Market Research Guidance to Mission Partners

How risk averse are you when advising mission partners on techniques for market research?

From my perspective, when we help our mission partners understand the best way to accomplish market research, it is important we help them understand applicable ethics and procurement laws/rules, but we also don’t want to make them fear interaction with industry of any kind.

If we don’t encourage our mission partners to get out and engage with industry, we can’t complain when all we get back is a series of Google searches. If they are inexperienced, we may need to lead them through the process the first time.

Here are two resources that may help guide market research efforts:

Engaging with Industry Policy from Deputy SecDef Shanahan: Includes attachment “DoD Myth-Busters - Communications with Industry”

MARKET RESEARCH REPORT GUIDE FOR IMPROVING THE TRADECRAFT IN SERVICES ACQUISITION: Provides a list of market research techniques on page 3, including:

  • Engage knowledgeable people (government and industry) in specific markets.
  • Identify and engage known sources of services.
  • Employ and review market surveys to obtain information from potential sources
  • Conduct vendor and customer site visits to assess capabilities, practices, and collect lessons learned
  • Attend trade shows, conferences, and symposia.
  • Hold interchange meetings, industry days, or pre-solicitation conferences to involve potential offerors early in, and throughout, the acquisition process.

If we are going to find the latest technologies and commercial best practices, we can’t let fear of protest limit us to Google for our market research.

Plus, I think talking with industry to better understand a market can be some of the best experiences we get as contracting professionals.

Thoughts? Any other techniques or guides I haven’t listed?

From page 6:

Impartiality (5 C.F.R. § 2635.101 and § 2635.501-503)

Law

  • Employees shall act impartially and not give preferential treatment to any private organization or individual. Employees should not participate in particular matters where the circumstances would cause a reasonable person with knowledge of the relevant facts to question the employee’s impartiality.

Communications Impact

  • In deciding whether to meet with industry, officials should consider whether they are able and willing to meet with all similarly situated parties in the same manner. Officials should also consider whether the circumstances and their own personal and business relationships would cause the public to question their impartiality.

Allowed

  • Meeting with suppliers of a particular product type to determine whether industry has the production capability to meet anticipated requirements, but limiting the invitees to those with existing high volume production lines.

Not Recommended

  • Meeting with only a single supplier in an industry where there are 3 or 4 suppliers of equivalent capability and experience to discuss that same production capability.

Prohibited

  • Meeting only with the incumbent contractor, to discuss requirements for the follow-on contract.
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I think this is a great start and maybe this will assist the teams when they have meetings with our Mission Partners. Lately I’ve seen projects held up because we receive it as a service and industry views it as construction.

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