The Contracting Process

The Department's acquisition process is governed by Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) (48 CFR Chapter 1) and the Department of State Acquisition Regulation (DOSAR) (48 CFR Chapter 6).

General Information

Sealed Bidding
These procedures are used when a requirement is clearly defined, discussions are not anticipated, and award will be made on price and price related factors alone. An Invitation for Bid (IFB) will be issued and a pre-bid conference may be held to answer questions. The contractor must submit a sealed bid no later than the date and time specified.

Contracting by Negotiation
Generally used for competitive and noncompetitive negotiated acquisitions, and for when award is made of a best-value (technical and price) basis. A Request for Proposal (RFP) will be issued defining the requirement and requesting technical and pricing information. It will also describe how the award will be made. Questions from potential offerors will be responded to with answers and solicitation amendments as necessary. Questions and answers are forwards to all potential offerors. Proposals must be submitted by the established time and date and are then evaluated by the Government based on the evaluation criteria set forth in the RFP. If necessary, negotiations (discussions) are held to resolve deficiencies and other significant issues, including price, with the offerors in the competitive range and revised proposals are submitted and evaluated.

RFP Structure

  1. Solicitation, Offer, and Award
  2. Pricing Methodology
  3. Statement of Work (SOW)
  4. Packaging and Marking
  5. Inspection and Acceptance
  6. Deliveries and Performance
  7. Contract Administration Data
  8. Special Contract Requirements
  9. Contract Clauses
  10. List of Attachments
  11. Representations, Certifications, and Other Statements of Offerors
  12. Instructions, Conditions and Notices to Bidders
  13. Evaluation Factors for Award

Simplified Acquisition
The acquisition of supplies and services < $100,000 (generally set aside for small businesses)

  • Over $2,500, must be competitive
  • Over $10,000 must be publicly announced
  • Over $25,000 must announce at

Phase I consists of a pre-qualification announcement in FedBizOpps

  • Proposals are submitted based on evaluation criteria
  • Firms must complete Omnibus Act Certification
  • Offerors determined to be qualified by the technical board will be eligible to propose in Phase II

Phase II consists of formal solicitations issued for specific projects.

  • Firms participate in project site visits
  • Technical and price proposals are submitted
  • Proposals are evaluated in accordance with the evaluation procedures contained in the solicitation
  • Contract is awarded to the firm offering the best value to the Government. Best value is generally defined as the lowest technically acceptable offeror.
  • Prequalified firms that submit acceptable offers, but that are not selected for award, may be entitled to a stipend


  • Projects are announced through FedBizOpps
  • Questions are responded to with answers and solicitation amendments as necessary
  • Firms submit their responses to the announcement, usually a qualification package utilizing the SF 330 (replaces the SF 254 and SF 255)
  • Firms are evaluated by the evaluation board based on the criteria in the RFP
  • Discussions are held with at least 3 of the most highly qualified firms
  • An A-E evaluation board prepares a rank order selection report recommending at least 3 of the most highly qualified firms.
  • The selection authority reviews the recommendation of the evaluation board, selects a firm (or firms in the event of multiple award IDIQ contracts) and sends final recommendation to the contracting officer (CO) for negotiations.
  • RFP's are sent to the selected firm(s) for a proposal.
  • The Contracting Officer enters into discussions with the highest ranked offeror
  • If agreement cannot be reached, the CO enters into discussions with the next most highly ranked firm.