Ever wonder how to get your questions answered at a post-award debriefing? It can be frustrating to get the information you really want to know from the Government. When I worked as an acquisition attorney with the Government, I spent many hours with my evaluation teams preparing for post-award debriefings. I always set time aside to go through a mock debriefing and discuss what information to disclose and what type of questions to table.
The Debriefing Process
In general, the contracting officer wants to close a debriefing as quickly as possible. They often try to have questions submitted prior to the debriefing or asked at the debriefing if it is in person. The contracting officer’s goal is usually to close debriefings at the close of the face-to-face meeting. However, the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) enhanced contractor’s post-award debriefing rights.
2018 NDAA Changes the Debriefing Process
On March 22, 2018, the Department of Defense issued a class deviation to implement the enhanced rights written in the 2018 NDAA. Contractors now have two days after a debriefing to submit questions in writing. The Government should respond to the questions in writing within five days of receiving the questions, allowing contractors time to digest the information from the debriefing and assess potential follow-up questions. This is an excellent opportunity that every contractor should take advantage of to investigate further as to why they did not receive an award.
Stay of Contract Performance Rules—Five-Day Window
The class deviation also enforced the Federal Acquisition Regulation rules with regards to stay of contract performance if the award is protested within:
- Ten days after the date of contract award,
- Five days of the debriefing date offered to the protester under a timely debriefing request and no additional questions related to the debriefing are submitted; or
- Five days after the Government delivers its written response to additional questions submitted by the unsuccessful offeror, whichever is later.
Notice the second bullet is from the date the debriefing is offered. That date is not always the same as the date the debriefing is held. When I worked with the Missile Defense Agency, we would often offer a debriefing date in the unsuccessful offeror letter. If the contractor could not meet on the date in the letter, they would request a new date. However, the date in the unsuccessful offeror letter is the date the debriefing was offered. So, the five-day window for the stay begins on that date unless questions are submitted to the Government. If you can’t meet on the originally offered date, be sure to submit questions related to the debriefing to extend your stay window.
If you need assistance reviewing debriefings or forming your questions in a manner to get the most information possible from the Government, contact our office.
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