When entering discussions, can the vendor come back and ask questions of the government? If so, do I have to share the answers with all the offerors?
Discussions are exchanges with the offerors in the competitive range and are held with the intent of having the offeror revise their proposal. FAR 15.306 (d) states that negotiations are called discussions when they occur after the establishment of the competitive range. During discussions, bargaining may occur where there is a give and take from either party. Part of the discussions and bargaining include the offeror asking questions of the government.
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The contracting officer should make the decision as to what information should be released to the other offerors in the competitive range. Should an issue arise which could impact the proposals submitted by the other offerors, then the contracting officer should consider releasing that information or amending the solicitation. FAR 15.306 (e) lists the limits on exchanges.
In essence, the government shall not release any information which favors one offeror over another, or reveals any information about an offerors technical solution, pricing, or past performance.