I'm finalizing a proposal for a 2-year U.S. SBIR federal grant. The RFP asks that we provide names and resumes for the entire project team. I have 4 of 5 roles filled, with one TBD. Admittedly, it's hard to get a firm yes for full time W2 hires with an uncertain funding status.

How is this typically handled in the RFP proposal, specifically in sections where they ask for names, contact, and resumes of project personnel? Is it okay to list the name as TBD, or "To be filled", with a description of the role we're looking to fill? Moreover, this role's work really begins in year 2 of the grant, so we'd have an entire year to fill it.

Or, should we list a person we know is a firm "maybe"/"most-likely not" (along with their resume) who is a great fit for the role, and change it later if this person backs out.

2 Answers 2


In my experience, proposals that require named project employees will submit the resumes for every role no matter the level of commitment. This means that, if the proposal is selected, the 'actual' people who will end up occupying project roles are not the named people in the proposal. Most times, customers do not really care, at least in my experience, except for those that are named "key." When that occurs, it requires some negotiations and tender loving care to get the customer to understand there will be someone new in that role. But even then, I have never really experienced a ton of grief when that occurred. Customers understand that people leave for new opportunities, they retire, they die, etc. Not really something seller of services can control with a high degree of success.


RFPs: What's Legal, Ethical, and Practical are Neither the Same nor Orthogonal

On the consulting side of things, many RFPs treat those names and resumes the same way movies treat directors or actors "attached" to a movie in development. While those attached have generally expressed interest or intent, they are not necessarily contractually obligated. Whether or not this is ethical is a totally separate question from whether or not it is frequently done. The RFP process, especially with long-cycle government contracts, often seem to run similarly.

At a bare minimum, get some resumes from people who agree to have their names attached to the proposal, with at least a verbal understanding that it's speculative and that there may or may not be an actual job opening. Depending on your legal jurisdiction, you may want to have your lawyer draft something appropriate to:

  1. Show that you didn't just submit random resumes from people who never agreed to be submitted.
  2. Ensure that whatever labor laws that apply to "job offers" are not enforced when it comes to a speculative RFP.

I am not a lawyer, so I'm strongly suggesting you seek actual legal advice for your situation. However, with or without a contract in place with the attached resources, this is the way I frequently see state and federal RFPs put together in my industry here in the US, and would expect that your industry practices are likely similar.

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