process, Beveridge said, the agency wants to identify the best possible candidate from the pool of potential bidders. In turn, if the reviewers have questions during the presentation, then the respondent must be able to provide complete answers. 

"Try to stay up with the most current technology - hardware applications, that type of thing," he said. "You are looking far beyond not using something that would be considered obsolete. You are looking for something that is finding the best solution for the problem."

Dale Bowen, director of professional development for the Public Technology Institute, a nonprofit technology research and development organization focused on local governments, concurs with Beveridge's views.

"Do your homework," Bowen said. "Know the background of the agency that you are applying for funding from."

Because Bowen primarily serves the CIOs, GIS coordinators and Web directors of cities and counties, the priorities to which he is referring are generally set by mayors or other elected officials such as council members.

"Whomever you have established as your primary contact must be knowledgeable about any major initiatives and priorities that the IT department and the administration are focusing on," Bowen said.

Marjorie Rubenstein, a supervisor for the Technology Acquisition Section of the Procedure Division for the California Department of General Services, suggests that applicants shy away from a sales-presentation approach because IT officials will tune out.

"We usually don't like to hear the whole 'dog and pony show' about what the bidder has ever done," said Rubenstein.

In other words, reviewers want to know you can demonstrate a successful track record in terms of implementing solutions that have been outlined in your application.

 
Other Side of the Table
When setting up an oral presentation, giving those coming to present a little guidance never hurts.

"Provide an outline for the people who are coming to present and tell them what you want to know. Tell them the time limits on each item." said Lisa Meyerson, the strategic initiatives unit chief with the Government Information Technology Agency, the IT strategic and oversight agency for Arizona.

Meyerson has 10 years experience in government procedure for IT projects, and has been dealing with contracts for more than two decades.  "Choose those topics carefully, and request that they discuss the areas that will be critical to help the evaluation committee make the best decisions on behalf of the state," she said. "It will help you to get a f uller picture of their solution and enable you to have a better apples-to-apples comparison between the solutions."

And according to Doug Robinson, executive director of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers, presenting a winning bid isn't strictly about offering a technology plan that works: Demonstrating your understanding that a partnership is being formed is also important. "The states want to focus on what type of innovation you are going to bring to the table in terms of a solution," he said.

What is the best way to garner the attention of the reviewers when you're asked to present your IT proposal?

According to the experts, conciseness is vital, as is the ability to recognize and respond to the priorities set by committee members and the municipalities they represent.

Before you enter the room to present your proposal to the decision-makers, keep in mind these experts' advice about what it takes to gain project approval and funding.

Suzane Bricker  |  Contributing Writer
Suzane Bricker has extensive experience as a grant writer for educational institutions and social services agencies, and has secured funding for her own nonprofit organization in south Florida. She has a master's degree in mass communication with a minor emphasis in science writing.