This chapter discusses two-step competitive sealed bidding for the acquisition of information technology (IT) goods and services. "Competitive sealed bidding" is the method of contractor selection set forth in § 2.2-4302.1. Two-step competitive sealed bidding is usually used when it is impractical to prepare initially a purchase description to support an award based on price. Accordingly, an Invitation to Bid may be issued requesting the submission of unpriced offers to be followed by an Invitation to Bid limited to those bidders whose offers have been qualified under the criteria set forth in the first solicitation. Two-step competitive sealed bidding should not be used for procuring Cloud Services/Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions.
Two-step competitive sealed bidding is a combination of competitive procedures designed to obtain the benefits of sealed bidding when adequate specifications are not available. The objective of two-step sealed bidding is to permit the development of a sufficiently descriptive but not unduly restrictive statement of the agency's IT requirements, including adequate technical requirements, so that subsequent acquisitions may be made by conventional sealed bidding. This method is especially useful in acquisitions requiring technical proposals, particularly those for complex IT items. The two-step competitive sealed bidding procurement method is designed to obtain the benefits of competitive sealed bidding by award of a contract to the lowest, responsive, responsible bidder while also allowing competitive sealed negotiation-like procedure through solicitation of technical offers and the conduct of discussions to arrive at technical offers. There is no negotiation in the two-step competitive bid process. Agencies may request additional information from bidders to clarify material contained in their technical proposals. Such requests for additional information should always occur before the priced bids are considered.
All other invitation for bid (IFB) procedures such as notice, form, etc., that apply to an IFB also apply to a two-step IFB and combined two-step IFB solicitation.