June 04, 2013

"Best Value" Competitive Procurements - The Beginning Of The Discussion

Up front I wanted to clarify - all competitive procurements are "Best Value" procurements [see 15.403-1(c)(1)(i)]. Because it sort of sticks in my craw a bit, but understand the need for a shorthand, the term "Best Value" is typically used to describe "Technical Trade Off" evaluations, or a price analysis where price is a significant, but not determinative, factor in the award decision.

The regulatory concept behind a Best Value procurement is the old cliche "You get what you pay for". Sometimes cheaper is not better, and the situations where this is true are probably more numerous than those where a lowest price procurement is appropriate.  Here are a few examples: 

  • Sourcing for highly trained/qualified personnel;
  • Specialized performance capabilities not readily available in the open market;
  • Expedited Delivery Requirements; and
  • Required Certifications/Pre-Award Performance Approvals by a Governing Body.

As a contrary comparison, lowest price procurements are most appropriate where (a) there are multiple qualified providers of the technical solution in the open market; and (b) the technical solution is fungible (e.g. not unique or requiring highly specialized qualifications for performance/delivery). 

By way of introduction to the topic, and as a soft experiment, pull a sample of noncompetitive service procurements and REALLY read the SSJ. Then ask yourself a few questions: 

  • Can you identify qualified offerors in the marketplace who could have reasonably been expected to respond to an RFQ for these services? 
  • Does the SSJ reference potentially qualified vendors who were "technically disqualified" by the requisitioner prior to RFQ development? 
  • Does the SSJ reference special qualifications mandated by the "Government Customer" (e.g. COTR) with "soft direction" to source the work to the identified subcontractor? 

If the answer to any of these questions is "yes," that procurement (and others like it) can be converted to a Best Value procurement. Best Value procurements make life so much easier. We'll talk about why in the next post.