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Chapter 24 - Requests for Proposals and Competitive Negotiations

24.5 Preparing an RFP

24.5.5 Preparing the evaluation criteria and evaluation process

The PPT and/or ET creates the evaluation criteria used to review and evaluate proposal responses with the purpose of collecting the data needed to agree on a selection in a fair and competitive environment. The evaluation criteria used to assess proposals consists of the factors that reflect the areas of importance to an agency in its selection decision.

Through the evaluation factors, the ET is able to assess similarities, differences, strengths and weaknesses of competing proposals and, ultimately, use that assessment in making a sound source selection decision. A well-integrated evaluation scheme provides consistency, discipline, and rationality to the source selection process. Evaluation shall be based on the evaluation factors set forth in the RFP. Factors not specified in the RFP shall not be considered in determining supplier selection.

Written evaluation criteria that are measurable and objective shall be used as the standard for assessing proposals. Convert “feel good” objectives into observable, measurable criteria. Identifying the evaluation criteria prior to developing the RFP and tailoring the RFP around the evaluation criteria will ensure an expedited review of proposals. All PPT and/or ET members must agree with the weighting assigned in the evaluation matrix.

The evaluation criteria should be completed before the RFP is posted. In the event a numerical scoring system will be used in the evaluation of proposals, the point values assigned to each of the evaluation criteria shall be included in the RFP or posted at the location designated for public posting of procurement notices prior to the due date and time for receiving proposals. See Section 2.2- 4302.2(A)(3) of the Code of Virginia. Procurement personnel need to be mindful of the number of evaluation criteria and ensure that key criteria, such as supplier experience, receive an appropriate weight.

Evaluation criteria should be tailored to each acquisition and include only factors which have a direct impact on source selection. The nature and types of evaluation criteria to be used for an acquisition are within the broad discretion of the procuring agency. In supporting the best-value concept, price or cost must be an evaluation factor in every source selection.

Contracts can only be awarded at costs or prices that have been determined to be fair and reasonable. The evaluation of cost or price may include not only consideration of the cost or price to be paid to the supplier, but other costs that a project may incur as a result of awarding the contract (i.e., total project life-cycle cost). Examples of these costs include re- training costs, system or software conversion costs, power consumption, life cycle costs including out-year maintenance and support, and transportation costs. In these cases, the RFP should clearly identify these other costs that will be considered in the evaluation.

Non-cost factors address the evaluation areas associated with technical and business management aspects of the proposal. Examples of non-cost factors include technical and business management related areas, such as technical approach and understanding, capabilities and key personnel, transition plans, management plan, management risk, and resources. The level of quality needed or required in performance of the contract is an important consideration in structuring non-cost factors. Past performance, supplier business maturity and service quality should be included in the evaluation criteria but may be included as non-cost factors.

Another example of non-cost evaluation criteria is whether the proposer employs people with disabilities that will perform the specifications of the contract. Pursuant to § 2.2-4302.2(A)(3) of the Code of Virginia, a public body may include a proposer’s employment of disabilities to perform the specifications of the contract as a factor in evaluating the proposal. See Chapter 7 for more information on how VITA is supports the Commonwealth’s socioeconomic initiatives.

The business owner, working with the PPT and/or ET, must determine the evaluation criteria and address how the pricing model (if applicable) will be applied. The evaluation shall be based on best-value methodology, but broad discretion is allowed when selecting evaluation criteria as long as the criteria are relevant to the project. It is strongly recommended that most RFP procurements be solution-based (i.e., define the problem and allow suppliers to submit proposed solutions). Carefully consider the necessity of including mandatory (must- have) requirements which may limit the number of qualified suppliers who can respond to the RFP. Each criteria used shall be defined in the RFP with enough information for the supplier to understand how the successful supplier(s) will be determined. It is recommended that the ET establish rules for how to deal with a situation when the team cannot reach a consensus at any point in the evaluation process.

The agreed-upon evaluation criteria are confidential to the procuring agency, members of the executive steering committee (if one is used), and the procurement project team and/or the evaluation team at all times.

Note: For cloud solicitations, the ECOS Assessment questionnaire submitted with proposals is not to be shared with the evaluation team or evaluated. The ECO Assessment should only be shared with the SPOC, the agency AITR, the agency Information Security Officer, and agency end user, if necessary. It is highly confidential to the offeror and may never be publicly disclosed, nor included in any resulting contract.

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