If you pursue contracts that are set aside for small businesses, you have probably noticed that if your proposal is not successful, you will get what is called a “pre-award” notification from the agency informing you of the identity of “apparently successful offeror.” If you receive such a notice, you may be eager to get a debriefing to find out why your company was not identified as the “apparently successful offeror.”  However, receiving a pre-award notification on a set-aside contract does not mean that the next step in the procurement is that you will receive a debriefing. 
A pre-award notification is provided when the procurement is still “pre-award” – that is, the award has not been made yet. The purpose of the pre-award notification is to inform offerors of the company that the agency intends to select for award. Because these notifications are required for contracts set-aside for small businesses, they are designed to give the offerors receiving the notice an opportunity to challenge the size or status of the apparently successful offeror. If another offeror files a size or status protest of the apparently successful offeror and the apparently successful offeror is found not to be a small business or not to meet the status requirements of the set-aside, the agency will not award the contract to that offeror. Once all challenges to the size or status of the apparently successful offeror are complete and the apparently successful offeror is deemed eligible for award, then the agency can award the contract. 

After the contract is actually awarded, then unsuccessful offerors will receive a post-award notifications. If debriefings are required for the procurement, then unsuccessful offerors will be provided a debriefing if one is timely requested. To learn about when a debriefing is required, and other tips for understanding the debriefing process, join us on April 12, 2018 for a webinar on this topic.

About the Author: Julia Di Vito practices in the areas of government contracts, litigation, small business programs. She may be reached at [email protected].