Ask For a Debriefing Whether You\'re Happy or Sad
August 28, 2012
By: Lindsay Simmons
Too often successful offerors neglect to ask for a debriefing. They are in the habit of requesting a debriefing only when they are a disappointed offeror. This is a mistake. It is always important to have as much information as possible about the award decision.
In a case decided earlier this month, a contractor learned the hard way how important it is to have a debriefing. See American Material Handling, Inc., B-406739 (Aug. 14, 2012).
The Air Force issued an RFP through GSA for all-terrain mobile cranes. Award was to be made on a best value basis, considering minimum technical capabilities, price, and past performance.
DFARS clause 252.247-7023 – a required clause – was not included in the RFP. This clause implements the Cargo Preference Act requiring a contractor to use U.S.-flag vessels when transporting supplies by sea under a contract with the U.S. military.
Award was made to the protester, American Material Handling (“AMH”). Disappointed offerors requested and were provided with post-award debriefings, at which time AMH’s award price was revealed to them.
The contracting officer then realized that the required DFARS clause had been omitted from the RFP, issued a stop work order to AMH, and advised AMH that the agency intended to amend the RFP to include the required DFARS clause and to request revised proposals.
The RFP was amended to include DFARS clause 252.247-7023 and revised proposals were sought. AMH sought but was denied information regarding its competitors’ pricing in round one. Nevertheless, AMH submitted a revised proposal.
AMH’s protest alleged that the agency improperly refused to disclose AMH’s competitors’ prices where the agency had disclosed AMH’s price in debriefings provided to its competitors. AMH contended the Agency was required to disclose all offerors’ prices to level the playing field. GAO disagreed, stating
Here, in accordance with the post-award debriefing requirements of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), GSA properly disclosed AMH’s price to disappointed offerors. See FAR § 15.506(d)(2). As a general matter, an agency is not required to equalize the possible competitive advantage flowing to other offerors as a result of the release of information in a post-award setting where the release was not the result of preferential treatment or other improper action on the part of the agency. See Nova Techs. , B-403461.3, B-403461.4, Feb. 28, 2011, 2011 CPD ¶ 51 at 4.
The lesson is simple: Request a debriefing whether you win or lose.
Lindsay Simmons is the attorney responsible for the content of this article.