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Time Needed to Make Award
By Anonymous on Tuesday, December 17, 2002 - 05:32 pm:

How long does it typically take to award an A&E contract (from date of advertisement to award)?

Is 6 months too long?

And, what are some suggestions for ensuring that an evaluation board doesn't take too long to prepare a report.

By Vern Edwards on Tuesday, December 17, 2002 - 08:13 pm:

I don't know how long it typically takes. Maybe Joel Hoffman has some statistics.

Is six months too long (from announcement to award)? That depends on the project. Six months may not be too long for a large, complex project. You must give firms 30 days to respond to the announcement, then evaluate them and select at least three. How long that will take depends in some measure on the number of responses you receive. You may need to conduct discussions with the top three firms before sending a selection report to the selection authority. Once the selection authority has made a decision, you must negotiate contract terms with the selectee. Then you must process the award paperwork. Six months may not be too long.

What can you do to make sure than an evaluation board does not take too long to prepare an evaluation report? Arrange for their superior to give them a reasonable deadline and tell them that he or she is going to hold them responsible for meeting it.

By joel hoffman on Wednesday, December 18, 2002 - 08:13 am:

I have a chart prepared by teaching colleage, as an example for use in a class exercise. According to the chart, it could take as long as 140 days to award an A-E contract up to $550k and up to 200 days, if an audit is required.

Of the total period, about 52 days are for the synopsis (30), preselection (10), selection (9) and selection approval (3). Some of those periods can possibly be shortened. The remaining period is for RFP preparation, price proposal preparation, evaluation, negotiation, documentation of negotiations, contract preparation and award. The listed activity durations look like they can be shortened with due diligence. happy sails! joel hoffman

By Anonymous on Wednesday, December 18, 2002 - 09:39 am:

The reason I ask about this is that the evaluation boards I am dealing with are taking 3-4 months to prepare an evaluation report. I (as CO) don't assign the board members, but I feel I have some obligation to see that they don't compromise the procurment process, which I feel they are doing by taking so long. I have voiced my concerns to the board chairman and board appointing officials are disregarded. However, I'm the one who must answer the concerns of A&E firms who've provided qualification statements.

I was wondering if there is a point at which a CO should consider initiating termination action when the selection process is a low priority, as described above.

By Vern Edwards on Wednesday, December 18, 2002 - 09:53 am:


I'm not sure what you mean by "termination action". Are you asking whether the contracting officer should consider cancelling the solicitation if the board takes too long to prepare a report?

It will not make A-E firms very happy to spend time and money responding to a solicitation only to have you cancel it because the board took too long to prepare a report.

By formerfed on Wednesday, December 18, 2002 - 10:14 am:


I don't have any indication where you work at or the type of organization it is but I'll tell what one agency I worked at did. A number of evaluations were taking a long time to complete. My office went through channels to the top management and explained the situation. Senior management brought this up at a meeting and determined evaluations would be a priority. It was decided that my boss would determine how critical a specific evaluation was. Board members then got appointed on either a full time, dedicated basis or on a part time basis with the understanding that it be completed by a set date. From that time on, we never had a problem.

The point is a single CO acting alone can't make it happen. You need to get your boss and people above him/her involved. Cancelling a solicitation isn't the answer because that only causes problem with the A-E firsm as Vern points out as well as getting your program people upset.

By joel hoffman on Wednesday, December 18, 2002 - 11:19 am:

3-4 months! Is that time just to select a firm to negotiate a contract with? Does that include the initial 30 day period? happy sails! joel

By Anonymous on Wednesday, December 18, 2002 - 03:43 pm:

Yes! and no. 3-4 months begins with receipt of qualification statements and ends upon submission of selection report.

By Anon2U on Wednesday, December 18, 2002 - 07:58 pm:

I have enough to get stressed out about without worrying about the tech eval team. They work for the office that wants the contract. If their boss can't move them, I sure as heck don't care. I email them once a week with an info to my supervisor. Management can worry about it if they so choose (they rarely do). If the offer validity period runs out, I get it extended or the vendor can withdraw the proposal (no one ever has).

I have seen them take 5 months to make a selection I could have made in two days (including one day to write the report). That is one reason I love oral presentations of the technical volume. Even then, I have seen them take almost 3 weeks to turn in a report.

On a contract that involved assistance to my own office, I went to the extent of asking who they wanted, wrote the strenths/weaknesses, made a chairman's recommendation and told the team "If you agree, sign here". It was done in less than a week and my legal thought it was wonderful. I just snickered under my breath.

Is that a little unethical, or is it good customer service that should be provided on every contract? That depends on who you ask. But unless we have more COs, I don't have time to do it for everyone.

By Vern Edwards on Wednesday, December 18, 2002 - 09:02 pm:

I don't think it was unethical for you to write the evaluation report if you told the truth about the relative merits of the competitors. But it was certainly unethical if you lied about their relative strenghts and weaknesses in order to make the award to the board's favorite.

By Anon on Thursday, December 19, 2002 - 09:15 am:

Bingo Vern! Years ago when buying basic R&D for an unnamed agency I saw the same thing, the technical team couldn't write a decent evaluation report, so the contracting officer just said "who do you want" and proceeded to write (doctor?) up a report to support the favored awardee. I always felt very uneasy about that practice.

Suffice to say, I stayed with that agency less than two years.

By formerfed on Thursday, December 19, 2002 - 09:30 am:

If you're objective and honest, I see writing the report as a good practice. First of all, by actually doing yourself, you learn (if you already didn't know) how to put one together. If someone hasn't tried it, constructing a consensus report from the notes and various documentation prepared from a variety of evaluators isn't easy. Second it ensures that the report is sound and fully supports the award decision.

By Anon on Thursday, December 19, 2002 - 09:57 am:

Former, it's nice if you have notes and documentation from the evaluators, in the case I cited previously, there was no documentation, just verbal comments and the reports were written with such canned language that it could have probably applied to any of the offerors, how they got away with it...I just don't know.

Now when I was with DoD, I used to write the reports but I had clear documentation from my evaluation team, I didn't feel I was writing a report full of bureaucratese and bovine scatology.

By Vern Edwards on Thursday, December 19, 2002 - 10:07 am:

Ah, a chance to pontificate!

I think that one of the most important services that contracting offices can provide to their agency "customers" is assistance with some of the writing tasks that those offices impose on those customers, especially specifications and statements of work, proposal evaluation reports, and contractor performance assessments.

Writing is not easy and most people in our society don't do it well, either because they can't think clearly, organize their thoughts, or express themselves effectively. I heard a broadcast on National Public Radio the other day which reported that many companies have to provide writing classes for new hires with college degrees, because they cannot write a decent business memo.

I know that many contracting folks will object to the idea of writing for their customers as just adding to their workload, but think of it as a source of job security and career advancement. In my career, I have found the ability to write to be an invaluable source of influence and advancement. It provided me with many opportunities for exposure to higher-ups -- the people who make promotion decisions. Today, I reach and influence many more people through my writing than I do in the classroom.

Thinking and writing can be learned. If you don't think or write well (and the two go hand-in-hand), do something about it. Take a writing class in which you'll be forced to research and write about a variety of topics. You won't regret the effort. And see to it that your kids get some training, too. The public schools, colleges and universities don't make kids write as much as they should, and it shows when they report for their first real job. The young employee who can write well is already far ahead of his or her peers.

By Anonymous on Thursday, December 19, 2002 - 10:09 am:

I (original anon.) discussed the matter in-depth with my boss who contacted the head of engineering. We ended up meeting together and discussing the problems. We decided to replace the current board chairman with someone having more time to devote to the evaluation/ranking process. It may not be the right answer, but it's a step in the right direction. Thanks for the help!