On May 11, 2022, USAID hosted a Reverse Industry Day with the Council of International Development Companies (CIDC). During the event, partners from large, medium, and small businesses shared their perspectives on how they decipher USAID requirements and what enables them to submit effective proposals.
If you are not familiar with the term Reverse Industry Day, it typically refers to an event or meeting where organizations present to government officials to help them better understand how industry operates and how we can better work together. This includes how the government can better communicate with industry, unintended consequences of government processes/requirements, ways to simplify our partnering processes, and much more.
USAID hosts online Reverse Industry Days to connect with partners once or twice each year. The most recent event with CIDC included more than 300 USAID staff from around the world. It was an insightful conversation on how the Agency can improve the way it does business, with partners sharing concrete suggestions for USAID staff. The Reverse Industry Day included two sessions, described below.
Session 1: “Cost of Developing and Submitting Proposals”
Whether it is a listing on the USAID Business Forecast, or a mere whisper on the grapevine that a solicitation may be in the works, CIDC member firms have complex decision-making processes aligned with USAID’s acquisition process. Who and how many staff will work on the solicitation—as well as timing, travel costs and competing resources—all impact the costs and the quality of the offers the Agency will receive.
During this session, panelists addressed key considerations on the factors partners use when determining whether to spend the resources to prepare a proposal. The purpose of this session was to help USAID staff gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the process, as well as the factors that can reduce costs and increase the pool of offerors.
Sandra Amis, Tetra Tech/MSI
Jeremy Kanthor, DAI
David Snelbecker, International Development Group (IDG)
Evan Smith, Democracy International
Katie Henke, Nathan Associates
Session 2: “Deciphering Requirements”
The second panel drilled down on the key sections of solicitations and what constitutes clear guidance and what terminology may result in ambiguous or conflicting interpretations, with the result that proposals received may not address key objectives or provide sufficient or relevant information.
Panelists noted how various requirements may create unintended barriers to entry—either because those requirements are difficult to meet or because aspiring implementers lack experience in the relevant compliance or regulatory areas. Panelists focused on Sections, C, L, and M and suggested best practices to meet the needs of Contracting and Agreement Officers while keeping overall Agency goals in mind.
Roshana Cohen, Chemonics
Allyson Bear, Abt Associates
Mark Miebach, Creative Associates
Tessie Catsambas, EnCompass
Betsy Bassan, PanAgora Group