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Oral Presentations
By Anonymous on Monday, December 04, 2000 - 04:41 pm:

After administering contracts for years, I've now been assigned to preaward. I've read most of the posts on oral presentations but still do not completely understand the "how to". I would like to have some information to be submitted in writing and some verbally. Would it be acceptable to evaluate both under the same factor? For example, have the offerors submit resumes and then evaluate the capability of the personnel based on the resume (looks good in writing) and the personnel's knowledge as demonstrated in the oral presentation. The factor in this case would be personnel capability.

By Vern Edwards on Monday, December 04, 2000 - 05:43 pm:


Yes, it would be okay to evaluate personnel capability on the basis of both resumes and oral presentations. FAR does not prohibit it.

Use the information in the resumes to evaluate the proposed personnel's experience and past performance and the oral presentations to evaluate their understanding of the work. Experience, past performance, and understanding of the work would thus be subfactors of personnel capability.

Your RFP should describe the relative importance of each of the personnel capability subfactors.

By Anonymous on Tuesday, December 05, 2000 - 07:45 am:

What if I also have a technical plan submitted and during the oral presentation I want the offerors to address specific topics which would be more in depth than what was asked for in the plan or something that they weren't asked to address in the plan, but which would lead to total understanding of the plan by the evaluators. The factor would be plan viability. Could I evaluate the viability of the plan based on the written technical plan and on the oral presentation? Thus, I would be using the oral presentation to evaluate two different subfactors: personnel capability and plan viability. Is this acceptable?

By Vern Edwards on Tuesday, December 05, 2000 - 08:02 am:


Before I can answer you I need some more information.

Why are you asking for a written technical plan? Do you intend to make the plan a part of the contract so that it will be binding, or do you want it for some other reason? On what basis are you going to evaluate the plan? What's the evaluation factor?

By Anonymous on Tuesday, December 05, 2000 - 10:54 am:

The plan will be made a part of the contract. The evaluation factor would be capability. Plan viability would be the subfactor.

By Vern Edwards on Tuesday, December 05, 2000 - 11:39 am:


Since you intend to make the plan a part of the contract, my advice is to avoid addressing it during oral presentations. In doing so you might inadvertently allow an offeror to orally revise its plan or state its intention to do so. Such an exchange about prospectively binding promises would almost certainly constitute discussions and require you to conduct discussions with all offerors in a competitive range.

FAR 15.102 says that statements that will be included in the contract must be put in writing. Although FAR does not prohibit you from addressing such things in oral presentations, I believe that oral presentations should not be used in that way. They are best reserved for the presentation of information pertaining to offeror capability that will not be incorporated into the contract.

By Anonymous on Tuesday, December 05, 2000 - 01:16 pm:

I understand. What if a plan is not made part of a contract, but you still want a plan submitted in writing as part of the proposal? Could you then ask for the offerors to address topics which would be more in depth than what was required in writing and use both the oral and written to evaluate how effective the approach proposed would be in procuding a quality outcome?

By Vern Edwards on Tuesday, December 05, 2000 - 04:13 pm:


Yes, and I think that would be a better approach than making the plan a part of the contract. And I would skip the written plan entirely. Why do both?

Require each offeror to have its proposed key personnel present their plan and use their presentation to test their understanding of your requirement. This should be a capability subfactor. Ask the presenters questions to probe the depth of their knowledge.

State in the RFP that because you are using the presentations as tests you will not discuss the presentations if you decide to conduct discussions. The GAO has approved that approach.

By joel hoffman on Wednesday, December 06, 2000 - 12:39 am:

Anon and Vern, Why ask for a written plan at all, if it won't become part of the contract? You can have the plan presented dural the oral presentation...

By Vern Edwards on Wednesday, December 06, 2000 - 08:02 am:


That's the same question that I asked. Check the second and third sentences of my last message.

By Peggy Richter on Wednesday, December 06, 2000 - 11:02 am:

out of curiosity, if one were getting a tech proposal that was to be incorporated into the contract, couldn't you ask WHY a particular approach was used during orals? I am thinking mainly of RDT&E where there might be more than one means of solving a problem and the contractor's technical approach is critical. For example, if a weight critical item is proposed to be made out of carved plastics vs metals there are plusses and minuses to that approach and one might very much want the contractor to show depth of understanding the situation by orally explaining what they did/did not consider in making their choice. The first (plastic vs metal) would be part of the contract, but the WHY would not - but would be a significant plus for the Govt to know if the contractor really does understand what they are doing.

By Vern Edwards on Wednesday, December 06, 2000 - 12:13 pm:


Yes, you could ask why an approach was used, and that question would be clarification, not discussion, as long as you didn't let the offeror change its proposal. We have GAO case law to that effect, in the Development Alternatives, Inc. decision of a couple of years ago.

However, in my opinion it's not a good idea to use oral presentations as a way to make inquiries about statements that are to be made a part of the contract. I don't think that oral presentations should be used as a forum for clarifications or discussions about previously submitted proposal information. I think it's too risky and that an agency can too easily cross the line into discussions.

I want to make it clear that this is my personal approach. The FAR does not prohibit obtaining clarification during an oral presentation, as the Development Alternatives decision demonstrates. You can even combine oral presentations with discussions. I just don't think it's a good idea, for reasons that I have explained in the past.

By joel hoffman on Thursday, December 07, 2000 - 12:02 am:

I believe I'd use orals to have the offerors demonstrate their understanding of contract requirements and for me to judge their skills or qualifications; I'd steer away from duplicating or clarifying their written proposals. Just my preference. If I want to know their proposed technical approach - and if I want that part of the proposal to be incorporated into the contract - I'll ask for it in the written material. I personally think it a waste of time to ask someone to provide an oral technical approach. That's a meaningless sales pitch, which I can't hold them to later. Happy Sails! Joel

By Peggy Richter on Thursday, December 07, 2000 - 11:18 am:

What I was trying to get to isn't in my mind clarifications. The Government might well understand exactly what the contractor is proposing to do. What the orals would be for in my scenario would be to demonstrate that the contractor does, in fact, understand the plusses/ minuses to their particular approach and has the competence to deal with the known and theoretically the unknown issues that will arise (in RDT&E it's the rare case where everything goes as planned). In other words, the intent of the orals would be to determine if the contractor has enough "depth" of competence to really accomplish what they have said they will do. In my mind, that was pretty much what Oral presentations were intended to do.

By Vern Edwards on Thursday, December 07, 2000 - 12:10 pm:


I think it's pretty clear that you can use oral presentations for the purpose that you describe. It's simply my personal preference not to conduct oral presentations about an offeror's offer, that is, about the things that will become a part of the contract. I say that because I want to maintain a sharp distinction between oral presentations, on the one hand, and discussions or clarifications, on the other.

But I don't think that there is anything wrong about your idea.

By Eric Ottinger on Thursday, December 07, 2000 - 12:22 pm:


There is an excellent Air Force prepared guide available on the Deskbook.


Put "oral presentations" into the search. Look under "Air Force Documents."

One issue that hasn't been raised in this discussion is the need to document the oral presentation.

See J&J Maintenance, Inc. B-284708.2; B-284708.3, June 5, 2000.

“In this regard, we rely primarily on the documentation required by the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). Specifically, FAR §15.305(a) requires agencies to document in the contract file the relative strengths, deficiencies, significant weaknesses, and risks supporting proposal evaluation. Of particular relevance to this case, FAR §15.102(e) requires the contracting officer to maintain a record of oral presentations to document what the agency relied upon in making the source selection decision. The source selection authority selects the method of recording the oral presentations, and FAR §15.102(e) gives the following examples: videotaping, audio tape recording, written record, Government notes, copies of offeror briefing slides or presentation notes. In addition, FAR §15.308 requires that a source selection decision be documented, and that the documentation include the rationale for any business judgments or tradeoffs made or relied on.”