DOD seeks to mandate explanations for unsuccessful small contractors

By John Liang / August 10, 2023 at 2:15 PM

The Pentagon wants to tweak the acquisition rules to require explanations to companies who lose certain defense contracts worth less than $6 million.

The requirement is mandated by language in the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, "which, for task orders or delivery orders exceeding the simplified acquisition threshold (SAT) but not greater than $6 million, requires contracting officers to provide, upon written request from an unsuccessful offeror, a brief explanation as to why the offeror was unsuccessful, including the rationale for award and an evaluation of the significant weak or deficient factors in the offeror's offer," according to a Federal Register notice published this week.

"While the statutory threshold is $5.5 million, this rule is imposing these debriefing requirements at the higher $6 million threshold to align with the current threshold at [Federal Acquisition Regulation] 16.505(b)(6)," the Aug. 9 Defense Department notice states. "This avoids a gap between $5.5 million and $6 million. This new debriefing requirement for orders above the SAT and below $6 million does not provide a debriefing at the level of detail currently afforded to unsuccessful awardees over $6 million, however, this information is expected to benefit entities by improving future offers.

"While not expressly required by the statute, the proposed rule adds a postaward notification requirement for the applicable task orders and delivery orders to ensure unsuccessful awardees are provided an opportunity to obtain the debriefing information in a timely manner," the notice continues.

DOD says it expects the proposed rule "to increase the availability of debriefing information to significantly more small and large entities participating in fair opportunity competitions than is currently required by the FAR. When requested by an unsuccessful awardee, the information provided is expected to enable these entities to improve future offers."