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FAR 15.503(b)(1) states that notifications to unsuccessful offerors shall include, in general terms, the reason(s) the offeror’s proposal was not accepted...

FAR 15.506(d)(2) postaward debriefings include the overall evaluated cost or price (including unit prices) and technical rating, if applicable, of the successful offeror and the debriefed offeror, and past performance information on the debriefed offeror...

What are your thoughts on providing the past performance rating (e.g., Past Performance Confidence Assessment Rating) of the successful offeror on either document?

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I include the overall evaluated cost or price (including unit prices) and technical rating, if applicable, of the successful offeror, just like the FAR says -- if there is more than one non-price factor, I include all of the ratings -- not the rationale behind the ratings, but just the ratings.

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The entire debriefing process is too risk adverse to me.  I think frank and honest feedback on why another offeror was selected is in order.  That means what are the advantages/benefits, including price, of the selected offeror versus the source being debriefed. 

That includes past performance but I wouldn’t get into specifics about the selected offeror like who was the agency and project - just something like the feedback was very positive.

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On 9/16/2020 at 2:56 PM, formerfed said:

The entire debriefing process is too risk adverse to me.

Since debriefings are hotly contested they are often less useful than they could (should?) be. Notifications and debriefings are uneven from office to office and contracting officer to contracting officer. For example, some offices/contracting officers won’t provide the successful offeror’s past performance rating and some will. The variation comes from inconsistent beliefs on whether or not the rules permit release of the rating.

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11 hours ago, Jamaal Valentine said:

The variation comes from inconsistent beliefs on whether or not the rules permit release of the rating.

Again, it all reverts back to the risk adverse nature of our field and many of the practitioners.  Companies lose procurements after investing large amounts of time and money.  Just common courtesy means they are owed an explanation why they lost. The problem is fear of protests and inexperienced 1102s.  What’s funny is many protests occur because companies can’t get some basic information why they lost.  A properly and confidently conducted debrief usually answers most questions and defuses protests.  If it doesn’t, all the information and more gets uncovered anyway.

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On 9/20/2020 at 8:20 AM, Jamaal Valentine said:

Since debriefings are hotly contested they are often less useful than they could (should?) be. Notifications and debriefings are uneven from office to office and contracting officer to contracting officer. For example, some offices/contracting officers won’t provide the successful offeror’s past performance rating and some will. The variation comes from inconsistent beliefs on whether or not the rules permit release of the rating.

I think if we think in normative terms (i.e., the way things ought to be), then there's not much debate that a debriefing should provide the offeror with enough information to understand how they were evaluated and why they were or weren't selected.

What if we thought of this issue like an economist? In other words, let's assume contracting officers are generally rational creatures that respond (consciously or unconsciously) to incentives.

What is the incentive to provide more information in a debriefing than the minimum required by the FAR? In other words, what is irrational about the contracting officer only providing the bare minimum? Some may argue that this would increase the likelihood of receiving a protest. This hasn't been proven empirically, but let's assume that's true. What if the contracting officer thought it increased the likelihood of a protest from 5% to 10%? Would it then be worth providing more information than the minimum? Maybe, maybe not. What if providing more information than the minimum increased the likelihood of losing a protest? 

Maybe contracting officers are not risk-averse. Maybe they are reacting rationally to the perceived risks and rewards that the situation presents.

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17 hours ago, Don Mansfield said:

What if the contracting officer thought it increased the likelihood of a protest from 5% to 10%?

And to throw in a Tragedy of the Commons reference: while any increased risk of a protest accrues directly to the contracting officer, any corresponding future benefit of generally improved proposals by the company is spread across all contracting officers. As an aside I think this separate allocation of risk and reward is reducing the usefulness of past performance evaluations too, because each individual contracting officer is disincentivized to actually report poor or even average performance since they risk a challenge that increases their individual workload now, while the corresponding benefit of having accurate past performance information available for future source selections is spread across all potential contracting agencies.

But back to the specific question of whether more or less information actually increases or decreases protest risk I think Vern Edwards said it best in a post on discussions (http://www.wifcon.com/arc/forum355.htm): "If you don't do first rate evaluations, then maybe you should hide the evidence, at least until the GAO or the Court of Federal Claims asks for it and gives it to the protester's lawyer.  If you have incompetents conducting your business, then maybe you should hide their work as long as possible."

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18 hours ago, Don Mansfield said:

Maybe contracting officers are not risk-averse. Maybe they are reacting rationally to the perceived risks and rewards that the situation presents.

I think risk-aversion is derived from basic human motivations for safety and security. In that sense, it is rational behavior.

Under rules-based contracting, a term I’ve coined, the minimum is the maximum. Know what the rules (statutes, case law, regulations, policy, etc.) require; and satisfy those requirements. This concept relies on professionalism and competence and provides maximum flexibility and discretion to get things done within the rules (including grey areas and loopholes).

My belief is that competent professionals can and should use the minimum force appropriate to the situation at hand (a use of force continuum). If a contracting officer is not required to furnish information they should decide based on what is necessary and permitted—to meet their overall objective(s)—under specific circumstances such as perceived risks and rewards. This may result in furnishing or withholding more than the bare minimum and that’s fine.

Some may dislike this theory, but those people probably dislike LPTA simply because they misunderstand it and it’s proper application. FAR says “[t]he authority to make decisions and the accountability for the decisions made will be delegated to the lowest level within the System, consistent with law.” Let’s do that!

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