What happens when two or more offerors respond to an RFQ and have the same total price? Additionally, what happens if this price is the lowest price of all submissions, and the evaluation criteria is LPTA? How can an awardee be chosen?
Three strategies to consider to choose awardees when two or more offerors respond to an RFQ and have the same total price are:
- follow the procedures in FAR 14.408-6
- Insert clause FAR 52.214-22, which allows the Contracting Officer to achieve cost savings by competing orders for various line items among multiple offerors
- Conduct discussions and allow the competitors to submit a final proposal submission
According to FAR 13.106-2 (3)(b):
Evaluation procedures. (1) The contracting officer has broad discretion in fashioning suitable evaluation procedures. The procedures prescribed in FAR parts 14 and 15 are not mandatory. At the contracting officer’s discretion, one or more, but not necessarily all, of the evaluation procedures in FAR parts 14 or 15 may be used.
Using the evaluation procedures in FAR part 14, when two or more offerors respond to an RFQ and have the same total price the order of priority is (1) Small business concerns that are also labor surplus area concerns, (2) Other small business concerns, and (3) Other business concerns. If two or more bidders remain equally eligible the award shall be made by a drawing by lot limited to those bidders. If time permits, the bidders involved shall be allowed to attend the drawing. The drawing shall be witnessed by at least three persons, and the contract file shall contain the names and addresses of the witnesses and the person supervising the drawing. The contracting officer shall include a written agreement in the contract that the contractor will perform, or cause to be performed, the contract under the circumstances justifying the priority used to break the tie or select bids for a drawing by lot (FAR 14.408-6).
The clause at FAR 52.214-22 allows the Contracting Officer to achieve cost savings by competing orders for various line items among multiple offerors, which is another strategy to consider when two or more offerors respond to an RFQ and have the same total price.
Negotiations can be used as another strategy to resolve a tie. “When negotiations are conducted in a competitive acquisition, they take place after establishment of the competitive range and are called discussions” (FAR 15.306(d)). Discussions should only be conducted if it is stated in the solicitation that the government may conduct discussions before the contract award. Contracting Officers may discuss aspects of the offeror’s proposal that may be improved or explained to increase the potential for the award (FAR 15.306(d)(3)). The resulting Final Proposal Revision (FPR) may result in price differences if the offerors choose to change their initial proposals.
Note: We suggest you also consider Standard Operating Procedures, Directives, guidance, and the like at your organization.