To achieve optimum benefit from competition, the government widely publicizes its IFBs, RFQs, RFIs, and RFPs. Interested concerns have a variety of methods to locate procurement opportunities:

  • Solicitation mailing lists are maintained using paper or online electronic database files by contracting activities to ensure access to adequate supply sources.
  • An applicant can register online using the Federal Business Opportunities Web site.
  • The government synopsizes proposed contract actions over $25,000 on the government-wide point of entry (GPE) that may be accessed via the Internet Web site.
  • In addition to local electronic bulletin boards, the Internet is considered a viable “public display,” and, as such, other contract actions may also be found on the Federal Business Opportunities Web site should the contracting officer seek to expand competition.
  • The GSA is rapidly becoming a central purchasing point for the government. Qualified contractors can apply for a “federal supply contract” that enables them to be listed on one or more “GSA Schedules” that federal procuring activities can access.

Upon receipt of a response to a solicitation, the buying agency considers the responsiveness of the offer and the responsibility of the offeror. A responsive offer meets all the salient terms addressed in the original solicitation. Nonresponsiveness can be a basis for rejection of a bid. However, an immaterial issue of responsiveness in quotes and proposals can be resolved in negotiations. A responsible contractor is deemed capable of providing the goods or services required from both a technical capability and a financial capacity standpoint.

While it is important that Government purchases be made at the lowest price, this does not require an award to a supplier solely because that supplier submits the lowest offer. A prospective contractor must affirmatively demonstrate its responsibility, including, when necessary, the responsibility of its proposed subcontractors.

The government uses the preaward survey as one tool to determine whether a contractor is both technically and financially responsible. The objective of the survey is to assess the contractor's technical qualifications, financial soundness, and the ability of the contractor's cost accounting systems to identify and accumulate costs by contract. To perform this effort, generally, the contracting officer will obtain support from the technical staff and the contract auditor.

Competitive source selection involves an assessment of competing proposals using methods that weigh such factors as price or cost, technical excellence, quality and past performance. When negotiations are used to establish the price, the government determines which of the offers fall within an established competitive range. At the conclusions of any discussions, each offeror still in the competitive range is given an opportunity to submit a final proposal revision. The source selection decision documents the basis for the award decision. Because the award is based on a comparative assessment of proposals against all of the source selection criteria specified in the solicitation notice, award may be made to other than the low offeror.

                                                                                                                            June 2012