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Preaward Inquiries, Technical Advice, and Confidentiality

What is the COR's role in fielding preaward inquiries and providing technical responses and advice on other issues to the CO?

Communication with interested parties regarding a solicitation may be conducted only by the CO or others having authority to do so. The COR does not have this authority. However, the CO often queries the COR regarding technical details, technical clarifications, delivery or performance schedules, and other issues that can result in amendment or cancellation of the solicitation.

What information may not be given to bidders prior to the opening of a sealed bid?

In sealed bidding, information that may not be imparted to bidders prior to the public bid opening includes:

Information on a firm's responsibility or proprietary data

Identity and number of bids

Bid prices or lists of bid prices

Rankings of bids

Other information that, if disclosed to a competing contractor, would jeopardize the integrity of the procurement (e.g., the government's estimate for the procurement).

In a negotiated procurement, what information may not be given to the contractor prior to an award?

When acquiring supplies or services by negotiation, information that may not be imparted to the contractor includes:

Source selection or technical evaluation plans

Identity and number of offerors

Proposed costs or prices submitted by offerors

Information on a firm's responsibility or proprietary data

Other information that, if disclosed to a competing contractor, would jeopardize the integrity of the procurement (e.g., a unique or innovative technical approach that has been proposed by one of the offerors).

What is the COR's role regarding inquiries or requests for information from contractors?

The COR must refer all inquiries to the CO promptly and be prepared to respond completely and effectively to all requests for technical information, advice, or recommendations. Some of these responses may necessitate revisions to the requirements document. For example, an error or omission in the government specification or statement of work might be discovered by one of the offerors and would have to be corrected.

The COR must be aware that these inquiries from interested contractors may come from friends or previous acquaintances from previous contracts, and these individuals may be quite upset that the COR refuses to tell them anything about the solicitation. The COR must remember, however, that the integrity of the contracting system must be maintained.

The Prebid or Preproposal Conference

What is a prebid or preproposal conference?

The CO may decide that a prebid or preproposal conference would be beneficial for the contracting parties so that they may discuss the requirement (e.g., to clarify complex technical requirements). The CO usually considers the following factors in determining whether to hold a prebid or preproposal conference:

Contractor inquiries suggest that key terms and conditions in the contract are vague, ambiguous, or unattractive to industry (e.g., the government specifies that progress payments will not be provided for a requirement that has significant startup costs involved; thus, the contractor will have full capital investment responsibility and risk).

Contractors do not appear to have a reliable or valid understanding of the contract requirements.

A significant amount of money is at risk.

A complex requirement or technical evaluation factor must be explained.

Contractors need to physically inspect work sites.

What steps does the CO take in planning and conducting the pre-bid or preproposal conference?

The CO will generally perform the following steps, as appropriate, to plan and conduct the conference:

1. Develop an agenda, including:

A briefing on the solicitation

A presentation of prepared responses to questions submitted in advance

Questions and answers from the floor.

2. Prepare and mail conference invitations to all prospective offerors that received a copy of the solicitation. The invitation should include:

Notice of time and place

A copy of the agenda

A request that questions be submitted in writing, in advance, if possible. (Technical questions will be forwarded to the COR for response.)

3. Conduct a meeting with all involved government personnel (the COR and other technical personnel, as necessary) to ensure that roles and responsibilities are clearly understood. The CO will remind these individuals of the limits on providing information to the offerors at the conference.

4. Conduct the conference. The CO will inform attendees that remarks and explanations made at the conference will not qualify the terms of the solicitation and that the terms of the solicitation and specifications remain unchanged unless the solicitation is amended in writing.

5. Prepare consolidated responses to all questions raised at the conference, and, if necessary, amend the solicitation as required.

What is the COR's role in planning the conference?

The COR is responsible for participating and responding as necessary to all questions and requests from the CO related to the conference described above.

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