Thursday, February 17, 2011

Disclosing or Not Disclosing Names of Evaluators

When public agencies evaluate responses from consultants or contractors through either a Request for Proposals (RFP) or Request for Qualifications (RFQ) process, there are different practices regarding whether the names of the evaluators should be made public.

Prior to Selection:  Prior to a selection decision being made, most agencies keep the names of the evaluators confidential.  This helps to prevent consultants and contractors from privately lobbying the evaluators to rate their proposal more favorably.

After Selection:  After the proposals (or qualifications) have been evaluated based on the established evaluation criteria, all information surrounding the selection process, including the evaluators' individual score sheets and comments, is typically considered subject to public disclosure.  This may vary on a state-by-state or agency basis, but the norm is that this information must be disclosed upon request.  There are two practices regarding disclosure of such information:
  1. Names on Evaluation Forms:  Some agencies include the name of the evaluator on the evaluation form on which the evaluator rates and comments on the proposal.  In this case, it is a good practice for each evaluator to sign the evaluation form, including agreeing to a statement on the form that the evaluator does not have a conflict of interest, either real or apparent, with any of the proposers.
  2. No Names on Evaluation Forms:  Other agencies choose not to include the evaluators' names on the evaluation form, instead assigning a number or letter corresponding to each member of the evaluation committee.  In this case, the evaluator enters their scores and comments, but does not sign the form, but should sign a separate form for the record noting that they do not have a conflict of interest with any of the proposers.  Depending on the public disclosure laws applicable to a specific public agency, even an agency that uses this approach may be required to disclose the list of evaluators along with the number or letter assigned to them.  Generally, this information would all be considered public information, subject to disclosure.
Professional Comments:  Regardless of which approach is used, it is important that evaluators be instructed to include only professional comments that support their specific scores in response to the evaluation criteria.
Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
© 2011 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

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