Since we have eliminated the three highest priced offerors, would be obligated to leave them out of the competitive range, or based on the slight change would we be able to bring them back into the fold? If we can bring the bottom 3 back, then also of concern is the first round of discussions held with the top 4 offerors. Would we have to initiate similar discussions based on information exchanged in the first round?
You have to issue an amendment even when there are "slight" changes. While the FAR authorizes to limit the amendment to those still in the competition, I would re-open the competition to every offeror, even those that were highest priced. My rationale is that they may not be the highest priced after the specification change/clarification. Remember DoD's general policy regarding competition is to the "maximum practicable extent".
Here's the FAR cite:
15.206 -- Amending the Solicitation.
(a) When, either before or after receipt of proposals, the Government changes its requirements or terms and conditions, the contracting officer shall amend the solicitation.
(b) Amendments issued before the established time and date for receipt of proposals shall be issued to all parties receiving the solicitation.
(c) Amendments issued after the established time and date for receipt of proposals shall be issued to all offerors that have not been eliminated from the competition.
(d) If a proposal of interest to the Government involves a departure from the stated requirements, the contracting officer shall amend the solicitation, provided this can be done without revealing to the other offerors the alternate solution proposed or any other information that is entitled to protection (see 15.207 <http://farsite.hill.af.mil/reghtml/regs/far2afmcfars/fardfars/far/15.htm#P174_27171> (b) and 15.306 <http://farsite.hill.af.mil/reghtml/regs/far2afmcfars/fardfars/far/15.htm#P289_46286> (e)).
(e) If, in the judgment of the contracting officer, based on market research or otherwise, an amendment proposed for issuance after offers have been received is so substantial as to exceed what prospective offerors reasonably could have anticipated, so that additional sources likely would have submitted offers had the substance of the amendment been known to them, the contracting officer shall cancel the original solicitation and issue a new one, regardless of the stage of the acquisition.
(f) Oral notices may be used when time is of the essence. The contracting officer shall document the contract file and formalize the notice with an amendment (see Subpart 4.5 <http://farsite.hill.af.mil/reghtml/regs/far2afmcfars/fardfars/far/04.htm#P84_13759> , Electronic Commerce in Contracting).
(g) At a minimum, the following information should be included in each amendment:
(1) Name and address of issuing activity.
(2) Solicitation number and date.
(3) Amendment number and date.
(4) Number of pages.
(5) Description of the change being made.
(6) Government point of contact and phone number (and electronic or facsimile address, if appropriate).
(7) Revision to solicitation closing date, if applicable.
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