White Paper proposals?

Subject: White Paper proposals?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 18 Jun 2004 09:30:16 -0400


Michele Davis wondered: <<I have to write a white paper proposal for a military contract grant.>>

The most important thing you need to know is that the RFP (request for proposals) that accomanies the grant application provides all the instructions you need for creating the proposal. (Haven't done this for military contracts, but have done it for many government contracts over the years, so I speak with some knowledge of the process.)

If you deviate from these instructions to the smallest degree, a proposal reviewer is well within their rights to reject your proposal out of hand. If the proposal is otherwise solid and they don't have many proposals, they're unlikely to do this, but I've heard many horror stories. Sometimes they just use it as a screening criterion to minimize their workload: if you can't follow instructions for a simple proposal, how can you follow them for a complex contract? Sometimes they use the criteria to award a contract to their friends or the guy who provided the best bribe. (No, I'm not being cynical; I have firsthand evidence of this from a government purchasing officer.)

Think of it as sending a resume containing typos: If you're the only one who applies, they may have to swallow their distaste and hire you anyway. If you're one of thousands, your resume is trashed.

<<The answer I received regarding this last month was that I should employ "good writing technique" and simply create a narrative that includes a beginning, middle and end.>>

Guess you didn't see my response (summarized above)? No, you're not trapped in a Seinfeld epiosde: write clearly, persuasively, and _concisely_. Answer all the reader's questions in a way that persuades them you can do the job. That's really all that's required. If the proposal review process is fair (not something to be taken for granted, particularly if you're writing for U.S. military contracts in Iraq), you'll be reviewed solely on the merits of your proposal: the only way they'll know your proposal is meritorious is by reading something so well written they can ignore your writing style and concentrate on the facts.

Isn't that "good writing technique"?

--Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca
(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)


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References:
White Paper Proposals: From: Michele Davis

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