First of all, if an offeror (8a) enters into a subcontract with another company and submits proposal as PRIME/SUBCONTRACT relationship, is this the same as an offeror (8a) entering into a Teaming Agreement/Teaming Arrangement with another company and submitting their proposal???? The reason for this question is because this has an impact on the way in which the Company Experience and Past Performance evaluation factors are to be evaluated. If the offeror is proposing a prime/subcontractor relationship, does the panel review the prime contractors experience and past performance---since they are the 8a or do they have to consider the subcontractor experience and past peformance as well? If the prime has no experience or very little and they are relying on their subcontractor for their experience, can the evaluation panel give them an "unsatisfactory" for company experience and "neutral" for past performance since the prime has no experience or should they receive a lower rating since there is risk involved with this scenario. This same question applies to Teaming Agreements. If the offeror has a teaming agreement with another company, does the panel have to consider the 2 companies as one since they are teaming together???? Or is this relationship the same as Prime/Subcontract relationship??? Also, if they are proposing as a "Team" should a Teaming Agreement be included with their proposal that outlines the teaming arrangement. If it's not included, is this a deficiency?
This question as written is actually two questions. The first part has to do with definitions of teaming versus subcontracting, and the second part has to do with evaluation of prime contractors with teammates on their proposed program team. The responses are provided accordingly.
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Teaming (Teaming Agreement; Teammates; program Team): Two or more companies considering whether to bid on an upcoming procurement will often determine that their proposal will receive a higher evaluation score if they bid together. When this decision is made, one company has to designate as the Prime Contractor (with whom the government will actually execute a contract, should they win). The remaining company(ies) will be designated as prospective subcontractors.
The companies in this context will often execute a Teaming Agreement, which is a pre-award agreement (i.e. put in place usually before proposals are submitted to the government, and definitely before a contract award decision is made by the government.)
This Teaming Agreement will address pre-award considerations that the parties involved have to agree upon to ensure their submitting a proposal together will not only optimize their team's chances of winning the contract, but also ensure that the prospective subcontractor will receive a subcontract that is rewarding enough for the company to support the bid process with the prime contractor. The Teaming Agreement is an Agreement, NOT a full subcontract. It addresses such topics as which company is prime; which is subcontractor; what scope of work/areas of expertise will be assigned to each company as the lead to perform, who pays for bid and proposal expenses, and any unique items that the parties are worried about during the pre-award stage. The Teaming Agreement typically will also commit the prime contractor to awarding a subcontract to the other company if the prime contractor receives a contract award from the government. Normally the Teaming Agreement "expires" when the prime contractor receives either a contract award from the government, or a notice that some other company/team won.
The subcontract will be issued/negotiated between the prime contractor and subcontractor AFTER the prime contractor has finalized all details of their contract agreement with the government. Usually this happens after the government has awarded a contract to the prime; more rarely the prime will put a "conditional" subcontract into place prior to their actual receipt of a contract award from the government.
Note that the prime contractor may have one OR MORE teammates/prospective subcontractors. Note also that a prospective subcontractor may choose to team with one or more prime contractors, if the government procurement does not prohibit it, and their individual agreement with each prospective prime contractor does not require an exclusive arrangement.
Evaluation of Contractor Teams in a competitive procurement.
Your evaluation of the teams, their teaming agreements, and past performance of same must tie to the criteria you specified in your RFP.
Typically your evaluation criteria (technical, management, past performance, quality) are designed to assist in evaluating the risk associated with selecting a particular contractor.
Your assessment should include not only technical expertise, but also management skills - for their company, as well as their project management skills inclusive of their expertise in managing subcontractors. Their proposal management section (if you required one) should address these items.
Additionally, your request for past performance information ideally would have requested references on programs representative of the anticipated program, i.e. if there will be a prime contractor with subcontractors to manage, their past performance would include information on their (prime and subcontractors') technical expertise for critical areas, AND the prime's past performance on managing subcontractors.
In the event the offeror's proposals do not contain the information requested in the past performance on their capabilities to MANAGE the program as well as technically perform, then you must consider whether you need to hold discussions with the offerors. Reference FAR 15.209. Did you include FAR 52.215 Alternate 1 permitting the government to hold discussions? If not, you need to consider whether you need to amend your solicitation to clarify your requirements, revise the information you need from all offerors, permit discussions, and permit revised proposals to be submitted.
Regarding your final question on technical capability within the TEAM, but not within the prime contractor, you need to review your approach to risk assessment of that team. If your assessment is the Team can successfully perform, even though many of the high priority technical skills reside with one of the proposed subcontractors, then you would rate that team accordingly. If your assessment is one or more of the proposed subcontractors holds the requisite high priority technical skills BUT the prime contractor does not have the requisite program management/subcontract management skills to ensure the team can perform successfully together, then you would rate that team accordingly.
Your question implies you are conducting a small business 8(a) set aside competition. It also implies the small business prime contractor may have large business prospective subcontractors. If this is the case, your evaluation must also address whether the prime is actually performing 50% or more of the labor on the program (reference FAR 19.508(e) and FAR 52.219-14 Limitation on Subcontracting).