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Overriding the evaluators

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Can the source selection authority override the plain judgement of the evaluators?

For oversimplified example, if offerors #1, 2, & 3 are all evaluated as "Good" and #4 is evaluated as "Acceptable" can the SSA override them and say he prefers #4 anyway?

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Federal Acquisition Regulation subpart 15.308 Source selection decision. (emphasis added)

The source selection authority’s (SSA) decision shall be based on a comparative assessment of proposals against all source selection criteria in the solicitation. While the SSA may use reports and analyses prepared by others, the source selection decision shall represent the SSA’s independent judgment. The source selection decision shall be documented, and the documentation shall include the rationale for any business judgments and tradeoffs made or relied on by the SSA, including benefits associated with additional costs. Although the rationale for the selection decision must be documented, that documentation need not quantify the tradeoffs that led to the decision.

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1 hour ago, lotus said:

Okay, so why not have just one evaluator, who is the same person as the source selection authority?

That would be fine -- but usually, the selecting official is at a higher grade than the evaluators, and he or she relies on the evaluators to handle the minutiae. 

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1 hour ago, lotus said:

Okay, so why not have just one evaluator, who is the same person as the source selection authority?

 FAR 15.303

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8 hours ago, lotus said:

Okay, so why not have just one evaluator, who is the same person as the source selection authority?

Lotus, Why not try to answer this yourself.  Have you been on a source selection evaluation team?  If so, did you have 100% knowledge of everything you were reviewing and evaluating? How many hours did it take to read and evaluate each and every proposal? 

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Lotus:

There are nearly 20 years of decisions/opinions by GAO, COFC and CAFC posted here.  Quite a few of them involve the subject your question covers.  Not all decisons and opinions are posted here because of the repetitive nature of the protests.

You can develop the 2 or 3 rules that will answer your question.  See if you can find them and post them here in bulleted form.  By the end of the day, you will be quite knowledgeable.  The link is below.

FAR 15.308:  Source selection/tradeoff decision

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On 12/5/2018 at 10:24 PM, C Culham said:

 FAR 15.303

Change the FAR.  It's been done before.

Since the SSA can override the evaluations, would it be helpful to submit a question along the lines of what are the selection criteria?

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On 12/6/2018 at 7:36 AM, bob7947 said:

You can develop the 2 or 3 rules that will answer your question. 

Rule #1 is the Government must win.

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1 hour ago, lotus said:

Change the FAR.  It's been done before.

Paint me old school but I think there are a whole bunch of reasons it shouldn't be changed.  I will start with this principle which isn't just a pipe dream but a principle that has a sturdy base in my view -  FAR 1.102 Statement of guiding principles for the Federal Acquisition System. (a) The vision for the Federal Acquisition System is to deliver on a timely basis the best value product or service to the customer, while maintaining the public’s trust and fulfilling public policy objectives. Participants in the acquisition process should work together as a team and should be empowered to make decisions within their area of responsibility......

5 minutes ago, lotus said:

Rule #1 is the Government must win.

In reflecting my old school ways here is another thought that I will simply let the FAR state -  FAR 1.602-2 Responsibilities...(b) Ensure that contractors receive impartial, fair, and equitable treatment;......

Allied with the fact that in a quick search of the FAR I can not find "win" stated anywhere.

No doubt this thread will get wrapped around the axle further but in the end while the source selection authority has by regulation the authority "override" the evaluators all the reasons leading up to why a SSA might has many, many factors and taking a broad brush view that it is not good regulatory allowance to allow the "override" gets lost in the details in my view.

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@lotus Do you sew your own clothes? Grow your own food? Did you build your home? Did you manufacture your car? Does the President of the United States have full expertise and knowledge and unlimited time to research and decide on issues of justice, agriculture, war, and education? Does the Secretary of Defense have full expertise and knowledge and unlimited time to research, evaluate, and decide on issues of war? Does a CEO perform every task in the entire company?

delegation

specialization of duties

hierarchical staff

If the selection process didn't have a single SSA, and instead made decisions by committee vote, you'd be complaining there is no accountability.

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It looks like we aren't going anywhere with Lotus, so far.  Lotus appears to have no clue why there shouldn't be any other evaluators than the source selection authority.

Lotus, as a beginner, assuming that you work for the government, you should ask your boss or somebody in contracting to answer your question. They should be able to sit down with you and patiently explain it so that you can understand why the FAR and procurement statutes require the following in order "to ensure a comprehensive evaluation of offers'.

 

Quote

 

15.303 (b) The source selection authority shall—

(1) Establish an evaluation team, tailored for the particular acquisition, that includes appropriate contracting, legal, logistics, technical, and other expertise to ensure a comprehensive evaluation of offers;

 

 

 

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". . . source selection officials are not bound by the evaluation judgments of lower level evaluators; they may come to their own reasonable evaluation conclusions."   (PiperCoughlin, LLC B-414352.2: Apr 17, 2018)

" . . . source selection officials are not bound by the evaluation judgments of lower level evaluators; they may come to their own reasonable evaluation conclusions."  (TruLogic, Inc. B-297252.3, January 30, 2006)

  • "The SSA then, in making his decision, documented his rationale for his concurrence with the SSAC’s evaluation of the protester’s proposal under the technical approach and management approach factors, as well as the higher ratings that the SSAC assigned to PiperCoughlin under the past performance factor."   (PiperCoughlin, LLC B-414352.2: Apr 17, 2018)
  • "The record, however, shows a well-documented, reasoned evaluation and award decision without evidence of bias."  (TruLogic, Inc. B-297252.3, January 30, 2006)
  • "The SSA, however, did not explain how she reached her conclusions; rather she simply stated that they met the definition. The SSA relied on this finding as part of her determination that MIRACORP’s proposal provided the best value to the Government. Having failed to adequately document the basis for her conclusion regarding MIRACORP’s past performance, the determination that MIRACORP’s lower-priced, lower-rated proposal was more similar in technical ratings to TAG’s proposal than the SSEB found is not supported by the record. We find the agency’s best-value determination to be unreasonable because it is relies, in part, on a determination that is inadequately documented."  (The Arcanum Group, Inc. B-413682.2, B-413682.3: Mar 29, 2017)

That should give you an idea of how to start.  Sometimes GAO may smack you in the face and write:  It is a general rule.  Some may say that the above decisions are simply GAO following FAR language.  They may be but here's the deal.  You may be faced with a chicken or the egg question when asking if a GAO decision led to a regulation or if GAO is following the regulation in deciding a protest.  It doesn't always matter since you are seeking knowledge and the decision expands your knowledge and understanding.

 

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