Offerors who are excluded from competing for an award before an award is made, may request a debriefing by submitting the request to the contracting officer:
- In writing, AND
- Within three days of the contractor being notified that they are excluded from competing for the award.
If the offeror follows these two requirements, the contracting officer should make every effort have the debriefing as soon as possible. However, the contracting officer may decide to delay the debriefing if he or she thinks it is in the Government’s best interest. The reason for delaying the debriefing must be documented in the requesting offeror’s contract file. The offeror can also request that the preaward debriefing be delayed until after the contracting officer awards the contract. However, the offeror should be cautious of making this request because it may affect the timeliness of filing a protest.
Even if an excluded offeror misses the three-day window to submit a preaward debriefing request, the contracting officer may still grant a debriefing. However, the decision to grant preaward debriefings for late requests is up to the individual contracting officer. Consequently, the contracting officer may deny a preaward debriefing request if the offeror fails to submit a timely debriefing request.
It is also up to the contracting officer to decide how the debriefing will take place. Debriefings may be done orally, in writing, or by any other method that the contracting officer thinks is acceptable. Whatever method the contracting officer chooses, the debriefing must include all of the following:
- The agency’s evaluation of the significant elements of the offeror’s proposal
- A summary of the contracting officer’s reasoning for eliminating the offeror from competing for the award
- Answers to the offeror’s questions about whether the contracting officer followed the procedures in the solicitation, the applicable regulations, and any other authorities when the contracting officer decided to eliminate the offeror from the competition.
In a preaward debriefing, the contracting officer cannot disclose any of the following:
- How many offerors are competing for the award
- The names of the other offerors
- The content of the other offerors’ proposals
- The ranking of other offerors
- How the contracting officer evaluated the other offerors