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FAR 16 TO Source Selection

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Hello all--

I'm working on placing an order against an existing IDIQ. The ordering procedures in the IDIQ dictate the government will give each contractor fair opportunity and an award will be made based on the best value to the government. The requirement owner would like to use evaluation factors because experience in a specific state is important due to state specific reporting requirements. I am thinking of using two factors: technical capability/past experience and price. For the tech factor I am considering asking the contractor to submit a short (2 page or less) statement which details their ability to perform the work specific to this SOW including specific experience in the state where the work is to be performed I am looking to possibly "trade off" price for the non-price factor. I would have the requirement owner justify their decision at source selection. 

My question: Is this an acceptable evaluation approach pursuant to FAR 16? 

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7 hours ago, nkd9 said:

I am looking to possibly "trade off" price for the non-price factor.

You must state clearly what is the basis for your source selection: LPTA, tradeoff or HTRFRP. 

 

7 hours ago, nkd9 said:

I would have the requirement owner justify their decision at source selection. 

The contracting officer should be making the source selection, not the customer.

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2 hours ago, napolik said:

You must state clearly what is the basis for your source selection: LPTA, tradeoff or HTRFRP. 

 

The contracting officer should be making the source selection, not the customer.

Its not a “source selection”, it’s a task order competition. Avoid using the term “source selection”.  

in the commercial world, “best value” means both price and other factors are considered, not just price or not just qualifications. Try to limit your vernacular to something like that. 

Yes, make clear the relative importance of the three factors being considered for award. You aren’t limited to the rote language for the relative importance in Part 15 unless you invoke those specific procedures. 

Good luck. 

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1 hour ago, joel hoffman said:

Its not a “source selection”, it’s a task order competition. Avoid using the term “source selection”.  That is a Part 15 term. Avoid invoking Part 15, source selection procedures. 

in the commercial world, “best value” means both price and other factors are considered, not just price or not just qualifications. Try to limit your vernacular to something like that. 

Yes, make clear the relative importance of the three factors being considered for award. You aren’t limited to the rote language and that limited choice of language for the relative importance in Part 15 unless you invoke those specific procedures

i would not use the term “trade-off”, either. You can use other verbiage to describe that. 

Good luck. 

 

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And the customer can provide their recommendations with rationale to the KO.   

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1 hour ago, joel hoffman said:

Its not a “source selection”, it’s a task order competition. Avoid using the term “source selection”.   

1

Excellent point, Joel.

I'm okay with the word tradeoff, since that word is used within FAR 16.505(b)(1).

I'm also okay with someone other than the contracting officer being the selection official -- but whomever the selection official is, he or she needs to own and make the decision.

nkd9,

Read FAR 16.505(b)(1), and do what it says.  You will see that there is different wording for acquisitions over the SAT (FAR 16.505(b)(1)(iii)) and over $5.5 Million (FAR 16.505(b)(1)(iv)).  If you're over the SAT, follow FAR 16.505(b)(1)(iii).  If you're over $5.5 Million, follow FAR 16.505(b)(1)(iv).  They are different!

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Thanks, ji. And thanks for the clarification concerning “trade-off”.  I’m in a tree stand this morning. Didn’t take the time to read 16.5.  

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I am very concerned with the responses given in this thread.   Let me explain.

First and foremost the FAR references are not important to this issue.   The exact wording of the fair opportunity process defined in the contract is what counts.  All responses have assumed what the fair opportunity contract language is and doing so is a pitfall.   To give the most appropriate response nkd9 should provide the exact language rather than paraphrasing.  By example nkd9 has stated that technical capability/past experience will used for the specific task order but also states that the fair opportunity language and award will be based on best value.

To these points the specific question is this - Are any of us sure that the fair opportunity allows for trade-offs as I am reminded that best value can be achieved otherwise.  I want to suggest the nkd9 provide the exact language of the IDIQ with regard to fair opportunity before he/she departs on a path that might or might not be consistent with the specific contract.

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Carl,

You're right as to specifics.  But in general terms, I think the original poster's vision is achievable if he or she is careful.

Yes, I am sure that the fair opportunity ordering process allows for tradeoffs.  For orders over $5.5 Million, FAR 16.505(b)(1)(iv)(C) requires "[d]isclosure of the significant factors and subfactors, including cost or price, that the agency expects to consider in evaluating proposals, and their relative importance."  This allows for tradeoff.  The next sub-paragraph (D) says "Where award is made on a best value basis, a written statement documenting the basis for award and the relative importance of quality and price or cost factors."  This also allows for tradeoff.

Further, the word "tradeoff" is explicitly used twice in FAR 16.505(b)(7).

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On ‎2‎/‎1‎/‎2019 at 10:16 AM, bob7947 said:

Alone in a tree-stand without the FAR?  

If not in paper, how about electronically on your smart phone?  :-)

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40 minutes ago, ji20874 said:

Carl,

You're right as to specifics.  But in general terms, I think the original poster's vision is achievable if he or she is careful.

Yes, I am sure that the fair opportunity ordering process allows for tradeoffs.  For orders over $5.5 Million, FAR 16.505(b)(1)(iv)(C) requires "[d]isclosure of the significant factors and subfactors, including cost or price, that the agency expects to consider in evaluating proposals, and their relative importance."  This allows for tradeoff.  The next sub-paragraph (D) says "Where award is made on a best value basis, a written statement documenting the basis for award and the relative importance of quality and price or cost factors."  This also allows for tradeoff.

Further, the word "tradeoff" is explicitly used twice in FAR 16.505(b)(7).

I have not stated that tradeoffs are not allowed.   What I have stated is that the fair opportunity process defined in the contract must provide that trade-offs are at most stated as allowable or at the least implied that they are.   FAR 16.505(b)(1)(iv)(C) does not mean anything other what it tells the agency what the contract must state.   What happens if the contract does not disclose the factors/subfactors that the agency expects to use, can you then invent them per task order?    I think not!

To add FAR 16.505(b)(7) only comes into play if in fact the trade-offs as allowed by the contract were used.  Its a discussion of debriefing not a discussion that says "All IDIQ multiple award contracts allow trade-offs".

Again let me emphasize you are drawing conclusions, even general ones,  from the FAR and not from what the contract states.   Providing advice as how to proceed under a contract without referring to the contracts language is a very slippery slope.   

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Carl,

You’re right — if the parent IDIQ contracts prohibit tradeoffs in ordering under those contracts, then yes, tradeoffs are not allowed, even though the FAR may allow for tradeoffs.

nkd9,

You need to read the contracts and the FAR as you plan for your next fair opportunity ordering process.

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Hopefully, the ID/IQ doesn’t use the term “source selection”.

The term “best value” may or may not be explicitly defined in the contract. However, in commercial and many other government circles, it simply means that both price and other factors are considered, vs., for example, qualifications based selection, publicly opened bidding, etc. The term isn’t limited to Part 15, unless you specifically tie it to Part 15.

I did not say that I didn’t have access to the FAR. I said I didn’t have time to read FAR 16.5. And my sweet wife is on my case for using too much data on our plan.  There is no WiFi in the woods.🦌

I’ve  been following WIFCON and the Forum for years during hunting season from tree stands at three different hunting Clubs. I used to actually work my government email and other tasks from tree stands on days off and weekends back up in the Huntsville, AL area.  The Paint Rock (River) Valley was part of the end of the Appalachian Mtns. chain. Could only get a Verizon signal at a couple of my stands. 🦌

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I appreciate all of the feedback this thread has generated. The parent IDIQ does not offer much guidance, just that fair opportunity will be given and that the award will be made based on the best value to the government. 

As the IDIQ does not offer much guidance. I think I'd be ok to use past experience and price as my only two factors. Dependent on the price, we may be willing to tradeoff price for experience. This order is under the SAT. 

I don't believe that I need to state the relative importance of each factor as FAR 16 doesn't seem to require it. As far as procedure for how the contractors will be evaluated, can this be simply stated, such as: "The government will consider and evaluate technical proposals and may make a tradeoff decision between price and past experience." 

Once we are ready to award, we would justify paying a higher price based on the importance of a contractor with greater experience with a memo to the file? 

 

Thanks again

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So, nkd9, you don’t think that you should explain to your contractors that, depending upon the price, you “might be willing” to pay [a little more?, some more?] than the lowest priced acceptable offer for one with more “ability to perform the work specific to this SOW including specific experience in the state where the work is to be performed”, if the higher capability is deemed to provide additional value to justify paying the difference? 

Seems to me that it would be fair to let the firms know what is important to the customer/requirement owner , as a basis for them to know how to compete. How important is the quality of the service to be provided to your requirement owner? 

My advice to you as a beginner is to look past the bare minimum FAR requirement and look at it from the viewpoint of someone deciding whether or not to compete for your requirement. 

If they are going to have to spend the time and resources to submit a quote or proposal, your expectations should be clear enough for them to try to meet and to compete with others. 

If the basis of selection is ambiguous, then they might not bother.  Believe it or not, many firms want to know how to satisfy their customers. 

This is not a situation where the wares or services are displayed in a store setting where you simply pick and choose what the customer and you alone consider to be the best value. This a two way transaction where you define what you are looking for and commercial firms package their responses to fit your stated needs, for both quality and price. 

 

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nkd9,

Joel gives good advice, but you are right -- according to the FAR, for your fair opportunity consideration under the SAT, there is no requirement to list the relative importance of the evaluation factors.

For many opportunities, it may not make sense to define the relative importance of factors -- heck, FAR Part 13 for Simplified Acquisitions doesn't require it. 

So do it if you want to (if you think it might be helpful), but it is not required.

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No argument with regard to the additional advice but I am curious what process has been done in the past?   If your proposed way is a departure from what has been routinely done and it has be done a lot then you may want to give a little more weight to Joel's thoughts.   If this is the say one of the first TO needs out of the barrel then keep in mind the ideals of minimal and streamlined. 

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14 hours ago, C Culham said:

No argument with regard to the additional advice but I am curious what process has been done in the past?   If your proposed way is a departure from what has been routinely done and it has be done a lot then you may want to give a little more weight to Joel's thoughts.   If this is the say one of the first TO needs out of the barrel then keep in mind the ideals of minimal and streamlined. 

Streamlined for sure plus this is under the SAT.  I’m just saying that you can give them a clue of how they can win - what is important to the requirements owner. “Best value “ means that both price and non-price are considered. How will they be considered?

If this WAS a source selection under Part 15 and IF you dont identify any relative importance between factors, they are considered equally important, GAO has said.

You already mentioned it. So, I suggest that you figure out a simple way to phrase it to the fair opportunity competitors. 

If you want to “ reserve the right to pay a bit more (within your budget) for higher qualifications, provided that you consider it to be worth the difference in cost”, that should be adequate. You defined your idea of “best value”. How hard is that? 

To me,  that simple language says to me that both price and quality are important to the requirements owner.  Where prices are essentially the same, differences in the quality to be provided might make the difference. Where the quality to be provided between firms is essentially the same, then price would make the difference.  

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Then, if it isn’t affordable or where there is an insignificant difference in quality, or if it is not worth paying more, you aren’t locked into selecting a higher priced offer/quote. 

at least the firms aren’t left in the dark about your requirements owner’s desires. 

To me you have to apply some common sense approach to purchasing services or products. If you walked into an office  or called someone providing services, you would certainly give them an inkling of what you are willing to consider, even if  it is after they make you an offer. They would probably ask you anyway. When I go into supply houses, if they have more than one solution to my needs, they offer me choices. 

Ya gotta give them enough information to connect the dots.  

Acquisition ain’t  Rocket Science. 

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22 hours ago, ji20874 said:

nkd9,

Joel gives good advice, but you are right -- according to the FAR, for your fair opportunity consideration under the SAT, there is no requirement to list the relative importance of the evaluation factors.

For many opportunities, it may not make sense to define the relative importance of factors -- heck, FAR Part 13 for Simplified Acquisitions doesn't require it. 

So do it if you want to (if you think it might be helpful), but it is not required.

It may not be “required” but some indication, for instance, as I have described above, is likely needed for the transaction to make sense.

As I said, “best value” in  both federal and non-federal contracting has a similar meaning. It involves both price and non-price considerations.  

You don’t have to explain your rationale for determining what is the best value to you in a store or catalog. You might well explain it while speaking with a sales rep or tech rep, though.

However, when you are a public body conducting a competition - with little or no oral or other two way interaction- you need to give some idea of what is important to you (or to your customer). You can’t operate on an “I’ll know it when I see it basis”. You leave the service providers or suppliers clueless. 

If you are looking for a cookbook recipe, subpart 16.5 won’t provide it. One has to use some business judgement. There is a difference between how a clerk and a business person conduct business transactions. 

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Joel,

I think you are unnecessarily conflating two separate issues.

The question is whether listing relative order of importance in a solicitation is REQUIRED for fair opportunity considerations under the SAT.  The answer to that question is an unambiguous NO.

I insist on this answer because it is the correct answer, and because we need to help our readers understand that they don't have to use all FAR Part 15 procedures in their non-Part 15 acquisitions -- this is a real problem in our workforce, and we need to give factually correct answers.  The answer to the question at hand is NO.

You are answering the question of whether listing relative order of importance might make some sense sometimes.  That is a different question.  Sometimes, it will make sense -- sometimes, it isn't necessary.  But that is a different question.

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