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FCW : September 30, 2016
September 30, 2016 FCW.COM 31 one has clear authority to make them consistent. The analysis wasn’t just an intellec- tual exercise for McGovern and Visi- bleThread. He said he’s trying to call attention to poorly written solicita- tions by giving concrete data on where improvement is needed. If a solicitation is difficult to under- stand, it increases the cost for bid- ders and the government during the procurement process, McGovern said. Confusion during the bidding process leads to delays, which drive up costs. And then there is the issue of the contractor bidding and winning only to realize that what the government needs is different from what was in the solicitation. Again, there are more delays and costs overruns, McGovern said. Improved writing will pay dividends for the government. “The better the RFP, the likelihood of success gets better down the road,” he said. A lot of the findings in the report underscore good basic writing and communications practices: • Active voice is better because it is clearer and more direct. • Shorter sentences are clearer and easier to understand. • Word choice can improve readability and clarity. The government has tried to address those issues as recently as 2010 when the Plain Writing Act was passed, but the law has no real teeth, McGovern said. He compared the current practice of developing RFPs to writing and releas- ing code and not testing it. “It should be a very simple step,” he said. Just think of the pain, heartache and wasted resources that could be avoided. n If a solicitation is difficult to understand, it increases the cost for bidders and the government during the procurement process. 0930fcw_030-031.indd 31 9/6/16 4:31 PM
September 15, 2016