Proposal writing

Subject: Proposal writing
From: "Herman Holtz" <h -dot- holtz -at- worldnet -dot- att -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 8 Jan 2001 07:25:59 -0500

Lately, I find myself drawn more and more into seeking out what others
have to say about proposal writing, as my deep interest in the subject is
renewed. Fortunately, I am finding a number of sensible discussions and

I find it reassuring to hear tales and opinions with the ring of
authenticity--truths about proposal adventures and experiences. If you
happen to visit some of the busier bars with crowded happy hours, you may
hear some of the cries and complaints that I have so often heard during
happy hours.

There is one kind of character I often encountered who will smugly
reassure anyone who asks that unless you "know someone," "was in on it at
the beginning, before the RFP was advertised," or had some analogous
advantage, you are wasting your time to write a proposal. The winner was
selected long ago, he will assure you.

Certain people are eager to believe such myths. Perhaps there is some
tiny seed, some shred of truth there in that the really big contracts, those
that mean large payrolls for some Senator's constituency, are going to
attract efforts by Members of Congress and perhaps other VIPs to help steer
the contracts to their own districts. It would be strange if that did not
happen. But that is a far cry from what some would have you believe, that
the system is dishonest.(The dishonesties I have come across were rare and
in all ways exceptions to the common practice.)

Many years ago, when I was still relatively green about proposals and
contracts, I attended a seminar on proposal writing and listened to a
speaker go on for at least an hour on why proposal writing is rarely of much
benefit to the average contractor. He followed this with another hour on how
to write proposals that win contracts, and apparently did not see the
anomaly at all, nor did the audience give any indication that they were
conscious of this foolishness.

It was this experience that provoked me into preparing my own seminar on
proposal writing and government contracting, which I presented many times
over the years following. Perhaps that is a good argument for listening to
all sides, even the ones that appear to make little sense. - Herm

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