You might have heard of the OAGF meme (which I personally think is hysterical). Whether you know it or not, if you’re a procurement pro, you’ve probably been a part of the UASCM or OASCM procurement meme: the “Under Attached Selection Committee Member” or, more scarily, the “Overly Attached Selection Committee Member.” To help you find your way out of the Selection Committee meme wonderland, I created what I entitled the “Competitive Bidding Selection Committee Role, Goal, Composition, Duties, and Cautions” white paper (whew, that’s a mouthful). You can use this white paper to help in identifying prospective committee members, to help educate committee members on their role and responsibilities, and to help strike the right balance of attachment. You’re welcome!
COMPETITIVE BIDDING SELECTION COMMITTEE
ROLE, GOAL, COMPOSITION, DUTIES, CAUTIONS
NOTE TO PROCUREMENT CONTACT
Each prospective Selection Committee member should be advised of:
- His or her role on the committee, the goal of the committee, committee duties, and cautions.
- The competitive bidding process.
- The importance and mandate for confidentiality and no conflict of interest.
- The importance of being responsive and adhering to the competitive bidding timetable.
The role of a Selection Committee member is to materially contribute to the competitive bidding process and to perform an unbiased, objective evaluation of vendor proposals. Committee members are frequently required to devote considerable time to developing requirements, responding to bid clarifications, reading proposals, attending vendor presentations, scoring proposals, and meeting to discuss proposals with other committee members. Participation on the Selection Committee should be construed as a commitment, within reasonable limits, to expend the time necessary to complete the entire competitive bidding process and to perform a thorough evaluation.
The over-arching goal of a Selection Committee is to reach a consensus decision as to which vendor is to be recommended for contract award based upon the evaluation criteria. Such consensus decision is based upon the Selection Committee’s development of a comprehensive, impartial request for proposal (RFP), unbiased scoring based on logical evaluation criteria, and analysis and discussion of proposals received.
Unless a procurement is extremely complex, generally, a Selection Committee should have no less than 3 members and no greater than 5 members (excluding procurement staff). A lesser number of members may result in insufficient requirements, calls impartiality into question, and cause a poor overall result due to a lack of input. A greater number of members wastes organizational resources (particularly human resources), presents administrative and logistical problems (such as having to coordinate schedules), dilutes the selection process (through over-representation), and creates bureaucracy.
When considering members for the Selection Committee, a prospective member should:
- Have in-depth knowledge of the subject matter being competitively bid.
- Have a significant stake (i.e., major consumer, primary budget holder) in the product or service being bid.
- Be able to adequately represent the “stake” on behalf of his or her function.
- In the case of representing a department or function, be able to aggregate the “stake.”
- Be a decision-maker, empowered to act without having to seek approval.
- Have good writing skills.
- Have time to participate in the competitive bidding process.
- Understand the importance of holding competitive bidding materials and committee materials in strict confidence.
- Not “be there to be there.”
- Not have any conflict of interest, actual, apparent,
To materially contribute to the Selection Committee, the committee member must:
- Attend all committee meetings. At the kick-off meeting, a timeline is established for the entire competitive bidding process. This should include the number and dates of future meetings, if presentations will be held and, if so when, and so on. Because of difficulties in coordinating schedules, it is the responsibility of the individual members to arrange their work schedules to allow for full and complete participation.
- Participate in identifying prospective respondents (by actually conducting research).
- Assist in developing detailed requirements (by actually writing requirements), review others’ requirements, and review the entire RFP.
- Assist in developing responses to vendor questions (by actually writing responses) and review others’ responses.
- Attend and participate, if appropriate, in the pre-response conference (if conducted). It is helpful to hear vendors’ questions and to get a clearer picture of what to expect in the proposals.
- Read all proposals received and make appropriate notations directly in or on the evaluation form.
- Formulate questions regarding parts of proposals needing explanation or clarifications, and/or comments regarding those sections of a proposal that are regarded as having deficiencies or weaknesses that could be cured.
- Attend all post-response conferences (if conducted) and / or site visits (if conducted).
- Conduct due diligence on vendors (by actually conducting research), as requested by the procurement contact.
- Openly discuss individual findings / scoring at the appropriate committee meeting.
- Participate in developing negotiation strategies, such as best and final offers, as requested by the procurement contact.
- Participate in reference checking (by actually contacting references), as requested by the procurement contact.
- Re-direct vendors that do not follow the communication protocol to the procurement contact.
- Be available for, and participate in, debriefing (if conducted) of unsuccessful vendors.
- Once an individual has agreed to serve on a Selection Committee, that individual should be advised to not publicize it. No one outside the committee needs to know the composition of the committee or other information pertaining to the members’ backgrounds, experience, etc. At vendor meetings, Selection Committee members are obviously introduced, but no contact information should be disclosed.
- Under no circumstances should any Selection Committee member disclose any competitive bid or committee materials to anyone outside of the committee unless agreed-to by the procurement contact.
- Any attempts at communication or contact with any committee members by a vendor or other interested party regarding the competitive bidding process should be reported promptly to the procurement contact.
- A Selection Committee member must immediately recuse himself or herself in the case of an actual or apparent conflict of interest.