how to debrief

How to Debrief: 5 Important Items to Know About a Government Contract Debriefing

A government contract is a competitive process, and businesses need every advantage. An important tool is the debriefing process. As such, businesses should understand reasons for a debriefing and what can be learned through the process. According to Business Trends, here are five things about how to debrief that every business should know.

Debriefings are not always required (Source)

Agencies are only required under competitive procurements (FAR Part 15) and contracts larger than $5.5 million (FAR 16.505(b)(6)) to offer debriefings. As such, debriefings are not always granted when requested. That means a company can spend countless hours and not receive a debriefing on why a proposal was rejected. This can be disheartening but just part of the process for any business that seeks a government contract.

It is best to ask for a debriefing in writing once the contract is awarded. That way a company is letting the agency know that it wants more information about the process. The letter must be sent within three days after the contract is awarded; otherwise, there is no certainty that a debriefing will take place.

Not all debriefings are done post-award (Source)

A debriefing can either be done after some companies are eliminated before final selection or when the final selection is made. A pre-award debriefing can be available to companies that were eliminated from competition, and a debriefing after the award will explain why a particular company was selected.

A debriefing will provide information on a company’s proposal (Source)

Government law regulates the information that must be provided at a debriefing. In general, the debriefing must provide an evaluation of the company’s proposal and basic information on why a particular contractor was selected. This is at the core of how to debrief a government contract.

Opportunities exist to ask questions (Source)

A debriefing is designed to give a company more information about a bid and help it better understand better ways to get a government contract in the future. At some point, the contractor will give the company a chance to ask relevant questions. That means company representatives must come prepared. They should review the bid sheet and the bid proposal and look at specific areas they want addressed. If a company has concerns about the validity of the process, that question can be asked as well.

A debriefing could impact protest deadlines (Source)

The Government Accountability Office follows specific deadlines on filing a protest. A company must make sure that the debriefing does not interfere with the protests deadlines, which are different for pre-award and post-award protests. However, if a debriefing is required and requested, a company has 10 days after the debriefing to file a protest. This is the biggest tip we can give on how to debrief!


KDuncan & Company is dedicated to providing knowledge and support for small government contractors about concerns regarding government contracting. For questions on areas such as as cost proposals, accounting systems, DCAA compliance, and incurred cost audits, reach out to KDuncan & Company.

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