What Does a Government Proposal Writer Do?

Mary Cullen
Post by Mary Cullen
Originally published February 20, 2024, updated April 7, 2024
What Does a Government Proposal Writer Do?

Government proposal writing is an important skill for companies vying for government contracts.  As a professional proposal writer, it’s essential to stay abreast of changes in regulations and customer expectations for success. Learn more about the role of a government proposal writer.

What is a Federal Proposal Writer?

Effective federal proposal writing requires finesse in persuasion combined with technical know-how in gathering information from experts across multiple disciplines. Government proposal writers need to have a well-rounded knowledge base on the client’s products and services, as well as insights into their competitors’ offerings to ensure they are offering something that stands out. 

Furthermore, writers must produce quality content that adheres to prescribed standards while creatively engaging potential partners with compelling stories and facts that leave lasting impressions. Having this type of skill takes detailed instruction and guided practice. 

At Instructional Solutions, we offer online, virtual, and onsite training on how to become better federal proposal writers. Learn more here.

What Does a Government Proposal Writer Do?

Technical writers who specialize in government proposals work to build strong relationships with government agencies and are experienced in crafting powerful, winning value proposals that give a competitive edge. Government proposal writing should ensure specific request for proposal (RFP) requirements are included, such as any special conditions set by governments or organizations. 

As a proposal writer, you’ll work with a proposal manager to organize, write, and optimize the content. To present a thorough government proposal, you will complete market research to understand the competition. When responding to a government RFP, you will follow specific language and compliance requirements. Our course can teach you how to craft these high-quality responses.

What Types of Funding Grants Exist?

There is an increasing number of federal grant funding opportunities, and understanding where to locate them and the requirements for managing them can sometimes be unclear. Here are a few types of grants that have distinct parameters.


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  • Formula grants: Formula grants are awarded to recipients based on a predetermined allocation method, with the term "formula" referring to the mathematical calculation of the grant funding distribution.

  • Congressionally directed awards: A congressionally directed award, or earmark, awards approved funds for specific projects or allows certain exemptions from taxes or mandated fees. Congressionally directed awards do not require additional government spending but allocate approved spending toward specific purposes. Congressionally directed awards can be fulfilled through a grant or cooperative agreement.

  • Discretionary grants: The Office of Justice Programs (OJP) awards discretionary grants directly to eligible recipients. These grants are often awarded through a competitive process. Applications are reviewed to ensure they are complete and meet the eligibility requirements. Then, a panel of subject matter experts reviews and scores the eligible applications. They assess the strengths and weaknesses based on the selection criteria outlined in the grant solicitation.

  • Cooperative agreements: These grants are awards that OJP uses to transfer funds or resources to achieve a public purpose authorized by federal statute. These awards are typically used when significant involvement from the Federal Government is expected.

In What Ways Does Outsourcing Government Proposal Writing Become More Helpful?

Outsourcing government proposal writing can be appealing to ensure that proposals are appropriately completed and aligned fully with government requirements. Professional consultants use their experience to ensure that a proposal contains the necessary information, is written in the correct format, and accurately conveys a thought-out solution. 

However, having access to an expert-level proposal writer in-house will put an organization in a stronger position for success. In addition to providing comprehensive services relative to writing the current proposal, experienced writers often bring best practices acquired from previous successful submitted applications. An excellent government proposal writer should also stay at the forefront of current trends to further enhance your organization's competitive advantage. 

While it can be useful to take advantage of an outside proposal writer's deep knowledge of contracting law, policy regulations, rates analysis, and cost modeling, training writers internally would allow your organization to reach higher levels of success coupled with greater efficiency.

What are the Best Practices for Writing Government Proposals?

The government agency assesses proposals based on different factors, such as technical approach, past performance, management approach, and cost. Writers must, therefore, create a thorough business proposal that covers all the necessary content and showcases their capacity to meet the agency's requirements.

We’ve created a helpful list of best practices to remember for writing a government proposal.

  1. Understand the Requirements: Thoroughly review the request for proposal (RFP) to understand the requirements, evaluation criteria, and expectations.
  2. Compliance is Key: Ensure that your proposal complies with all the requirements outlined in the RFP. Non-compliance can lead to immediate disqualification.
  3. Clear and Concise Writing: Write clearly and concisely for your audience. Avoid unnecessary jargon and use straightforward language to convey your ideas.
  4. Structure and Formatting: Follow the specified structure and formatting guidelines provided in the RFP. This includes page limits, font size, spacing, and any other formatting requirements.
  5. Executive Summary: Craft a compelling executive summary that provides a concise overview of your proposal. Highlight key strengths and benefits.
  6. Highlight Experience and Capabilities: Showcase your organization's relevant experience, qualifications, and capabilities. Provide evidence of successful projects or contracts.
  7. Cost Proposal Accuracy: Ensure that your cost proposal is accurate and transparent. Clearly detail the costs associated with your solution.
  8. Proofread and Edit: Thoroughly proofread and edit your proposal to eliminate errors. Typos and grammatical mistakes can reflect poorly on your professionalism.
  9. Submit On Time: Send your proposal well before the deadline. Late submissions are typically not accepted, and punctuality reflects positively on your organization.
  10. Follow-Up: If allowed, follow up with the contracting officer or relevant authorities to ensure that your proposal was received and to address any questions or concerns.

By following these best practices, you can increase your chances of submitting a successful government proposal that meets the requirements and stands out among the competition.


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How Do I Get Started as a Government Proposal Writer?

To embark on a career as a government proposal writer, start by gaining a comprehensive understanding of the intricacies of government procurement, including regulations and agency requirements. Building a strong educational foundation or gaining relevant experience in fields such as business or technical writing is essential. Enrolling in our proposal writing course will provide you with a curriculum covering key aspects like RFPs, compliance, and effective communication. This course serves as a valuable tool in equipping you with the necessary skills to excel in government proposal writing.

Additionally, complement your education with practical steps, such as networking with experienced professionals, studying successful proposals, and creating a portfolio that showcases your capabilities. Seek entry-level opportunities in proposal writing or related roles within government contractors or consulting firms to gain hands-on experience. By following these steps and taking our proposal writing course, you'll be well-prepared to pursue a rewarding career as a government proposal writer.


Mary Cullen
Post by Mary Cullen
Originally published February 20, 2024, updated April 7, 2024
Mary founded Instructional Solutions in 1998, and is an internationally recognized business writing trainer and executive writing coach with two decades of experience helping thousands of individuals and businesses master the strategic skill of business writing. She excels at designing customized business writing training programs to maximize productivity, advance business objectives, and convey complex information. She holds a B.A. in English from the University of Rhode Island, an M.A. in English Literature from Boston College, and a C.A.G.S. in Composition and Rhetoric from the University of New Hampshire.