Evaluation Criteria is the standards by which accomplishments of required technical and operational effectiveness and/or suitability characteristics or resolution of operational issues may be assessed. The criteria will normally be stated in Section M of a Request for Proposal (RFP) and the Source Selection Plan (SSP).

See DoD Source Selection Procedures for Section M and SSP Input

Evaluation criteria are the factors an agency uses to determine which of several competing proposals submitted in response to an RFP would best meet the agency’s needs.  In establishing effective evaluation criteria, an agency must clearly identify the factors relevant to its selection of a vendor and then prioritize or weight the factors according their importance in satisfying the agency’s needs in the procurement.  Together, the proper identification and weighing of the evaluation criteria along with a consensus on the meanings of the criteria will form a SSP that will provide the agency with a common standard by which to judge the merit of competing proposals.  This allows the agency to rank the proposals received while simultaneously providing offeror’s with a fair basis for comparison. [1]

Evaluation Criteria offer potential offeror’s a fair and equitable method of having their proposal reviewed and considered as a potential solution in a consistent and similar manner as their competitors.  They also provide evaluators with a clear and concise method of identifying the competent offeror’s and allow the agency to rank the proposals and ultimately select the best value.[1]

Establish Evaluation Criteria
Before writing the RFP, establish the evaluation criteria by clearly identifying the factors relevant to selection of a contractor.  Then prioritize or weight the factors according their importance in satisfying the agency’s needs in the procurement. [1]

Evaluation criteria should be individually tailored to each RFP. For criteria to be effective, they should have the following characteristics: [1]

  • Clear: not subject to multiple interpretations, not ambiguous
  • Relative: all key elements of the project requirements must relate to the requirement definition and be covered by evaluation criteria
  • Discriminating: separate best, average and weaker proposals
  • Non-discriminatory: fair and reasonable
  • Realistic: given the nature or value of the contract
  • Measurable:  must have distinguishing importance
  • Economical: use of the criteria should not consume an unreasonable amount of time or resources
  • Justifiable: make sense and can be justified on common sense, technical and legal basis; mandatory and heavily weighted criteria must be justified

Evaluation Criteria Weight
Weights reflect the relative importance of each of the evaluation criteria to the agency.  A statement in the RFP of the specific weighting to be used for each factor and subfactor, while not required, is recommended so that all offeror’s will have sufficient guidance to prepare their proposals.  If specific weighting is not published, the agency must state criteria in order of relative importance.  In the latter case, factors are typically ranked in decreasing order of importance. [1]

FAR 15.304: Evaluation Factors and Significant Subfactors
(a) The award decision is based on evaluation factors and significant subfactors that are tailored to the acquisition.
(b) Evaluation factors and significant subfactors must:
(1)    Represent the key areas of importance and emphasis to be considered in the source selection decision; and
(2)    Support meaningful comparison and discrimination between and among competing proposals.

AcqLinks and References:

Updated: 7/27/2017

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