What is a “Tradeoff Process”?

By Mark G. Mills, SBTDC/PTAC Program Director, North Carolina State University

So, how many times have you heard a contracting officer use the term “Best Value”?

What exactly is a Tradeoff Process (FAR 15.101-1) when it comes to “Best Value”?

(a) A tradeoff process is appropriate when it may be in the best interest of the Government to consider award to other than the lowest priced offeror or other than the highest technically rated offeror.

(b) When using a tradeoff process, the following apply:

(1) All evaluation factors and significant subfactors that will affect contract award and their relative importance shall be clearly stated in the solicitation; and

(2) The solicitation shall state whether all evaluation factors other than cost or price, when combined, are significantly more important than, approximately equal to, or significantly less important than cost or price.

(c) This process permits tradeoffs among cost or price and non-cost factors and allows the Government to accept other than the lowest priced proposal. The perceived benefits of the higher priced proposal shall merit the additional cost, and the rationale for tradeoffs must be documented in the file in accordance with 15.406.

I encourage any business owner who is doing business with the Department of Defense to read the following US GAO report, GAO – 14 – 584 – “Defense Contracting – Factors DOD Considers When Choosing Best Value Processes Are Consistent with Guidance for Selected Acquisitions“.

“The Department of Defense (DoD) used two best value processes-tradeoff and lowest price technically acceptable (LPTA) – for approximately 93 percent of the 2,851 new, competitively awarded contracts awarded in fiscal year 2013 with obligations greater than $1 million”.

Reference Federal Acquisition Regulation – Part 15 – Contracting By Negotiation

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