Sunday, July 17, 2011

OHCS Has Reasonable Basis for Their Appeal of Section 8 Contract Administration Bid Award.

At the Housing Council meeting on Friday July 15th OHCS staff discussed the bid protest underway for the Section 8 contract administration procurement.(See my prior post HERE).

My understanding from OHCS staff discussion was that HUD had advised in a post award conference call that to arrive at a final score HUD had taken the initial score for each bid in each state and divided it by the baseline admin fee included in each bid to arrive at the final score and ranking of applicants for each state.

OHCS staff indicated that this intended weighting was not disclosed in the solicitation and if it had been it would have impacted the fee submitted by OHCS.

Three caveats:
1. I am not a contracting expert, and the degree to which disclosure of all weighting factors was required as part of this contracting I will have to leave up to the attorneys.
2. There could be communications or solicitation documents where this intended weighting of price was disclosed by HUD that I have not seen. 
3. I may have misunderstood the HUD process of taking the initial score and dividing it by the baseline admin fee to arrive at the final ranking within a state.

My Initial Editorial Take: Appears That OHCS and Other Bidders Have A Reasonable Complaint.
  1. I looked at the FAQ's for this procurement HERE and I could find NO specific identification of how price was going to be weighed in the final selection. The only reference I can find is very non specific: "the proposed Basic Administrative Fee Percentage for the highest ranked Applications will be considered [emphasis added] in the selection of the awardee." [after final scores for each application were calculated and ranked for each state].
  2. I could also find no specific information about the weight to be given to price in the final Invitation for Application document HERE.[This document does not even include the "considered" weighting language found in the FAQ's].
  3. Dividing the initial score by the baseline admin bid price would produce results that would sharply discount selection factors other than price. If OHCS had a perfect initial score of 100, and a bid price of 2.45%, it's final score would be 40.816. This would mean that a bid at 1.88% would need only an initial score of at least 76.8  to have received a HIGHER than OHCS final score of 40.851.[These are actual bid prices for Oregon contract administration as reported by OHCS; I do not know what the actual initial scores were for OHCS or the winning Oregon bidder].
  4. IF HUD wanted to weigh price so heavily it seems to me that it should have been more transparent in doing so. IF the bid invitation had been more transparent, it seems likely that this would have produced even more competition via even lower bids from at least some of the bidders. 
  5. BOTTOM LINE: While the ultimate outcome may or may not have changed, there would be little basis for protest if the weight of the admin fee price in the final evaluation had been more fully disclosed by HUD. I am not sure if the challenge from OHCS and other bidders is legally sufficient, but it IS clearly reasonable based on the facts as I understand them today.  
Originally created and posted on the Oregon Housing Blog.

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