graphic illustrations, typing, copying, and delivery of the proposal to the customer, who may be
hundreds of miles away from the contractor.
Proposals in response to RFPs for very large technical projects can be multivolume documents
that include engineering drawings and hundreds of pages of text. And, yes, such proposals are
often due within 30 calendar days of the RFP’s issuance! Contractors who bid on such large
projects usually do pre-RFP marketing, and so they may have a draft proposal prepared before the
customer even issues a formal RFP. In such cases, during the 30-day response period, the
contractor can first revise the draft proposal to incorporate any unanticipated requirements and
then use any remaining time to “package” a first-class professional proposal.
Customers usually do not pay contractors to prepare proposals. Contractors absorb such costs as
normal marketing costs of doing business, in anticipation of winning contracts and making profits
As stated previously, a proposal is a selling document, not a technical report. It may consist of
several pages or several volumes, containing hundreds of pages, illustrations, and tabulations. A
proposal should contain sufficient detail to convince the customer that the contractor will provide
the best value to the customer. Too much detail in a proposal, however, may overwhelm the
customer and needlessly increase the proposal preparation costs for the contractor.
Proposals are often organized into three sections: technical, management, and cost. For large proposals, these
sections could comprise three separate volumes. The amount of detail the contractor includes will depend on
the complexity of the project and the contents of the RFP. Some RFPs state that contractor proposals that
exceed a certain number of pages will not be accepted by the customer. After all, customers are anxious to do