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Reverse Industry Days: Improving Understanding Across the Contracting Divide (06-22-16)

In late May, 2016 DHS (Department of Homeland Security) held their second-ever Reverse Industry Day (RID) in a convention-like setting. The RID process provides an opportunity for industry to identify and discuss acquisition issues that have improvement potential and present them to DHS's acquisition community. Even though my company, CAI/SISCo, doesn't sell anything directly to government, I wound up moderating the industry panel on pricing issues. My panel consisted of representatives from companies of all types and sizes that iether are, or want to be, DHS contractors.
To cover the complex subject of pricing, I asked each panelist to develop and speak to a specific pricing issue that, they believed, has potential to improve DHS/industry understanding. What follows is my summary description of the improvements that I see could be made across the "contracting divide."
On the industry side of the divide, the focus is on the "opportunity." An opportunity makes it into a firm's strategic business plan way in advance of the opportunity's major time milestones and only when the likely scope of work, contract type, and timing of the acquisition align with corporate financial objectives (e.g., the need to backfill an otherwise eroding backlog of work). As the characteristics of targeted opportunities change, firms re-assess their priorities. Win probabilities and a company's propensity to invest in a full-scale capture campaign may change, since other opportunities are competing for finite, time-phased pursuit funds (i.e., investment and B&P funds).
To industry, time is money, but to government, time is often just time. If capture campaigns could be made more predictable and less time-elastic, they would become less expensive to mount. This should increase competition, and DHS's response to this should be more and earlier down-selects that winnow out 'technologically unacceptable" offerors. This should help all bidders conserve precious pursuit funds.
Bid pricing is always dependent on a bidder's perception of an opportunity's viability, realism, potential and duration. Inevitably bidders will pose questions, but, too often, there are long delays before government comes up with answers. From industry's point of view, developing responses to questions concerning acquisition documents should be government'shighest priority - one that is driven by an extreme reluctance to extend proposal due dates.
As DHS absorbs some of industry's ideas and suggestions that were aired at this RID, new approaches are likely to emerge that address some of these issues. As this happens, we hope that DHS requires its COs to develop detailed after action reports for each acquisition. These reports should become required reading for DHS's acquisition community to promote approaches that produce positive results and avoid those that didn't.
If you wish to learn more about the Reverse Industry Day (RID) process, please send me an email at or call me at (301) 807 8171.
To request training information, a Price To Win (PTW) proposal, or to buy a book, please contact:
  • Jennifer Weinberg for PTW Professional Development Training - her phone number is (301) 840 5959 and her email is; or
  • Rich Brown for a proposal to do a PTW study on a specific opportunity - his phone number is (301) 704 1289 and his email is
My PTW Book - Hope Is Not A Winning Strategy... ... But Price To Win Is - is always available from Amazon as are copies of the other books in our Roadmap To BD Success Series. If there are any other issues related to Price To Win (PTW), pricing strategies or bid price development that you would like to discuss please call me.
Good luck, and happy hunting!
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