PSC urges sharp limits on 'cascading'

PSC letter to David Safavian

The government should put an end to "cascading," a practice that makes procurements less competitive than they should be, according to the Professional Services Council.

The council sent a letter today to Office of Federal Procurement Policy Administrator David Safavian to urge him to take action.

In a cascading procurement, all companies submit their bids at the same time, and the agency tiers them by socioeconomic category. That is, the agency evaluates bids from Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) firms first, then 8(a) firms and so on. Once a winning company is identified, the process stops.

However, the council believes that under federal procurement policy, all bidders should be at the same time and on the same criteria.

"Cascading appears to be primarily a tool of convenience for agencies to determine whether certain types of firms are capable of performing a given requirement, but it is a poor proxy for the required market research,” council President Stan Soloway wrote in the letter. “We strongly urge the administration to take immediate action to stem a growing sentiment in the government to use cascading as an acquisition strategy.”

The council also raised a specific objection to the acquisition strategy the Health Resources and Services Administration proposed to use cascading as an evaluation technique in a support services procurement, and said so in a separate letter to that agency.

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