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My company proposed on a job with 10 CLIN's, 0001 through 0010, each with a monthly price for a year of services.   It's FFP, LPTA,  and no doubt there are several competitors.

We received what I'll call a negotiation letter (you may have a different name), citing as a deficiency in the proposal the lack of a table of labor categories, rates, hours, and price per labor category.   This puzzles me, since the RFP called for a price for each CLIN, not a price for each labor category.  Just to be sure I checked the RFP and there was no call for such a table of labor categories, rates, hours, and price per labor category.  

I'm wondering where this came from?  My first thought is to consider it an irrelevant negotiation tactic to be ignored or called out as irrelevant, but seek the wisdom of the crowd.  Why would this have been put into the negotiation letter? 

 

 

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If the letter indicates the term "discussions" or "negotiations", you certainly have the right to ask where the requirement is to provide the information that they say is missing and constitutes a deficiency.

Discussions/negotiations should involve two way communications, not simply a notice of a deficiency with a required revision.  

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Guest Vern Edwards

It's not a "negotiation tactic." And so what if it were?

Don't be foolish. If they want the info, and if they're giving you a chance to send it, just send it.

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rsenn:

I assume that the "negotiation letter" is a notice from the agency that says your proposal is deficient as it is.  If you don't give the agency what it wants for it to be acceptable, the agency may find your proposal as unacceptable and no longer in the competition.

I wont try to project what avenue an attorney may use in a protest but I cannot remember when a protest, based on an agency using unstated evaluation criteria, was sustained. There may be a case but I cannot remember posting it.  And where would that get you?

If you want your proposal to stay in the competition, take Vern's advice.

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10 hours ago, bob7947 said:

rsenn:

I assume that the "negotiation letter" is a notice from the agency that says your proposal is deficient as it is.  If you don't give the agency what it wants for it to be acceptable, the agency may find your proposal as unacceptable and no longer in the competition.

I wont try to project what avenue an attorney may use in a protest but I cannot remember when a protest, based on an agency using unstated evaluation criteria, was sustained. There may be a case but I cannot remember posting it.  And where would that get you?

If you want your proposal to stay in the competition, take Vern's advice.

A Google Search using "gao protest unstated evaluation criteria" , yielded some protests sustained due to the government using unstated evaluation criteria and I have seen several of those in my periodic reviews. See, for instance:

http://www.gao.gov/products/B-412796.2,B-412796.3#mt=e-report

Of course, there are gobs and gobs of Decisions that indicate or state that the government must evaluate proposals consistent with the stated evaluation criteria. 

I tend to agree with agree with what Vern said.  However, I think that, if the agency is conducting discussions, then an offeror should be able to ask and be told where the requirement is stated or inferred in a lowest priced technically acceptable evaluation.  The government may have to defend the basis of its decision to rate a proposal unacceptable, if later protested.

EDIT: In addition, the original post indicated that the government is requiring proposal submission information but did not say that the government stated anywhere in the solicitation how that information would be evaluated or what the minimum acceptable criteria associated with it is.  

The offeror needs to be able to determine how to submit information that will be acceptable in a revised offer. 

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Guest Vern Edwards
11 minutes ago, joel hoffman said:

I think that, if the agency is conducting discussions, then an offeror should be able to ask and be told where the requirement is stated or inferred in a lowest priced technically acceptable evaluation.  The government may have to defend the basis of its decision to rate a proposal unacceptable, if later protested.

I suspect that the issue is not an unstated evaluation factor, but information wanted or needed for price evaluation. In any case, I suspect that rsenn missed the requirement for the info in the originial RFP or in some RFP amendment. It's easy to do.

I frankly don't see the point in questioning the agency on this point, since they do not seem to have done anything but say that the offeror did not submit some information. The priority should be on getting the info to the agency ASAP, not worrying about a potential protest.

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But - they are in discussions, which means that the government will be asking for revised final offers.  Rsenn may have missed the submission requirement - which also means that he/she also may not know how the government will evaluate the information for minimum acceptability and might not know what the possible price ramifications are to comply or if he can improve his price.  So it may be prudent to ask.  

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1 hour ago, Vern Edwards said:

I suspect that the issue is not an unstated evaluation factor, but information wanted or needed for price evaluation. In any case, I suspect that rsenn missed the requirement for the info in the originial RFP or in some RFP amendment. It's easy to do.

I frankly don't see the point in questioning the agency on this point, since they do not seem to have done anything but say that the offeror did not submit some information. The priority should be on getting the info to the agency ASAP, not worrying about a potential protest.

Your suspicions may be correct. If so, ok.  

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Regardless of whether the firm missed something in the RFP/Q or not, I think this brings up another point that puzzles me.  At places I've worked, I have seen a long-term trend, from both the Gov't and from Industry, of a fear of picking up the telephone and saying hi and conveying info on what's going on.  The Gov't frequently sends out letters/emails without talking to anyone and Industry sits in fear of asking what is going on for fear of offending someone.  Just my thoughts...

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6 hours ago, Whynot said:

Maybe this a task order RFP under a schedule or IDIQ - and the government just wants to see how you got to your offer using established contract labor and rates.

Might be. We don't know.  We do know that there are some sort of discussions going on.

 

7 hours ago, Gns said:

Regardless of whether the firm missed something in the RFP/Q or not, I think this brings up another point that puzzles me.  At places I've worked, I have seen a long-term trend, from both the Gov't and from Industry, of a fear of picking up the telephone and saying hi and conveying info on what's going on.  The Gov't frequently sends out letters/emails without talking to anyone and Industry sits in fear of asking what is going on for fear of offending someone.  Just my thoughts...

Having conducted face to face and telephonic oral discussions and written discussions numerous times, I had no problem with a proposer/offeror asking me questions when they didn't understand what we were asking for or why it was a deficiency during discussions. 

Sheesh.  Look - it is an acquisition using LPTA .  The rating system uses some form of go/no-go.  If the OP truly can't find any requirement in the solicitation to submit a spreadsheet with the price breakdown and they are told that this is a deficiency, then they should be able to ask where the requirement is and how the information will be evaluated.  Asking should not affect the firm's evaluation rating.  They likely aren't using a comparative rating system with LPTA. 

Firms must be able to determine what the minimum acceptable requirements are.

I don't assume that the government is correct or that they know what they are supposed to do in source selections. With the relatively low success rate for protests, I have a similar opinion of industry. 

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     Thanks for the wisdom, guys.  While I dislike giving anything that the other side might use against me in the future, it was a simple enough exercise to create such a table, inventing labor categories and allocating the price in a manner that I suspect will looks reasonable.  It's just an exercise in pandering to perceived perceptions, but easy enough to do.

 

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I hope you put some disclaimer in your "invented" estimate. If the government awards based on your false estimate, as found out by a protest from a losing bidder, or other means, you set yourself up for a potential false claims.

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On 5/1/2017 at 2:01 PM, joel hoffman said:

I don't assume that the government is correct or that they know what they are supposed to do in source selections. With the relatively low success rate for protests, I have a similar opinion of industry. 

Hmmm, the government informs the proposer in a written communication that the competitive, FFP proposal is deficient for failure to include detailed cost breakdown of the line item pricing or overall price. 

The proposer alledgedly can't determine where the proposal submission requirement was that it failed to comply with and alledgely doesn't know what the cost breakdown data is for or how it will be evaluated.

So, rather than actually ask, in response to what the proposer calls a "negotiations letter", the proposer decides to "pander to perceived intentions", "inventing labor categories and allocating the price in a manner that [the proposer] suspects will looks [sic] reasonable."

So it is possible, from the sparse description of the scenario, that the government may think that offerors in a competition would develop their competitive price proposals using a mechanical cost based methodology, without regard to market based pricing factors or adjustments.  Or the government might have required that the line item prices or overall price be justified by such cost based methods...or is checking for unbalancing of line items...or is checking for understanding of the requirements...or is checking for the reasonableness of the labor allocation...or something else...

EDIT: Title of the thread is "Help me understand the evaluators, please".  BLUF (my opinion) is "if you don't understand the evaluators, ask the government.  This acquisition did not use a tradeoff process.  You shouldn't  be downgraded for not understanding at face value what they wrote you in a negotiation letter. 

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