48 CFR 35.007 - Solicitations.
(a) The submission and subsequent evaluation of an inordinate number of R&D proposals from sources lacking appropriate qualifications is costly and time-consuming to both industry and the Government. Therefore, contracting officers should initially distribute solicitations only to sources technically qualified to perform research or development in the specific field of science or technology involved. Cognizant technical personnel should recommend potential sources that appear qualified, as a result of -
(1) Present and past performance of similar work;
(2) Professional stature and reputation;
(3) Relative position in a particular field of endeavor;
(4) Ability to acquire and retain the professional and technical capability, including facilities, required to perform the work; and
(5) Other relevant factors.
(b) Proposals generally shall be solicited from technically qualified sources, including sources that become known as a result of synopses or other means of publicizing requirements. If it is not practicable to initially solicit all apparently qualified sources, only a reasonable number need be solicited. In the interest of competition, contracting officers shall furnish copies of the solicitation to other apparently qualified sources.
(c) Solicitations shall require offerors to describe their technical and management approach, identify technical uncertainties, and make specific proposals for the resolution of any uncertainties. The solicitation should require offerors to include in the proposal any planned subcontracting of scientific or technical work (see 35.009).
(d) Solicitations may require that proposals be organized so that the technical portions can be efficiently evaluated by technical personnel (see 15.204-5(b)). Solicitation and evaluation of proposals should be planned to minimize offerors' and Government expense.
(e) R&D solicitations should contain evaluation factors to be used to determine the most technically competent (see 15.304), such as -
(1) The offeror's understanding of the scope of the work;
(2) The approach proposed to accomplish the scientific and technical objectives of the contract or the merit of the ideas or concepts proposed;
(3) The availability and competence of experienced engineering, scientific, or other technical personnel;
(4) The offeror's experience;
(5) Pertinent novel ideas in the specific branch of science and technology involved; and
(6) The availability, from any source, of necessary research, test, laboratory, or shop facilities.
(f) In addition to evaluation factors for technical competence, the contracting officer shall consider, as appropriate, management capability (including cost management techniques), experience and past performance, subcontracting practices, and any other significant evaluation criteria (e.g., unrealistically low cost estimates in proposals for cost-reimbursement or fixed-price incentive contracts). Although cost or price is not normally the controlling factor in selecting a contractor to perform R&D, it should not be disregarded in arriving at a selection that best satisfies the Government's requirement at a fair and reasonable cost.
(g) The contracting officer should ensure that potential offerors fully understand the details of the work, especially the Government interpretation of the work statement. If the effort is complex, the contracting officer should provide potential offerors an opportunity to comment on the details of the requirements as contained in the work statement, the contract Schedule, and any related specifications. This may be done at a preproposal conference (see 15.201).
(h) If it is appropriate to do so, solicitations should permit offerors to propose an alternative contract type (see 16.103).
(i) In circumstances when a concern has a new idea or product to discuss that incorporates the results of independent R&D work funded by the concern in the private sector and is of interest to the Government, there should be no hesitancy to discuss it; however, the concern should be warned that the Government will not be obligated by the discussion. Under such circumstances, it may be appropriate to negotiate directly with the concern without competition. Also see subpart 15.6 concerning unsolicited proposals.
(j) The Government may issue an exploratory request to determine the existence of ideas or prior work in a specific field of research. Any such request shall clearly state that it does not impose any obligation on the Government or signify a firm intention to enter into a contract.