Debriefings are a fundamental part of many government competitions. So it’s important for government contractors to understand what debriefings are, what they are not, and why they’re important. Here are five things you should know about debriefings:

    1. Debriefings are sometimes required (but sometimes not).

    After spending a lot of time (and money) on a bid, it’s only natural that a contractor would want to know why its proposal was evaluated the way it was. But agencies aren’t always required to give a debriefing—they’re only required under competitive procurements ( FAR Part 15 ) and for the award of task or delivery orders valued at more than $5.5 million ( FAR 16.505(b)(6) ). Debriefings aren’t required for any other type of acquisition.

    But just because a debriefing is required doesn’t mean it’s automatic. You have to ask for one. When you receive the notice of award, it’s important to immediately ask (in writing) for a debriefing.  If a debriefing isn’t requested within three days, you may be out of luck.

    1. A debriefing can be provided pre-award or post-award.

    There are two types of debriefings: pre-award and post-award. Pre-award debriefings are for offerors eliminated from competition before an award is made, while a post-award debriefing explains the agency’s award decision.

    1. A debriefing will give you basic information about the evaluation.

    The FAR tells contracting officers and offerors the information that should be included in a debriefing. Naturally, the information provided in a pre-award debriefing will be less than that under a post-award debriefing. But in general, the debriefing must provide a summary of the evaluation of your proposal (and, for post-award debriefings, basic information about the awardee).

    1. You can (and should) ask questions.

    A debriefing is, at its core, an opportunity to learn more about the evaluation process. An important goal is to allow offerors to strengthen their offers under future procurements. In addition to the basic information required to be provided, the contracting officer must give you the opportunity to ask relevant questions about the evaluation.

    Before your debriefing, give serious thought as to the type of information that would be helpful to know under future solicitations. Re-familiarize yourself with the solicitation’s statement of work, instructions, and evaluation criteria; if you have any questions as to whether the selection criteria was followed, the debriefing is your time to ask.

    1. A debriefing might affect your protest deadline.

    The Government Accountability Office has strict deadlines to file bid protests. For pre-award protests, the protest must be filed before the proposal submission deadline. But be careful: following a competitive range exclusion, agencies will sometimes allow offerors to defer their pre-award debriefing until after the award is made. Doing so might inadvertently waive protest arguments. Instead, it’s usually best to request a pre-award debriefing if you were excluded from competition.

    Post-award protests can be due as soon as ten days from when you first learned (or should have learned) of the basis of protest. But if a debriefing is required and timely requested, the post-award protest deadline is extended until ten days after you received the debriefing, regardless of when the protest ground was learned.

    (Note that this is a discussion of timeliness deadlines; a different standard applies to obtain the automatic stay under the Competition in Contracting Act).


    So what’s the gist? If you’re given the chance to request a debriefing, do so! And be an active participant in the process: the information learned may help you win the next solicitation (or even successfully challenge the award).

    What situations may require a debriefing?
    Davis, PhD, identifies the following events and situations as "critical incidents," all of which may be helped with this type of stress debriefing:
    • Sudden death.
    • Occupational safety crisis.
    • Incidents involving children.
    • Serious injury.
    • A threat to an individual's physical and/or psychological safety and wellbeing.
    Is debrief hyphenated?
    Hyphenation of debrief This word can be hyphenated and contains 2 syllables as shown below. more
    Why do we debrief?
    Debriefing has been identified as a major tool used in identifying medical errors, improving communication, reviewing team performance, and providing emotional support following a critical event. more
    What is cold debrief?
    Cold debriefing, where individuals or teams are provided with feedback sometime after the event, is associated with improvements in process and patient outcomes. Such feedback usually involves the use of objective performance data, such as defibrillator downloads or videotape records. more
    What is activity debrief?
    Debriefing is an experience that enables participants to connect activities and lessons they learned in an activity, experience, or program, to the outside world. more
    What is group debrief?
    Group intervention, also known as debriefing, is basically structured group discussion. The purpose is to develop understanding and increase feelings of personal control among students, while maintaining cohesiveness. more
    Is debrief one word?
    Debrief, a verb referring to an act of interrogating or questioning someone about a job that has been done or about an experience in order to obtain information or intelligence, is first documented in the first half of the 20th century. more
    Why is debrief hot?
    The hot debriefing tool was designed for use after clinical scenarios other than cardiac arrests. It can be used to facilitate open feedback following deaths in our department, unexpected negative outcomes or as requested by staff. more
    What is team debrief?
    During a debrief, a team simply reflects upon and discusses recent experiences, identifying what went well and where improvements may be possible. They reach agreements on specific adaptations they intend to make and then they get back to work. more
    How do nurses debrief?
    Techniques of debriefing vary, but usually include an emotional release component, a review of the facts and objective data, inquiry into the mindsets of those present, and clarification of takeaway points and/or indications for follow-up. more
    What is the purpose of a debrief session after service What should a debrief include?
    An event debrief is a meeting with your team where you carefully deconstruct and analyze a previous event. A thorough event debrief will help you identify what went right, what went wrong, and what could be better next time. more


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