Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Who Should and Should Not Be on Proposal Evaluation Committees?

Consultants and service providers for government contracts are often selected based on either a Request for Proposals (RFP) or Request for Qualifications (RFQ), in which qualifications and experience are scored by an evaluation committee based on published criteria in the RFP or RFQ.  

Who should not be on the evaluation committee?  In order to avoid a potential conflict of interest in the event of a protest of the selection process, generally it is best to not include the agency's attorneys or procurement/purchasing/contracting staff as voting members of an evaluation committee.  These are the individuals who are most likely to be involved in any protest or appeal of the process.  If they have also served as voting members of the evaluation committee, their independence of judgment may be compromised, and the transparency and fairness of the selection process put at risk.  

Who should be on the evaluation committee?  Evaluation committee members may include the project manager, representatives of the user department, other departments most affected by the project, other internal stakeholders, and external stakeholders not employed by the public agency.  It is generally the best practice that agency employees constitute a majority of the members of the evaluation committee.  

Technical evaluators:  Sometimes, it is appropriate to include an evaluator to help the committee understand and review technical aspects of the proposals received.  These technical evaluators may serve by either advising the committee, or by actually evaluating and rating only that portion of the proposal related to their expertise.  If they actually score the proposals, their scores could become the score for all members of the committee for that criterion, or members of the evaluation committee could use their score and explanations to establish their own scores.

What about elected officials?  Agencies should be cautious about including elected officials on an evaluation committee.  In some cases, having one member of a board or council may be appropriate in order to keep that body informed of the process.  The risk, of course, is that the presence of an elected official(s) on the evaluation committee may politicize the selection process in an inappropriate manner.  Refer to my previous blog post on problematic selection practices in Louisiana.

Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog 
© 2013 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

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