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joel hoffman

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Posts posted by joel hoffman

  1. 2 minutes ago, Vern Edwards said:

    If I were preparing an LPTA RFP, in order to comply with FAR 15.304(d) and (e) I would say:

    All technical acceptability factors are equally important, because all must be satisfied in order for an offeror to be eligible for award. Price will be the determining factor when selecting the awardee.

    Clear and concise for both government and industry. 

  2. 54 minutes ago, Vern Edwards said:

    @ Jamaal and Joel:

    The relative importance rule is designed to guide offerors when they may have to make tradeoffs among factors when preparing their proposals. It's relative importance. The concept is meaningful when offerors have reached a point in their proposal development at which they cannot give the government more of all that it wants, e.g., higher quality and lower price. They have reached a point at which they can give more of X or more of Y but not more of both. The classic quality/price conundrum. If the government has conflicting objectives---high quality and low price---then telling offerors that quality is more important than price is the same as saying, If you have to make a choice between giving us higher quality or lower price, then we prefer higher quality. (Telling them that quality and price are equally important is saying that the government will not or cannot provide guidance, perhaps because it's indifferent about the choice.)

    See: "The Relative Importance of Source Selection Evaluation Factors: Analysis of a Misunderstood Rule," The Nash & Cibinic Report (July 1996).

    Does the concept of relative importance apply in LPTA? Off the bat, it seems to me that the answer is no. The government will not make technical/price tradeoffs. Technical acceptability is a qualifying criterion. Price is the ultimate source selection decision criterion. There are no nonprice/price tradeoffs, so no need for guidance in that regard.

    Procedurally, LPTA is really a just a variation of two-step sealed bidding, the main distinction being that it's done in a single step. Take a look at FAR 14.503-1(a), which describes the contents of requests for "technical proposals." There is a requirement to disclose the evaluation factors, but no requirement to disclose their relative importance. 

    It seems to me that technical acceptability is really a compilation of individual requirements that does not entail tradeoffs. I don't understand Jamaal's idea that the "contractor must satisfy some combination of (but not all) subfactors in order to be determined acceptable." I don't see how having to satisfy some but not all subfactors would necessitate tradeoffs. Tradeoffs are required, and relative importance becomes important, when it's necessary to put together a winning combination of conflicting factors.

    Is it possible that multiple criteria for technical acceptability could be intertwined in such a way that an offeror might have to make tradeoffs when determining how to be technically acceptable? I won't say no. But it seems to me that if technical acceptability is adequately defined, then the definition should be all the guidance that the offeror needs. Any combination of factors that will yield defined technical acceptability will work and the government will evaluate at the bottom line, so to speak. If it does not specify how to add things up, then any sum that reaches the specified bottom line is technically acceptable. If technical acceptability is not adequately defined, then you have a faulty solicitation.

    Think of a column of ten numbers, the sum of which must equal 100 in order to be acceptable, as long as each number has a value of at least five. No single number is more important than the others. A lot of combinations are possible. Which combination should an offeror choose? Who cares, as long as their sum is 100 and each is worth at least five? If the government considers one number or some numbers among the ten to be more important than the others, then the government should specify some specific, minimum, or maximum values to them as conditions of acceptability, and the offerors are free to do whatever they like with the rest. A statement of relative importance is embedded in the definition of technical acceptability.


     Vern, I forgot about the two-step sealed bid in method. In fact, my very first design build project was in 1971 with the Air Force at Castle Air Force Base California. The Air Force use the two-step sealed bid method for design and construction of a military family housing project. The first step allowed Air Force to evaluate the acceptability of the various proposed designs. I think that they did conduct some kind of discussions and allowed the firms to correct their design proposals. The contract was awarded to the lowest bidder in step two.

    All units were back to back duplexes with carports. The exterior architecture of the 250 homes reflected the low bid mentality of this acquisition method (T-111 plywood and batten siding, no eaves or roof overhangs). It was the only allowed way to acquire design build construction at that time. 

    Still, it was ahead of its time and the interiors were at least as good quality as most of the military’s then latest design-bid-build housing stock. 

    The Navy used two-step sealed bidding extensively for design-build construction up through at least the late 1990’s.


  3. 6 hours ago, Jamaal Valentine said:

    Such a statement may limit someone else's creativity or discretion. I'd rather just go with the plain reading of the statute and regulation and let individuals make up their own mind (the primary step regarding canons of interpretation). Priced and nonprice factors being approximately equal when combined shouldn't cause any issues with doing business as usual.

    I forgot what my original line of thinking was when this started, but now I am thinking of an LPTA RFP that has a technical factor and subfactors. For example, picture a situation where a contractor must satisfy some combination of (but not all) subfactors in order to be determined acceptable. Technical is not limited to product or service function, performance, or design. Technical is a threshold of values (min or max). Technical applies to any attributes one can think up that relate to an offeror or their offer. (Why anyone would craft an RFP this way, I don't know, but who am I to limit people's thinking?)

    I understand that this place can be hostile towards so-called 'dumb ideas', but I think it's a great place to test thoughts: one's we believe and some we don't ...

    Hey, Jamaal. I was wondering myself whether there may be a situation where not every individual factor or sub factor had to pass some acceptability minimum criteria for overall acceptable rating. 

    For your hypothetical situation,  perhaps one could use a trade-off with price as substantially more important than technical. They can state that they intend to award  on the basis of initial offers without discussions but reserve the right conduct discussions if necessary. 

     How all this relates to discussion of what fair and reasonable” ,  I don’t know.

    The point that I originally tried to make was that what a buyer is willing to pay depends upon their priorities.

    I said that , when using the LPTA method, price is more important than providing any more value than minimally required for acceptability, if it will cost more than just meeting the governments requirements. 

    Thats the way the design and construction industry understands it.

    If there is sufficient interest in the project, product or service, then the competitors  should be sharpening their pens. 

    Hopefully, the buyer has some idea how much the requirements might be purchased for. If they don’t have any independent clue, they will probably rely on  the prices received. 

    Depending upon the technical complexity of the project, product or service and the number, dollar spread and distribution of offers, when the lowest priced offer is acceptable, it may be a good idea to at least read or review a higher priced offer to validate that you are comparing apples to apples.

    If the first technically acceptable offer isn’t the lowest priced, you will already have some comparables for cost and technical. You might be able to correlate what price effect the deficiencies had on the price of those offers for comparison with your ffirst technically acceptable offer. There would likely be no need to examine any higher priced technical proposal. 

    Then, depending upon how much flexibility you allowed yourself in the stated evaluation criteria and basis of award and other factors such as time available and offered prices vs. your budget, you could decide whether it would be advantageous to develop a competitive range and conduct discussions. If you are satisfied with the price of your first technically acceptable  offer, you would likely just award. But If some or all of the lower priced but deficient proposals might be susceptible to being corrected without significantly upward affecting their price, it might be worth conducting discussions. 

    Of course, then you might well have to consider whether it is necessary and/or advantageous to include any higher priced offerors in the competitive range.  

    For construction projects with LPTA,  I hesitated to recommend opening discussions when it would involve including higher priced initial offers.  Conducting discussions in an LPTA could signal to the industry that they might be able to not submit their best price initially in hopes of getting a second bite of the apple. Some firms expressed their surprise in feedback.  

    Awarding without discussions let them know that the government was serious about sharpening their initial prices. 

    The only times we conducted discussions in LPTA was when’re didn’t get affordable pricing or when it was deemed advantageous to allow lower priced offeror(s) to cure their deficiencies.

    Vern alluded to the IFB method for relying on competition to sssure substantiate or validate fair and reasonable pricing without any regard to technical evaluation. 

    I would agree -  with the caveat that in IFB, it isn’t deemed necessary to examine or assure the government that the lowest bidder  will likely meet the solicitation’s technical or other requirements, other than a routine responsibility determination. Competitors are competing strictly on lowest price basis. 

    If there isn’t any need to do that, then it should not be necessary or appropriate to use LPTA. Use IFB. 

    My LPTA perspective is based primarily on construction contracting. The nature of buying supplies and materials and routine services based upon pricing is a different animal when it comes to pricing plus it is often possible to research the web for prices. 

    I found that acquiring more complex services is just that - more complex . 

  4. 2 hours ago, Jamaal Valentine said:


    Do you read your citations as exceptions to 10 U.S.C. 2305(a)(2), FAR 15.203, 15.304, etc.

    Logically, we weigh the relative importance when using the tradeoff process … in LPTA there aren't any significant differentiators in technical so price is the final discriminator ceteris paribus. However, LPTA factors are of equal weight when combined - this does not mean that individual factors or subfactors are equal. (See Chenega Federal Systems, LLC., B-414478, June 26, 2017)

    Jamaal,, if every non-price factor in an LPTA acquisition must be rated “acceptable” for a technically acceptable rating,  then each technical factor is equally important.  Yes, indeed - see Chenega Federal Systems LLC. 

    They are not individually “weighted”. By weighted, I mean either numerically or percentage weighted or differentiated using statements of relative importance. 

    Where does Far 15.101-2 discuss any comparison between factors.? 

    Yes, I think that the LPTA acquisition method is an exception to the statutory rule that if not otherwise stated, the relative importance between cost and other than cost factors when combined are equal. That is under FAR 15.101-1 for  trade-off competitions.  

    FAR 15.101-2 says, instead, that “Solicitations shall specify that award will be made on the basis of the lowest evaluated price of proposals meeting or exceeding the acceptability standards for non-cost factors.”

    It is not possible for technical acceptability to be equally important as price in a competitive selection of the successful proposer with LPTA, when more than proposer is rated technically acceptable (or exceeding acceptable standards) .  The discriminator for selection between technically acceptable offers is price . I don’t know how to make it any clearer than that. 

    Lowest evaluated price wins. Industry knows it. Again, read Chenega, for example.  

    Actually, I suppose they can only be equal if all technically acceptable propiosals are equally priced. Then, I don’t know what would be the final discriminator.  Even when we provided a ceiling price in construction or design-build construction competitions when using LPTA, the competitors would usually propose some number that was lower or nominally lower than the ceiling price.

  5. 1 hour ago, Jamaal Valentine said:

    Competitive RFPs have requirements for stating the relative importance of factors … this is based on 10 U.S.C. 2305(a)(2) and implemented in places like FAR 15.203, 15.304, etc.

    If the relative importance is unstated the factors are presumed approximately equal. That's not to say that price cannot or will not be the discriminator as technical offers approach or are deemed equal (in this case - acceptable).

    Here are a couple definitions of Fair and Reasonable Price (CPRG offers another):



    Jamaal, just to clarify, the LPTA method is outlined in 10 USC 2305 (a)(4)(B). There is no relative importance of factors assigned in this method. It is described in FAR 15.101-2

    The  relative importance of factors including price and non-priced is required for the Trade-off process. See 15.101-1 for that specific requirement. 

  6. 1 hour ago, Desparado said:

    Joel -  The way I was interpreting what you were saying was basing an assumption that all proposals were technically acceptable, which obviously is not the case. 

    I still contend that when reviewing proposals to determine the award that guess what? Technical is the most important to the point of being acceptable.... then lowest price.

    We may simply have to agree to disagree on this minor point.

    Des, I wasn’t saying that all proposals are technically acceptable. If there are more than one, then lowest price is the discriminator for award..

    Let me put it another way by asking you a couple of questions. 

    Am I correct in assuming that you don’t want to pay a dime more for a better product, better service, better reputation, better approach, shorter completion, etc., as applicable to your LTPA method?

    If yes, then, would it be fair to guess that you are likely looking to award to a firm that will give you the best available price, not an average price?

    You are probably hoping that there will be some reasonable number of interested firms who will robustly compete price-wise, knowing full well that they don’t intend to provide any more than what you are asking for. , Someone may have some approach that allows them a competitive advantage that might also benefit you but that’s not what you are looking for . 

    Your standard for “fair and reasonable” is probably different than it would be if you were willing to pay more for some added value. 

    I don’t think that it is that complicated.

    I do think that good business practice should involve some idea or sense of what someone would or “should” expect to pay under the market conditions and solicitation provisions, if possible. 

    For DoD, I think that is one aspect of their “Better Buying Power initiatives. After all, old Shay Assad was in a huge Defense Industry firm. 


  7. Des, in a source selection, it is necessary that the proposal be technically acceptable. Your method is not different in that respect.

    The (lowest fair and reasonable) Price is the discriminator between acceptable proposals for award in an LTPA.  Thus - guess what? Price is the most important  factor.

    Industry will tell you this. In fact, industry tells us (and it is true) that price is THE most important individual factor when we say “price is approximately equal to all factors other than price when combined”.  

    You will see this stated often in GAO decisions: 

    “ It is a fundamental principle in a negotiated procurement that a proposal that fails to conform to a material solicitation requirement is technically unacceptable and cannot form the basis for award.”


    (Sorry, I can’t edit the text size on my iPhone).

    We don’t need to quibble over this. 

  8. 34 minutes ago, Desparado said:

    I wouldn't say that price is, "probably the most important factor" since the proposals must first be technically acceptable.  It's just that the government isn't willing to pay more for a higher quality or more innovative approach.  

    How would price be equal to the non-priced factors in practice?  If two or more technically acceptable offers from responsible offerors are found, the lowest fair and reasonably priced offer wins.  You can’t pay a penny more to get a better technical offer.

    And there are “likely” more than one other-than-price factors. 

    If there are more than one non-price factors and if price is “equal” to all of them when considered together as “technical” , then price would have to be the most important factor. 

    One doesn’t usually describe a weighted comparison between price and non-priced factors when using the LPTA method.

    But the reality is that you are looking for the lowest, fair and reasonably priced offer that meets your minimally acceptable criteria from a responsible offeror.

    Its a step beyond best value trade off with price as the most important factor. 


  9. 27 minutes ago, Retreadfed said:

    If that is what a fair and reasonable price is, what is all this arguing about?  It seems as if folks here are looking for a "magic formula" to tell them what price is fair and reasonable., i.e., what they would be willing and able to pay for what they are buying.  Also, nobody other than Vern has defined what it is that they are talking about.  Is there a common understanding of what this term means in the FAR or are folks here making up their own definition as they go along without sharing that information?

     Well, what you are willing to pay also depends upon how important price is in the selection process. If you’re going to use the lowest price technically acceptable method, then I suspect that price is extremely important and probably the most important factor. So the customer might be looking for the lowest  amount of money to spend for the effort. Or the project may be under funded. Who knows? We didn’t have any context For this scenario.  

  10. We don’t really know the reason for or the specific meaning of the original question.

    From a protest standpoint , it probably is defendable, as cited herein. The higher priced offers weren’t in line for award, so they aren’t interested parties in an award protest.

    If the question is “Can we do it? “ , it’s now too late for the pool members to protest the terms of the award decision.

    The task order competition said that this is how award would be made. 

    If the question concerned the business sense of simply saying that the price is fair and reasonable because it is the lowest priced offer, then it might depend upon the fuller context of the situation, as was discussed herein.  

  11. 7 hours ago, Matthew Fleharty said:

    Not one bit - it relies on an understanding of the competitive markets and the concept of fair and reasonable prices.  For one, the approach doesn't use technically unacceptable offers; that's important because you're presuming those offers are unacceptable...I believe, for these purposes, they're presumed "innocent until proven guilty."  After all, that's how the contractors approach the situation.  If they don't offer a solution that is technically acceptable and the lowest price they're going to lose business to someone who does.  If a determination of fair and reasonable pricing is concerned with too high of a price, I think, generally (because there are exceptions to every rule) it is perfectly reasonable and sound business judgment to consider the LPTA offeror of a competition as not too high (and, therefore, fair and reasonable) by virtue of having competed against the market for the contract.  The fact that you have X number of unevaluated proposals simply serves as evidence of the competitiveness of that market for the requirement.


    As for all this talk about "adequate price competition normally establishing a fair and reasonable price," whether it is misplaced or not, compare the second standard  to the situation at hand:

    • Adequate price competition (15.403-(c)(1)(ii): an expectation that two or more responsible offerors, competing independently, would submit priced offers even though only one offer is received...
    • This situation: numerous offers are received, though only one offer is evaluated IAW the solicitation's procedures because it is the LPTA

    If some are willing to hang their hat on "adequate price competition = a fair and reasonable price" why wouldn't they be equally okay doing so in a situation where one receives more than one offer, but only evaluates one?  I think the second situation is far more defensible than the first, regardless of how the FAR defines "adequate price competition" (frankly, it's too narrow...).

    For DoD, the first situation is not applicable per DFARs and PGI implementation of “Better Buying Power “policy. 

  12. 21 minutes ago, Matthew Fleharty said:


    All other things being equal, do you think that offerors would propose different prices under the two LPTA frameworks?

    • Framework 1: Rank all offers by price; evaluate all proposals for technical acceptability; award to the LPTA
    • Framework 2: Rank all offers by price; starting with the lowest priced proposal, evaluate proposals from lowest to highest until one is technically acceptable; award to the LPTA

    Matthew, if you don’t mind my interjection, I don’t think that they would propose different prices. Either way, the basis of award is LPTA, with a fair and reasonable price.

    The price(s) that you are comparing the lowest LPTA to should be comparable as proposed or otherwise be able to be compared. 

  13. 24 minutes ago, apsofacto said:

    The GAO said in that particular decision that there was no prejudice in that evaluation scheme for the higher-priced proposers because the CO assumed they were technically acceptable.  So I suppose it would have to be the other firm in the competitive range to carry that flag?  Still, that firm was higher priced by definition . . .

    Yes. Please note that my observations were not from a protest perspective. Higher priced offers would not be prejudiced by accepting a lower priced, technically acceptable offer.

    My observations are limited to determining if the price of the otherwise apparent successful proposal is fair and reasonable.  

  14. 1 hour ago, Jamaal Valentine said:

    I should have typed technically acceptable. However, my understanding is that technically acceptable/unacceptable determinations are necessary if the OP wants to rely on a comparison of proposed prices. (At least two findings of acceptable)

    What's interesting is the use of 'continuing' … does that mean they have to evaluate the lowest plus one more technically acceptable? The lowest technically acceptable plus one more technically acceptable?

    No.  I should not have  stated or conveyed that impression.

    Strict technical acceptability of another proposal might not be necessary as long as one can make a relevant price comparison. 

    Being able to make a relative price comparison would depend upon the context and complexity  of the competition and what you are buying. 

    Of course, If you have any other price information, you may well not need to examine another proposal to see if it reflects what you are trying to acquire. 

    Edit: For that matter, your method doesn’t prevent you from looking at (e.g., reading or scanning, etc.) a higher priced proposal to see if it’s associated price proposal is meaningfully comparable  to the lower priced one. 

  15. All I was doing was answering the original question, as I rephrased it to what I thought he meant. 

    Nobody here knows the context from the details not provided. 

    “Can the lowest price be considered fair and reasonable when you do not know if the other offers are technically acceptable?” 

    Can it be “considered fair and reasonable ?” Maybe legally yes, according to the stated solicitation  procedure, although one might not really know one way or the other, . Not enough context known.  It would certainly help if the government had an independent clue. It doesn’t take an acquisition professional to make such a declaration using that method. 

    Does it make “common sense” as a generic answer to the stated question?  No.  It depends upon the facts and circumstances.  I’ve had LPTAs where none of the prices were affordable or fair and reasonable. Found out what it took to resolve and did it. You probably would too if you were spending your own  money. 

  16. On 9/14/2018 at 11:50 AM, brent said:

    Awarding a competitive task order.  RFP stated that TO would go to LPTA and that only the lowest priced offer would be evaluated for TA (continuing until there is a TA offer, then stop).

    Can the lowest price be considered fair and reasonable when you do not know if the other offers are technically acceptable?

    Restating the question : Can the lowest price be considered fair and reasonable if you don’t know whether the price of any other offer reflects a price or cost to meet the contract requirements?  

    We don’t know how straightforwardl or technically complex the solicitation technical requirements are, how much effort is required to evaluate an offer, whether the lowest priced offer is technically acceptable (i.e., did you evaluate one or more lower priced offers before you found the one you intend to award to) the range of pricing (e.g., a wide variation, closely priced, etc.) or how many offers were submitted (the extent of interest and competition involved). 

    To me, it would depend upon an assessment of how confident you are that the competition reflects pricing to meet the contract requirements. Thus, it would seem obvious to me that some judgement is necessary for such a determination. Blind comparisons may not be meaningful, depending upon the nature and circumstances involved. 

    You might realize, for instance,  that you need to evaluate the next one or two lowest priced offers and,  if technically o.k., you can assure yourself that you have reasonable price competition for comparison purposes. 

    I think that a contracting professional is expected to use and provide good business judgement. Simply seeking the simplest cookbook recipes, for “one answer to fit all circumstances” doesn’t cut the mustard for me. 

  17. On 9/13/2018 at 3:43 PM, Vern Edwards said:

    Retread, I guess I wasn't clear. That's what I meant by "coordinated promises." I apologize for being obscure.

    I think that's what is supposed to happen. If you ask someone for a proposal, and if, according to FAR 2.101, proposal is another word for offer, then you want the offer, when accepted, to be binding.

    This policy has been with us throughout the current century. To the best of my knowledge it has not been particularly controversial or troublesome.




  18. It’s important to  distinguish between evaluating extent of small business participation in the proposal for small business and large business offerors for source selection purposes and, for large business primes, compliance after award with the subcontracting  plan requirements of the contract. 

    52.219-8  Utilization of small business concerns applies to essentially all primes above the simplified acquisition limits, with certain exceptions. It’s the Apple Pie and Mom clause.  

    52.219-9 Small business subcontracting plan does not apply to small business primes and has a dollar threshold for applicability.

    52.219-16 Liquidated damages - subcontracting plan  applies to those contracts containing a subcontracting plan pursuant to 52.219 -9.


  19. 25 minutes ago, C Culham said:

    @Don Mansfield @joel hoffman

    Sorry for the contractor    my comment about being a small business was rhetorical to provide an example.   While I am a small business I have never had a prime contract with a Fed agency but have been a sub to a Fed prime.  

    Back to the issue and attempt to answer questions from just a viewer.

    First I haven't missed a rodeo, I am volunteering at the best one in North America right now, always in the second full week of September, The Pendleton Round-Up.  You all should come once to this week long community event that is now in its 108th year.

    To RFA and the overall concern I for one can not think of a contractual requirement that does not carry administrative burden.  This extended thread is a perfect example.

    In a hope to be concise DoD's best practice is a duplication of what is already required of a large business contractor with regard to submission and compliance with a subcontracting plan.  My view is that DoD has failed at doing good administration of this element of a contract requirement (sub plan administration), when applicable, and so they invented the ideal of putting a performance plan into contracts as well.  Yahoo!  But my questions are then has small business participation improved, and if not how many contractors have been defaulted at the worst or at the least had some type of sanction placed on them for failing to meet the plan?    Or even had there performance evaluation reflect same?  Overall what it accomplishing that is not already in the contract.

    As to small business and the requirement for a performance plan should they receive contract award  I ask what has been accomplished as the prime is already in the hands of a small business.  Yahoo!  Goals accomplished at the get go.

    Now I am going to go "Let'er Buck!"

     Forgive me for using voice texting while being transported to an appointment .

    Carl, actually the small business participation evaluation extends beyond the small business subcontracting plan requirements for large business contractors. 

     Thank you, Don for the link that you provided to army training concerning evaluation of small business participation.

    The presentation clearly pointed out that small business participation also would include involvement of the small business prime contractor or joint venture member of a joint venture etc. and performance of the contract. 

    To me, this is actually an incentive for a small business proposer to self perform work and to get credit for it in the evaluation of this aspect of their proposal.

    I am editing my input to this thread to indicate that self performed work is also considered to be “small business participation”. 

  20. 10 hours ago, Vern Edwards said:

    @joel hoffman

    Are you saying that there is a distinction between evaluation "factors" and evaluation "criteria"? If so, what is the distinction?

    Yes, there is a distinction. Factors are the high level, key discriminators which represent those specific characteristics that are tied to the significant RFP requirements. FAR 15.304(a) discusses factors and subfactors.  The Army Source Selection Supplement to the DoD Source Selection Procedures provides guidance to "Identify key discriminators to be evaluated" and "define the discriminators as evaluation factors and subfactors and their relative order of importance."

    "Factors" should be limited in number for various reasons, such as reducing complexity, not diminishing the importance of any one KEY aspect of the evaluation, the fact that the relative importance of each factor in comparison to the others must determined and stated in the evaluation plan and RFP. Similarly, the relative importance of subfactors under a factor must also be determined and stated.

    I probably erred in calling the multiple aspects of small business participation that the DFARS described as "factors" as "evaluation criteria".   They don't rise to the level of factors or even subfactors.  If they were factors or subfactors,  they would have to be somehow weighted or stated in terms of relative importance to other factors or subfactors under the factor level. For me, that would be overkill. 

    In addition, the overall evaluation of the small business participation might well be designated no higher than as a subfactor under some related factor. 

    The individual aspects could be classified as "elements",  per the Army Source selection jargon (see below). They are simply various aspects of a factor or subfactor that the DoD wants to be evaluated.

    Evaluation criteria would be developed to describe what and how they are to be evaluated. 

    Sorry for being "sloppy"!


    FAR 15.304 says in part:



    (a) The award decision is based on evaluation factors and significant subfactors that are tailored to the acquisition.

    (b) Evaluation factors and significant subfactors must—

    (1) Represent the key areas of importance and emphasis to be considered in the source selection decision; and

    (2) Support meaningful comparison and discrimination between and among competing proposals.

    (c) The evaluation factors and significant subfactors that apply to an acquisition and their relative importance, are within the broad discretion of agency acquisition officials,



    DoD Source Selection Procedures:


    Evaluation factors and subfactors represent those specific characteristics that are tied to significant RFP requirements.  They are the uniform baseline against which each offeror’s proposal is evaluated allowing the Government to make a determination of acceptability.  The evaluation factors and subfactors shall be set forth in the solicitation in enough depth to communicate what will be evaluated.  The evaluation factors and subfactors shall be the primary determinant of the detailed information requested in the solicitation’s instructions to offerors.

    Army Source Selection Supplement:



    Identify key discriminators to be evaluated ... 

    Define the discriminators as evaluation factors and subfactors and their relative order of importance..

    ...The standard Army naming convention for the various levels is: Evaluation Factor – Subfactor – and Element.  Figure 2-4 illustrates a sample evaluation factor structure.  More evaluation factors are often a net negative.  Use caution when subdividing factors into multiple levels of subfactors since they further diminish the importance of any one aspect of the factor and introduces unnecessary complexity into the source selection process.  This can also lead to closely rated proposals with little discrimination among competitors and no distinction among criteria that drive performance and criteria that have no real impact.   


    GOTTA go - I have to be at church to oversee the fire suppression system testing and inspection.....

  21. 1 hour ago, Vern Edwards said:

    @Don Mansfield I understand perfectly, but "commonly referred to," what's that? Have you actually scoped the problem? Just because some agencies decide to call for a small business participation plan, that doesn't mean that there is a problem, much less a general problem. I know of no restriction on what agencies can ask for in proposals.

    How about:

    • A personnel management plan?
    • A QA plan.
    • A safety plan.
    • A program or project management plan.
    • A disaster preparedness plan.
    • A system test plan. 

    And so on.

    The demand for plans of various kinds in proposals has been going on for decades, since long before you worked for the government. It's not wise, in my opinion, but as far as I know it's not illegal. 

    And if you ask for a plan, and choose someone on the basis of the plan, why not make the plan contractually binding? Again, it's not wise, but it's not illegal.

    As for evaluating small business participation on an acceptable/unacceptable basis, you and Joel have expressed reservations, but neither of you has made an argument about your cause for hesitation. I can find nothing to prohibit that practice. The National Science Foundation appears to have been evaluating that factor in that way for some time. See e.g., Frontline Healthcare Workers Safety Foundation, Ltd., B-402380, 2010 COD ¶ 91. I see nothing in DFARS that expressly prohibits such an evaluation of that factor.

    It should be clear that DFARS does not require a "plan." All it requires is a proposal about participation. And why would it be illegal to include part of a proposal in a contract?

    As I said, this thread is based on a false premise.

    Vern, I did say that using go/no-go (acceptable/unacceptable) evaluation criteria would be problematic. This was because the DFARS language in 15.304 (c)(1) describing “examples of evaluation factors” (which has been moved to the  PGI at 15.304(c)(I)(A),  appears to use some comparative language. I doubt that these would rise to the level of individual “factors” in real source selection plans. They are evaluation criteria.  More sloppy wording. 

    Under a “factor” for “the extent of commitment to use such firms” (those which are specifically identified?) it says “(for example, enforceable commitments are to be weighted more heavily than non-enforceable ones)”;

     “the complexity and variety of the work small firms are to perform”;

    “the realism of the proposal”;

    “the extent of participation of such firms in terms of the value of the total acquisition”;

    “the extent to which such firms are specifically identified in proposals” (note the plural word  “proposals”, which may mean something or may just be sloppy).


    The word “extent” refers to "the range over which something extends" in one definition of extent in Merriam Webster on-line Dictionary. 


    So I said problematic -that it is open to question or debate.  Not categorically prohibited but it would seem to more naturally fit a comparative assessment. 

    Furthermore, the whole thing is wishy washy because they are referred to as  “examples” per DFARS  and PGI 215.304 (c)(I)(a) says ”Evaluation factors may include-“


    Does the National Science Foundation use the DFARS for its evaluation ?  Note that this is a DoD requirement.


     I used the term “small business participation plan” because it was in the title of the thread plus I didn’t want to write “extent of participation of small businesses in the performance of the contract” every time.  I hate to type - especially on a smart screen. Sorry anyway.

    I am rarely near a computer screen these days. 🙄