Is delivery time a valid factor when evaluating quotes? Is it a valid determination to use the next highest vendor because they can meet the required delivery and installation time frame?
FAR 13.106-2 -- Evaluation of Quotations or Offers.
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(1) The contracting officer shall evaluate quotations or offers --
(i) In an impartial manner; and
(ii) Inclusive of transportation charges from the shipping point of the supplier to the delivery destination.
(2) Quotations or offers shall be evaluated on the basis established in the solicitation.
(3) All quotations or offers shall be considered (see paragraph (b) of this subsection).
(b) Evaluation procedures.
(1) The contracting officer has broad discretion in fashioning suitable evaluation procedures. The procedures prescribed in parts 14 and 15 are not mandatory. At the contracting officer’s discretion, one or more, but not necessarily all, of the evaluation procedures in Part 14 or 15 may be used.
FAR 14.301 -- Responsiveness of Bids.
(a) To be considered for award, a bid must comply in all material respects with the invitation for bids. Such compliance enables bidders to stand on an equal footing and maintain the integrity of the sealed bidding system.
A request for quotation (RFQ) is a standard business process whose purpose is to invite suppliers into a bidding process to bid on specific products or services. A RFQ generally means the same thing as IFB (Invitation For Bid). An RFQ typically involves the price per item, payment terms, level of quality, and contract length.
Similar to FAR Subsection 14.301, shown above, the responsiveness of a quote is determined when the quote is received by the contracting officer. In order to be found responsive a quote must comply in all material respects with the RFQ. This means that the quoter must be willing to comply with all of the essential requirements of the solicitation. If a quoter takes exception to any of these essential requirements in his quote, the quote will be rejected as non-responsive and award can be made to the next lowest quoter who is both responsive and responsible.
The four most common suspected areas of non-responsiveness go to issues of price, quantity, quality, or performance time. As in this case the solicitation requested a time period of 30 days for delivery and installation. Since the contractor with the lowest price wrote in its offer they could not finish within 30 days and, alternatively, proposed a delivery and installation time of between 6-8 weeks, their quote is non-responsive. A non-responsive quote will almost always be rejected.
So, in this case, the contracting office should be able make the award to the next low offeror who met the 30 day requirement