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I am a Contract Specialist in an R&D office within a Government agency that awards many contracts off BAAs in accordance with FAR 35.016. The contract awards are always Firm Fixed Price (FFP) with the solicitation specifying a not-to-exceed (NTE) dollar limitation such that proposals typically come in at or just below the NTE price. Award is based on evaluation criteria that center on some variation of technical merit and importance to agency programs in accordance with FAR 35.016(e). While price reasonableness is reviewed, price is evaluated as pass/fail, based on whether the offeror proposed at/under the NTE price.

I have a customer (Project Manager/COTR) who would like to release a BAA for some exploratory technology  development, but would like to use a Cost plus Fixed Fee (CPFF) contract type and also use a best value tradeoff approach (between technical factors and price) for award. This suggestion is generating substantial opposition from acquisition personnel within my office on the grounds that they have never seen either of these things done before and that there are practical problems associated with introducing price into the award decision-making process in the context of a BAA.

Specifically, they argue that since a BAA generally specifies a broad "area of interest," we will receive proposals for widely varying technical solutions, precluding comparison between them. FAR 35.016(d) states "...proposals need not be evaluated against each other since they are not submitted in accordance with a common work statement." At the same time, as long as we evaluate the proposals received in accordance with our evaluation criteria (say "technical merit" and "importance to agency programs") and our solicitation clearly states the importance of price relative to non-price factors, I am not sure I understand what precludes us from award based on a tradeoff approach--even if we receive widely divergent technical proposals. I understand that the approach my customer is advocating comes from FAR Part 15, and that the FAR Part 15 source selection procedures are not required for BAAs.

Basically, my question is: are there any rules/guidance prohibiting using a tradeoff approach (between technical factors and price) for award under a BAA? Are there practical reasons for not using this approach?

 

 

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A CPFF contract may be proposed under a BAA.  You will include cost realism and reasonableness in your selection criteria.

You don't need a FAR Part 15 tradeoff process -- you don't need or want any comparative evaluation of proposals.  It really is a simple matter, and is the same process you probably already use with fixed-price proposals -- for the price (or proposed cost + fee and a realism assessment), does the proposal provide technical merit and importance to agency programs?  If yes, make a contract award -- if no, don't.

The GAO bid protest decision B-412535 might be helpful to you:  http://www.gao.gov/assets/680/674884.pdf

 

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