An analysis of best value protests of 1997
Palmer, John T.
Stone, Mark W.
Desbrow, Sandra M.
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Best value is the driving theme in the newly approved rewrite of the FAR Part 15. Best value is now the goal of all negotiated Government procurements. One measure of contracting officer effectiveness is to examine protest decisions handed down by the General Accounting Office (GAO). This thesis examines all protest decisions of best value awards from 1997. The research reveals a sustainment (success) rate of 19.44 percent for 1997. GAO's published sustainment rate for all protests is 12 percent for the same year. Best value sustainments (21 total) are first categorized in this thesis by agency improprieties in the evaluation of a tradeoff element (e.g. past performance, technical merit, cost/price, or labor qualifications) or improper pre- or post-award changes. Thesustainments are then thoroughly analyzed to reveal pitfalls which contracting officers must avoid to preclude protest sustainment. These pitfalls are then incorporated into a final analysis where they are merged with the contracting process (acquisition planning, solicitation, source evaluation/selection, negotiation, award, contract administration) and examined for greater clarity. Examples of the common pitfalls which resulted in sustainment in 1997 are uncertainty of requirements, poorly crafted solicitations, failure to follow solicitations, failure to use all relevant facts, failure to evaluate total cost/price, improper cost/price realism analyses, pre-award solicitation changes without modification, failure to hold meaningful discussions when required, failure to support contract award with narrative, out-of-scope post award changes, and contract administrative improprieties
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