Submission Evaluations and Debriefs
Information to help vendors understand the evaluation process and the importance of debrief meetings.
Evaluating submissions to a competitive procurement process depends on the type and complexity of the solicitation. Understanding how your submission was evaluated will provide key insights into why you were successful or unsuccessful in the solicitation, and will also help you make improvements on future submissions.
In a price-based solicitation, such as an Invitation to Quote (ITQ) or Invitation to Tender (ITT), the award is usually made to the lowest compliant bidder. As a vendor, it’s absolutely essential that you not only meet all the mandatory requirements, but also all the specifications. Timelines for determining the successful bidder depend on how long it takes to confirm that the lowest bid is compliant.
Refer to Evaluation Overview When Awarding to the Lowest Price for the guidance provided to government staff for these types of solicitations.
Evaluations for scored solicitations, such as Request for Proposals (RFP), Short-form Request for Proposals (SRFP) and Request for Qualifications (RFQ), will usually take longer than for those that are solely price-based. An evaluation handbook is developed before the opportunity close date and used to score all submissions against the pre-determined criteria. Those submissions that meet or exceed what’s expected will generally score higher.
When responding to a scored solicitation, remember that the evaluators can only consider what you include in your submission. If you have worked with the government office issuing the solicitation before, do not assume that they will consider what they know about your capacity or expertise unless you include it in your submission. Refer to section 5 of the Responding to Government RFPs: A Proponent Guide to the Revised RFP Corporate Template for information about what to include in submissions.
The timelines to complete the evaluations can vary considerably, depending on how much information was requested for submissions and the availability of the evaluation team. Do not be surprised if it takes weeks – or even months – before the entire evaluation process is complete.
Refer to Evaluation Overview When Awarding to the Highest Score(s) for the guidance provided to government staff.
Debriefs For Scored Solicitations
Knowing why you were or were not successful in a competitive solicitation is a helpful and useful step in the solicitation process. You cannot learn from your experience unless you have a good understanding of what happened.
When you participate in a price-based solicitation, the reasons for the award are usually quite clear – the winning bidder had a compliant bid with the lowest price. If you think that your price was lower than the winning bid, ask the government contact person why you were not successful. It may be that you missed a mandatory requirement or did not fully comply with the specifications, and therefore your bid was not compliant.
Scored solicitations rely on many factors – not just price – to determine who is successful, in accordance to the process described. A debrief meeting can give you the information to help you understand how your submission was evaluated against the scored criteria, whether or not you were awarded the contract.
A debrief session is a private meeting between you and the government office that issued the solicitation. It is an opportunity to gain valuable insights into how you can improve your submissions in the future, and what strengths you demonstrated. You can ask virtually anything you like about the evaluation of your own submission or the process generally. Refer to the Guidance for the Release of Information &/or Documents Related to Competitive Procurement Opportunities for more on what can be routinely released if you ask, and what would need a formal request before it’s released.
Consider always asking for a debrief session after participating in a scored solicitation process (even if you were successful). If one is not offered, ask the government contact named in the solicitation anyways. Most government offices will allow you to attend via phone, if it's not convenient for you to meet in person. You should send someone from your organization that knows your submission well, and who can take notes that will be used to improve future submissions. Come prepared with questions that will help you to understand what happened.
Refer to Debriefs for the guidance provided to government staff on offering and conducting these meetings