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Maybe I'm just missing it, but I can't find in the FAR or any case law that says when a Contracting Officer can open a proposal submitted in response to an RFP.  Our office practice has always been that you don't open proposals until after the closing date, but is there a specific policy/case-law that dictates that a proposal can't be opened before the closing date?  

Thanks for any input you can provide!

 

Mike

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1 hour ago, Mike_wolff said:

s there a specific policy/case-law that dictates that a proposal can't be opened before the closing date?  

I can find no such limitations in the FAR or a general limitation on such action in any case (bid protest decision).  However, it seems the general practice is to wait until the due date, in part to avoid the possibility that contractors may submit modifications to their proposals after submission but before the due date.

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My question would be, why do you want to do that for a competitive RFP?

To ensure the integrity of the competitive Process, for proposal security considerations and to avoid possible accusations of revealing any information before the closing,  I would recommend not do that. 

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Possibly when the solicitation is asking offerors to submit their past performance information before the due date, so the government can start the evaluation process. However, I've seen solicitations asking offerors to send past performance information separately.

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48 minutes ago, joel hoffman said:

My question would be, why do you want to do that for a competitive RFP?

To ensure the integrity of the competitive Process, for proposal security considerations and to avoid possible accusations of revealing any information before the closing,  I would recommend not do that. 

There might be a relationship to matters of a timely protest or not as well if opened prior to the specified closing date.

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While in most cases (maybe all) I don't think it is good practice to open before closing (and as I noted it's office practice not to do so), and I agree with all the reasons Joel lists above.  So I'm not saying it's something we SHOULD do, I'm just trying to determine if we MAY do it.  

In some cases one reason as noted above would be to get a jump start on past performance or other labor intensive evaluation process issues on urgent projects.  So, I'm really looking for specific regs, laws, cases, etc., that says we can't do it, because as we know, unless prohibited in some way we can do things if they make good business sense per FAR 1.102-4(e): 

(e) The FAR outlines procurement policies and procedures that are used by members of the Acquisition Team. If a policy
or procedure, or a particular strategy or practice, is in the best interest of the Government and is not specifically addressed in
the FAR, nor prohibited by law (statute or case law), Executive order or other regulation, Government members of the Team
should not assume it is prohibited. Rather, absence of direction should be interpreted as permitting the Team to innovate and
use sound business judgment that is otherwise consistent with law and within the limits of their authority. Contracting officers
should take the lead in encouraging business process innovations and ensuring that business decisions are sound.

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I'm not aware of a prohibition.  If offers are due COB tomorrow, why can't you jumpstart the evaluations on all or part of the two offers you already have today?  I'm not aware of anything requiring that the evaluation has to start after the date set for receipt of offers, and the Government can still be fair to everyone.  The Government should not publicly acknowledge that any offers have been received before the date and time set for receipt of offers, and certainly not the number, identity, or content of proposals.  I'm having a hard time imagining why you might want to, but I agree with FAR 1.102-4(e). 

If exchanges for any of these early proposals are needed, it might be prudent to delay those until after the date set for receipt of offers.

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I'm definitely concerned about the appearance of potential issues that arises by opening before the closing - which is why I generally say except in rare cases don't open until the closing date.  And I also agree with ji20874, I wouldn't have any exchanges until after the closing.

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