Thursday, July 18, 2019

Small Business Acquisition Transparency Act of 2019 - A Bill

We've had this experience and so have most readers of this blog. You spend a lot of time and resources preparing a proposal to submit to the Government and later find that your were among the unsuccessful bidders. That's not so unusual because many more unsuccessful bidders than there are successful bidders for any given contract. The frustrating part however is the inability to obtain feedback on how the Government viewed your proposal, how it stacked up against the competition, and what deficiencies were noted. These are important questions for which answers and feedback would assist in improving future proposal submissions.

FAR (Federal Acquisition Regulations) do contain provisions for post-award debriefing of offerors. The conditions are somewhat restrictive (e.g. requests for debriefings must be made with three days of being notified that the bid was unsuccessful) and its is up to the contracting officer as to method of debriefing - orally, in writing, or any other method acceptable to the contracting officer (see FAR 15.503 and 15.506). Sometimes these debriefings are conducted en masse so the Government needs to protect against release of trade secrets, privileged or confidential manufacturing processes and techniques, commercial, financial, and past performance information.

A bill introduced in the House earlier this month is intended to ensure that unsuccessful offerors, especially small businesses, get the feedback they need to improve their processes for preparing proposals. The proposed legislation differs from current regulations in that it requires contracting officers to put the information in writing. The legislation reads:
Not later than 180 days after enactment, FAR (Federal Acquisition Regulation) shall be revised to require that with respect to an offer for a task order or delivery order in an amount greater than the simplified acquisition threshold (currently set at $150,000) and less than or equal to $5.5 million issued under an ID/IQ (Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity) contract, the contracting officer for such contract, upon written request from an unsuccessful offeror, provide a brief explanation as to why such offeror was unsuccessful that includes a summary of the rational for the award and an evaluation of the significant weak or deficient factors in the offeror's offer.
No idea as to whether this bill will get very far in the legislative process. But it is a good idea. It would be even better if the requirement applied to prime contractors in relation to their unsuccessful subcontract offerors.

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