How to Ace Post-Award Contract Reviews

August 1, 2012

Contracting officers oversee many moving parts in the complex procurement process. But perhaps no other element of contracting strikes fear into their hearts more than the debriefing.

For most procurement awards, contractors that were not selected can request to receive information on why they did not win, either in letter form or a sit-down meeting. Contracting officers worry that in-person debriefings, in particular, might disclose information that would trigger a bid protest. Managing debriefings is a tricky balance, but doing it right can save agencies time and money.

Acquisition officials first need to shake off their fear of providing the contractor with cause for a protest and acknowledge the significant benefits of debriefings, to both industry and government. Debriefings allow the government to share information that can improve the quality of proposals. They also offer rare face-to-face communication between contracting and acquisition officials and their counterparts in the private sector. For companies, this improves their chances of winning contracts. For federal officials, it drives better proposals, stronger competition, and more value for taxpayers.

Debriefing officials must be aware of what they are required to disclose and what they are prohibited from disclosing. The Federal Acquisition Regulation requires them to reveal deficiencies in the proposal, the cost or price, the technical rating assigned not only to the losing bid but also to the winner, and past performance information, among other things.

 

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