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The solicitation phase of the contract is the period of time between acceptance of the PR and receipt of offers (bids or proposals). During this phase, many plans, decisions, and preparations must be made by the CO and the other members of the acquisition team, particularly the COR, to permit development of an adequate solicitation that will completely and accurately convey the government's requirements to the marketplace. This effort is the critical part of the technical-to-contractual translation that must take place, and it requires significant involvement by the COR.

What tasks will the COR need to perform to provide technical assistance during solicitation?

The COR must:

1. Assist in determining the method of procurement, i.e., simplified acquisition, sealed bidding, or negotiations

2. Assist in selecting the contract type

3. Refer preaward inquiries to the CO and provide technical responses and advice on other issues to the CO as requested

4. Participate in prebid and preproposal conferences as requested.

What is a market survey and why is it conducted?

Once the government identifies its legitimate needs and is considering the use of a contract to satisfy those needs, a market survey is performed, ideally through a joint effort of the requiring activity and the contracting office, to determine:

Whether sources for needed services or products are available

Whether commercial items can be used

What customary trade practices apply

Potential costs, possible tradeoffs, and methods to promote conservation.

See Chapter 3, Conducting Market Research, for further details.

What are the available methods of soliciting offers?

Offers can be solicited in the form of a simplified acquisition, which is the use of simplified acquisition procedures prescribed by FAR Part 13; sealed bidding, when there is ample competition, the specifications are clear and not unnecessarily restrictive, and lowest price can determine the award (refer to FAR Part 14); or negotiations, when there may be a need to hold discussions to establish the best value for the government (refer to FAR Part 15).

Sealed Bidding

What is the advantage of sealed bidding?

The appearance of fairness has always been associated with sealed bidding. Contractors respond to an invitation for bid (IFB) by submitting sealed offers not to be opened until a public formal bid opening. Late bids are usually unacceptable. The lowest evaluated offer from a responsible bidder that conforms to all the terms and conditions of the solicitation will receive the award.

When is sealed bidding used as a solicitation method?

Select sealed bidding when all of the following conditions exist:

There is a reasonable expectation of receiving more than one sealed offer.

There is sufficient lead-time for the sealed bidding process.

Final award can be made on price and price-related factors alone.

Award can be made without discussing offers with offerors other than to resolve minor informalities or irregularities.

What evaluation factors are used in sealed bidding?

In sealed bidding, only price and price-related factors (e.g., transportation costs) can be considered. For example, an offer with a price that incorporates delivery to the government (F.O.B. destination) can be compared to an offer with a price not including delivery (F.O.B. origin, i.e., contractor's plant) by adding estimated transportation costs to the F.O.B. origin offer for evaluation purposes.

What types of contracts may be used with sealed bidding?

Only a firm fixed price (FFP) or a fixed price with economic price adjustment (FP/EPA) contract may be used with sealed bidding. (See Fixed Price Contracts later in this chapter for more information about these contract types.)

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