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Who Is Who in the Government Contracting World

When we started Quimba Software we were viewing government contracting the same as commercial contract work. That, coupled with the fact that we both had prior experience as employees of other government contracting firms, made us feel comfortable going in. It didn’t take long for us to discover just how incorrect that understanding was. Our biggest problem, it turned out, was the fact that the government throws a whole lot of people, processes, regulation, and bureaucracy at you but there is really no single document that ties them all together. For example, soon after you win an award you learn about DCAA. You are likely not to discover DCMA unless you get assigned a proactive representative within DCMA (quite rare), miss a deadline, something goes wrong, or the contract closes or is terminated.

Complaining about the complications or the complexities won’t add any value to your life and, frankly, is a waste of your time as an entrepreneur. As our tax accountant likes to say: “If you want to change policy, run for office.” Otherwise our job, as entrepreneurs is to accept the policies, though not without consideration and at times questioning, figure out how to manage our business in a way that meets both the government and our goals. That, in and of itself is quite a challenge. The first thing we need to learn to succeed with a new system is all the moving parts. In this article I enumerate typical agents of the government and tell you a little bit about their role in the contracting process.

Customer or Agency: Your goods or services will be requisitioned by one of the many government agencies, referred to as the “customer”, “end user”, or the “agency” in the industry.

RFP: The customer develops the technical specifications for the necessary product or service. Depending on the total projected cost to the government, as well as considerations such as clearance requirements, the specifications will go through an internal process of examination, pre-announcements, and revisions. At some point a Request for Proposal (RFP) will be issued. Except as amended, this document is the final word on what the government will be buying. It spells out everything you need to know to offer a bid and/or a proposal.

Bid or Proposal: Contractor’s formal offer in response to a solicitation.

Outsourcing to freelance writers who speak English as a second or third language in non-English speaking countries is a widespread practice. The costs are very low with pay rates as little as a fifth of a cent (USD) per word. Like many low price options, this practice carries hidden costs and may negatively impact your business.

Quality concerns are common complaint with cheap freelance writing

Freelance writers that is not very fluent in English will produce poor quality copy. They will fail to understand the difference between similar words and have no familiarity with turns of phrase well-known to native English speakers. Quality freelance writers will have a strong grasp of the English language and the idioms commonly used by speakers. However, not all foreign outsource workers have a poor grasp of English.

Let price be your guide, to a certain degree. There is truth in the old saying about getting what you pay for. If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true. Freelance writers have to make a living and pay bills like anyone else. If you are paying a substandard wage, you can expect substandard workers with substandard results.

Forums and email groups are filled with complaints from webmasters about the quality of outsourced writing. The amount of time it takes to correct the work and make it even passably acceptable can be a severe burden. In the end, the time and frustration costs far more than you would have saved through the low pay rates.

Your “original” content may not be as original as you thought

Many low priced, so-called freelance writers do not actually write the content that they provide. They commonly use software tools called article spinners. Article spinners attempt to fool plagiarism checks and search engines by replacing synonyms in an existing article to create “new” content. As search engines and detection tools become more sophisticated, this technique will become less and less effective.

In addition, there are serious ethical and legal questions with utilizing article spinners. When you outsource to low cost, foreign freelance writers, you may be receiving content that violates copyright laws and common writers’ ethics. Replacing synonyms is not sufficient to declare an article a new piece of work, legally or ethically. The original copyright holder will have standing to file copyright claims and DCMA take down requests, exposing you to troublesome and potentially expensive legal difficulties.

 

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