What is the COR's role in conducting a preaward survey?
The COR will be required to perform as the principal technical expert on the contracting team during the evaluation of other terms and conditions and the determination of responsibility, as requested. If the CO requests a preaward survey, the COR will serve as a key member of that team as well.
Remember, a little effort invested in preaward evaluations and determinations is quite likely to pay huge dividends later during postaward performance and monitoring. Finding out during performance that the chosen contractor does not possess the required capabilities will at least create extensive delays and expenses for the government, and could require that the contract be terminated due to the contractor's default.
Negotiations and Discussions
What are negotiations, and what are discussions?
Negotiations are exchanges, in either a competitive (multiple offers) or sole source (a single offer) environment between the government and offerors, that are undertaken with the intent of allowing the offeror to revise its proposal. These negotiations may include bargaining. Bargaining may involve persuasion, alteration of assumptions and position, and give-and-take on the part of both parties, and, it may apply to price, schedule, technical requirements, type of contract, or other terms of a proposed contract. When negotiations are conducted in a competitive acquisition, they take place after establishment of the competitive range (the most highly rated proposals based on proposal evaluation and subjective determination by the CO) and are called discussions.
What is the objective of discussions?
The primary objective of discussions is to persuade offerors to revise their proposals in ways that will optimize the government's ability to obtain best value, based on the requirement and the evaluation factors set forth in the solicitation.
For each offeror still being considered for award, the CO must prepare to discuss the offeror's significant weaknesses, deficiencies, and other aspects of the offeror's proposal (e.g., cost, price, technical approach, past performance, terms and conditions) that could be altered or explained to materially enhance the proposal's potential for award.
When conducting discussions with offerors, the contracting team should first establish negotiation priorities and potential tradeoffs or concessions. The team will:
Rank the issues of concern (these could be technical or price problems, or problem areas or tradeoffs in the offerors' proposals)
Determine the negotiation range for the government's position on each issue (i.e., distinguish positions that are relatively "firm" from "give" positions)
Compare the government's positions to the offerors' anticipated positions
Identify potential tradeoffs
Determine how each issue should be addressed.
What is the COR's role in developing a negotiating strategy?
The COR will be required to participate in all activities necessary to support the CO in ensuring that an effective negotiation strategy is developed that will accomplish the government's objectives.
What are debriefings? When are they conducted? What is the COR's role in them?
Debriefings are exchanges of information between the CO and the offeror regarding the offeror's status relative to the proposal evaluation, discussion, and source selection (award) process.
Debriefings may be conducted either preaward or postaward by the CO with assistance from the COR and others (e.g., legal counsel), as may be required or requested by the CO. Debriefings must be requested by the offeror and conducted in conformance with FAR requirements, which include the request for a debriefing being submitted in writing and within prescribed time limits. Preaward debriefings occur when an offeror is notified by the CO that it has been excluded from the competitive range or is no longer eligible for consideration otherwise (e.g., the contracting team has found that the offeror was suspended from participating in government contracts due to criminal conduct and had failed to report that information when submitting its offer.) If the offeror desires a debriefing, it must be requested in writing within three days of receiving notice that it has been excluded from the competitive range. Postaward debriefings occur when an offeror is notified that it did not receive the award. If the offeror desires a debriefing, it must be requested within three days after notification of award. The CO will request technical support from the COR both in preparation for and conduct of the actual debriefing.
For preaward debriefings, the CO will:
Present the agency's evaluation of significant elements in the offeror's proposal (i.e., the strengths and weaknesses of its proposal that resulted in its not being one of the most highly rated proposals)
Provide a summary of the rationale supporting the offeror's elimination from the competitive range, or provide evidence for exclusion otherwise
Provide reasonable responses to relevant questions about whether source selection procedures contained in the solicitation, applicable regulations, and other applicable authorities were followed in eliminating the offeror from the competitive range.
For postaward debriefings, the CO will:
Provide the overall evaluated cost and technical rating of the successful offeror and the offeror being debriefed
Provide the offeror being debriefed the overall ranking of all offer-ors when any ranking was developed by the agency during the source selection
Provide a summary of the rationale for the basis of award
If the acquisition is for commercial items, identify the make and model of the items being provided by the successful offeror
Provide reasonable responses to relevant questions about whether source selection procedures contained in the solicitation, applicable regulations, and other applicable authorities were followed in making the award
Not disclose any information exempt from release under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), including:
- Trade secrets
- Privileged or confidential manufacturing processes and techniques
- Commercial and financial information that is privileged or confidential, including cost breakdowns, profit, indirect cost rates, and similar information
- The names of individuals providing reference information about an offeror's past performance
Not provide point-by-point comparisons of the debriefed offeror's proposal with those of other offerors.