Unofficial Oral Proposal Guide

Ground Rules for Vendors

Some government teams like to send instructions to the vendors in advance of face-to-face presentations so that the vendors can be prepared and so the process goes more smoothly. This is not required but you may find it helpful.

Below is an example you can tweak and send within the body of an email or as a separate document. For clarity, I’ve added a few notes.


Oral Presentation Ground Rules

  • The vendor will be escorted on base at all times. We understand many presenters have access to the military installation, but for the purposes of this event, they must be escorted by XYZ personnel at all times.

NOTE: You may choose a different location or choose not to escort vendors.

  • The vendor will meet at the XYZ installation visitors’ center and will be driven on base by XYZ personnel in a Government vehicle.
  • XYZ AFB visitor center address:

1111 XYZ Blvd
XYZ Installation, ZZ 00000-0000

  • Vendors will not be compensated for travel and proposal preparation expenses.
  • Vendors are not required to submit PowerPoint presentations as part of their written proposal. Vendors are permitted to bring their PowerPoint presentation on the assigned date and time for Oral Presentations. Vendors shall bring a digital copy on CD-ROM/DVD and ten (10) written copies for Government evaluators on the date of oral presentations.

NOTE: This paragraph is highly tailorable. In other cases, the presentation charts are sent in in advance on the due date, with the Government hosting the slides on presentation day. Ten written copies are overkill—not recommended. If the chart deck is used to establish the competitive range, then a chart deck is required to be submitted.)

  • The vendor is allotted 90 minutes to present. After 45 minutes, there will be a 10-minute comfort break. After the 10-minute break, the vendor will have 45 minutes remaining to present.

NOTE: Times will vary by acquisition. Breaks aren’t necessary but are a nice idea if the presentation goes over 1 hour.

  • Events will be timed by the Government and will strictly adhere to those timing limitations.
  • The Government will take 20 minutes to caucus and to develop questions.

NOTE: I find that 20 minutes is about the right amount of time to stick to the discriminators without getting into the nice-to-knows.

  • After the caucus, there will be up to a 30-minute question and answer period. Questions are intended for clarification only.

NOTE: This varies, but 20-30 minutes is usually the right length. If selecting a vendor under FAR Part 16.5 procedures, you may wish to use a word other than clarification, such as exchanges, interchanges, or amplification as the word discussion is more appropriate to FAR Part 15.

  • Vendors must brief only what is in their presentation.
  • There is no limitation on the number of charts presented, but charts that are not presented in the 90 minutes will not be considered for evaluation.
  • Government evaluators will take notes and assign Strengths, Weaknesses, Significant Weaknesses, and Deficiencies IAW DoD Source Selection Procedures for the respective Subfactor 1 elements.

NOTE: A worksheet or software for real-time evaluation while the presentation is being given should be prepped in advance and could be provided to the offerors in advance, if desired, as an attachment to the solicitation or as a separate document.

  • A Government acquisition attorney will be present to advise the technical evaluation team during caucus events.

NOTE: Not required but can be helpful if you’re worried about getting into discussions and want to award without discussions.

  • All Government employees present will have signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) to protect Source Selection Sensitive Information.

NOTE: Not usually necessary for Government employees but if using non-Government advisors/evaluators, then an NDA is likely needed or at the very least, advance notice to the offerors who may not want their proposal seen by potential competitors.

  • Government evaluators will not interrupt during presentations.

NOTE: Except in cases of administrative issues, and only then by the designated team leader.

  • Presentations will be video recorded for official contract records.

NOTE: Could be memorialized in another way—audio, minutes, etc. You also don’t have to explain this to the vendor, but in the case of video or audio recordings, it’s a good idea to keep the vendors informed as not everyone is comfortable being recorded.

  • All questions asked by the Government will be done by the Contracting Officer. 

NOTE: Or the Program Manager. Your choice. Or both. The key here is that questions are funneled through a designated lead.

  • If the evaluation team does not show positive or negative responses during your presentation, such as nodding, smiling, or head shaking, do not interpret their lack of response as a negative. They have been coached to remain neutral.

NOTE: Some teams have added this statement because their vendors are used to instant feedback. However, a team should not consider it a failure if the vendor tells a joke and they involuntarily laugh.

  • Please see attached agenda for further schedule details.


This example is not intended to be used as is. It is intended to help you know what things to think about putting in your ground rules to the vendors , and thus feel more confident in how or why you provide ground rules. Depending on what other advice you take from this guide, there’s plenty you can add to the ground rules.

Here are a few other sample paragraphs:

  • Show up prepared and be ready to present. The Government team will visually present the PowerPoint charts you provided on the proposal due date, offer you the remote so you can cycle through the charts, or you may use a Government individual to cycle through the charts when you prompt them verbally. Should a technical difficulty occur, the Government is evaluating the oral presentation. Seeing the charts is not imperative for this effort.

NOTE: Keep in mind that if the vendor is showing a video clip or simulation, a technical difficulty may be more serious to them.

  • The start time was sent to your organization on [date]. Do not enter the Facility prior to 15 minutes before your scheduled start time. A door guard will greet you, check you in, and escort your party to the staging room, if available. Approximately 5 minutes before the start time, the Contracting Officer and Contract Specialist will greet you and escort you to the presentation room. The Contracting Officer will go over a brief introduction and your 90-minute presentation will begin shortly thereafter.
  • There will be no team introduction of the Government personnel in the room. The may, but is not required to, provide the offeror with team instructions prior to beginning the timed presentation. All personnel in the presentation room, excluding the vendor, will be Government personnel.

NOTE: If support contractors are present, make sure you indicate that as part of this paragraph.

  • As the presentation is concluded or the time period reached, the vendor will be escorted to another room while the caucus is accomplished. The vendor will not be allowed to approach the vicinity of the presentation room during the government caucus. Upon completion of the caucus, the Contracting Officer will greet the vendor and escort them back to the presentation room for clarification Q&A. The clarification process will last no more than 30 minutes.
  • After 30 minutes is reached or all clarifications (if any) are answered, whichever comes first, the vendor will be escorted out of the Facility. Make sure all vendor items (phones, purses, watches, etc.) are collected as re-entry will not be permitted. Any questions regarding these rules of engagement shall be submitted to the Contracting Officer at [email address].

NOTE: Some Contracting Officers use this opportunity to suggest that the vendor team leave purses, backpacks, briefcases, electronics, etc. in the car, in a locker outside the presentation area, or with the front desk of the presentation facility.


© 2020 The MITRE Corporation, updated 2021. All Rights Reserved.  The content provided in "The Unofficial Proposal Guide" does not reflect MITRE's opinions.


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