Jump to content
The Wifcon Forums and Blogs
NewtoGovContracting

KO Sent Denial and Referenced FAR 2.101 and 3.104

Recommended Posts

Don,  You're the only one here to speak of the "sole purpose" of a debriefing.  Even so, furnishing the basis of the selection decision is the single reason mentioned in the FAR, and doing that one thing well will towards achieving the other potential debriefing benefits that Joel has suggested.

Do you have anything to offer to the original poster?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/1/2019 at 12:22 PM, NewtoGovContracting said:

Update on this:

No there has not been a violation of procurement integrity it had something to do with the format/method of communication.  There is a protocol to sending emails or information when it pertains to source selection, which I am still completely unclear about.  So will need to research that.  The KO response is below if anyone has any thoughts.  

"No there has not been a violation of procurement integrity.  There is a protocol to sending emails or information when it pertains to source selection.  Also you will be receiving a written debrief so there will not be a meeting scheduled and we are not accepting and/or answering questions."

So I'm betting there's been a ridiculous amount of protests because Vendors were not afforded the opporutunity to ask questions and gain resolution on why they were not selected.  And I'm doubting the writeup will contain anything truly useful, but I gess we will see.  

ji hit the mark on that one.

   On 6/29/2019 at 11:40 AM,  ji20874 said: 

Inasmuch as all source selection information is supposed to be marked with something like “Source Selection Information — See FAR 2.101 and 3.104,” I am guessing there is no Procurement Integrity Act allegation at all; rather, this is just an inartful expression work on the contracting officer’s part or a simple misunderstanding on the original poster’s part of the marking requirement in FAR 3.104-4(c).”

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/30/2019 at 8:00 PM, ji20874 said:

The purpose of the debriefing is to furnish the basis for the selection decision, rather than to let unsuccessful offers know why they lost.  It might seem to be two sides of the same coin, but there is a subtle difference.

"The" purpose. Definite article.

Are you saying that the correct interpretation of your claim is that furnishing the basis of the source selection decision is one of multiple purposes of a debriefing?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Don Mansfield said:

"The" purpose. Definite article.

Are you saying that the correct interpretation of your claim is that furnishing the basis of the source selection decision is one of multiple purposes of a debriefing?

 

This insomniac agrees with you, Don. 

How about this from Appendix A to the April 2016 edition of ” DoD Source Selection Procedures”?

“A.1 Purpose of Debriefing
The PCO should chair any debriefing session upon receipt of an offeror’s timely, written request (see FAR 15.503, 15.505, and 15.506). The debriefing serves to assure offerors that the Government properly evaluated their proposals and made the award determination in accordance with the RFP. Since each offeror puts considerable resources into preparing and submitting a proposal, fairness dictates that the PCO promptly debrief offerors and explain why a proposal was excluded from the competitive range or was successful or unsuccessful. Timely and thorough debriefings increase competition, encourage offerors to continue to invest resources in the Government marketplace, and enhance the Government’s relationship and credibility with Industry. The debriefing also provides feedback to offerors to assist in improving future proposal submissions. An effective debriefing often deters a protest by demonstrating that the Government conducted a thorough, fair evaluation and made a sound decision according to the established source selection methodology. Debriefings may be done orally, in writing, or by any other method acceptable by the contracting officer.”

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, Joel, for sharing insights for DoD debriefings.  Our DoD readers will appreciate it, as DoD likely does more debriefings than any civilian agency or even than many civilian agencies combined.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/3/2019 at 10:39 AM, ji20874 said:

Thanks, Joel, for sharing insights for DoD debriefings.  Our DoD readers will appreciate it, as DoD likely does more debriefings than any civilian agency or even than many civilian agencies combined.

ji, When I started managing and leading our District’s non-service contracting source selections around 1992, neither DoD or Army had written their source selection manuals, although there may have been some OFPP or DoD guidance on debriefings. Don’t remember. The Army Materiel Command (AMC) had a good source selection guide which I went by for guidance along with FAR and any other articles and reviews of daily GAO Decisions. I kept up with Court Decisions and sought out references and guidance by Nash and Cibinic, Vern Edwards, Federal Publications, etc.   The Army later incorporated the AMC SSG into their SSM. 

We were doing a lot of MILCON and Civil Works design-build, set-asides, Army and Air Force JOC type contracts, Army MEDCOM, Non-Appropriated Fund and other construction contract source selections to the extent that our District quit using IFB’s for most contracts other than dredging and smaller civil works O&M projects. We also conducted source selections for Installation and Medical Facility O&M service contracts.

I wanted to provide as much debriefing type information as allowed to all the competitors how their proposals were evaluated in order to show them how they could improve their chances and better meet our objectives in future competitions, too. My KO’s were very supportive.  Both industry and we learned and improved in how they responded and how the District wrote RFP’s and conducted the SS process. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Educating industry on how to improve responding is very important.  That is one key purposes of debriefings.  But often another reason keeps getting pushed back is avoiding protests because that’s not spelled out well in policies and guidance.  

Larger and more important acquisitions usually are prepared by proposal experts.  Those experts are either employees of the companies responding or paid consultants.  They are skilled in responding to precisely what the RFP calls for while emphasizing the established trade offs.  More importantly business development people from companies have spent a long time well gathering information.  When I first left the government, I was shocked at first attending a class where I learned that 60% of B&P costs of proposal winners on large acquisitions gets spent before the RFP is even released.  

So when these companies don’t win, they want to know why.  The two things they seek answers on is were they evaluated properly and what did the winner provide they didn’t.  If they get direct and responsive answers to those questions, protests usually don’t happen. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I understand there are all sorts of benefits to providing a debriefing.  Furnishing the broad basis of the selection decision, rather than a narrow basis, can be beneficial to unsuccessful offers and to the Government for future acquisition outcomes.  I support in-person debriefings for as many acquisitions as practicable.  Please do not paint me as an enemy of meaningful debriefings -- that would be unfair.

However, I stop short of categorizing all of the potential benefits of debriefings as purposes of the debriefings.  For example, I do not believe it is a contracting officer's responsibility to help all unsuccessful offerors improve their proposals for the next time, thus, for me, helping the unsuccessful offeror improve their proposals for the next time is not a purpose of the debriefing.  Rather, the contracting officer's duty is to furnish the basis of the selection decision as guided by FAR 15.506 (which provides a minimum, not a maximum) -- with that information, and maybe with a few well-placed questions (FAR 15.506(d)(6), if we're talking about post-award debriefings), any unsuccessful offeror can take responsibility for improving its own proposals for future opportunities.  That offeror's improvement for the next time, and maybe even a win, is a potential benefit or outcome of a meaningful debriefing.

Contracting officers are already overburdened -- we should not make them responsible for improving the future proposals of presently unsuccessful offerors, or for achieving all the other potential benefits or outcomes of debriefings.  The FAR only provides one statement that can fit as a purpose of a debriefing, and I generally like to stay close to the FAR text wherever I am able.

All that said, I support oral (in person or telephone) debriefings for as many acquisitions as practicable, for exactly the reasons described in other comments -- the potential benefits and outcomes from furnishing the basis of the selection decision make it worthwhile for contracting officers to provide meaningful debriefings.

In my comment that started this discussion on debriefings, I wrote, "The purpose of the debriefing is to furnish the basis for the selection decision, rather than to let unsuccessful offers know why they lost.  It might seem to be two sides of the same coin, but there is a subtle difference."  That subtlety may have been lost here, and I regret that.  However, in every debriefing I have conducted, I always explain why we selected the winner.  I have never told an unsuccessful offeror that it lost because [fill in the blank], or that it would have won if [fill in the blank].

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, formerfed said:

Educating industry on how to improve responding is very important.  That is one key purposes of debriefings.  But often another reason keeps getting pushed back is avoiding protests because that’s not spelled out well in policies and guidance.  

Larger and more important acquisitions usually are prepared by proposal experts.  Those experts are either employees of the companies responding or paid consultants.  They are skilled in responding to precisely what the RFP calls for while emphasizing the established trade offs.  More importantly business development people from companies have spent a long time well gathering information.  When I first left the government, I was shocked at first attending a class where I learned that 60% of B&P costs of proposal winners on large acquisitions gets spent before the RFP is even released.  

So when these companies don’t win, they want to know why.  The two things they seek answers on is were they evaluated properly and what did the winner provide they didn’t.  If they get direct and responsive answers to those questions, protests usually don’t happen. 

formerfed, I agree with you.

We, of course, also explained the rationale for the award decision in the actual debriefing.  I wasn’t too concerned about protests, as they were extremely rare.

In fact, I never had a protest after a debriefing or as a result of furnishing info concerning the proposer’s evaluation with the notice of award, as described above.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/5/2019 at 10:28 AM, ji20874 said:

The FAR only provides one statement that can fit as a purpose of a debriefing...

This is neither factual nor a rational interpretation of FAR 15.506. The claim:

On 7/5/2019 at 10:28 AM, ji20874 said:

The purpose of the debriefing is to furnish the basis for the selection decision, rather than to let unsuccessful offers know why they lost.

is laughable pseudo intellectualism.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/5/2019 at 12:28 PM, ji20874 said:

....However, I stop short of categorizing all of the potential benefits of debriefings as purposes of the debriefings.  For example, I do not believe it is a contracting officer's responsibility to help all unsuccessful offerors improve their proposals for the next time, thus, for me, helping the unsuccessful offeror improve their proposals for the next time is not a purpose of the debriefing.  Rather, the contracting officer's duty is to furnish the basis of the selection decision as guided by FAR 15.506 (which provides a minimum, not a maximum) -- with that information, and maybe with a few well-placed questions (FAR 15.506(d)(6), if we're talking about post-award debriefings), any unsuccessful offeror can take responsibility for improving its own proposals for future opportunities.  That offeror's improvement for the next time, and maybe even a win, is a potential benefit or outcome of a meaningful debriefing.

Contracting officers are already overburdened -- we should not make them responsible for improving the future proposals of presently unsuccessful offerors, or for achieving all the other potential benefits or outcomes of debriefings.  The FAR only provides one statement that can fit as a purpose of a debriefing, and I generally like to stay close to the FAR text wherever I am able.

All that said, I support oral (in person or telephone) debriefings for as many acquisitions as practicable, for exactly the reasons described in other comments -- the potential benefits and outcomes from furnishing the basis of the selection decision make it worthwhile for contracting officers to provide meaningful debriefings.

In my comment that started this discussion on debriefings, I wrote, "The purpose of the debriefing is to furnish the basis for the selection decision, rather than to let unsuccessful offers know why they lost.  It might seem to be two sides of the same coin, but there is a subtle difference."  That subtlety may have been lost here, and I regret that.  However, in every debriefing I have conducted, I always explain why we selected the winner.  I have never told an unsuccessful offeror that it lost because [fill in the blank], or that it would have won if [fill in the blank].

 

It isn’t the responsibility of the KO to coach  proposers how to win the next competition. But, AS A MINIMUM, in addition to the basis and rationale for the award, the debriefing information  SHALL include... 

“The Government's evaluation of the significant weaknesses or deficiencies in the offeror's proposal, if applicable; ” 

(In DoD that should include strengths.)

The debriefing shall also include  debriefed offeror’s past performance information. 

There has to be a purpose to providing the above information. It is not to compare it to the winning proposal, but to advise the proposer how the government saw its proposal. The contractor should be able to deduce what the proposal lacked and what was considered strong. It is up to the proposer to determine how it can be more competitive in the future. If the quality of past performance is not a strength, then it should realize where it has to focus on higher performance and higher customer satisfaction.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
55 minutes ago, joel hoffman said:

The contractor should be able to deduce what the proposal lacked and what was considered strong. It is up to the proposer to determine how it can be more competitive in the future. If the quality of past performance is not a strength, then it should realize where it has to focus on higher performance and higher customer satisfaction.

Right.  I'm glad we agree.

That's why I wrote,

  • "[T]he contracting officer's duty is to furnish the basis of the selection decision as guided by FAR 15.506 (which provides a minimum, not a maximum) -- with that information, and maybe with a few well-placed questions (FAR 15.506(d)(6), if we're talking about post-award debriefings), any unsuccessful offeror can take responsibility for improving its own proposals for future opportunities."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, ji20874 said:

Right.  I'm glad we agree.

That's why I wrote,

  • "[T]he contracting officer's duty is to furnish the basis of the selection decision as guided by FAR 15.506 (which provides a minimum, not a maximum) -- with that information, and maybe with a few well-placed questions (FAR 15.506(d)(6), if we're talking about post-award debriefings), any unsuccessful offeror can take responsibility for improving its own proposals for future opportunities."

Roger. 10-4.

I wanted to stress that there is more than one purpose of a debriefing.

There might be a primary purpose and a secondary purpose(s) but there are multiple purposes. 

Over and out...😋

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As I followed this thread with interest I continued to think about the successful offeror who in fact could request a debriefing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, C Culham said:

As I followed this thread with interest I continued to think about the successful offeror who in fact could request a debriefing.

Absolutely. We sent the winner a copy of their evaluation comments and offered them the opportunity for a debrief, too. 

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...