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    Negotiation is supposed to be conducted in accordance with FAR 15. Is it standard to issue a formal solicitation to the most highly qualified firm? Is it expected that the Government would issue an unexecuted SF-252, including solicitation provisions, requesting pricing for negotiation? Or in accordance with FAR 36.606 (b) is the request for a proposal not typically done via a standard form, but via email or letter? Does the Government typically provide a format for pricing, or is the format of the proposal left up to the contractor? As an aside, we intend to request Cost and Pricing data for analysis.


    Answer

    Some clarification in your background.  I am assuming that firms responded with the SF 330 (not the SF 33) and the evaluation of the firms technical information was completed per FAR 36.602-3 which included discussion with at least 3 of the most highly rated firms.

    Let’s start when the SF 252 shall be used.  Per FAR 36.702(a) Contracting officers must use Standard Form 252, Architect-Engineer Contract, to award fixed-price contracts for architect-engineer services when the services will be performed in the United States or its outlying areas. So when the award is done you must use the SF 252 as you cover sheet to your contract. 

    So what do you really need when issuing your solicitation to the A-E as a sole source? FAR 36.606(a) says negotiations shall be conducted in accordance with FAR part 15.  FAR  15.002 Types of negotiated acquisition states:

          (a) Sole source acquisitions. When contracting in a sole source environment, the request for proposals (RFP) should be tailored to remove unnecessary information and requirements; e.g., evaluation criteria and voluminous proposal preparation instructions.

    As for FAR 36.606(b), I do not see it addressing the issue of the format to issue the request for proposal (RFP). Just that a RFP should be requested by the contracting office from the contractor. 

    FAR 15.203(e) Requests for proposals, does permit letter RFPs in sole source acquisitions.  However, the use of a letter RFP does not relieve the contracting officer from complying with other FAR requirements. Letter RFPs should be as complete as possible and, at a minimum, should contain the following:

                (1) RFP number and date;

               (2) Name, address (including electronic address and facsimile address, if appropriate), and telephone number of the contracting officer;

               (3) Type of contract contemplated;

               (4) Quantity, description, and required delivery dates for the item;

               (5) Applicable certifications and representations;

               (6) Anticipated contract terms and conditions;

               (7) Instructions to offerors and evaluation criteria for other than sole source actions;

               (8) Proposal due date and time; and

               (9) Other relevant information; e.g., incentives, variations in delivery schedule, cost proposal support, and data requirements.

    In summary, you will need a SOW, quality standards, delivery schedule, provisions and clauses, service wage rates, instruction to offerors (including proposal requirements and due date). 

    Does the Government provide a format for pricing?  This depends on your dollar value.  If the value of your contract is $2,000,000 or more, FAR 15.403-5(b)(1) states the contractor shall submit in accordance with table 15-2 at FAR 15.408.  If you value is less than the $2,000,000, FAR 15.403(b)(2)  states is can be in the contractor format or a format of the contracting officer’s choosing. Based on experience and to assure you receive all the information you need, I would highly recommend you develop a format and the level of detail that you need from the contractor.  This will eliminate the back and forth in gathering data/information.  Suggested items to think about requesting:

    1. The labor rates (for each discipline and level junior/senior) and supporting payroll data for all position classifications anticipated to be used under the contract by the prime firm and any subcontractors. Include the basis for any escalation in labor rates for each out year % and justification.
    2. Financial data and the methodology used to calculate the proposed overhead rates for the prime firm and subcontractors. This includes the pool and the base for the current year and actuals for at least 3 previous years.  Identify costs not allowed by FAR 31.2.  How are they projecting/proposing this for the out years?  (Inflating does not apply here.). This is for prime and subcontractors.
    3. The name and address of any Government audit agency that has conducted an audit of the firm/sub within the last year or 2.
    4. Submission of cost or pricing data for proposals over $2,000,000 as required by FAR 15.403-4(a)(1), 15.403-5(b)(1) and Table 15-2 of 15.408.
    5. Certificate of Current Cost or Pricing Data if the negotiated price exceeds $2,000,000 (FAR 15.406-2). The certificate should not be executed and submitted until negotiations are completed.
    6. Executed Representations, Certifications and Other Statements of Offeror. (Note: Contractors must complete the most common representations and certifications through the Online Representations and Certifications Application.)
    7. Generally on an IDIQ contact profit is not negotiated until the task order.
    8. Subcontracting plan for the utilization of SB and SDB if the prime firm is a large business and the contract is expected to exceed $750,000 (FAR 19.702(a)(1) and 19.704).

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