The federal government contracting solicitation, proposal, and selection processes are something that all federal government contractors should strive to know. These methods, found in FAR parts 14 and 15, respectively, can be boiled down to two methods: sealed bidding and contracting by negotiation. Contracting by negotiation can occur either through a competitive award or a sole source award. When used effectively, the parts of the FAR clue contractors into the methods that agencies use to evaluate proposals and can help contractors tailor their proposals to better target agencies’ needs, thereby increasing chances of award. Of particular importance is the method an agency will use to evaluate proposals, and the weight given to technical components of the proposal against the weight given to price. In KPMG LLP, B-420949 (Nov. 7, 2022), GAO takes a look at how agencies evaluate technical proposals and price, and how those evaluations work together in a best-value tradeoff decision.Continue reading
Tag Archives: solicitation terms
Back to Basics: Pre-Award Bid Protests
Many bid protests we handle at Koprince McCall Pottroff are filed after the contract has been awarded to an offeror. However, sometimes there are issues that are apparent in the solicitation that require clarification or correction prior to the bidding or proposal deadline. In these situations, potential offerors can file a pre-award protest that challenges solicitation terms, but, as with most GAO matters, there are strict deadlines that must be adhered to if the protestor wants to avoid her protest being dismissed. While pre-award protest is the common term, remember that a challenge to a solicitation’s terms is due before the proposal deadline.Continue reading
Past Performance Isn’t Always a Required Evaluation Factor, Says GAO
For companies trying to break into the government market for the first time, past performance can seem a bit like the old chicken-and-egg conundrum. Sometimes it can appear like a company can’t win a government contract without a strong record of past performance–but can’t build a past performance record without contracts! And with the government’s continued movement away from lowest-price, technically acceptable evaluations, past performance seems increasingly important.
But that doesn’t mean the government always has to consider past performance as an evaluation factor. Instead, as a recent GAO bid protest decision confirms, procuring agencies have broad discretion to omit past performance in appropriate cases.Continue reading
Solicitation Ambiguities: Speak Now, or Forever Hold Your Peace
When a federal solicitation is vague, ambiguous or internally contradictory, it is common for offerors to hold their tongues. Instead of challenging the solicitation’s defects before proposals are due, many offerors decide to submit proposals and “see how it plays out.” Later, if the award goes to a competitor, these offerors may try to protest the solicitation’s defects.
It’s unsurprising that offerors can be reticent to rock the boat before an award is made. But a recent GAO bid protest decision demonstrates, complaining about the ground rules after award rarely works.Continue reading
Timing Issues: Challenges to Brand Name Salient Characteristics Due Before Proposal Submission, Says GAO
Time. It’s a great Pink Floyd song. It’s also something that frequently trips up contractors filing protests before GAO. As one contractor recently discovered, a challenge to the salient characteristics of a brand name product is equivalent to challenging the terms of a solicitation, which carries a different protest deadline than evaluation challenges.
Unfortunately for the protester, its argument did not fair nearly as well as one of David Gilmour’s solos.Continue reading
GAO Denies Challenge to Solicitation Terms: Use of “Tactical” Was Imprecise, but Allowable
In the world of federal contracting, precision matters. In fact, precision is often essential when developing a winning proposal. When it comes to subjective evaluation considerations, however, it can be challenging to articulate relevant evaluation criteria with a high level of precision. Indeed, as one prospective offeror recently discovered, some evaluation terms are good enough for government work, despite being imprecise.Continue reading
Despite Your Interest in a Protest, GAO Might Not Think You’re an “Interested Party”
Let’s suppose that you just received a new solicitation hot off the press. As you peruse it, you find a requirement that you believe is too onerous or unnecessary. So you contemplate filing a GAO protest to challenge that term.
Before doing so, be sure that you’re an “interested party” under GAO’s regulations. Well, I filed a protest, you say, doesn’t that make me an interested party? Short answer: no.Continue reading