FAR rewrite teams develop the near beer of competing

That's what seems to have happened on the way to creating what the Federal Acquisition
Regulation rewrite teams calls ""an efficient competitive ranges. The Federal
Acquisition Reform Act included language suggesting the vendors in the ""zone of
active consideration''--an archaic but useful description--could be further narrowed to an
efficient competitive range.

Selecting bidders to be included in this range would be based on whether the
contracting officer decided there were too many bidders for the purpose of
""efficient discussions.''

The zone was referred to in FARA as the ""otherwise competitive range."
There was nothing to suggest that the otherwise competitive range would be somehow
different from the current rules, including the rule that says if there is a doubt as to
whether a vendor has a reasonable chance, resolve the doubt by inclusion that vendor.

Indeed, most folks thought that efficient competitive ranges would result as a function
of resolving doubt against inclusion in the zone. The reason most people thought that was
that it made sense.

No one knows how a competition is likely to turn out. Discussions are held because
most, if not all, proposals are too deficient to support an immediate award. No one knows
how, or even whether, the deficiencies will be corrected or whether the value of the
proposal will be enhanced or diminished by those corrections. Fortunately for contracting
officers, however, they will be invested with the gift of prophecy after the proposed
rules relating to FAR Section 15.609.

So the notion of reasonable chance vs. the greatest likelihood of award is not a real
difference. How can you, for example, distinguish among those deficient proposals having a
likelihood, a great likelihood, a greater likelihood or the greatest likelihood of being
selected? And, would a vendor without a likelihood of award have a reasonable chance?
There is no identifiable, practical difference in these terms.

Thus, if the proposed rules had merely permitted removing the doubtful, or even less
likely, proposals from the otherwise competitive range, the proposed rules would have made
some sense. Of course, that's only true if efficiency is merely a function of the number
of proposals, not their complexity.

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