Communications with Offerors
The University’s objectives are to:
· Ensure effective competition,
· Ensure impartial and comprehensive evaluation of offerors’ proposals,
· Ensure selection of the source that will provide the best value (i.e., the best combination of price/cost and qualitative merit) to the University, and
· Minimize the cost, complexity and cycle time of the solicitation, evaluation, and selection process.
This policy applies to procurements involving an evaluation of the qualitative merit and price/cost to determine the offeror providing the best value to the University, including procurements for goods and services based on low net price.
The selection process represents commercial-like practices. Such practices place emphasis on achieving desired best-value results. Fairness is indicated by the ethical conduct of the procurement team and by a selection process that results in the most advantageous business relationship for the University.
Best-value source selection is used to determine which proposal offers the best tradeoff between price/cost and performance capabilities and which has the highest probability of success, where quality is considered an integral performance factor. Factors used for evaluation may include factors such as performance capability, technical elements, past performance, total life cycle costs, experience and financial capability.
Best-value source selection is based on the premise that if all proposals are approximately equal in terms of qualitative merit then award will be made to the responsible offeror with the lowest evaluated price or the most probably/realistic cost. However, the University may award to a responsible offeror whose proposal offers a higher qualitative merit and is judged to have higher value than the price/cost differential. Conversely, the University may award to the responsible offeror whose proposal has lower qualitative merit if the price/cost differential warrants doing so.
Communications with Offerors
After receipt of proposals, it may be necessary, or desirable, to communicate with any or all of the offeror(s) during the source selection process. The purpose of the communications is to ensure that there is a mutual understanding between the University and the offeror on all aspects of the procurement. The following apply to communications with offerors:
· The Evaluation Committee, at their discretion may communicate, orally or in writing, with any or all of the offerors to obtain information to evaluate and/or facilitate the selection decision, or to negotiate the best-value for the University. The Committee may choose to limit communications to those offerors whose proposals have the highest probability of success and provide the best value to the University.
· Communications with one offeror do not necessitate communications with other offerors since communications will be offeror specific. In determining whether communications should be conducted with all offerors, the Committee should consider the impact of changes on:
o Offeror(s) who are still being considered for award, and
o Offeror(s) who were initially eliminated from consideration.
· The Committee shall not communicate to any offeror, or lead an offeror to believe, that they are the winning contractor until a final decision has been made and appropriate approvals have been received.
· Communications shall be conducted in a manner which does not afford any offeror an unfair advantage.
· During communications the Evaluation Committee may permit the offeror(s) to change their proposal to allow the Committee to achieve the best-value procurement.
· The Evaluation Committee may advise offeror(s) of perceived errors, omissions, deficiencies, or other concerns.
· The University may eliminate any offeror from further consideration at any point during the proposal evaluation phase.
Site visits are a type of communication; therefore, the same rules that apply to communications apply to Site visits.
Commercial Competition Techniques
The University may utilize commercial competition techniques such as the following in making a best-value source selection:
· Indicating to an offeror the price which must be met to obtain further consideration,
· Informing the offeror during communications what the University’s estimate of price/cost is,
· Informing the offeror that their price is not low in relation to other offeror’s prices,
· Technical leveling techniques such as helping an offeror being its proposal to the level of other proposals through communications by pointing out weaknesses (e.g., offeror A is told of his weaknesses related to the Statement of Work to bring him up to the same level as offerors B & C), and
· Using other offerors’ proposals as a source of acquiring information about commercially available capabilities and sharing that information with other offerors (e.g., asking offeror A, “Does your product have option x that is available on offeror B’s product?” when option x is commercially available).
The Evaluation Committee is cautioned neither to disclose company names, trade secrets or financial/technical information which is identified as proprietary nor to use techniques which may be considered technical transfusion. Technical transfusion occurs when the Evaluation Committee discloses technical information pertaining to one proposal that results in the improvement of a competing proposal, unless the improvement is commercially available and/or publicly known. Any information disclosed by the offeror or other known factual information from other sources may be considered in the evaluation of the offeror’s proposal.
Unauthorized disclosure of certain business information submitted in confidence may constitute a criminal offense.
Making Cost/Technical Tradeoffs
A cost/technical and other factors tradeoff analysis utilizing any evaluation method may be conducted as follows:
· Identify the significant differences between the proposals by comparing their strengths, weaknesses, and/or risks. Look for areas that are important to the University’s mission or program objectives or that will have an impact (positive or negative) on operations. (E.g. operational effectiveness, productivity, delivery, etc.).
· Determine the overall best-value. If the best-value involves award to other than the lowest price, you must be able to develop a rationale that will support the price premium to be paid.
Past Performance Information
Past performance information is used to evaluate risk based on factual information about the offeror. Past performance may be assessed:
· In the initial evaluation to establish an initial ranking or rating of an offeror without comparing to other offerors, and/or
· In the final evaluation by comparing offerors proposals to one another.
When checking on past performance using only the sources provided by the offeror may not be sufficient. The Evaluation Committee may want to use other resources, for example, information from customers who are known to have done business with the offeror even if they are not listed as references, the Evaluation Committee’s own records, industry publications, etc.
It is often difficult to obtain past performance information from references. You may have difficulty getting responses to long, convoluted questions. Ask more general questions such as the following:
· If you had a choice would you contract with this contractor again? If yes, does the contractor have any particular performance strong points? If no, why not?
· Did the end product or services meet contractual requirements, particularly with respect to the quality provided?
· Did the contractor complete the effort within the budget? If not, was the cost growth due to contractor inefficiency or lack of expertise?
· Did the contractor encounter any problems during the contract, if so how were they corrected?
· Remember to ask for identification of contractor’s strong points too.
· Were any of the deficiencies within the contractor’s control? What corrective actions were taken to correct the problem?
Obtaining a timely response to questions may be difficult. The Evaluation Committee should obtain the information in the best manner practicable and document the file appropriately.
An allegation of poor past performance should be examined closely. The Evaluation Committee should determine the accuracy of the allegation and if the reported poor past performance is likely to affect performance under the current contract. Depending on the situation, the Evaluation Committee will have to decide if it is appropriate to go back to the offeror and give them the opportunity to comment on adverse reports concerning their past performance. The burden is on the offeror to show that past performance problems have been corrected.
The Evaluation Committee may treat past performance problems identified during the initial evaluation process as issues which could be addressed during communications.
Consider such things as:
· Number and severity of past problems,
· Effectiveness of corrective action,
· Problem(s) within the offeror’s control,
· Offeror’s overall work record, and/or
· Relevance of past performance information.
Before you find an offeror’s past performance deficient you must determine if the deficiency was beyond the offeror’s control (excusable?). If deficient past performance was the fault of the offeror, you must also consider whether the offeror has taken effective corrective action. One of the more difficult areas to determine is the extent to which the contracting entity contributed to the deficient performance. The extent to which the offeror’s deficient past performance could affect its performance of the prospective contract must also be determined. If problems have been corrected or are unlikely to recur, the past problems may not be germane to the current contract. If problems have not been corrected it is assumed that they still exist. Poor past performance should only be considered with respect to the risk that such problems will reoccur and adversely affect performance on the proposed contract. All past performance deficiencies should be examined for any patterns.
The age and relevancy of the past performance information should be considered. The information should generally not be more than three years old.
Meeting Specification/Low Price Evaluation
When the basis for award is meeting specifications and low price, the Evaluation Committee shall conduct an evaluation of all offers, assessing those two factors. The requesting organization may be requested to review the offers to ensure all specifications can be met. Award shall be made to the responsible offeror that offers the lowest price to the Evaluation committee, however in certain instances the Evaluation Committee may determine that it is the University’s best interest to make an award based on best-value.
A proposed contract with options may result in an unbalanced proposal, or an offer where prices for the base period are significantly higher than the option year prices or vice versa. When initially developing and subsequently evaluating a requirement with options, the Evaluation Committee should consider:
· Is the offer mathematically unbalanced? What is the mathematical magnitude of difference between the base term and the option years?
· What factors account for the price differential? Are there installation or start-up costs?
· Is the University expected to exercise the options and is there reasonable expectation that funds will be available?
· Which offer would ultimately result in the best-value to the University and at which point in time is a cost advantage realized?
· Does the proposed procurement involve a considerable length of time to justify evaluation the time value of money in order to assess the actual lowest cost to the University?
If it is in the University’s best interest, the Evaluation Committee may accept and evaluate late proposals.