Applicants should clearly state that they have the appropriate resources to conduct the research, such as adequate equipment and laboratory space. When possible, include letters of commitment for these resources. Understand the level of resources needed to compete. Conduct an organizational assessment.
Centerra argues that the agency failed to evaluate prices on a common basis and erred in not discussing the disparity with Centerra. In those cases, however, the lack of a common understanding could be traced to unclear or latently ambiguous requirements found within the solicitation, which resulted in offerors proposing differing Nih grant submission cover letter or solutions.
Here, Centerra has not identified any PWS requirements that are ambiguous or unclear, and has therefore not provided us with a basis to conclude that KBR proposed to meet different PWS requirements from the requirements Centerra proposed to meet.
Instead, Centerra broadly asserts that the staffing and pricing differences, by themselves, evidence that something in the solicitation caused offerors to possess differing understandings of the solicitation requirements. Indeed, the solicitation permitted offerors to propose their own staffing solutions, so long as they provided the basis for their staffing estimates and explained how such staffing would meet the PWS requirements.
See RFP at See The Gerard Co. We also conclude that the Navy was not otherwise obligated to tell Centerra that its staffing and pricing were high in relation to other offerors. When an agency engages Nih grant submission cover letter discussions with an offeror, the discussions must be meaningful, that is, sufficiently detailed so as to lead an offeror into the areas of its proposal requiring amplification or revision.
We do not agree. Indeed, Centerra received a strength for one aspect of its staffing: As discussed above, however, the agency was under no obligation to tell Centerra that its price was comparatively high; we therefore conclude that the agency similarly was not obligated to tell Centerra its high staffing was causing its overall price to be comparatively high.
Centerra also contends that it was misled during discussions into increasing its staffing because the Navy told the firm that its staffing may be low for certain annexes. AR, Tab 15, at During discussions, agencies may not consciously mislead or coerce an offeror into raising its prices. We will not find coercion in discussions, however, where an agency in good faith provides accurate information to an offeror about its concern, and provides the offeror with the opportunity to explain or revise its rates.
In response, Centerra provided further explanation and also increased its FTEs by a small number. Sep 11, Piton raises various challenges to the agency's conduct of discussions and its evaluation of price.
We first address Piton's contentions that discussions were misleading, and not meaningful. In this regard, the protester essentially argues that it was unreasonable for the agency to fail to disclose during discussions that it considered Piton's price to be not fair and reasonable, and improper for the agency to ultimately conclude that Piton's price was not fair and reasonable after Piton reduced its price in response to the agency's discussion question.
Protest at 8; Comments at 5. When an agency engages in discussions with an offeror, the discussions must be "meaningful," that is, sufficiently detailed so as to lead an offeror into the areas of its proposal requiring amplification or revision in a manner to materially enhance the offeror's potential for receiving the award.
The requirement that discussions be meaningful, however, does not obligate an agency to spoon-feed an offeror or to discuss every area where the proposal could be improved.
We find no merit to the protester's arguments. The record shows that the agency clearly led Piton to the area of its proposal needing revision by indicating that Piton's total price, as well as its price for a particular labor category, were high.
As such, the agency fulfilled its obligation to conduct meaningful discussions.
Additionally, contrary to the protester's assertions, the record also shows that the agency only concluded that Piton's price was not fair and reasonable after evaluating FPRs. Although Piton asserts that it should have received an award because it lowered its pricing in response to the discussion question, the record shows that other proposals from technically-acceptable offerors received awards because they offered lower prices.
In light of the record here, the protester has not shown that the agency's conduct of discussions was unreasonable. Piton Science and Technology B Jul 28, Global Dynamics contends that the Army repeatedly asked it during discussions to raise its prices. Protester Comments at 3.
In conducting discussions with offerors, an agency may not consciously mislead or coerce an offeror into raising its price. However, we will not find discussions to be improper where the agency in good faith provides accurate information to an offeror, even where the offeror uses that information to its ultimate competitive detriment.
The record shows that the agency did not ask the protester to raise its price. Specifically, EDT contends that the agency engaged in improper and misleading discussions. According to the protester, it was arbitrary for the agency to consider narrative responses more favorably than mere acknowledgments of compliance given that the discussion letter indicated that both would be acceptable.
The regulations concerning discussions under Federal Acquisition Regulation FAR part 15, which pertain to negotiated procurements, do not, as a general rule, govern task and delivery order competitions conducted under FAR subpart Although the protester is correct that the discussion letter did not indicate that one response was preferred by the agency over another, the discussion letter also did not indicate that all permitted response options would be equally advantageous to an offeror.
EDT appears to have made a business decision to rely on simple statements of compliance with regard to most of the weaknesses identified by the agency in discussions. Where an agency affords an offeror a choice in how to respond to a weakness identified during discussions, and the offeror exercises its business judgment in electing one of the alternatives, the agency has not engaged in misleading discussions.
In addition, it was not reasonable for EDT to assume that, because a simple statement of compliance, without explanatory information, would be acceptable under the RFP, submission of associated explanatory information could not improve its chances of a higher evaluation rating.
When an RFP asks firms to provide a discussion of their technical approach, the agency evaluation may reasonably consider the level of detail provided in the requested discussion.
Furthermore, where a firm merely indicates that it will meet a particular requirement, thereby discussing only the end results, but provides little or no detail about how it plans to meet or exceed the requirement, the agency may reasonably downgrade the proposal.Submission.
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