Because this requirement was solicited on the Open Market and Unrestricted, are we required to award to the leading bidder who is a Large Business, or do we have the latitude to award to the next lowest-priced Small Business vendor? Are we required to cancel the solicitation and re-advertise as a Small Business Set Aside? What is the correct way to handle this dilemma?
You must follow the source selection criteria in your Section M in evaluating and making award decisions as to which offeror represents the best value for your requirement. You do not award to a small business in a Full and Open Competition if they are not the best value to the government given your Section M source selection evaluation criteria. Follow what you said you would do in your solicitation.
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The answer to your questions are: 1. No, you do not have the latitude to award to the next lowest-priced small business vendor since it appears to go against your evaluation criteria. 2. You are not required to cancel the solicitation and re-solicit. It appears you have a vendor that can do the requirement. 3. The correct way to handle it is to follow your Section M evaluation criteria and award appropriately.