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Research & Development 2007 (R&D 2007)
Questions and Answers to RFP
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Disclaimer: The following questions and answers include all questions received through 1/24/02. (Questions 58-61 were added on 1/24/02.)
1. According to the RFP, it appears that we cannot submit past performance from our subcontractors, is this correct? In the matrix there is no way to indicate that the work was done by our subcontractor only as a prime, please clarify.
Please complete the matrix as follows:
P1 Prime performed the work.
P2 Subcontractor performed the work as a Prime.
S1 Prime performed the work as a subcontractor.
S2 Subcontractor did work as a subcontractor
Also, see answer to question #18.
2. The cover letter to the RFP states that the past performance information is due by 20 January but in the contents of the RFP it states 10 January. We need to know ASAP which is the date for submitting Past Performance citations and volume.
Past Performance Information is due by Thursday, January 10, 2002 as stated in Section L.20. A notice has been posted on the web regarding this.
3. Please confirm that Volume I Technical - Past Performance and Experience is due January 20, 2001 as specified in Ms. Souders' cover letter (http://www.census.gov/procur/www/rd2007/r&d-rfp.html).
In section L of the RFP, specifically sections L.19 and L.22.1, the specified due date is January 10, 2001.
Please advise on what date we should use to schedule our submission for.
See answer to question #2.
4. This question comes from section: L.19 VOLUME I: PAST PERFORMANCE AND CORPORATE EXPERIENCE
The first sentence of L.19.1 states: "The Offeror shall provide up to five (5) relevant past performance references, using the form provided in Section J, Attachment 1."
RFC: Does the Government mean 5 references per team mate or 5 for the entire team ? (A similar question was asked following release of the Draft RFP and the answer stated that the offeror could submit up to 5 references per team mate)
We are requiring up to to five (5) relevant past performance forms from each "Prime" and up to five (5) from each subcontractor.
5. Section L.21.1 Price. States that offerors may add Subclin numbers to Section B in order to accommodate offeror's specific labor price ranges and/or levels of expertise. Section M.4.1.3 Total Evaluated Price states the Government will assume that it will purchase 100 hours of each skill category. It appears confusing as to how adding subCLIN (categories) might impact the evaluation. How will the Government apply the 100 hours to the skill levels if contractors propose additional subclins? At what level will the 100 hours be applied to?
The Government intends to spread the number of hours specified for the CLIN over the subclins proposed.
EXAMPLE: 4. Computer Specialist 100 hours (two subclins added)
4. Computer Specialist 40 hours 4a. Senior Computer Specialist 40 hours 4b. Principal Computer Specialist 20 hours Total 100 hours
6. Section L.22.1 - Volume III Section. Please clarify the difference between Tab D & Tab E as both state Section B of of the RFP and Section B is the rate table. Tab C states Section L requirements which would contain the Explanation of Pricing requirements of L.21.5 so it appears pricing detail will be contained in Tab C.
Tab C is in response to Clause L.22.2 Other Business Factors and Tab D is Clause L.22.5 Explanation of Pricing.
7. I have two questions regarding the solicitation clause H.4 & H.5 as follows:
H.4 HARMLESS FROM LIABILITY - requires the Contractor to hold and save harmless the Government. As used in this clause, the word "fault" is ambiguous, and can be read to mean nothing more than mere causation (that is, a 3rd party claim would be the contractor's "fault" if caused by the contractor's performance, even though that performance complied fully with the contract and was otherwise beyond reproach). I think this ambiguity is caused, at least in part, by the fact that the clause also refers specifically to the "negligence," "wrongful acts" and "wrongful omissions" of the contractor -- which, taken together, encompass what we ordinarily think of as being somebody's "fault" -- thus suggesting the word "fault" here means something above and beyond what the word typically means. This ambiguity could be clarified by the removal of the "fault" from this clause, else would you please clarify "fault"?
Another problem with H.4 is that it requires the contractor to indemnify the Government for claims that arise "in whole or in part" from the contractor's acts or omissions, leaving the contractor responsible for even those claims in which the Government's own actions played a contributing role. Applied literally, H.4 would require the contractor to indemnify the Government even if the Government was 90% at fault and the contractor only 10% at fault. Is this the Governments intent - if not could you please clarify it in the clause.
And finally, my last concern with this clause, is that it requires Contractors to provide the Government with non-standard indemnification provision - could you please clarify why this procurement would require unusual indemnification provisions from contractors?
This is a standard Department of Commerce Clause, 1352.233-70 (March 2000)
H.5 COMPLIANCE WITH LAWS - requires the Contractor to comply with all applicable laws and rules and regulations. Could you please explain the purpose of this type of provision as in our view the only purpose it provides to the Government is a mechanism for getting out of an unfavorable bargain. Also please explain why the Gov't should be able to default the contractor if the contractor commits a violation of, say, state employment laws?
Again, this a standard Department of Commerce Clause, 1352.209-73 (March 2000).
8. If the Customer Questionnaires are due back on January 10 we are worried that our Government clients may not be able to return them on time since many of our Government customers have taken the holidays off and won't be returning to their offices until Jan. 2, 2002. Could you please consider extending this due date until January 20, so that our government customers who are out for the holidays have a fair opportunity to respond to the questionnaires.
At this time, we are not extending the due date for the Past Performance Information. All past performance information (Attachment "1") is due January 10th. Attachment "3" if not received from the reference, the evaluation team will follow up with the reference.
9. According to the RFP, it appears that we cannot submit past performance from our subcontractors, is this correct? In the matrix there is no way to indicate that the work was done by our subcontractor only as a prime, please clarify.
See answer to question #4 for subcontractor's past performance and answer to question #1 for more information on the matrix.
10. The cover letter to the RFP states that the past performance information is due by 20 January but in the contents of the RFP it states 10 January. We need to know ASAP which is the date for submitting Past Performance citations and volume.
See answer to question #2.
11. There appears to be a conflict on the due date for submission of Volume I Past Performance and Corporate Experience. The Contracting Officers Solicitation Letter of December 21, 2002 states that Past Performance information is due January 20, 2002. However, Section L.19 and Section L.22.1 state that it is due on January 10, 2002.
Question: What is the correct due date for the submission of Volume I Past Performance and Corporate Experience?
See answer to Question #2.
12. Section H.4, states that "Contractor shall hold and save the Government, its officers, agents, and employees, harmless from liability of any kind, including costs and expenses to which they may be subject, for or on account of any or all suits or damages of any character whatsoever resulting from injuries or damages sustained by any person or property by virtue of performance of this contract, arising or resulting in whole or in part from the fault, negligence, wrongful act or wrongful omission of the Contractor, or any subcontractor, their employees, agents, etc".
Question: What is considered wrongful omission, does this require the Contractor to have insurance for error and omissions?
That is a business decision for the Offeror.
13. Section L, Proposal Instructions
Question: Are the Contractors required to provide cost and pricing data? As this is a competitive procurement, I'm assuming that price and cost data is not required and that Contractors are only required to provide loaded labor rates for each labor category specific to the area in which they are going to bid.
That is correct.
14. Section J, Attachment 2 - Table 4 is titled "PAST PERFORMANCE MATRIX - TECHNICAL SERVICES".
Question: Is this a typographical error and should it be titled "PAST PERFORMANCE MATRIX - SURVEY ENGINEERING"?
This is a typographical error and will be corrected.
15. Section J, Attachment 3 first page of the Attachment asks for the return of the Contractor Performance Information form no later than "TBD".
Question: What is the date for the return of the Contractor Performance Information form by the evaluators?
The due date is Noon, Thursday, January 10, 2002, the same date as for Offerors.
16. The Small Business Size Standard as stated in the RFP is $3.5M for NAICS code 54169. The SBA web site states the Small Bus. Size Standard for this NAICS code is $5M. If the RFP remains at the $3.5M threshold prime contractors are severally limited to the team members they may have on their team. Would the Bureau of Census reconsider the size standard for this NAICS code to be consistent w/ the Small Business Administration Guidelines and make it $5M?
This will be corrected to read $5M.
17. The RFP subcontracting goals percentages are higher than the FAR percentages. Would the Bureau of Census consider lowering the Programs subcontracting goals to make it consistent with the FAR requirements?
These are goals established by the Department of Commerce for Census.
18. The past performance matrix states that the Offeror use "S" if they performed as a sub or a "P" if they performed as Prime on the contract. What we can't find is whether the offeror can put in the matrix a past performance for one of our teaming partners in those cases where the offeror did not have anything to do with the work, i.e. the offeror was not a sub or prime. Please provide clarification on how to handle this situation.
Please complete the matrix as follows:
P1 Prime performed the work.
P2 Subcontractor performed the work as a Prime.
S1 Prime performed the work as a subcontractor.
S2 Subcontractor did work as a subcontractor.
Also, see answer to question #1.
19. In Section J, the corporate matrix, the matrix for Survey Engineering is mislabeled as "Technical Services", we believe it should be Survey Engineering. Will Census please modify for consistency.
See answer to question #14. This will be corrected within the RFP.
20. This question is concerning the process for coordinating the delivery of contract performance information to the BOC as outlined in Section J - Attachment 3 and in Section L.19.
The date when the "Contract Performance Information" questionnaires are requested to be returned to the BOC's Contract Specialist in Section J - Attachment 3 is marked as "TBD."
Has the BOC established a target date for when the "Contract Performance Information" questionnaires are to be provided to the BOC's Contract Specialist?
This date should read, Thursday, January 10, 2002.
21. In reviewing the NAICS code 54169 which is contained in the RFP it appears that NAICS Subsector 514 - Information Services and more specifically NAICS code 514210 - Data Processing Services is more commensurate with the type of services that a contractor would be performing under the following Task Areas: Assessment, Planning & Analysis and Survey Engineering. Would the Government consider providing a separate NAICS code per Task Area to reflect the services of that Task Area?
All of the areas are under the NAICS code 541690 due to the fact that this is for Research And Development Services not Production work as that code implies.
22. Based on the answer provided below - is it correct that if an offeror proposes subclins the government will apply 100 hours to each subclin, thereby increasing the offerors total price? RFP Clause M.4.1.3 - TOTAL EVALUATED PRICE states: For priceevaluation purposes only, the Government will assume that it will purchase 100 hours of each skill category for each area purposed for all five (5) potential contract years including the Project Director and Task Manager. The yearly totals will be added together to get a total contract evaluated cost.... This would mean that the Offerors price will be higher for evaluation purposes, than other bidders that did not propose subclins. Is this interpretation correct or does the Government intend to take the total price and divide by total hours to get an average hourly rate for evaluation purposes, thereby not making it disadvantageous to bid additional subclins?
See answer to question #5.
23. Is a subcontracting plan required at time of proposal submission?
No, the subcontracting plan to meet the Bureau's subcontracting goals is not due at time of proposal submission though it is due prior to award. See Clause L.22.3. Subcontracting Plan to meet the requirements of FAR Part 19.
Clause L.21.1 does require Offerors to provide copy of the subcontract plan/agreement with proposed Subcontractors in the Executive Summary.
24. Are you expecting to see a composite rate for the team? Only the prime's rates or you are also expecting to see the subcontractor's rates as well?
That is a business decision on the Offeror's part as to what rates to propose.
25. Do subcontractors have to present an unsanitized version of their cost to the government?
26. Are any hours associated with Section B of the solicitation?
No. The rates proposed should be an hourly rate. See Clause M.4.1.3 Total Evaluated Price.
27. Are you expecting to see with the Prime's submission the backup for the subcontractor's proposal- i.e. Section K, cost narratives, etc..., the same requirements as the prime?
No, only from the Prime Offeror.
28. Evaluation factor #4 is the Project Management Plan. Do you see this as being submitted as part of the Executive Summary or as a separate submission? If part of the Executive Summary, does it count against the three page limit? If separate, is it due at the same time as the resumes and executive summary?
That is a business decision on the part of the Offeror. Please read Clause L.24.8 Oral Presentation.
29. Please clarify the due date for Volume I: Past Performance and Corporate Experience (L.19. In the RFP cover letter posted on your website, the due date for Volume I is stated as January 20, 2002. However, both Section L.19 of the RFP and the schedule of dates posted on your website show the due date for this volume as January 10, 2002. Further, the date of January 20, 2002, falls on a Sunday followed by a legal holiday on Monday, January 21, 2002. If the due date of January 20, 2002, is correct, please state the actual date on which Volume I must be delivered to be compliant with Bureau of the Census requirements.
See Answer to Question #2.
30. Please clarify instructions for completing the past performance matrix (Section J, Attachment 2) Offerors are instructed to provide the "name" for each reference included in the matrix. Please clarify whether we are required to provide the name of the customer or the name of the project--i.e., the project title. If the name of the customer is required, should we include the name of the contact person, the organization for which the work was performed, or both. Offerors are instructed to provide the requested information on a separate sheet of paper if there is not enough room in the table. Is there a page limit for the number of pages we can attach to the past performance matrix.
We are only requiring the name of the agency/point of contact for which the work was performed and contract number. There is no page limit. If expertise is demonstrated in every subclause, then it is completed and no addition information is needed.
31. Are subcontractors required to submit "price and other business factors" as part of Volume III for the prime contractor?
Section L.22.1 lists the contents of this volume as Tabs A through E. We understand that only the prime contractor would complete Tab A. Are subcontractors required to submit information for Tabs B through E separate from the prime contractor.
No. Subcontractors do not submit a separate Volume III. Only the Prime Offeror submits Volume III.
32. Please clarify the difference between the contents of Tab D and Tab E in Volume III Tab D and Tab E both reference Section B. Section B contains the pricing tables called for under Tab E. Is Tab D, Pricing Information, intended to contain the information outlined in L.21.5 "Explanation of Pricing".
Yes. See answer to question #6.
33. Please clarify the price proposal requirement that narratives be compatible with MS Word 9.2. We are unable to identify a version 9.2 for MS Word. Is MS Word 9.0 acceptable to the Census Bureau?
It should read Microsoft Word 97. That will be corrected within the RFP.
34. A clarification issued in response to comments on the draft RFP suggests that up to five examples of current/past experience (Attachment 1) can be provided for each team member (prime contractor and subcontractors). Can you confirm that this is correct?
Yes that is correct. Please see answer to question #4.
35. With regard to corporate experience, Section J, Attachment 1, defines recent as "awarded the competing organization within the past five years." In Section l.19, point 1, the qualification is further described as "the last day of the period of performance for any reference can be no longer than three years prior to the release date of this RFP" (that is, no earlier than December 21, 1998). Can you confirm that both these requirements must be satisfied-that is, the project cannot have started more than five years ago and cannot have ended more than three years ago?
The RFP should state five (5) years. This will corrected within the RFP.
36. The RFP indicates that the past performance matrix can include references to projects outside the maximum of five for which Attachment 1 is to be completed. Indeed it would be difficult to demonstrate experience in as many as nine subtopics with only five projects. We have two questions regarding these additional project references. First, are they limited to recent projects as defined in the same way as Attachment 1 and/or Section L.19? Second, what information beyond title and contract number, if any, should the offeror supply for these additional projects, and where should we do so?
First, The Offeror is not limited on Attachment 1 to the past five (5) years as per the attachment. Second, For Attachment 1, no additional information than what is requested on the form. Also see answer to question #30.
37. Section L.19 says that offerors must use the template provided in Section J, Attachment 2 and that no alterations shall be made to the template. In this template, the subtopics (column headings) are identified only by letter and number. Can the offeror insert labels to identify the subtopics by name, or do you truly want no modifications to the templates? It is useful for an offeror's internal review to include such labels in at least its working drafts, but these can be eliminated from the final draft if the templates are to remain unchanged.
No you may not change the template by adding the subtopics titles.
38. Section L.21.1, paragraph 1, indicates that the offeror may add "SUBCLIN" numbers to Section B in order to accommodate offeror's specific labor price ranges and/or levels of experience. Can this flexibility be used to provide separate rates for the prime contractor and subcontractors-in particular, when these fall into different price ranges?
We are only looking for one rate for each category for the Base Year and each option year of the contract.
39. If the offeror provides subcategory rates for a particular labor category, is it necessary to provide an overall (average) rate for the category? The government's method of price evaluation described in Section M.4.1.3 would seem to require this. Other than for price evaluation, would such a rate carry any implications or provide any restrictions on the offeror's relative use of the subcategories?
See Question #5.
40. Section C.7, Correction of Software and Documentation, states that the Contractor shall make corrections at no additional cost to the government. This requirement would make sense for FFP task orders but not labor hour or time and material tasks. It conflicts with the intention FAR 52.246-6. Specifically, we assume that there would be reimbursement up to the ceiling amount of the task order to correct any deficiencies and if work beyond the ceiling amount were required reimbursement would be in accordance with the contract minus fee. Please clarify your intention.
The BOC anticipates that during the course of a task order, time spent in testing and repair of errors for software developed under a T&M task is charged against the task order. However, after the task has been completed and additional errors are discovered that are not due to the Government action, the corrections within reason are made at no cost to the Government. There will be no charge under a fixed price scenario.
41. Section L.22, paragraph 4, requires that "any spreadsheets and narratives [in Volume III] are capable of being extracted by the Government and placed into Microsoft Excel 6.0 and MS Word 9.2 formats, respectively." Our standard word processing package is Microsoft 2000, which includes a less recent version of Word but a much more recent version of Excel. We believe that text submitted in Word 2000 will be readable from Word 9.2 but that spreadsheets in Excel 2000 will have to be saved in an earlier version. Can you confirm this? Also, is there an opportunity to submit test files before the February 4 due date?
That should read to say, Microsoft Word 97 and Excel 97. This will be changed within the RFP.
42. The RFP includes some specific experience requirements for the project director (see Section C.5.1). Can the proposed director's experience at the senior management level include management experience in the federal government?
Yes, the experience can be government or private industry.
43. The Key Personnel clause (H.6) seems overly restrictive since during the life of the project staff changes for key staff cannot be made unless the staff member has left the company, becomes incapacitated or died. There are other legitimate reasons which would make it desireable to change key staff. Most key personnel clauses would allow staff changes after some reasonable period time such as 6 months after the start of a contract. Would you consider relaxing this requirement?
Not at this time.
44. L.22.1 talks about tabs A-E for Price and Other Business Factors; L.22.3 refers to tab F. Please confirm that tab F is really E.
Yes it should read Tab E. This will be corrected within the RFP.
45. Section L.22.1 - Volume III Section. Please clarify the difference between Tab D & Tab E as both state Section B of of the RFP and Section B is the rate table. Tab C states Section L requirements which would contain the Explanation of Pricing requirements of L.21.5 so it appears pricing detail will be contained in Tab C.
See Question #6.
46. This is explained at L.19.3. On using the matrix, it says: "No alterations shall be made to the template. Offerors shall use only the allotted space for each numbered item." Each matrix has ten rows. Does this mean that we are limited to ten contracts or projects as corporate experience, or may we duplicate the matrix, and for example, provide 15 or 20 contracts or projects as corporate experience?
Yes, you may duplicate the template, but do not alter the form or expand it in any way.
47. Is the due date for the past performance information January 10 or January 20. The RFP says the 10th, but the letter states the intention to submit a proposal is due by the 10th and the past performance is due January 20.
See answer to question #2.
48. On the short cover letter that will accompany the contractor reference forms we will be mailing to references, it states that the completed information should be returned to "the BOC by email...or to the address shown below, no later that TBD...". Has the due date been set?
See answer to question #20.
49. Should copies of oral presentation media be included in Book 3?
The Oral Presentation slides are due seven (7) days prior to the scheduled date for the oral presentations, Clause L.24.1.
50. Is this contract similar to the current ITS contract in being set up for a subset of companies to bid on future work?
No. This is similar to the current R&D 2002 contracts that are place now. The Bureau intends to award multiple contracts within each technical area to have a pool of contractors to compete potential task orders.
51. In bidding on several different parts of this contract, should we submit different bids for each one, or a single bid with multiple options?
In saying different parts of this contract, you are saying RFP, you mean different technical areas, i.e., Methodological Research, Survey Engineering, etc.. You must submit a separate proposal for each Technical Area, as if this were six different RFPs.
52. We would like to offer a fixed price bid for certain parts of this...is that possible or does it have to be structured based on personnel and labor rate.
It is based on personnel and labor rates.
53. Section L.19 indicates information on only (5) past performance contracts should be listed. However, the response to Question 49 from the Pre-solicitation conference indicates that sub-contractors can provide their own list of 5 contracts. Could you please clarify this? If the subs can provide their own list should theirs be in the same Volume 1 notebook but tabbed separately in the submission? Would the ten lines on the corporate experience matrix need to cover all the proposed sub-contractors as well or should separate matrices be submitted for them?
Subcontractors should submit with the Prime, their own past performance, within Volume I. The matrix needs to cover all of the Prime's experiences as well as all of their subcontractors.
54. Must the corporate experience matrix provide complete coverage across all the technical areas?
Only the technical area in which the proposal is being submitted for.
55. In the initial release of the RFP your letter state that past performance information be submitted by January 20, 2002. In the subsequent posting on the website for this opportunity, you have corrected that to be consistent with the RFP as January 10, 2002. We respectfully request a reconsideration of the required date to be January 20, 2002 based on the fact the RFP was released on 12/21/01 at which time a majority of our customers had effectively "shutdown" until 1/2/02. The time required for completing the past performance form is not sufficient for many of our customers.
See answer to question #8.
56. The requirement for past performance references is five. Is it the intent of requesting five references based on a desire to cover the six areas to be bid in the RFP?
No it is not. A separate proposal must be submitted for each area of the RFP if the Offeror so chooses to do so.
57. May the requirement of five references be filled by a combination of the prime contractor and/or proposed subcontractors?
No. Each must submit up to five (5) references.
58. Can more than one resume be submitted for a single key personnel slot? For example, if your sub-contractors are specialists in different aspects of the technical areas (such as a demographic expert and a policy expert) could both be submitted under the "senior subject matter specialist" or should only one resume be submitted for each key personnel slot?
Only one resume should be submitted per key personnel slot.
59. Is it correct to assume one person could hold more than one key personnel slot? For example, a task manager might also have the responsibilities of the task administrator.
No. One person should be not be proposed for more than one labor category.
60. Are we still exempt from providing a subcontract plan per FAR 52.219-9?
Only if your company is a Small Business are you exempt from providing a Subcontracting Plan per FAR 52.219-9.
61. May we claim small/disadvantaged business status in Section K if we are currently a certified 8(a) company but exceed the small business size standards in the RFP?
No. You must meet the size standards for the NAICS code. Contact SBA for more information.