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Ok,

So I had and RFP that recently closed. Prior to closing, I notices some mistakes (i.e missing information) in a few of the proposals. With previous requirements, if I had noticed mistakes prior to closing time, I let the contractor know so they could correct them (at the direction of my KO). I did the same with this requirement and even gave a heads up to my KO (or CO). Everything is fine. So we are evaluating proposals and notice that some of the same contractors were missing other items that I had not told them about. Our Director comes in, and says no, no, no under no circumstances can you talk to contractors prior to closing as it would constitute discussions and be unfair to the other contractors. So now, in order to cover ourselves we are entering discussions with everyone and allowing them to submit missing or incorrect information. The part that seems so unfair to me is there are contractors that clearly are not techinically acceptable (dont have the necessary liscenses/certs) that we are going to enter into discussions with. I guess what I am asking is if there is anyway to not enter into discussions with these contractors even though the Govt (i.e me) made a mistake in notifying some contractors of mistakes.

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Please clarify re: the missing information. Was it (a) You asked for say a draft Quality Control Plan and the plan was not there or (B) along the lines of you asked them to address their approach to quality in their written proposal and they left it out. Sounds like (a) but wanted to be sure

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Information as in letter of intent from their PM, proof of insurance, etc.

Please clarify re: the missing information. Was it (a) You asked for say a draft Quality Control Plan and the plan was not there or (B) along the lines of you asked them to address their approach to quality in their written proposal and they left it out. Sounds like (a) but wanted to be sure
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I would recommend reviewing FAR 15.306. It appears that the communications you have had with these offerors goes beyond the definition of "clarifications" and would enter the "discussions" arena, which should only occur after the establishment of the competitive range (if one is established).

The only reference I see for reviewing offers prior to the closing date is in 15.207( c ) and that only deals with unreadable documents.

You also mention that these are things that you discovered prior to the closing time. Do you give the same review to someone who walks in with 30-seconds left and submits their offer? It sounds like the playing field may not have been level.

I would recommend (in the future) not doing any "reviews" of offers other than to ensure they are readable. Otherwise, you open yourself up to the issue you currently have.

As a KO, I would not want to establish a competitive range under the circumstances you describe other than to include everyone in it (again, to attempt to have a level playing field). Since the discussions are tailored toward each offer, the ones that are technically unacceptable probably won't get any better and will be removed at a later point.

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Guest Vern Edwards
I guess what I am asking is if there is anyway to not enter into discussions with these contractors even though the Govt (i.e me) made a mistake in notifying some contractors of mistakes.

Yes. Stop evaluations. Amend the RFP to extend the closing date by a week and not one day longer. (Yes, I know, the original date has already passed. So what.) Call the offerors that submitted proposals to review their submissions and make sure that they contain all the required information. Tell them to supplement their proposals or submit new proposals not later than the new closing date. Then restart the evaluations as need be.

Making a competitive range determination and conducting discussions would would probably take longer. If they won't, then make a competitive range decision and conduct discussions. And don't do what you did again.

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I wish we could, but legal already has the documents for review. And trust me, I will never make the mistake I made. Lesson learned.

Yes. Stop evaluations. Amend the RFP to extend the closing date by a week and not one day longer. (Yes, I know, the original date has already passed. So what.) Call the offerors that submitted proposals to review their submissions and make sure that they contain all the required information. Tell them to supplement their proposals or submit new proposals not later than the new closing date. Then restart the evaluations as need be.

Making a competitive range determination and conducting discussions would would probably take longer. If they won't, then make a competitive range decision and conduct discussions. And don't do what you did again.

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Guest Vern Edwards

Okay, ashleyh, but I have a question. On Feb 24 you wrote: "I guess what I am asking is if there is anyway [sic] to not enter into discussions with these contractors even though the Govt (i.e me) made a mistake in notifying some contractors of mistakes."

I offered you a specific idea. But a day later you say: "I wish we could, but legal already has the documents for review."

Good grief. Why did you ask the question if you knew that no answer would be acceptable? Did you know when you asked it that legal had the documents and wouldn't be interested in any alternatives to discussions? If you didn't know, why not? Have they kicked you out of the loop because of your goof? And why does legal having the documents prevent you from going to them or to the CO or to your director with the idea? Are you so out of favor that they don't want to hear from you?

Honest to goodness, ashleyh. It's aggravating.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I agree with Vern. How does legal have the documents already. Did you submit them to them to review the mistake and provide guidance or have you already done your selection? Either way, you need to stop immediately. Reopen the solicitation. Give them a week to get their proposals in. DON'T review proposals and tell contractors what they need prior to the due date. Since we scan in everything here and have no paper files, I do open proprosals before the due date (usually the day before) so I am not hogging the scanner all day. I don't review them. I don't call the contractors before and let them know what they are missing. That's grounds for a protest.

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Since we scan in everything here and have no paper files, I do open proprosals before the due date (usually the day before) so I am not hogging the scanner all day. I don't review them.

Why don't you just have the contractor submit an electronic copy instead of having to scan everything?

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  • 1 month later...
Why don't you just have the contractor submit an electronic copy instead of having to scan everything?

Sometimes it appears to me that requiring a hard copy is a way to limit the number of proposals that have to be evaluated.

.

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Brian,

Actually, it is because the government doesn't like to make 5, 10 or more copies or prints for each proposal for the review process. Instead, the contractors are required to provide enough hard copies to distribute to the review teams and the original to be held by the KO.

In one office I worked in, 1 single competion would have killed the paper budget for the office for more than a year if we had to print out all the review copies. That office had its adminstrative budget cut so much that we had to attend the base health fair for pens and require customers to bring 2 packs of paper in order to accept their requisition packages.

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... the government doesn't like to make 5, 10 or more copies or prints for each proposal for the review process.

...

In one office I worked in, 1 single competition would have killed the paper budget for the office for more than a year if we had to print out all the review copies.

That office had its administrative budget cut so much that we had to ... require customers to bring 2 packs of paper in order to accept their requisition packages.

DW,

let me prove, yet again, that there's a lot I don't know about this field.

#1. Making lots of copies for lots of reviewers.

I have never bid on anything as complicated as a "systems" contract, where there are many reviewers to provide technical expertise in many different niche areas of expertise. I have only once bid on something that I suspect had more than 5 on the Tech Eval Committee. When I was an 1102, I only once worked on an acquisition that had more than 5 Evaluators. I was reviewing for Small Biz issues. So I flat-out don't know about situations that many members of the WIFCON Community face every day with a dozen or more evaluators.

#2. Making lots of copies of lots of proposals.

But I do know something about Market Research. I have recommended certain acquisitions for set-aside for preference programs, and the CO disagreed and issued the solicitation as a SBSA, and received over 50 proposals. Generally, if a Government technical person or Small Biz person knows that competition can be obtained within a preference targeted group, such as SDVOSB, HUBZone or 8(a,) opening it up to all Small Businesses runs a risk of getting an unmanageable response. Any time more than about 15 responses are received, better Market Research could have prevented that. Preference programs are one case where restrictions on competition are lawful.

#3. I was thinking of a couple of acquisitions where I had prepared and mailed an offer, and then there was an Amendment the day before closing, and there was no way for me to get an Amended proposal in, short of paying the walk-up airfare to where proposals were due. To me, it looked like these Amendments were made to eliminate out-of-town offerors. Maybe I'm taking it too personally.

.

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DW,

let me prove, yet again, that there's a lot I don't know about this field.

#1. Making lots of copies for lots of reviewers.

I have never bid on anything as complicated as a "systems" contract, where there are many reviewers to provide technical expertise in many different niche areas of expertise. I have only once bid on something that I suspect had more than 5 on the Tech Eval Committee. When I was an 1102, I only once worked on an acquisition that had more than 5 Evaluators. I was reviewing for Small Biz issues. So I flat-out don't know about situations that many members of the WIFCON Community face every day with a dozen or more evaluators.

#2. Making lots of copies of lots of proposals.

But I do know something about Market Research. I have recommended certain acquisitions for set-aside for preference programs, and the CO disagreed and issued the solicitation as a SBSA, and received over 50 proposals. Generally, if a Government technical person or Small Biz person knows that competition can be obtained within a preference targeted group, such as SDVOSB, HUBZone or 8(a,) opening it up to all Small Businesses runs a risk of getting an unmanageable response. Any time more than about 15 responses are received, better Market Research could have prevented that. Preference programs are one case where restrictions on competition are lawful.

#3. I was thinking of a couple of acquisitions where I had prepared and mailed an offer, and then there was an Amendment the day before closing, and there was no way for me to get an Amended proposal in, short of paying the walk-up airfare to where proposals were due. To me, it looked like these Amendments were made to eliminate out-of-town offerors. Maybe I'm taking it too personally.

.

Brian,

Please don't take this or my earlier comment as a personal attack or anything. I realize that not all offices are the same, I was just offering what my experience has been working in system procurement offices as well as a base level contracting shop. Each level has its own problems. The systems teams had huge solicitation, proposal and contract award packages with hundreds of pages, many copies of each, and very formal evaluation teams that included contractors.

The base operations team I worked on had comparatively smaller packages, but also had a very austere budget, which basically ran out of funding well before th end of the fiscal year, right when we needed supplies the most. It is embarrassing to print out a contract on pink, yellow or blue paper, but we had to do that for a couple of months as it was only the paper we had. Asking customers to bring the paper that their contracts and orders will be printed on is also a little embarrassing, but we had to do that as well.

All,

Sorry to hijack the thread, this will be the last post I enter on this issue. Brian: if you want to chat some more on this subject, just let me know and I would be glad to converse via email or some other medium.

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I have never heard of an agency running out of money to buy paper (I had a good chuckle). BTW, Ashleyh, if its important, tell legal ASAP, because if its important to you then its important them. Where I work at we are part of one team and personally I would respect anyone who can admit mistakes so we can correct them.

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I have never heard of an agency running out of money to buy paper (I had a good chuckle)..

You obviously weren't around at the end of and after the Viet Nam "Conflict"

At my Air Force Base Base from 1975 to 1976 era, we ran out of our copier allotment on about the 15th of every month and shut down the copy machine. I often had to call a contractor or consultant as part of my job. If it wasn't local to an Installation with "AUTOVON" so that the base operator could forward the local call, I had to charge my long distance calls to my home phone. That was EMBARRASSING.

I could tell you other stories but hopefully you get the point!

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You obviously weren't around at the end of and after the Viet Nam "Conflict"

At my Air Force Base Base from 1975 to 1976 era, we ran out of our copier allotment on about the 15th of every month and shut down the copy machine. I often had to call a contractor or consultant as part of my job. If it wasn't local to an Installation with "AUTOVON" so that the base operator could forward the local call, I had to charge my long distance calls to my home phone. That was EMBARRASSING.

I could tell you other stories but hopefully you get the point!

Nothing ever changes, my example is from 2005-2006 at a "premier installation" with a big iron guy across the parking lot telling us to follow him.

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.

so, DW, did you do as he did ?

No need for off-line chat; you've addressed my points.

As a small time operator, I interpret everything - including the weather - as a sign that "they" are out to get me.

.

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.

so, DW, did you do as he did ?

No need for off-line chat; you've addressed my points.

As a small time operator, I interpret everything - including the weather - as a sign that "they" are out to get me.

.

In my case it was just adapt and eventually move on as the office had a number of other problems that I did not care for. Before I left I found myself buying paper so I could document contracts, RFP's, letters, etc., and then when paper was available I took an equivalent amount and replenished my personal supply which I kept locked up.

I bought my own pens and markers as I prefer to work with decent tools. Most of the pens everyone picked up at the health fairs seemed to be programmed to fail in about a month, normally right when you were writing something really important.

To me, being professional means that sometimes I have to do what I have to do. Things like printing my own business cards when the organization will not supply them, having paper and reliable writing instruments, and most importantly, keeping high ethical standards even when supervisors and leaders do not.

I hope things work out for you and your business. I myself have done my best to support small businesses in my career, but not everyone feels that way unfortunately. I have also experienced a number of small businesses that make the whole community look bad, which may be a factor in why others shy away from small businesses. Not that large businesses aren't worse in many cases.

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.

for those not in on the joke, a couple people who post here belong to a fraternity whose motto is

"Follow me, do as I do."

Often shortened to just "Follow me."

.

And for others its not a joke as those words describe U.S. Infantry and Marines who courageously charged the German lines during WWI.

150px-Followme.jpg

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Guest Vern Edwards
.

for those not in on the joke, a couple people who post here belong to a fraternity whose motto is

"Follow me, do as I do."

Often shortened to just "Follow me."

Graduates of the infantry school at Fort Benning?

Where brave men fight?there fight I.

In freedom's cause?I live, I die.

From Concord Bridge to Heartbreak Ridge,

from the Arctic to the Mekong,

to the Caribbean?

the Queen of Battle!

Always ready?then, now, and forever.

I am the Infantry!

FOLLOW ME!

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Why not accept electronic copies? Have you seen the protests where a company says they submitted a bid but the Govt says they never received it? You have to trace it through the computer systems and email system. PIA. Besides out IT people here stink and are not very friendly. So we require 3 copies and an original. The original gets scanned in (we do not keep paper files here). The three copies go to the selection team. I do accept electronic proposals if it is a sole source or SAP. Not on a large acquisition.

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I would still ask the offerors to submit an electronic version on CD. Scanning takes a long time, the files are huge, and you either have to hope the scanning capture everything legibally 100% of the time or spend a lot of QC time going over everything.

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