June 07, 2013

Some basic rules and considerations when administering a Best Value (technical trade off) procurement:

First, make sure that the procurement itself is eligible for a technical trade-off analysis. If technical capabilities required for a responsive bid are fungible (e.g. commercial items without expedited delivery requirements), the performance of a technical trade-off evaluation will likely appear to a reviewer to be a price justification (since assumedly the lowest priced proposal isn't the winner).

Second, clearly communicate to the offerors via the RFQ that aspects other than price will be considered during the evaluation process. The offerors needs to know - in writing - that price isn't the main evaluation criteria of the award decision. However, you are not required to disclose the weight given to each evaluation criteria. Also keep in mind that price must be a substantial factor in source selection [see FAR 15.403-1(c)(1)(i)(A)]. What does "substantial" mean? In past CPSRs, DCMA has evaluated price as a substantial factor when it carries at least 10% weight as a criteria. I always suggest making it 20% - 10% lowest cost, 10% responsive anticipation of potential performance variables affecting price. In the current "cost savings" government environment it doesn't hurt to stress price, even in a technical trade-off evaluation.

Finally, I advise at least considering providing the proposals to the Requisitioner for review on a "single blind" basis, redacting price from Ops review and evaluation. This will break the proposal out and allow each function (Ops and Procurement) to stay in their swim lanes during the eval process. For high dollar value Best Value procurements (over $500K), consider a "double blind" technical evaluation where both price and offeror name is redacted from the proposal during requisitioner review.  

This isn't a specific requirement for successful administration of a Best Value procurement, but your CPSR Team will love it as an approach. And since you can be sure the team will see all or almost all of your system's files over $500K in total value in the first 3-5 days of your CPSR, you're setting an excellent tone for the rest of the review.