My favorite contracting article or blog post is Competitive Processes in Government Contracting: The FAR Part 15 Process Model and Process Inefficiency by Vern Edwards. It completely changed the way I think about setting up evaluations.
He provides examples and discussion on how to avoid FAR part 15 procedures for GSA orders, Simplified Acquisition Procedures (SAP), and Multiple Award Delivery and Task Order Contracts.
For SAP he writes
In short, calling an acquisition “simplified” does not make it so; it is not what you say you are doing that counts, it is what you actually do. Why did the Army prepare and issue an RFP, require competing hotels to prepare and submit written proposals, establish an evaluation board, and have that board prepare 85 pages of notes and an evaluation report? None of that is required by FAR Part 13.
A search of an American Automobile Club (AAA) website yielded a list of ten hotels in Butte, Montana. Why not have the MEPS commander prepare a checklist based on its requirements for food, lodging and transportation and then have one or two members of the detachment visit all ten hotels in Butte and complete a checklist for each? This could be done in one or two days. Why not then have the MEPS commander send to the contracting officer the names of three hotels that meet the MEPS’s needs and with which they would be willing to do business? The contracting officer could then contact the three hotel managers, fax or email a copy of the RFQ to each of them, and ask them to fax or email price quotes. Based on the price quotes, the contracting officer, in consultation with the MEPS commander, could pick the hotel that represents the best value and negotiate an agreement on contract terms and conditions. The entire contractor selection process and negotiation could have been completed in a week or two.
Read the entire post to understand the history and analysis, but he summarizes with some recommendations.
Some best practices in competitive process design include the following:
Limit the number of evaluation factors. It is the number of evaluation factors that determines the amount of information that must be obtained from competitors and processed by the government in order to reach a decision. Therefore, use no more evaluation factors than absolutely necessary and only those factors on which the differences among offerors are likely to be more than trivial.26
Limit the amount of proposal information required from competitors. As a general rule, and especially when acquiring services, do not make offerors write technical or management expositions (narratives) describing how they will do the work or how they will organize, or specially-prepared quality assurance and safety plans, etc. Such writings are time-consuming and costly to prepare and to evaluate, but they do not necessarily demonstrate a firm’s ability to perform, and usually are not binding in any meaningful sense. Moreover, incorporating such writings into a contract is inconsistent with performance-based service contracting policy. If agency technical personnel want to obtain first-hand insights into how well the competitors understand the work, require oral presentations instead of written technical or management proposals.27
Use the FAR Part 15 Process Model in source selections only when it is most effective. When conducting source selections under FAR Part 15, use the FAR Part 15 Process Model when five or fewer proposals are expected and when obtaining complete proposals from all offerors at the outset of the competition will save time.
Consider phased submission of information and proposal evaluation. When conducting source selections under FAR Part 15, and when there is a realistic likelihood of receiving more than five proposals, consider soliciting proposal information and evaluating proposals in phases. Alternatively, consider planning to use phased evaluation as a contingency procedure.28
Do not follow the FAR Part 15 Process Model when ordering from GSA schedules. When using GSA’s special ordering procedures for services that require a statement of work, do not follow the FAR Part 15 Process Model and do not use FAR Part 15 terminology (e.g., “competitive range” or “discussions”) or refer to FAR Part 15 in the RFQ. Non-Defense agencies should conduct market research, select at least three contractors to solicit based on experience, past performance and perhaps an informal interview, provide those firms with a statement of work by fax or email and ask for price quotes, then choose one firm with which to negotiate the terms of the order or blanket purchase agreement. Defense agencies complying with DFARS § 208.404-70 and expecting a large number of responses to their “fair notice of intent” should request limited information (experience, past performance and price quote) at the outset of the competition and progressively narrow the competitive field before asking for more detailed proposal information. Except in unusual circumstances, pick one contractor and then negotiate the details of the order or blanket purchase agreement one-on-one; do not establish a competitive range, negotiate with more than one firm at a time, or solicit revised proposals from more than one competitor.
Do not follow the FAR Part 15 Process Model when making simplified acquisitions. When using simplified acquisition procedures to buy complex supplies or services worth in excess of $25,000 and for which a synopsis must be published, and if planning to ask for more information than just a price quote, either: (a) select one firm for one-on-one negotiations based on experience, past performance and a price quote and then negotiate to agreement on details, or (b) narrow the competitive field of competitors on the basis of experience, past performance and a price quote before asking for more detailed proposal information, providing a specification or statement of work and clauses for price quote development by fax or email. Do not use FAR Part 15 terminology or refer to FAR Part 15 in the RFQ. Do not establish a competitive range, negotiate with more than one firm at a time, or solicit revised quotes or offers from more than one competitor.
Do not follow the FAR Part 15 Process Model when giving contractors under a multiple award delivery or task order contract a fair opportunity to be considered. Maintain a dossier on each contractor reflecting its performance under task orders and any special qualifications that it may have demonstrated during performance. When the time comes to issue an order, send a draft of the order to each contractor and ask for a price quotation. Choose one contractor for one-on-one negotiations based on its past performance, its price quote and, if appropriate, its special qualifications. Negotiate the details of the order with that contractor. If you cannot reach a satisfactory agreement, then go back and choose one of the other contractors for negotiation. Do not solicit complete proposals from every contractor, establish a competitive range, negotiate with more than one contractor at a time, or solicit revised quotes or offers from more than one contractor.
What are some examples of streamlined evaluations people have used under FAR part 13 (or GSA orders & Multiple Award Delivery and Task Order Contracts)?