What is the difference between a BAA and an RFP?
1. The FAR references quoted below in pertinent part describe the procedures for and use of a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA).
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FAR 6.102 -- Use of Competitive Procedures
(d) Other competitive procedures.
(2) Competitive selection of basic and applied research and that part of development not related to the development of a specific system or hardware procurement is a competitive procedure if award results from --
(i) A broad agency announcement that is general in nature identifying areas of research interest, including criteria for selecting proposals, and soliciting the participation of all offerors capable of satisfying the Government’s needs; and
(ii) A peer or scientific review.
FAR 35.016 -- Broad Agency Announcement
(a) General. This paragraph prescribes procedures for the use of the broad agency announcement (BAA) with Peer or Scientific Review for the acquisition of basic and applied research and that part of development not related to the development of a specific system or hardware procurement. BAA’s may be used by agencies to fulfill their requirements for scientific study and experimentation directed toward advancing the state-of-the-art or increasing knowledge or understanding rather than focusing on a specific system or hardware solution. The BAA technique shall only be used when meaningful proposals with varying technical/scientific approaches can be reasonably anticipated.
(b) The BAA, together with any supporting documents, shall --
(1) Describe the agency’s research interest, either for an individual program requirement or for broadly defined areas of interest covering the full range of the agency’s requirements;
(2) Describe the criteria for selecting the proposals, their relative importance, and the method of evaluation;
(3) Specify the period of time during which proposals submitted in response to the BAA will be accepted; and
(4) Contain instructions for the preparation and submission of proposals
(d) Proposals received as a result of the BAA shall be evaluated in accordance with evaluation criteria specified therein through a peer or scientific review process. Written evaluation reports on individual proposals will be necessary but proposals need not be evaluated against each other since they are not submitted in accordance with a common work statement.
(e) The primary basis for selecting proposals for acceptance shall be technical, importance to agency programs, and funds availability. Cost realism and reasonableness shall also be considered to the extent appropriate.
2. The FAR references quoted below in pertinent part describe the policies and procedures for the use of a Request for Proposal (RFP) that are most relevant for a comparison with a BAA.
FAR Part 15 -- Contracting by Negotiation
FAR 15.000 -- Scope of Part.
This part prescribes policies and procedures governing competitive and noncompetitive negotiated acquisitions.
FAR 15.203 -- Requests for Proposals
(a) Requests for proposals (RFPs) are used in negotiated acquisitions to communicate Government requirements to prospective contractors and to solicit proposals. RFPs for competitive acquisitions shall, at a minimum, describe the --
(1) Government’s requirement;
(4) Factors and significant subfactors that will be used to evaluate the proposal and their relative importance.
FAR 15.302 -- Source Selection Objective
The objective of source selection is to select the proposal that represents the best value.
FAR 15.304 -- Evaluation Factors and Significant Subfactors
(b) Evaluation factors and significant subfactors must --
(1) Represent the key areas of importance and emphasis to be considered in the source selection decision; and
(2) Support meaningful comparison and discrimination between and among competing proposals
(c) The evaluation factors and significant subfactors that apply to an acquisition and their relative importance are within the broad discretion of agency acquisition officials, subject to the following requirements:
(1) Price or cost to the Government shall be evaluated in every source selection.
(2) The quality of the product or service shall be addressed in every source selection through consideration of one or more non-cost evaluation factors such as past performance, compliance with solicitation requirements, technical excellence, management capability, personnel qualifications, and prior experience.
3. In summary, as indicated by the FAR references quoted above, an RFP is used to establish the Government’s requirements for a specific system, hardware or services procurement and to solicit competitive proposals that are compliant with these requirements. As stated in FAR 15.302, the objective of the source selection is to select the proposal that represents the best value. To accomplish this objective, the evaluation of proposals in response to an RFP must support meaningful comparison and discrimination between and among competing proposals (FAR 15.304(b)(2)) and must evaluate price or cost to the Government (FAR 15.304(c)(1)).
4. On the other hand, as explained in FAR 35.016(a), a BAA is used for the acquisition of basic and applied research and for developments that are not directly related to a specific system or hardware solution, and are generally focused on scientific study and experimentation directed toward advancing the state-of-the-art or increasing knowledge or understanding. A key feature that distinguishes the BAA from an RFP is that, while written evaluation reports of individual proposals are required based on peer or scientific review of their technical merits, these proposals need not be evaluated against each other because they are not submitted in accordance with a common work statement. Another key feature that distinguishes the BAA from an RFP is that the primary basis for selecting proposals for acceptance are technical, importance to agency programs, and funds availability and that price or cost to the Government is not an evaluation factor for award. Any number of proposals may be accepted for award that can be accommodated within the overall available funding budgeted by the requiring activity for the research purposes as established in the BAA.