Please review the below frequently asked questions that you may have in order to have a successful experience with Symphony for the ASTRO solicitation. The required URL for ASTRO offerors is: https://astro.app.cloud.gov/.


TABLE OF CONTENTS


Administration Questions


Does a company's SAM POC have the ability to make someone else an administrator? 
Yes, a SAM POC can assign the Proposal Manager role to another registered user.  This user will have full admin rights. This is done in the Administrative link in Symphony.


Will a SAM POC need to designate Staff Proposal Manager in SAM for the Staff Proposal Manager to get in? 
No, you designate the Proposal Manager within Symphony. This can only be one person.


How do I assign a Proposal Manager?

Only the SAM POC or Current Proposal Manager will have the authority to make these changes. To assign a Proposal Manager, follow these steps:

  1. Once logged in to Symphony, click on Administration from the menu bar.
  2. Find the desired Symphony user from the list. 
  3. Click the "Proposal Manager" radio button.


Please Note: All Registered Users will be able to help build a proposal, however only the SAM Government POC or assigned Proposal Manager will be able to submit.


Where do I identify the Contract Manager and Program Manager? 

In your submission(s), you can add your key personnel, such as your Contract Manager (CM) and Program Manager (PM). If it is not yourself, you will be able to select from your companies registered users in Symphony. You cannot assign positions to users not registered in Symphony. Follow these steps:

1. Navigate to the Pool that you are creating a submission for.
2. Go to the second menu: Proposal Contacts.
3. Select the +Assign Contract Manager button to add your CACM. You can only choose self or another registered user. 
4. Select the +Assign Program Manager button to add your CAPM. You can only choose self or another registered user.


SAM Data Questions


For validation purposes, your organization, team members, and MRCLS are only added to your Company assets by looking up an organization by DUNS number. Symphony updates SAM data after submission. When the evaluators select the proposal for evaluation, we will update the SAM record. Unfortunately, we have only so many times SAM allows us to access the data. As long as your SAM record is up to date, the evaluators will see the latest data in SAM. The link we provide to your Reps and Certs connects directly to SAM. 


Why does my SAM data appear to be inaccurate on My Company profile?

Symphony is using an API provided by SAM to collect your SAM information directly. If you make changes to your SAM account after your initial registration please know that we will update Symphony with the most up-to-date SAM information at the time of submission.  All changes and corrections to your SAM data and the Reps and Certs must be made in SAM before submission to provide the government with an accurate record.  You can not make changes to your SAM data in Symphony, they need to be changed at https:sam.gov/.


Where in the Symphony Portal do I complete the representations and certifications?

Reps and Certs are downloaded directly from SAM.  Verify your data is up-to-date in SAM.  You can preview them on your Company Overview page in the SAM data.


Please note that the NAICS codes in your Reps and Certs need to match the NAICS codes referenced in the solicitation for the corresponding pool submission. You must update this data in SAM directly before it will be reflected in Symphony.


When will the Certs and Reps be downloaded? How do I get updates into the Symphony System? 
Symphony is using an API provided by SAM to collect your SAM information directly. We will update Symphony with the most up-to-date SAM information at the time of submission.  All changes and corrections to your SAM data and the Reps and Certs must be made in SAM before submission to provide the government with an accurate record.


Business Factor Questions


Symphony does not validate Business Factors beyond the requirements seen in the system. 


How do I automatically receive Points for Meeting or Exceeding Small Business Goals and the Small Business Percentage Goals if I am a small business?
  1. You still need to claim that you meet or exceed Small Business Goals. You do not have to upload any Subcontracting plans or Reports. For ease of evaluation, upload a screenshot where your SAM record shows you are a Small Business in the representative NAICS for the Pool you are submitting an offer. 
  2. For Small Business Percentage Goals, make sure you add 100 to the percentage field of the Goals Factor. Do not use the percent symbol. Upload a screenshot where your SAM record shows you are a Small Business. Click the Certify checkbox and Save and Claim. You will get the full points.


How do I address that the solicitation offers contractors the option to individualize Small Business Percentage goals for varying pools?

Follow these steps to address this option.

  1. Go to My Company > Business Factors > Small Business Percentage Goals.
  2. Add a percentage number. Do not use the percent symbol. If you are going to change these in each Pool, don’t worry about which number you add here. 
  3. Upload all your subcontracting plans for the individual Pools.
  4. Click the Certify checkbox and Save and Claim.
  5. Navigate to the Dashboard.
  6. Select the Pool you would like to individualize.
  7. Click on Business Factors.
  8. Add the percentage number that applies to that Pool and click Update.
  9. Continue to perform this action in each Pool you wish to individualize. Your score will reflect the changes you make in each Pool.


How do I "unclaim" business factors? 
The ability to update all business factors has been enhanced in the latest versions of Symphony. If you need to “Unclaim” any business factor, you will navigate to the appropriate business factor and delete any supporting documentation supplied before you can “unclaim” the business factor.

 

Project Experience Questions 


All edits to your company assets need to occur before the solicitation closes. Once the deadline is met, all assets are frozen. 


Where do I upload Project Experience related documents?

Navigate to Project Experience in My Company. To upload proposal documents, follow these steps:

  1. Once logged in, click on My Company from the menu bar.
  2. Click Projects and Past Performance. 
  3. Select the project to add documents to, or select New Project Experience
  4. Save and Continue from the first tab of the wizard: Start Your Project Reference.
  5. In the second step of the wizard: Upload Your Project Documents attach your project experience documents and then Save and Continue.


For more information, please review the article How to Add Project Experience.


Who is the Prime Contractor?

The Prime contractor is the one listed on the contract award documents.


How many projects are allowed per pool? Why is the Period of Performance important?
A maximum of four Relevant Experience Projects may be submitted for scoring per the solicitation. Period of Performance is requested when adding Project Experience because of the following information in the solicitation. Per section L.5.3.1.1, you can submit up to four Relevant Experience Projects per Pool that meet the following minimum conditions. 

Each Relevant Experience project shall:

  • Be ongoing or have been completed within the past five years from the proposal due date. 
  • Each project shall have at least six months of performance (see L.5.3.1.1 for more information).


Do I have to enter a project multiple times if applying to multiple pools?
No. Projects are reusable across all your submissions if they meet the requirements. You can also enter multiple task orders separated by commas under one contract number.


Will the tagging feature allow “POP” to find “POP: start date” and “POP: end date” in sticky notes? 

In Symphony the reference keyword should match what was used in the PDF document.  It can be as simple as POP or something more complex.  Just make sure it matches, so that Symphony can provide the link to substantiate your claim.


How do I reference multiple Task Order projects under a single Contract number?  

When you enter the contract number after selecting the type of project, you can add the TO number after the contract number and again in the TO number field to create different projects under a single contract. For example: Contract #: GSA123456-0001 and TO #: 0001.


In the pool submission, is the past performance (i.e., CPARS) pulled over with the project? 

Upload all your project's documents when creating or editing your project record.  You would link the CPARs to the CPARs document you uploaded.


How do I edit a project that is in a submission and change the file references? What are the required actions to replace a Past Performance document under the appropriate Pool scoring elements and adjust the scoring input?

When you need to change Past Performance documentation follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to My Company and go to Projects/Past Performance
  2. Select the Edit button on the project detail page
  3. Upload the correct document to your Project
  4. Update the file reference in the Past Performance Category
  5. Delete the document that is no longer being referenced


Functional Factor Questions


Where are the Functional Factors located?

When you add a project to a submission, you claim the functional factors specific to that pool by clicking the BEGIN button next to the project. Projects are reusable across multiple pools since you add all your relevant project experience documents before adding a project to a Pool in My Company. You use your project documents to substantiate your claims. Make sure to tag each of the Functional Factors in your documents. The button will read MODIFY if you need to return to these claims later. We have also created a reference on How to Build a Proposal if you need additional clarity.


Can more than one document be used to support the Pool Definition Certification? 

Yes. The file references available are brought into a pool based on your Project Experience in your “My Company” Assets. 


You can use more than one file as a reference. The documents available are based on the documents uploaded to the Project experience that you are now pulling into the applicable pool. You can claim or not claim as many submission factors as applicable. You must support your claims with references and documentation. You must also certify that the Project complies with the scope definition of the pool. 


Do the functional factors have to be tagged? 

Yes, you must prove your claims with documentation and reference tags for each submission factor you claim. 


Does a comma separate the tags?

No. Tags for a specific claim can be used more than once in the PDF document. Only use one tag per claim in Symphony. The tags create links that guide the evaluators to your references in a manner similar to use a FIND (CTRL+F) function. It is looking for a single string of text. Therefore, we recommend that you put one tag name in Symphony (such as Project1_POP) and in your PDF you can place additional commentary or clarification in your sticky note or whatever method you are using in your PDF after the tag name (Project1_POP).


File Reference TAG Questions


The File Reference Tags are the comments/highlights I insert into my validation documents to validate points claimed, correct? Can you please explain the file reference tags in the ASP - do I also have to highlight and tag (using comments features) in the PDF as well? 

Yes. Comment in the PDF and then use those as the reference terms requested in Symphony. Use a naming convention that makes sense to you. This might be a word, number, ACRONYM, et cetera. When answering a question in Symphony, each document that you reference (can be more than one) will be linked to that question and the reference keyword will guide the evaluators to the comment you create that contains that word. Make this as straightforward as possible so that the evaluators can easily find out how your answers are supported and where the documentation proves your claims. Use your comments as you see fit.


In Symphony the reference keyword can be a single keyword or more complex. The limit is 250 characters.


What do I do if there are multiple tags for the same verification item?

The references made in Symphony create links to your documents and the keywords to look for in those documents. The evaluators can go from link to link similar to using a Find feature when they are reviewing the proposal. Symphony uses a word match. Similar to using CTRL+F and there may be multiple locations where you use that word. 


Symphony will allow you to attach as many files as you need to support your claims.  The size limitation of 20mb will prevent you from uploading too large of a file.

 

EXAMPLE: If you are claiming to have training support experience and you are applying to the Training pool, you may tag multiple documents with a sticky note that contains the term “Training Evidence”. The evaluators can then be guided to each of your documents, and the location in that document where you created the note that contains the matching reference keyword used in Symphony.


Can you provide additional narrative text within the PDF to explain the rationale for the tag, if necessary?

Yes. Comment in the PDF and then use those as the reference terms requested in Symphony. Symphony uses a word match. Similar to using CTRL+F.


EXAMPLE: The sticky note can say @ContractAward#5M and then you can write additional text in your sticky note for the evaluators to see regarding your claim and reasoning. In Symphony, each document that you reference (can be more than one) will be linked to that question and the reference keyword (ex. @ContractAward#5M) will guide the evaluators to the comment you create that contains that word.


How do the evaluators find sticky notes?  Is there a search function in PDFs to go directly to the sticky notes? If I do not use the reference tags will my document still be evaluated? 

In Adobe you can use the find feature, or in the Comments and Markup tools, there is a Comments list that allows you to see all the annotations made to the PDF. The evaluators can also use the checkmark feature in Adobe to track what they’ve checked and what they haven’t. Adobe also provides sorting by checked or unchecked. 


Symphony requires that you enter a reference term to guide the evaluators to the documents and locations in those documents that support your claim for a pool submission. How easy or difficult you want to make finding the evidence of your claims is up to you.


Can you demonstrate an ADOBE document with the tag(s)?

We advise that you do an internet search for PDF Comment best practices as we do not want to be misinterpreted as the expert on this matter. There are some great videos and articles about this process. Per the solicitation, all proposal documents should be in Adobe (.pdf) format. All validation documentation submitted should be highlighted and contain comments (“tags”) indicating the specific reference for validation purposes. Failure to highlight and tag validation documentation shall result in the offeror being disqualified. 


Documentation/Upload Questions


Where do I add the Proprietary Disclosure statement? 

Please upload your disclaimer into the Submission Documents upload for each pool submission to attach it to each proposal.


What do I need to know about documentation?

All validation documentation submitted should be highlighted and contain comments (“tags”) indicating the specific reference for validation purposes. Failure to highlight and tag validation documentation may result in the offeror being disqualified. Make sure the "tags" match the reference keywords in both Symphony and the documentation.


Please Note: Substantiate all your information by providing enough evidence within a contract or task order document; or other verifiable contractual documents, to support each scoring element


Are there file name length (character) limits? 

File names can be 250 characters long.


Does the Government have a preferred file naming convention?
Regarding naming conventions, the government will leave it to you to use common sense naming conventions for your use.  The government does not need to know a file name to find it on the evaluation side.  Symphony will provide the government a direct link to the file you specify combined with the reference tag.


Why can’t I upload documents?

There is a maximum file size of 20mb. If you are not receiving an error message when this happens but you notice that your document has not been uploaded please check your file size.


What advice can you give bidders regarding validation documents - does it matter how many separate files you have vs using a single file with tags to validate many point-scoring factors? 
Symphony will allow you to attach as many files as you need to support your claims.  The size limitation of 20mb will prevent you from uploading too large of a file. 


Can I load "dummy" documents to test the system and practice and then delete them afterward? 

Yes, you can add and remove documents and perform any practice exercises you wish. The ASTRO team will only receive submitted proposals when the solicitation deadline is met. Be aware, only the SAM POC or Proposal Manager can edit a submitted proposal. Once the deadline is met, all assets are frozen. 


For more information, please review the article How to Submit Your Proposal.


Where do I upload my SF-33?

The SF-33 is located in the Submission Documents section of the Pool Submission. You can upload submission documents directly into Symphony by navigating to the submission documents area within a Pool submission. To upload documents, follow these steps:

  1. Once logged in, click on Submission Documents within the Pool submission on the left menu.
  2. Drag and Drop your SF-33 or Browse to find it in your computer's directory. 
  3. Once it is uploaded, you will see it in the table.
  4. You can delete a document and upload a new version if there are any changes to the SF-33 during the solicitation period.
  5. You can view the SF-33 in the Submission Folder in Documents.

Please note the SF-33 will not be available until after the completion of the Q&A phase.  This will prevent you from having to complete this function multiple times should the government need to make amendments to the SF-33.

 

Scoring Questions

How do I get points for my systems, certifications, and clearances?

You can navigate to Business Factors in your Company profile and select the desired systems, certifications, and clearances and follow the prompts to include the requested information and attach your relevant documentation.


When signatures are required, Is that just keying in the person’s name? 

Yes.

 

Where can I find a detailed summary of my score?

To view your pool-specific score, follow these steps

  1. Click on the available Solicitation to view all the pools.
  2. Choose the pool and click “Continue Submission”.
  3. Click on the Live Score button at the top or use the Review Tab on the left menu.
  4. Click in the Scoring information boxes to expand and see the details.


Submit Proposal Questions

Who can submit a proposal?

Only the Proposal Manager as designated in Symphony or SAM designated POC’s will be able to submit an offer.

 

How do I submit a proposal?

To submit a proposal, follow these steps

  1. Click on the available Solicitation to view all the pools.
  2. Choose the pool and click “Continue Submission”.
  3. Navigate to the Review Tab.
  4. Scroll to the bottom and click submit.

You may compete for more than one pool; however, each offeror is only submitting one proposal via Symphony. In addition, Symphony provides your score total in real-time as you claim credit for each scoring element for each Pool. Symphony will also create a self-score report for each Pool being applied for.


Please note the Submit function is not available until after the Q&A deadline. If the government needs to make amendments to the solicitation, this prevents you from having to submit multiple times.


For more information, please review the article How to Build a Proposal.


How do I retract a submission?

You can retract your submission and resubmit before the deadline. To do so, follow these steps:

  1. Click on the available Solicitation to view all the pools.
  2. Click the "View Details" link of the Pool you have submitted to.
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click "Edit Submission". This will retract the submission and make it available for changes.

Please Note: Only the SAM Government POC or assigned Proposal Manager will be presented with the "Edit Submission" option.


If necessary, can I delete some of the documents that I upload after submission?

If there is a document that you want the government to review, do not delete it. After the proposal deadline, only the government will have access to the Symphony system unless a clarification is requested. If you are uploading sensitive information, you should redact the document to the extent it still substantiates your claims. 


How do I remove a pool section that I may have clicked in error?
If you started a Pool submission in error, you can ignore the Continue Submission button. There is no feature for cancelling a submission as the evaluators will only receive proposals that have been Submitted. The button will read: Start Submission, Continue Submission, and View Submission depending on where you are in the process. Only a submitted proposal will state View Submission. All other statuses are considered works in progress.


Other General Questions


Can I change the timeout logout?

The timeout is set to 15 minutes.  This is a security requirement from GSA security. 


Can GSA review/see documents I post before my submittal? 

No, the ASTRO team will only receive Submitted proposals when the solicitation deadline is met. Up until the deadline, offerors may review and edit their proposals. Once the deadline is met, all assets are frozen.


Will this only be used for ASTRO task orders or will this be used for Alliant 2 and OASIS task orders? 
This instance of Symphony is only for use for ASTRO Task Orders.  


Are there going to be additional modifications coming to ASTRO Symphony? 
Yes, there will always be updates to the user experience within Symphony. We welcome your feedback.


What security protocols are in place to protect my proprietary data? 

Symphony is hosted on cloud.gov with a FISMA Moderate 3 year ATO.  All data is encrypted in transit and rest.  Details can be requested from the GSA IT Security office directly.


If you still need help, please click here to contact us.


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