By Wayne Simpson, CFCM, CSCM
Discretionary Use by VA Contracting Officers Authorized; Must Be Approved First
In what many will see as VA’s continued assault on its Veterans First Contracting Program post-Kingdomware, VA recently implemented “Cascading” set-asides. VA refers to these set-asides as “Tiered Evaluations,” noting they are also known as “Cascading” set-asides.
VA issued Acquisition Policy Flash (No. 18-15), transmitting Procurement Policy Memorandum (PPM) No. 2018-04, dated and effective February 8, 2018. VA issued the PPM in response to requests from VA contracting officers requesting guidance and procedures for the use of tiered evaluations within a single synopsized solicitation when applying the “VA Rule of Two.”
The “goal” of the PPM is to minimize delays in the re-solicitation process incurred subsequent to the application of the “VA Rule of Two” at either the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) and the Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB) priority tiers within a single-synopsized solicitation
According to VA, this change will also streamline the process of satisfying VA’s obligation under Section 8127 of Title 38 United States Code when “viable” offers are not received at the SDVOSB or VOSB priority tiers within a single synopsized procurement.
There are three types of tiered evaluations which VA will use. The first is “Tiered Evaluations Limited to SDVOSB or VOSB.” The second, “Tiered Evaluations Including Small Business Concerns. The third is “Tiered Evaluations Including Large Business Concerns.” The type tiered evaluation used will be based on the results of market research which must be conducted and documented in advance of the solicitation’s issuance. VA must include a notice in all solicitations issued using tiered evaluation.
VA issued a Class Deviation to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) on March 22, 2018, which was also effective immediately. The FAR Class Deviation was required to allow VA contracting officers to follow tiered evaluation procedures in PPM No. 2018-004. The language at FAR 19.502, prior to issuance of the Class Deviation limited the effectiveness of VA’s PPM No. 2018-04, as the FAR required contracting officers to withdraw the set-aside and resolicit the requirement if no acceptable offers are received from responsible small business concerns.
PPM No. 2018-04 applies to all competitive procurements using tiered evaluations. The use of tiered evaluations for procurements of supplies, products, and services (including commercial items) is at the discretion of the contracting officer. When using tiered evaluations, the solicitation must be approved by a contracting official at least one level above the contracting officer who issues and prepares the solicitation. The approving official will validate the supporting market research has been thoroughly documented in advance of issuing the solicitation.
About the Author:
Wayne Simpson is retired from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) after 38 years of federal service. He served as the Executive Assistant to VA’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Acquisition and Logistics where he was the primary staff advisor to the Deputy Assistant Secretary, who serves concurrently as VA’s Senior Procurement Executive and Debarring Official.