Evaluation Criteria are the standards by which accomplishments of required technical and operational effectiveness and/or suitability characteristics or the 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).
Definition: 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.
Establishing Evaluation Criteria
In establishing effective evaluation criteria, an agency must clearly identify the factors relevant to its selection of a vendor and then prioritize or weigh the factors according to 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 an 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 offerors with a fair basis for comparison. 
See DoD Source Selection Procedures for Section M and SSP Input
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 offerors and allow the agency to rank the proposals and ultimately select the best value.
Developing Evaluation Criteria
Evaluation criteria should be individually tailored to each RFP. For criteria to be effective, they should have the following characteristics: 
- 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. 
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:
-  Establishing Effective Evaluation Criteria and an Effective Scoring Method
- Generic Section L Source Selection Evaluation Criteria Proposal Requirements
- MIL-HDBK-245D DoD “Handbook for Preparation of Statement of Work”- 3 April 1996
- DoD Source Selection Plan – 4 Mar 2014
- Template: Proposal Evaluation Plan
- Template: Source Selection Plan
- Website: FAR Subpart 12 “Acquisition of Commercial Items”
- Website: FAR Subpart 15.2 ‘Solicitation and Receipt of Proposals and Information”
- Website: Navy Contract Management Process Guide
- Website: Navy Acquisition Guide – Proposal Development
- Website: The Association of Proposal Management Professionals