Procedures for Exchanges with Industry
The Federal Acquisition Regulation encourages early exchanges with industry about planned procurements. The purpose of exchanging information is to improve the understanding of government requirements and industry capabilities. This gives potential offerors an opportunity to judge whether or how they can satisfy the government's requirements, and enhances the government's ability to obtain quality supplies and services, at reasonable prices, and increase efficiency in proposal preparation, proposal evaluation, negotiation, and contract award.
However, Volpe has taken steps to ensure that these pre-solicitation exchanges with industry are conducted in a manner that provides all potential offerors fair and equal access to acquisition information. We do not want to disclose specific information relating to a proposed acquisition that would give one or more potential offerors an unfair competitive advantage. Consequently, the best way to avoid violating this restriction, or give the appearance of such a violation, is to release acquisition information in a fair and equal manner to all potential offerors, and as nearly as possible, at the same time.
Methods for Disseminating Information
Some techniques identified in the regulations to promote early exchanges of information are as follows:
- Industry or small business conferences
- Public hearings
- Pre-solicitation notices
- Draft Request for Proposals (RFPs)
- Requests for Information (RFIs)
- Pre-solicitation or pre-proposal conferences
- Market research, as described in FAR Part 10
- Site visits
- One-on-one meetings with potential offerors
Some Things to Remember
At any time, and under any of the exchange techniques listed above, general information about agency mission needs and future requirements may be disclosed. However, any information that if divulged to one or more potential offerors could create an unfair competitive advantage or give the appearance of doing so for a specific procurement, should be addressed using only those techniques that involve public exchange forums, such as techniques 1 through 6 cited above. A contracting officer will always be involved when using the techniques cited under 1 through 6 above.
Furthermore, when using techniques involving one-on-one communications, any discussions will include either a contracting officer, if identified, or an Acquisition Division manager. These sessions will consist of a one-sided exchange during which the potential offeror provides information to the government.
Particular care will be taken to ensure that either source selection or proprietary data are not disclosed, including any potential offeror's confidential business strategy.
Wall of Silence Notification
When a requirement is posted, an email message will be sent to all federal staff informing them that the requirement has been announced and that any further communication with industry will be through the contracting officer only.