Is there an expressed prohibition from the evaluation team members doing a comparative evaluation of one proposal against another proposal? If there is no expressed prohibition, would this practice be construed as a violation of FAR 15.303(b)(4)? Lastly, would the inclusion of an evaluation factor in the solicitation, effectively informing offerors that the Government will conduct comparative evaluations whereby the most highly ranked proposals will be directly compared against other proposals for purposes of making a trade-off award consideration.
This response is based on the information provided. We suggest you discuss with your contracting team, program manager and/or legal department as appropriate.
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The source selection authority (SSA) shall "ensure that proposals are evaluated based solely on the factors and subfactors contained in the solicitation." [FAR 15.303(b)(4)] The evaluation team (often referred to as the Source Selection Evaluation Board or SSEB) is required to evaluate each proposal against only the factors and subfactors. That would be the express prohibition of comparing one proposal against another. The trade-off process takes place at the SSA level (or Source Selection Advisory Council or SSAC if established as part of the source selection). While the SSEB is prohibited from comparing proposals against one another, the SSA cannot make a decision as to which offeror provides the best value without comparing offers. S/he does this based on the SSEB evaluation of each offer against and against only the factors and subfactors contained in the solicitation; "Select the source or sources whose proposal is the best value to the Government." [FAR 15.303(b)(6)]
You may include a statement that states your team's intention to make a best value award using the FAR part 15 trade-off process. This statement can be in a cover letter to the solicitation and it must be in Section M of the solicitation