Original Date: 04/29/2002
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Marketing to Increase the Bidder Pool
In response to the declining number of bids for repair projects, the Maintenance and Logistics Command-Atlantic interviewed repair facilities to identify the root causes of the problem. Feedback from the repair yards resulted in policy changes, and a marketing effort was implemented resulting in significant increases in bid responses.
In 1996, the Maintenance and Logistics Command-Atlantic (MLCLANT) observed a decline in the responses to procurement invitations for bids. Since only a few bidders were present in Districts 8 and 9, the prices were up significantly and at times, no bids were received which resulted in missed availabilities. Vessels traveling long distances for repair projects lost cutter operational days (i.e., a vessel was not available for operation when required to transit several days to a repair facility).
To address the problem, MLCLANT identified what it was doing wrong and how specifications could be improved. MLCLANT identified sources of supply and accomplished its goal with limited funds. In September 1996, a four- member Quality Action Team (QAT) was established which later grew to 28 members. The QAT located potential repair facilities by using the inland river guide, newspapers, telephone book yellow pages, and assistance from its Naval Engineering Support Units (NESUs). Based on past experience and knowledge, the QAT established expected problem areas (e.g., paperwork, personnel, facilities issues). More than 100 repair facilities were contacted to discuss government contracting with the U.S. Coast Guard. Many of the problems MLCLANT anticipated were validated by discussions and research; however, other problems arose from the discussions which would otherwise not have been identified.
Interviews with the repair facilities showed four categories of barriers to the bidding process: Excessive Paperwork
Burdensome contract documentation
Lack of dock certifications by several small repair facilities
Excessive Personnel On-site
Too many Coast Guard personnel and inspectors
No on-site port engineer to authorize changes
Drydock occupied too long while awaiting government decisions on needed repairs
No recuperation of actual costs compared with commercial clients
Government contracts not considered reliable income
The QAT made the following recommendations: Reduce paperwork in the specifications area
Decrease required inspection
Reduce number of required condition reports and references required
Reduce paperwork in the contracting area
Issue solicitations on disk
Implement base award with option years
Implement multi-ship contracts
Decrease personnel on-site
Temporarily assign some crew members to other operational units
Speed up change order process
Authorize Port Engineer to negotiate changes up to $2,500
Reduce number of review levels
The QAT made other recommendations and implemented them as funds became available. Since many companies were computerized, MLCLANT began the processing of bids electronically. Marketing at trade shows was also implemented. Marketing has emphasized the need to teach contractors how to work with the government and also filled a niche for providing companies access to government contracting information. MLCLANT is approaching its sixth year at the International Work Boat Show and now also exhibits at the Acquisition Reform Conference and the Society of Naval Engineers trade shows. MLCLANT’s practice marketing strategy has increased bid responses per solicitation from zero or one bid in FY97 to between six and 10 bids in FY01 (Figure 2-2).
Figure 2-2. Bid Statistics
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