These guidelines offer assistance in the evaluation of proposals received in response to Request for Proposals (RFP). The project/service requested from the vendors must have an estimated cost greater than $25,000. Remember, these are taxpayers’ dollars. Evaluation Committee members’ review of proposals must be conducted individually and professionally. Evaluation Committee members must follow meticulously the established evaluation format and be able to evaluate all proposals objectively and without bias. One of the most important elements in the evaluation process is the assurance that each offeror is treated fairly and equally. Each state defines Competitive Sealed Proposals and outlines the rules for solicitation and subsequent award. In El Paso County, CO, the Procurement & Contracts Department personnel have the training and experience to facilitate and/or participate in the entire RFP process.
Evaluation Committee members must conduct themselves with complete confidentiality. Confidentiality is both a legal and ethical requirement and is vital to fair, equitable evaluation of the proposals. Members must not discuss the contents of the proposals with anyone. Please remember that the proposals (1) may contain proprietary information, (2) usually list names of the key personnel proposed for the project, and (3) outline a fee schedule that will be used to negotiate a final contract price.
Participants will be required to sign a Disclosure Statement that identifies you as an Evaluation Committee member. This statement outlines members’ responsibilities during the evaluation process. Members also acknowledge that they will not have any contact with any of the vendors submitting proposals with regard to this specific RFP.
Most proposals are evaluated in two stages:
First, the submitted proposals are reviewed in accordance with their compliance with the RFP requirements as outlined in the RFP. Once presented to members , the proposals must remain confidential. Members will be responsible for returning the proposals to the Procurement Specialist at the end of the evaluation process. The selection criterion is typically based on the following information: (1) Completeness, (2) Qualifications, (3) Experience, (4) Key Personnel, (5) Project/Service Approach, (6) References, and (7) Fee Schedule. Each proposal must be scored by multiplying the maximum points assigned to each of the RFP criterion on the Proposal Evaluation Matrix by the rating each member determines it deserves.
Members should give considerable thought to the rating awarded. The evaluation process is designed to value the judgment and assessment of each individual evaluator. As an evaluator, your scores must reflect your individual judgment based on the selection criteria.
You must complete your evaluation and score each proposal prior to attending the Evaluation Committee meeting. At this meeting the fee schedule will be presented to you for evaluation and scoring. Discussion among the evaluators is encouraged to ensure the best value for the entity is achieved. The scores will then be tabulated and totaled. The highest scoring offeror(s) may be required to be interviewed by the Evaluation Committee.
The interview/presentation is the second stage of the process. It is not mandatory; however, it is a good tool for the Evaluation Committee to use in its evaluation. It gives you a chance to meet the key personnel proposed to work with the entity personnel. It is subjective and is not scored. You will be asked to rank the firms interviewed after all the interviews are completed. Remember that the interviews must also be treated with confidentiality. Presentations are not discussed or compared between
presentations. You may have questions prepared and submitted to the offerors prior to the interviews to allow them to prepare responses or clarifications. At the end of the interviews, the Evaluation Committee will have a discussion and do a final ranking of the proposals. The highest ranked proposal will be recommended (through the Procurement & Contracts Department) to the Board of County Commissioners (or other ruling body) for approval and award of contract.
At the end of most evaluations, there is a winner and, in most cases, more than one loser. After a contract is awarded, vendors who were not selected may request a debriefing. Members of the Evaluation Committee may, and should, attend the debriefing hosted by the Procurement & Contracts Department. A debriefing with the vendor usually is held to discuss the proposal’s particular strengths and weaknesses and possibly how it could be improved for future RFPs.
If you agree to attend a debriefing, you should follow these instructions:
- Speak only for yourself, expressing your judgment and perceptions.
- Keep the views of other evaluators, scores and rankings (including your own), and evaluation discussions confidential.
- In no way will the debriefing be a vehicle to obtain additional information from the vendors or to change your ranking.
The evaluation process is time-consuming, difficult work that is recognized and appreciated. The entity values committee members’ judgment, professionalism, and integrity. Members make this process better by recognizing its importance to the entity and the citizens it serves.
Editor’s Note: Gina Abbott, CPPB, Director, Procurement & Contracts Department, El Paso County, CO, presents these guideline to participants of Evaluation Committees. The guidelines follow Colorado Revised Statute 24-103-203, but have been edited for the national Government Procurement readership.