“OMG, I got played by a client who promised me work!”
“They took my evaluation plan (writing) and gave the work to someone else.”
“I spent hours planning and collaborating on the proposal; wrote the full evaluation plan, yet, they put the work up for a bid and awarded the work to someone else.”
“I lost the work to the lowest bidder.”
“They stole my work!”
“The client awarded the work to someone else and they are now not even responding to my emails or answering my calls.”
“I didn’t know that they (even) had a procurement (bidding) process in place.”
“There was no time to ask. We had a tight deadline. I just went with the flow.”
“I didn’t ask. I just assumed that they would give me the work.”
This is not an April Fool’s Day joke. It’s more like a slap on the face (not that slap!)
Sadly, I have been there. And these are true statements from a few of my evaluation colleagues who have been burned. These instances are rather unpleasant and cause anguish, sleepless nights, heartburn, sadness, and anger.
Most of us in the contracting/consulting world have been snubbed one time or another and sometimes, totally got blindsided. In some cases, there have been lawsuit(s) too.
Could this have been avoided? For most part, yes.
The most proactive and prudent step is to ASK and KNOW the (procurement) rules before you even agree to spend your time on the pre-award work.
Know the rules before you play the game. Cannot emphasize this enough.
A quick few tips:
1. Ask your contact(s) (i.e., project team member/grant writer/the person who is working on the proposal, needs an evaluator) if and what are their organization’s or institution’s procurement rules.
Each organization is different. Sometimes, your main contact may not even know about the process, if any. They should contact the procurement/Office of Sponsored Programs office/contracting office on campus/organization/ grants person.)
Have this confirmed in writing (an email). Believe me, it may really save you later should you find yourself in an awkward position with the organization’s procurement process(es). (What if they change their mind upon award?)
2. There may be a case (or clause) where you may collaborate during the pre-award phase and get paid for your time and expertise but the organization may still have to go through a formal bidding process.
Ask if that’s case and what are your options/chances. Assess if it’s worth the risk. Some of the state agencies/institutions may have to go through a process no matter what.
3. Ask to be paid upfront for your time/labor and effort if there is uncertainty and it could be anybody’s game.
I have been in a similar situation and was OK with it since I did receive a fair payment for my efforts.
4. Take the risk because that’s what you do/can/want to do…..(sometimes, it works.)
In essence, if you don’t ask, you won’t know and end up feeling like you’ve been played. So, play your cards well to win the game.