Incumbent Contractors: Here's How You Can Win Your Recompete

Jan 13, 2020

Your government contract ends soon, and your customer will issue a new RFP. Who's worried? Over time the scope has increased, and the contract is now a significant element of the customer's business model.

You've performed successfully for years, avoiding or quickly resolving problems, receiving frequent praise. Your award fees have consistently been high.

This proves the customer loves you, right? It's a sure bet you'll win the contract recompete.

Unfortunately, many incumbents learn—the hard way—never to bet on a sure thing. In fact, by some estimates, most incumbents lose their recompetes. Somehow, their customers just lost that loving feeling. 

The Solution? Obtain a Third-Party Assessment (TPA). This is one of the best ways to retain your contract. 

Here's Why Your Government Customer Would Love a Third Party Assessment. 

This survey and assessment provides a neutral venue for your customer to express opinions they might not otherwise share with you—because they don't like confrontations, or it's not directly relevant to your work, or they simply don't think to raise the issue. 

A TPA can identify problems you're unaware of, or thought were resolved. It can provide insights into what the customer wishes you would do but has never said so.

And it might even show that your customer really does love you, but the other guy down the hall has a problem with you and he's telling everyone but you.  

Download: How a Firm Won a $500M Re-compete Using a Third Party Assessment

Such revelations can significantly improve your odds in the recompete by helping you:

  • Improve performance
  • Improve communications
  • Extend your reach
  • Generate ideas for innovations
  • Counteract your competitors' messages
  • Mitigate trends that push for change.

A Third Party Assessment helps you proactively address your customer's concerns. They will see you actively engaged in ensuring their satisfaction. They will recognize this investment of time, money, and effort as evidence of your commitment to them, and love you for it.

This effort, and the improvements you make, as a result, can cement your reputation as the "go-to" company for responsive customer service. That reputation is crucial before a recompete, as your competitors seek to exploit your real or perceived weaknesses and break up your relationship.

So when is the best time to schedule a Third Party Assessment?

At a minimum, play this card early in the penultimate contract year, allowing yourself time to correct problems, implement those great new ideas, and ensure your efforts are well received. 

Even better, hedge your bet by making a TPA a regular part of your contract schedule, beginning a few months after award and recurring annually.

Stack the deck upfront by including it as a discriminator in your proposal, demonstrating a responsive management approach that ensures superior performance from the start. This key strategy is essential on performance-based contracts with management metrics emphasizing customer communications and continuous process improvements.


Increase your odds of winning the sure bet. Ninety percent of our Third Party Assessment customers won their crucial recompetes, proving their customers really do love them. After all, excellent communications, and striving to please, are keys to any loving relationship.

This article was originally published in 2014 and has been updated in January 2020. 

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Carol Turpin

Written by Carol Turpin

Carol Turpin is a guest contributor to the Key Solutions blog. She is a Proposal Development Specialist with 25 years of experience as a proposal strategist, proposal manager, publications manager, contract negotiator, technical writer, and editor.

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