This concept is usually regulated under FAR 15. The best value contract procurement process is used to choose the best government bid that is most advantageous to the agency. This process allows the agency first to compare each proposal to the solicitation requirements.
Afterward, a best value contract award entails comparing each proposal to each other. Each proposal evaluation includes a comparison of price and non-price factors. The agency looks at the strengths and weakness of each proposal. Then a best-value trade-off analysis takes place.
Agency Documentation Required
When the agency conducts a FAR best value contract award, the source selection team must document its reasoning. Sometimes, agencies just make conclusions and do not adequately document their findings in the process. This can pose a problem for the agency when there is a bid protest.
As a general matter, when an agency fails to document its evaluation in a best value contract award, it bears the risk that its judgments may not be found reasonable. GAO decided this very issue in Southwest Marine, Inc.; American Sys. Eng’g Corp., B-265865.3, B-265865.4, Jan. 23, 1996, 96-1 CPD). See the full decision here.
Tips on Proposal Writing for Best Value Awards
As a general rule, government contracting agencies look at the following when contemplating a best value procurement contract award:
- Quality and benefits of the solution
- Quality of the performance metrics and measurement approach
- Risks associated with the solution
- Management approach and controls
- Management team (limited number of key personnel)
- Past performance (how well the contractor has performed)
- Past experience (what the contractor has done)
As offerors in government bids, you want to make sure that your technical proposals cover at least the above issues.
Tip: When an agency selects a higher-priced solution in a FAR best value contract award that has been rated technically superior to a lower-priced one, the award decision must be supported by a rational explanation demonstrating that the higher-rated one is, in fact, superior, and explaining why its technical superiority warrants the additional cost.
Tip: When contractors’ technical quotations received identical adjectival and risk ratings in a best value contract award, the agency can look beyond the adjectival ratings to consider the significance of the offerors’ differing evaluated technical strengths.
Tip: Adjectival ratings are merely guides for intelligent decision-making in the procurement process. Agencies should not solely rely on them to make best value decisions.
Tip: In FAR best value procurements, where price is less important than the non-price factors, a government agency must meaningfully evaluate cost or price in making its source selection decision.
GAO’s Analysis in a Best Value Contract Award
Often, government contractors file bid protests to challenge the agency’s best value award decision. The General Accounting Office (GAO) realizes that federal agencies have broad discretion when conducting source selections. However, the procurement process does require a level of reasonableness when making a best value contract award decision.
- A best value procurement contract award process requires the agency’s subjective analysis
- Unless your proposal contains strengths that go above the basic solicitation requirements, it may not be possible to challenge
- When making a trade-off in a negotiated procurement, the should be some meaningful comparison between proposals
- Many agencies miss this point. Thus leaving them open to challenge
- The FAR best value contract procurement should not be reduced to a mechanical or mere scoring approach
- There must be rational and reasonable thinking
Read more information about Commonly Used Evaluation Factors in a Best Value Source Selection Protest.
For help with filing a bid protest or assistance with agency evaluation errors in the best value procurement process, call Watson’s bid protest lawyers at 1-866-601-5518.