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I request some feedback/suggests concerning the provision below. The situation is a using SAP procedures/Open market/for courier services. I have outline what they are to submit as QCP/Contract manager's resume/complete package submitted/technical approach to performance. Any thoughts?

52.212-2  EVALUATION—COMMERCIAL ITEMS (OCT 2014)

  (a) The Government will award a contract resulting from this solicitation to the responsible offeror whose offer conforming to the solicitation will be most advantageous to the Government, price and other factors considered. The following factors shall be used to evaluate offers:

Factor # 1: Price/Cost to the Government

Factor # 2: Quality of Product/Service

            Sub-factor # 1: Compliance with Solicitation Requirements

            Sub-factor # 2: Technical Excellence

            Sub-factor # 3: Management Capability

 

Quality will be rated as “Go” or “No-Go.” Vendors must receive a “Go” rating, before price is evaluated.    

 

Award will be made to the quotation evaluated to be the Lowest Price Technically Acceptable (FAR Part 15.101-2).

  

  Technical and past performance, when combined, are approximately equal to cost or price.

  (b) Options. The Government will evaluate offers for award purposes by adding the total price for all options to the total price for the basic requirement. The Government may determine that an offer is unacceptable if the option prices are significantly unbalanced. Evaluation of options shall not obligate the Government to exercise the option(s).

  (c) A written notice of award or acceptance of an offer, mailed or otherwise furnished to the successful offeror within the time for acceptance specified in the offer, shall result in a binding contract without further action by either party. Before the offer's specified expiration time, the Government may accept an offer (or part of an offer), whether or not there are negotiations after its receipt, unless a written notice of withdrawal is received before award.

(End of Provision)

 

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Guest Vern Edwards

Courier services? Simplified acquisition procedures? Your scheme is too complicated. You'll get wrapped around the axle on Quality of Product/Service.

The only evaluation factor you need is price. Award to the low, responsive, responsible quoter. If you expect to have a large number of courier assignments, set a special responsibility standard for capacity.

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I seriously doubt your submission requirements are consistent with customary commercial practice. Have you done any market research to determine how courier services are customarily bought and sold? Do other buyers in this market require the submission of "QCP/Contract manager's resume/complete package submitted/technical approach to performance" from potential sellers?

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“Technical and past performance, when combined, are approximately equal to cost or price”?? 

This doesn’t make sense to me. 

Price is most important here and the technical must at least meet some minimum level.

 

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Let me add that you have confused your process.  You state "SAP" but then in your 212-1 provision state LPTA and reference FAR Part 15.   SAP is contained in FAR Part 13, FAR Part 15 is Negotiated Procurement.  

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29 minutes ago, C Culham said:

Let me add that you have confused your process.  You state "SAP" but then in your 212-1 provision state LPTA and reference FAR Part 15.   SAP is contained in FAR Part 13, FAR Part 15 is Negotiated Procurement.  

That's a great catch by Carl - if you are protested, you might be held to the more strict standards of FAR Part 15 instead of FAR Part 13.  I won't rehash the issue here, but see Vern's second post on the following thread:

 

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2 hours ago, Constricting Officer said:

The Government will award a contract resulting from this solicitation to the responsible offeror whose offer conforming to the solicitation will be most advantageous to the Government, price and other factors considered.

I agree with the others. Why state LPTA when you already said you're gonna pick the most advantageous offer? FAR 12.602(c) let's you select the most advantageous one and document your rationale. You're backing yourself into a corner here, and you're also in FAR Part 15 territory (you even referenced it).

I disagree with the others though on the technical piece. I think it's critical to have a good contract manager on a contract since they are your main POC for the contract. But I think looking at their resume isn't really going to tell you anything that past performance won't tell you. I've been burned before by looking at price alone, so I always want to look at some sort of technical data or past performance. But realistically, would you trade off for something you saw in a resume? I personally wouldn't. I would trade off for superior technical approaches or past performance though.

2 hours ago, Constricting Officer said:

Technical and past performance, when combined, are approximately equal to cost or price.

This doesn't make sense, since you didn't list past performance as an evaluation factor.

I disagree with Mr Hoffman who said price is the most important factor -- this is dependent on previous contracts, how critical your service is, and market research and a variety of other factors. Just be sure to let them know, if price truly is the most important factor, state it that way. You could put a statement that says they're approximately equal, but as offers for Quality of Product/Service become similar, price becomes more important. I often do that to allow offerors to be innovative, but at the end of the day, if they all do the same thing, I'm going with the lowest price. If one does something that's superior to another, I determine if that approach is worth more money or not.

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1 hour ago, joel hoffman said:

Price is most important here and the technical must at least meet some minimum level.

Also, I wouldn't state some sort of minimum level. FAR 12.602(b) states "For many commercial items, the criteria need not be more detailed than technical (capability of the item offered to meet the agency need), price and past performance. Technical capability may be evaluated by how well the proposed products meet the Government requirement instead of predetermined subfactors."

So evaluate how well their technical approach/quality/etc meets your requirement. Don't state something weird like "If you reach "x" threshold you'll be better than others." Let the offerors give you their best deal. At award you'll document something along the lines of "Offeror A's offer best meets the Governments requirements because A, B and C, and their prices are fair and reasonable based upon competition. They are determined to have submitted the most advantageous offer to the Government."

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The Original Poster (OP) described a scenario where award would be made to the lowest price that meets whatever technical criteria they consider to be acceptable (a “go”). That means “Lowest Priced Technically Acceptable” (LPTA).  The OP invoked Part 15 in the description. Here, it was stated that the tech criteria are rated either go or no go. There is no means to pay more to award to a higher qualified firm if a lesser but still qualified firm offers a lower price. To do so would involve some form of a trade-off, which wasn’t described here. 

This means that price is the  most important factor between offers or proposals which meet the criteria to be rated as a “go”.  You should not describe it as a weighted comparison or say that “price is more important”. That is already a given when the basis of award is “LPTA”.  

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1 hour ago, ContractingCowboi said:

That's a good point. I have no idea why I didn't put 2 and 2 together. I lost track of that critical piece of information-- FAR Parts 12/13 invokes a lot of personal preferences of mine so I tend to ramble and put my own spin on things and ignored that. Thanks for setting me straight!

You are welcome. 😊

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Guest Vern Edwards
8 hours ago, ContractingCowboi said:

I disagree with the others though on the technical piece. I think it's critical to have a good contract manager on a contract since they are your main POC for the contract. But I think looking at their resume isn't really going to tell you anything that past performance won't tell you. I've been burned before by looking at price alone, so I always want to look at some sort of technical data or past performance. But realistically, would you trade off for something you saw in a resume? I personally wouldn't. I would trade off for superior technical approaches or past performance though.

That's typical government bureaucracy thinking. Technical criteria my butt. I run a business and depend on Federal Express to deliver critical packages large and small all over the world. If they fail, I'm in serious trouble. They don't provide me with a "contract manager." I have no idea who their managers are and don't care. I have no idea what their "technical approach" is and don't care. As for their past performance, it's obvious by their success.

If the service is commercial and a company has been in that business for some time, and a reasonable investigation into their responsibility shows that they are capable and provide good service, that's all I need to know. Choose on price and responsibility. Criminy! You're not buying a bleeping Mars mission.

Government contracting personnel lack the simplicity gene.

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But the thing is you're not going to know who is going to quote. Some up and coming guy might want to compete, and you've got to make sure they understand what they are doing. You could deem them not responsible, but the SBA could issue a COC and might be backed into a situation where you're forced into a bad contract.

I've had situations overseas where I considered price alone, and big companies like Lockheed and Booz Allen didn't know they didn't fall under the SOFA. Thank God we checked their technical approach, and this was a rather simple service.

A 3-5 page blurb of how the contractor intends to meet our needs isn't overly burdensome, as long as you keep it simple.

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16 minutes ago, ContractingCowboi said:

A 3-5 page blurb of how the contractor intends to meet our needs isn't overly burdensome, as long as you keep it simple.

The problem with that approach is that you likely end up in what Vern's coined an "essay contest" because that "3-5 page blurb" probably contains zero promises.  Useful evaluation factors are those that either evaluate the promises of an offeror or their capabilities.  A "3-5 page blurb" of what an offeror could do is not a promise and does not demonstrate their capabilities (it only demonstrates what they think they are capable of...but most likely it merely parrots the SOW/PWS).

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Guest Vern Edwards
46 minutes ago, ContractingCowboi said:

But the thing is you're not going to know who is going to quote. Some up and coming guy might want to compete, and you've got to make sure they understand what they are doing. You could deem them not responsible, but the SBA could issue a COC and might be backed into a situation where you're forced into a bad contract.

But it's a commercial service. (Right?) If they are in the business and have been in the business for a while it is likely that they understand what they are doing. Establish a well-documented special responsibility standard (FAR 9.104-2) (GAO uses the term "definitive responsibility criterion") requiring specific experience, assets, and capacity.

What you want to do is conduct an essay contest. What would that prove? You wouldn't even know who wrote it.

Maybe you should tell us more about what you mean by "courier services."

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The original poster for this thread was “Constricting Officer”. That scenario is what I was referring to in my comments. We are now apparently discussing another scenario with  respondent, “Contracting “Cowboi” . I didn’t notice this yesterday. 

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2 hours ago, Vern Edwards said:

But it's a commercial service. (Right?) If they are in the business and have been in the business for a while it is likely that they understand what they are doing. Establish a well-documented special responsibility standard (FAR 9.104-2) (GAO uses the term "definitive responsibility criterion") requiring specific experience, assets, and capacity.

What you want to do is conduct an essay contest. What would that prove? You wouldn't even know who wrote it.

Maybe you should tell us more about what you mean by "courier services."

I want to know their approach and how they intend to meet the Government's requirement. For most simple services, I'd agree with you -- a plumber is a plumber and should know general plumbing techniques. Same could go for courier services. What you're saying makes sense. "Transport medical tests to a testing facility." Pretty straightforward. 

But there's some situations where you award a contract for a Pharmacist, which is a commercial service. Odds are, you're not going to award the contract to an individual, but to a company. I want to know how they retain personnel, or how fast they'll refill the position in the event of staff loss, because that tells me that there likely won't be a break in service, or if there is, it'll be minimal. You can tell me that in 1-2 pages.

I feel your approach works, and I feel that in LPTA it would work 9 times out of 10, but I think looking at technical information tells you "how well" the contractor can perform. Keep in mind, I'm not thinking LPTA in these scenarios, I'm thinking of simplified tradeoffs.

I often argue that if you're doing LPTA in simplified acquisitions, you might as well do sealed bidding.

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Guest Vern Edwards
1 hour ago, ContractingCowboi said:

But there's some situations where you award a contract for a Pharmacist, which is a commercial service. Odds are, you're not going to award the contract to an individual, but to a company. I want to know how they retain personnel, or how fast they'll refill the position in the event of staff loss, because that tells me that there likely won't be a break in service, or if there is, it'll be minimal. You can tell me that in 1-2 pages.

Emphasis added.

What do you know about retaining personnel? What do you know about refilling positions? Have you ever done those things for a private firm, for a pharmaceutical services contractor, and for a living? If not, how will you judge what you read? Do you think you can really judge a one or two page description of those activities when you don't know anything about them? And if its the kind of thing that anybody can judge, even thought they've never done it, then maybe its the kind of thing that a good writer could describe for someone who might turn out to be not very good at it. Do you think a techncal description describes a good approach if it sounds good to you?

That's what cracks me up about the whole technical proposal thing: people who've never done something judging people who actually do it on the basis of something written by who knows who? And if it does not read well, might that be because people who do something for a living don't spend time writing about how to do it? What kind of account would you get from the typical framing carpenter about house framing? He or she does not spend their time writing about framing. Hell, they don't spend their time reading about framing. They spend their time framing. And a person who could write a good account of framing probably does not spend a lot of time framing.

The "technical" proposal approach to evaluating companies is one of the most absurd methods of choosing a contractor that has ever been devised.

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1 hour ago, Vern Edwards said:

What do you know about retaining personnel? What do you know about refilling positions? Have you ever done those things for a private firm, for a pharmaceutical services contractor, and for a living?

I know I'm Air Force and enlisted, and whoever is doing the opposite of them is probably doing it right.

In all seriousness, I know enough to be able to spot whether or not a company can or cannot do it, or if their plan is better. For example, I can tell that "We have a database of individuals fully qualified for this position in the event of staff loss. Once an employee leaves, we will either utilize that database, or relocate another already employed individual to the performance location, and can fill the position within 15 days" is a better plan than "Once an employee leaves, we'll immediately begin recruitment efforts."

That's why I like to use the phrase "Technical and Price are approximately equal. If technical approaches become similar, the importance of price increases." A lot of times I'll see exactly that; their approaches are similar. I don't mind if it's well-written or not, but I often find very important information in offers. An offeror will say something along the lines of, "If we lose revenue, we reserve the right to cancel the contract" on a firm fixed price contract. Or they'll take exception to some term in the contract, sometimes not on purpose, they didn't know what they were getting into.

I get what you're saying about house framing, and for me, I'd never personally make that judgement call. Would I rely on Civil Engineering for their technical expertise? Yes. 

1 hour ago, Vern Edwards said:

That's what cracks me up about the whole technical proposal thing: people who've never done something judging people who actually do it on the basis of something written by who knows who?

Fair point. But if I'm going to sign my name to something, I want to make sure the contractor knows what they're doing. Because once they are awarded a contract, in my opinion, they are a reflection of me and my team.

I can ensure good performance with past performance pretty easily, but I feel that gives newer contractors a disadvantage. 

I'm curious to know what you think would be better data to look to determine a contractor could perform rather than a technical narrative? 

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No intent to hijack this thread or speak for Vern but.....

Specific to the idea of an acquisition of a commercial item, a pharmacist, how about your market research as THE data.  After all why does one pick CVS over Rite-Aid or Walgreens.   They sure don't ask for a one or two page document.

Remember we are talking about SAP and you have lots of latitude to make a decision even when it's only pricing you have received.

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I'm not usually concerned about the individual. A pharmacist is a pharmacist. I'm typically more concerned with the company managing him. Losing a body in a position can shut down a whole clinic. I can ding them on CPARS all I need to, and maybe hit them with liquidated damages, but I'd rather have a smooth running clinic.

A pharmacist is a bad example in that case, but a pain management doctor is usually one-deep. Losing him would shut down the whole pain management clinic.

Also, no worries about hijacking the thread. I love this type of discussion. I've got 6 years experience, and in contracting terms, still a baby. I enjoy the different perspectives. And, without trying to sound like a brown noser, some of Vern's past discussions on this very topic have shaped the way I've done contracting. Not only him, but a lot of folks in this community. Which is why I keep asking questions. So the more perspectives, the better.

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30 minutes ago, ContractingCowboi said:

"We have a database of individuals fully qualified for this position in the event of staff loss. Once an employee leaves, we will either utilize that database, or relocate another already employed individual to the performance location, and can fill the position within 15 days" is a better plan than "Once an employee leaves, we'll immediately begin recruitment efforts."

Is it? 

They could be equivalent, in the sense that the second company just didn't give as many details.   But they MIGHT be doing the same thing, the descriptions aren't contradictory.   One certainly provides more confidence; I get that.  

From the government's perspective, they ARE ultimately the same, in that neither provides a guarantee.   Now, if the first one promised they WILL fill the position within 15 days, and that becomes a part of the contract...that's a different offer.   Right? 

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for consideration of the company as a hedge against risk.   I'm just cautioning that even a pig can be described with flowery, detailed language that instills confidence.  

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41 minutes ago, ContractingCowboi said:

Fair point. But if I'm going to sign my name to something, I want to make sure the contractor knows what they're doing. Because once they are awarded a contract, in my opinion, they are a reflection of me and my team.

Well you're not convinced by Vern's framer example, so let's try this:  There is an entire business segment dedicated to writing proposals for companies seeking Government contracts (Google "Government Contract Proposal Writing Services").  The information you're "evaluating" in the technical narratives may not even be from that company and yet you're relying on it to assess whether the contractor knows what they're doing...

41 minutes ago, ContractingCowboi said:

I'm curious to know what you think would be better data to look to determine a contractor could perform rather than a technical narrative? 

You should re-read FAR 9.104-1, there is a wealth of criteria there to consider when it comes to responsibility that a Contracting Officer can consider in order to avoid being bamboozled without needing a technical narrative:

Quote

To be determined responsible, a prospective contractor must --

(a) Have adequate financial resources to perform the contract, or the ability to obtain them (see 9.104-3(a));

(b) Be able to comply with the required or proposed delivery or performance schedule, taking into consideration all existing commercial and governmental business commitments;

(c) Have a satisfactory performance record (see 9.104-3(b) and Subpart 42.15). A prospective contractor shall not be determined responsible or nonresponsible solely on the basis of a lack of relevant performance history, except as provided in 9.104-2;

(d) Have a satisfactory record of integrity and business ethics (for example, see Subpart 42.15);

(e) Have the necessary organization, experience, accounting and operational controls, and technical skills, or the ability to obtain them (including, as appropriate, such elements as production control procedures, property control systems, quality assurance measures, and safety programs applicable to materials to be produced or services to be performed by the prospective contractor and subcontractors). (See 9.104-3 (a).)

(f) Have the necessary production, construction, and technical equipment and facilities, or the ability to obtain them (see 9.104-3(a)); and

(g) Be otherwise qualified and eligible to receive an award under applicable laws and regulations (see also inverted domestic corporation prohibition at 9.108).

Keep SAP Simple.

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I love the idea of keeping SAP simple, but I keep getting the impression everyone thinks that simple means lowest-priced responsible offeror. Which is a fair argument. But in my example above with Lockheed Martin and Booz Allen, they hit all of those responsibility targets, yet still failed to meet a critical aspect of the contract. Awarding to them at their price without SOFA status would have resulted in cost overruns, and, most likely performance issues.

You could use "Assumptions made" as an evaluation factor, I guess?

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