Jump to content
The Wifcon Forums and Blogs
Tony2018

AE Source Selection Interviews

Recommended Posts

Hi, I'm planning my interviews for phase II source selection of AE services for a MATOC.  Is it appropriate to allow other COs and Engineers that are not part of the SSEB to attend as observers?  The COs are wanting to attend for training purposes and the engineers are wanting to attend as a way to learn about the firms that they may be working with in the future.  My inclination is to say no.  This is source selection sensitive information, but I cannot find anything that talks about observers. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interviews?  What interviews are part of the A-E selection process?  Are you talking about discussions amenable to FAR 36.602-3(c)?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Joel, So, it seems the Army Corps of Engineers pamphlet on A-E contracting substitutes the word "interviews" for what the FAR calls "discussions."  I wish they didn't do that.

Tony, Are you using "interviews" to mean what FAR 36.602-3(c) calls "discussions"?  If so, the contracting officer doesn't participate.  Or are you using the word to mean something else?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 ji, industry is familiar and comfortable with the term “interview” used by USACE. Examples:

 

https://www.acec.org/advocacy/qbs/brooks2/

http://www.afg.quebec/uploads/documentation/etudes/2006_APWA_RedBook_QBS.pdf

https://aiagr.org/sites/default/files/QBS Info.pdf

http://qbs-mi.org/files/QBS_Workbook.pdf

The EP uses the term “interviews” in conjunction with “discussions”. The Brooks Act doesn’t define the procedures for “discussions”. 

The architect and engineering industry commonly uses the term “interviews” in describing the Quality Based Selection (QBS) procedures for A-E and consulting engineer selections, based upon or derived from the Brooks A-E Act. 

I prefer “interviews” as commonly understood over the term “discussions”, which is commonly associated with best value (quality and price) competitions, e.g., Part 15 source selections. The Brooks Architect -Engineer Act precedes the Federal Acquisition Regulations by over a decade and the two types of “discussions” are not the same. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the feedback.  CON 243 also uses the word "interview" and is "commonly used in industry and some federal agencies as the equivalent of discussions as used in FAR 36.  These discussions are not the same as those described in FAR 15."    My question is whether or not it's appropriate to allow observers at these interviews since the interviews are source selection sensitive?  The board is made up of experts in the fields of Architecture, Engineering, Construction and Acquisition professionals.  I'm being asked if additional observers are allowed in addition to the appointed board members. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Reading through the USACE procedures, I think that there is some latitude for additional personnel including another KO and the engineers.   See specifically the discussion of that, but they would have to be formally added to the team and would have sign on to procurement integrity rules and procedures. 

It would make sense to me for the other KO to be  allowed to attend for training purposes. 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Joel.  I think I will proceed with allowing them to attend after having them sign a non disclosure agreement.  I appreciate your feedback.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know that FAR subpart 15.3 discussions are not the same as FAR 36.602-3(c) discussions -- I would expect that anyone doing A-E contracting would know the difference.  I did A-E for many years outside USACE, and we always stayed true to the FAR -- if the FAR called it discussions, we called it discussions.  It makes sense and avoids confusion.

Tony, attending for training purposes makes sense.  For me, attending for the other reason you mentioned in your original posting is a little more problematic.

  • Attending to contribute to the evaluation:  Check.
  • Attending to observe for training:  Check.
  • Attending to obtain information to use for some other purpose:  Hold on, let's think about this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, ji20874 said:

I know that FAR subpart 15.3 discussions are not the same as FAR 36.602-3(c) discussions -- I would expect that anyone doing A-E contracting would know the difference.  I did A-E for many years outside USACE, and we always stayed true to the FAR -- if the FAR called it discussions, we called it discussions.  It makes sense and avoids confusion.

ji, I’m happy for you and that you aren’t confused. Neither is the industry when referring to interviews. 😃

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Joel, You're not confused because you rely on your EP rather than the FAR when conducting A-E acquisitions.  But contracting professionals who want to base their practice on the FAR (or who must base their practice on the FAR because they don't have a USACE EP) could easily be confused by imprecise use of terms.  As you note, the underlying statute also uses discussions instead of interviews.

I understand from your postings that this word substitution has a long history in USACE, and that using interviews works for them.  But I think the fear that contracting professionals might be confused with having two definitions for discussions is a poor reason.  Rather than infantilizing our contracting officers by substituting words to protect them from confusion, I prefer to simply and professionally expect them to learn at a suitable point that discussions in a FAR subpart 15.3 context has an entirely different meaning than discussions in a FAR subpart 36.6 context, and to be able to use the term properly depending on which context they are in at any moment.  I also expect them to know that discussions and negotiations might have a similar meaning in a FAR subpart 15.3 context, but that these words have two entirely different meanings in a FAR subpart 36.6 context.

I am also troubled by use of the term Source Selection Evaluation Board (SSEB) to refer to what FAR subpart 36.6 calls an architect-engineer evaluation board.  In my practice, I would never mix this terminology, because an A-E selection process under FAR subpart 36.6 IS NOT a source selection under FAR subpart 15.3, Source Selection, and I want to help my colleagues understand that principle.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ji, I agree entirely with your last point. It’s not a “source selection”. It is a competitive, Quality Based Selection, acquisition process.  I believe that the only relevance to the source selection evaluation process in Part 15 is the procurement integrity coverage in FAR 3.104.

[EDIT: I noticed also that the EP 715-1-7 refers to the A-E selection as a "source selection" in the "report" and in the appendices for reports and procurement integrity. Its not a FAR Part 15  "source selection".]

The price and cost/price evaluation process in Part 15 applies to most negotiated pricing actions. It isnt specific to "source selections"

 

As for your first point, the EP specifically referred to “discussions” in its initial use of the term “interviews”. The tie is there.  The fact is that “interviews” is the industry wide term for those discussions, when they refer to the Brooks Act, QBS selection method,.  Most States have also adopted similar QBS selection procedures in some form. State laws are often referred to as “Mini-Brooks Acts.”  

As a registered professional engineer, the two states that I am registered with prohibit registered architects and professional engineers from competing for services using price competition. 

There is no confusion between the USACE and the design industry. 

The USACE is and has historically been one of the largest federal agency users of the Brooks Act A-E contracting process. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Quote from Engineer Pamphlet EP 715-1-4  “Competing for Architect-Engineer Contracts Awarded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers”

Quote

“The selection board conducts interviews (referred to as “discussions” in the Brooks A-E Act) with the most highly qualified firms prior to ranking them. The firms are asked similar questions about their experience, capabilities, organization, quality management procedures, and approach for the project. For most projects the interviews are conducted by telephone. However, for very significant projects, the selection board may request that firms make in-person presentations. The secondary criteria are only applied as a “tie- breaker,” if necessary, in ranking the most highly qualified firms after the interviews.”

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...