Thursday, January 17, 2013

Post-Award Briefings - Ask Lots of Questions

Yesterday we discussed the regulations that require the Government to conduct post-award briefings when requested by one or more offerors to a solicitation. These briefings are great opportunities for contractors and potential contractors to find out the strengths and weaknesses in their bid and how well the bid stacked up against the competition. Contractors can learn a lot from these briefings and become better prepared for the next time.

Not all post-award briefings are the same in detail and candidness. There are good ones and some where the presenter, usually the contracting officer, is inexperienced, or seems to be reticent about sharing certain information. Either way, offerors should be prepared to ask lots of penetrating questions. The questions may not be answered for some reason, perhaps the contracting officer is concerned about sharing proprietary data. But, it doesn't hurt to ask. Here are some sample questions offerors might consider, if the topic has not already been discussed.

  • Please identify the strengths, weaknesses, or deficiencies in our proposal for each evaluation factor and sub-factor?
  • What were the most significant weaknesses?
  • Were there any solicitation requirements that we failed to address? If so, what were they? 
  • Were any significant deficiencies identified by the Government during discussions not adequately addressed in our response to your Evaluation Notices? If so, did the evaluation of the deficiencies change during the evaluation of our final proposal revision?
  • Were there any specific considerations that precluded us from being selectied as the awardee? If so, what were those considerations?
  • What if anything did you want that was missing from our proposal?
  • Please explain how past performance was evaluated. What was our rating? How was that rating applied to the source selection process?
  • Was experience evaluated? If so, what was our rating and how was that information used in the source selection process?
  • Please explain the procedure for the evaluation of risk? What risks were identified in our proposal? How did they impact the ration of our proposal?
  • Please provide evaluated cost/price and technical, management, and past performance ratings for our proposal and all other offerors.
  • Please provide the overall ranking for all offerors.
  • In what areas was our proposal considered overpriced?
  • Were we compliant with all technical requirements?
  • In the proposal risk portion of the technical/management area, what criteria did the Government use to determine the final evaluation ratings?
  • Please explain in detail the methodology used to determine which proposal offered the greatest overall value to the Government, especially with respect to any comparisons/trade-offs made between technical factors and costs proposed.
  • Was a cost realism analysis used? If so, please describe what process was used.
  • Please identify any information not contained in our proposal that was used by the evaluators in assessing our offer.

We could go on but you get the idea. Many times, as a result of these debriefs, unsuccessful offerors come away with a basis for appealing the award. Sometimes, contractors will bring legal counsel to these briefings. Contracting officers don't usually appreciate and will expect that an appeal is right around the corner. As a result, they will be very guarded in what they say and are willing to discuss.

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