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    What is the definition of "Advanced Electronic Testing" and does this language apply to the Two-Step Sealed Bidding Process?


    Answer

    “Advanced Electronic Testing” is not defined in the FAR or DFARS.  The following is a definition was found in a dictionary. 
    Electronic test equipment is used to create signals and capture responses from electronic devices under test (DUTs). ... Generally, more advanced test gear is necessary when developing circuits and systems than is needed when doing production testing or when troubleshooting existing production units in the field.
     
    In accordance with FAR 14.502(a), Conditions for Use, for Two-step sealed bidding, are as follows:

    14.502 -- Conditions for Use.
    (a) Unless other factors require the use of sealed bidding, two-step sealed bidding may be used in preference to negotiation when all of the following conditions are present:
    (1) Available specifications or purchase descriptions are not definite or complete or may be too restrictive without technical evaluation, and any necessary discussion, of the technical aspects of the requirement to ensure mutual understanding between each source and the Government.
    (2) Definite criteria exist for evaluating technical proposals.
    (3) More than one technically qualified source is expected to be available.
    (4) Sufficient time will be available for use of the two-step method.
    (5) A firm-fixed-price contract or a fixed-price contract with economic price adjustment will be used.
     
    The change in the NDAA is for changes in the Best Value (LPTA or Trade-off) procurement arena; which is FAR part 15.  One of these important changes severely limits the use of lowest-price technically-acceptable (“LPTA”) evaluations in Department of Defense procurements. Following the change, “best value” tradeoffs will be prioritized for DoD acquisitions. This post will briefly examine when LPTA procurements will and won’t be allowed under the 2017 NDAA.
     
    The 2017 NDAA sets a new DoD policy: to avoid using LPTA evaluations when doing so would deny DoD with the benefits of cost and technical tradeoffs. As a result, the 2017 NDAA limits the use of LPTA procurements to instances when the following six conditions are met:
    1.  DoD is able to comprehensively and clearly describe the minimum requirements expressed in terms of performance objectives, measures, and standards that will be used to determine the acceptability of offers;
    2.  DoD would recognize no (or only minimal) value from a proposal that exceeded the minimum technical or performance requirements set forth in the solicitation;
    3.  The proposed technical approaches will not require any (or much) subjective judgment by the source selection authority as to their respective desirability versus competitors;
    4.  The source selection authority is confident that reviewing the bids from the non-lowest price offeror(s) would not result in the identification of factors that could provide value or benefit to the Government;
    5.  The Contracting Officer includes written justification for use of the LPTA scheme in the contract file; and
    6.  DoD determines that the lowest price reflects full life-cycle costs, including costs for maintenance and support.
     
    By limiting DoD’s use of LPTA to procurements to instances in which these six criteria are met, the 2017 NDAA effectively mandates that for a majority of procurements, the DoD should use best value selection procedures.
    But in addition to codifying a presumption against LPTA procurements, the NDAA goes so far as to caution DoD to not use LPTA procurements under three specific types of contracts:
    1.  Contracts that predominately seek knowledge-based professional services (like information technology services, cybersecurity services, systems engineering and technical assistance services, advanced electronic testing, and audit or audit readiness services);
    2.  Contracts seeking personal protective equipment; and
    3.  Contracts for knowledge-based training or logistics services in contingency operations or other operations outside the United States (including Iraq and Afghanistan).
     
    It is advised that you coordinate with your Contracting Officer and Legal Counsel.

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