and science of incumbency retention. Nigel's book, which is available on Amazon, lays out a panoply of processes, approaches and techniques that make retaining existing contracts much less of a gamble. The Recompete Guide calls for contract holders to stop admiring or ignoring pending recompete problems and act before their remediation options dwindle into nothingness.
For firms facing "must retain" recompetes CAI/SISCo conducts professional Price To Win (PTW) studies aimed at improving their retention odds by shedding light on:
  • who is competing against you;
  • how competing teams are likely to have been able to shape the RFP and its evaluation scheme;
  • how they are likely to be able to earn non-cost evaluation award points;
  • where your competitors are most likely to price their bids that are, after all, aimed at unseating you; and,
  • how best to camouflage the bullseye on your back.
Please call me, Tony Constable, on (301) 807 8171 if you have an incumbency retention issue that you would like to discuss.
Good luck, retain your incumbencies, and happy hunting!
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