The Use of the “Reverse Industry Day”

 As broader GWAC IDIQs begin to enter into focus due to the shift in U.S. Government procurement strategy (from single awards to multi-award GWAC IDIQs), the Government’s use of a relatively under-utilized industry engagement tool is gaining in frequency: Reverse Industry Day (RID).  Many industry participants, large or small, are relatively unaware of the value and dynamic associated with a RID event.  For starters, there seems to be a lack of clear definition on the event structure.  

At RWCO, the RID is defined as: [Reverse Industry Day] is an event that allows industry leaders to provide audience of government acquisition and program professionals with a better understanding of how different types and sizes of corporate identity, track, price, bid, and perform on contracts.  

Contrast a RID with a traditional Industry Day, in which the government acquisition briefs industry participants on specific attributes and elements of a given procurement. In a RID setting, the information flows from industry to the government so that government acquisition staff may account for the feedback and produce a better, more informed and more relevant RFP to industry.  In essence, RID events provide a forum for industry to have more a direct influence over the nature and approach of an RFP well in advance of an actual RFP release.

RID sessions also tend to serve as a training event for government acquisition so that acquisition staff is better equipped to understand how the substance, method, and timing of communication and engagement affect of an organization’s bid decision.  This includes solution development, competition, protests, and contract outcomes.  RIDs provide an environment for industry to raise issues of concern and offer guidance that can improve how government and industry conduct business together to achieve better outcomes.

RIDs vs Industry Days

RIDs are not traditional industry days in the sense that firms send staff to a meeting, sit in a conference room or auditorium, and receive information from government acquisition on items specific relevant to the structure, scope, timing, and nuance of a given procurement. RIDs are for the benefit of government acquisition staff and are intended to provide more relevant and precise procurement environments. A more precise procurement environment is one in which the Solicitation and related attachments account for the realities relevant to industry within the context of specific program, procurement type, and/or socio-economic classification.  Thus, the RID is – ultimately – better for industry participants.

Unlike Industry Day events, which comprise the lion share of government-industry informational events, the Reverse Industry Day is one of the few structures that allow industry to meet with government acquisition and offer guidance, feedback, and data that is then applied to the actual development of a procurement process and RFP evaluation factors.

Case Example: NASA SEWP

An example of the RID process is found in the procurement process of NASA’s Solution for Enterprise-Wide Procurement (SEWP). The NASA SEWP program is in its 6th iteration (NASA SEWP VI) under procurement planning and slated for a 2023 release, with multiple RIDs scheduled during the procurement design phase of the acquisition, with NASA holding full-day (8-hour) RIDs on both the East and West Coast of the U.S.  The RID intends to address major points of procurement emphasis, to include contract type(s), small business participation, scope of technology products/services/solutions, overall bid structure, business capabilities of industry, and procurement timeline(s).  This time of information gather is centered around the to-be-constructed procurement and solicits industry input so that acquisition staff may build the most relevant procurement that furthers the mission directives of the program (in this case, the SEWP program).

Key Takeaway

That said, the key takeaway is to manage expectations and to participation in RID events with the intent of shaping the RFP in a manner relevant to your specific interests. Consider that all RID participants will walk into the event with the intention of providing the government information on procurement approach that is both relevant and beneficial to them, as a competitor. Thus, participation is more about capture and shaping with a long-range expectation of RFP participation knowing that, in most cases, an RFP draft (internal to the Government) likely does not exist.

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