Is your company ready for the prime-time of self-scoring contracts?

This is the first of a series of three WASHINGTON TECHNOLOGY articles on the new Self-Scoring Evaluation system that is becoming prevalent as a source selection process by many federal agencies for large multiple-award and GWAC contracts. In this article, we look at the history of this type of evaluation, and the reasons behind it . We'll also delve into the details of how this type of evaluation works. The second article provides a discussion of the pit-falls, where you might go wrong, and compliance issues. The third article will introduce tools to help speed up the proposal preparation, maximize your score, and prevent compliance issues.


Part I – Introduction to the Self-Scoring Evaluation Process

  1. History

    The U.S. contracting rules and regulations, FARs and DFARs, are based on the Competition in Contracting Act (CICA) dating back to 1984 and with origins in the 19th Century. Agencies have been trying to find ways to circumvent this old system to conduct acquisitions for new kinds of requirements and to do business with ever-evolving industries and markets

    In 2013, the GSA finalized its new source selection technique to select contractors for its OASIS GWAC. After winning on a protest, GSA announced its intention to use it for future opportunities as well. This technique (the self-scoring system) kept GSA from having to read and evaluate hundreds of technical and management proposals. The focus on experience and past performance simplified the evaluation process. It aimed to put together pools of the most qualified contractors irrespective of the level of their prices. This moved the price competition to the task order level.



    The table below lists the major GWACs and MA-IDIQs that have utilized the new Self-Scoring system:

    ~chart 1


    The Figure below shows the increase in the prevalence of the Self-Scoring Evaluation process in major multiple award bids:

    ~chart 2


  2. Inside the Self-Scoring Evaluation System:


  • RFP Stage:
    • Spell out how they will score the Contractors’ experience and Past Performance
    • Spell out how they want the Contractor to prove its claims (that is how to substantiate)
  • Evaluation Stage:
    • Review proposals for compliance and remove all non-compliant proposals (Compliance: Government’s First Line of Defense)
    • Rank remaining proposals based on the score
    • Check substantiations
    • Picks the top companies with the highest score (based on the set number of awards)


  • Assessment Stage:
    • Assess yourself and see if you have the minimum qualifications
    • Do a Gap Analysis on Experience and Past Performance
    • Find Partners if allowed
  • Proposal Preparation:
    • Assess yourself and fill out the self-scoring spreadsheet
    • Substantiate your claims through providing the needed documents correctly and with proper highlighting, etc.
  • Proposal Submission:
    • Submit through GSA Symphony or other means

Below is a sample scoring system set by the Government on Alliant II:

~chart 3

3. Benefits and Weaknesses of the Self-Scoring System:


  • Benefits:
    • Doesn’t have to evaluate hundreds of proposals, just the number to be awarded
    • Evaluation does not involve price evaluation, thus making it much easier
    • The process is much less prone to protests because there is a less subjective determination
  • Weaknesses:
    • Not many contracting offices understand the system and thus shy away from it
    • Must carefully define the scoring system otherwise the outcome won’t be the pool of contractors the Government wants (e.g., case of too much emphasis on PP evaluation)
    • Needs strong legal wording against protests


  • Benefits:
    • Don’t need to write elaborative technical responses that could be subjectively put aside
    • Can leverage their experience and Past Performance
    • Can more clearly estimate their p-win
  • Weaknesses:
  • The burden of evaluation has been placed on the Contractor
  • Complex document management work
  • Need strong analytical intuition to work around the many variables and scenarios
  • Compliance issues are a killer
  • New process to many seasoned proposal managers.
  • Startups and those without proper experience/PP have no chance of success.

4. Conclusion:

Self-Scoring Systems are on the rise. You need to have a good grasp of this system to participate and win in some of the major upcoming bids, such as the CIO-SP4 or the GSA ASTRO opportunity. In the next articles, I will provide some lessons learned from previous exercises as well as the tools that can help you prepare a better, higher-scoring proposal for the upcoming bids.

About the Author

Ab Vand of GDI CONSULTING is a Paris, France and Washington, D.C.-based international management consultant and trainer on U.S. federal government contracting. He has managed over 100 self-scoring proposal for his clients. He may be reached at, or

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