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General.Zhukov

What is 'Technical Evaluation'? Must a CO have one?

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The FAR has little to say about source selection procedures outside of FAR 14 & 15.  What is said is unclear. So, there isn't much FAR-level guidance about the idea of 'technical evaluation.'  My civilian Agency and Department have no additional guidance on what is, or how to do, technical evaluations.  So time to poll the audience.

First - my quick dirty definition of  'technical evaluation.' The part of evaluation when someone other than the Contracting Officer assesses the extent to which offers meet Government need exclusively on a technical basis, without accounting for cost/price, past performance, or other considerations.  This someone is almost always the customer, or their representative from outside Contracting.

Questions:

1a) Is a technical evaluation by folks other than the CO ever required?  Not as a matter of following best practices or sound professional judgement - but required?  I am not sure.

1b)  Assuming a technical evaluation is done (FAR 13, no source selection plan, etc.), when would it need to be documented separately?  Wouldn't the CO's written basis of award suffice?

2) Are there any circumstances when a technical evaluation  must be conducted separate from a cost/price analysis - when technical evaluators do not have pricing information about the stuff they are evaluating?  I am pretty sure that answer is no, as implied by FAR  15.305 (a) (4).

3) How about circumstances when the technical evaluation should be done separately, without the technical team having pricing information?  Do you do this?

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1a) No, a technical evaluation is not required for all acquisitions.  A technical evaluation is only required when there are technical evaluation factors (whether formal or informal factors) and some sort of a technical proposal or submission.  Many acquisitions don't have technical evaluation factors and don't need technical evaluations -- for example, a $125 Million sealed bid construction acquisition based only on price and price-related factors with no technical proposal -- for another example, a $90 Thousand simplified acquisition for a national stock numbered item based on a tradeoff between price and delivery with no technical proposal.

1b) If a technical evaluation is done, it seems that it should be documented.  It is easiest for the documentation to be done by the person (or persons) who did the evaluation.  However, it would be possible for the evaluator (or evaluators) to orally brief the results to the selecting official -- in such a case, the selecting official's documentation should demonstrate a reasonable basis for his or her decision.

2) No.  It is generally okay for the technical evaluator (or evaluators) to be aware of price.

3) Sometimes, maybe, I'm just supposing but I don't know for sure, the technical evaluator (or evaluators) might want to select the winner (instead of simply doing the technical evaluation and leaving the tradeoff and selection to the selecting official) -- in such a case, if it ever arose, I might withhold the price from the technical evaluator (or evaluators).

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10 hours ago, General.Zhukov said:

The FAR has little to say about source selection procedures outside of FAR 14 & 15.

'Source selection [information]' is mentioned once in FAR Part 14, but 'source selection' is used many times in FAR Part 15. FAR Part 15's usage includes descriptions of source selection processes and techniques such as the best value continuum. (source selection information relates to bids and proposals ... quotes are conspicuously missing because 'source selection' generally refers to the process of evaluating bids or proposals outside of Simplified Acquisition Procedures and Fair Opportunity) 

10 hours ago, General.Zhukov said:

First - my quick dirty definition of  'technical evaluation.' The part of evaluation when someone other than the Contracting Officer assesses the extent to which offers meet Government need exclusively on a technical basis, without accounting for cost/price, past performance, or other considerations.  This someone is almost always the customer, or their representative from outside Contracting.

Questions:

1a) Is a technical evaluation by folks other than the CO ever required?  Not as a matter of following best practices or sound professional judgement - but required?  I am not sure.

The title of this post is "What is 'Technical Evaluation'? Must a CO have one?".

I think it's worth starting with a definition of 'technical' because technical isn't used consistently; for example, technical includes factors other than price/cost...in practice, sometimes it includes past performance and sometimes it doesn't. DoD Source Selection Procedures include the following note: "The term “technical,” as used below and throughout the document, refers to non-cost factors other than past performance."

Similarly, there isn't a universal definition or usage of 'technical evaluation'. A technical evaluation can include evaluating conformity with material solicitation requirements; or comparing quotes or offers to stated solicitation evaluation factors.

Technical evaluation is commonly used to refer to evaluations of solicitation factors other than price or cost; sometimes past performance is included and sometimes it isn't. 

In a legal sense, an argument can be made that technical evaluations are always required to ensure competitive quotes or offers conform to the material requirements of the solicitation. This is a requirement to be eligible for award (I believe this is tied to requirements for fairness). GAO often refers to failures to satisfy material requirements as technically unacceptable.

10 hours ago, General.Zhukov said:

1b)  Assuming a technical evaluation is done (FAR 13, no source selection plan, etc.), when would it need to be documented separately?  Wouldn't the CO's written basis of award suffice?

See FAR 4.801( b ), FAR 13.106-3( b )(3)(ii) and any agency supplements.


I am in agreement with ji on the other points and will not restate them.

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