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Citizens' Forum: Request for Proposals (RFP)

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Amendment 2
Questions and Answers

Question #1: Who is the contractor working on implementing Section 1013 of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 as stated on pg. 4 of the RFP?

Answer: There is no one contractor that is working on implementing Section 1013 of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003. There are many contractors and grantees working to implement Section 1013 of the MMA. Please consult the Effective Health Care Website ( where you will find descriptions of Program components.

Question #2: What are the priority populations for comparative effectiveness research mentioned on page 20?

Answer: The Priority Populations for comparative effectiveness research are:

  • Low-income groups.
  • Minority groups.
  • Women.
  • Children.
  • The elderly.
  • Individuals with special health-care needs, such as those with disabilities, those who need chronic care or end-of-life care, or those who live in inner-city and rural areas.

Question #3: Is the selected contractor responsible for choosing topics for developing methods for eliciting public views on ethical and value-based questions from Subtask 2.5.2 (pg. 20), or are these topics pre-selected by AHRQ? If pre-selected, and have been chosen already, can you provide them?

Answer: The contractor is responsible for choosing the questions in consultation with AHRQ.

Question #4: Who is the current stakeholder engagement contractor mentioned in Subtask 6.3 on page 38?

Answer: The current contractor for stakeholder engagement is the the Oregon Health Sciences University Evidence-based Practice Center.

Question #5: Is it within the scope of the Citizen's Forum to integrate with or draw content from ongoing Learning Technology efforts such as the Rapid learning Project at GW?

Answer: It is within the scope of the Citizens' Forum to integrate or draw content from existing efforts. However, it is the Offeror's responsibility to assess the appropriateness and relevance of these programs and to justify their approach in the proposal.

Question #6: Page 1 of the RFP states that a Small Disadvantaged Business Plan needs to be submitted. What is this and when does it need to be submitted?

Answer: This is a subcontracting plan where you delineate how much work you plan to give to a small disadvantaged business. This is required on all government contracts. To be complete and get the full number of points, it should mention WHAT FIRM you plan to subcontract with, if you have a current agreement in place with that firm, how many dollars (work) you intend for them to get (do in work on the contract) and their contact information. A past history of your subcontracting arrangements will be nice to have, but isn't considered to be a concrete basis for the full number of SDB subcontracting plan points. Similarly, to say that you plan on partnering with a SDB business IF you get the contract would not get a great percentage of the available points for this category. And again, this is a requirement of the overall proposal.

Question #7: Is there a prototype organization that AHRQ believes is essential to successfully competing for this contract? In other words, if the expectation is that only management consulting companies will be competitive in this space, will other companies be considered, provided they can provide competency and expertise in the area?

Answer: There is no such prototype organization.

Question #8: We are in the process of renewing our GSA schedule—can we use these GSA rates as the basis for our cost proposal?

Answer: You can provide whatever information and back-up you believe would be necessary for the government to make an informed assessment about how you arrived at your costs. However, the more detail you provide, the more easily your costs will be to assess. If the government cannot make an assessment of how you arrived at your costs, this might not eliminate you from the competition, but you might be asked to provide it later—in negotiations.

Question #9: Can customary business expenses be proposed and charged to this contract?

Answer: Yes. But they must be clearly delineated in your business proposal to show what costs you are intending to include and how you will bill them.

Question #10: On page 2, B.4, "travel to attend general scientific meetings" is prohibited under the contract. Does this also extend to specific scientific meetings? It is conceivable that traveling to specialty meetings such as neurology, heart rhythm societies or oncology might yield efficiencies in terms of focus groups or other attitudinal or opinion research.

Answer: Travel to attend a specific scientific meeting may be allowed under this contract so long as the topic of the meeting specifically and directly applied to the work being done under this contract. The determination of whether or not this is the case would be the responsibility of government project officer in discussion with the contractor. Your proposal and cost estimate should reflect and justify meeting attendance and travel. "General Scientific Meetings" are meetings which are not associated to this effort in any way. To be allowable, the contractor must be able to justify why the meeting was integral to performance on this contract.

Question #11: Does the AHRQ Citizen's Forum initiative fall under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) guidelines?

Answer: No, not at the present time.

Question #12: Can the contractor solicit citizen feedback during the process for developing methods for citizen input? While asking the citizen's how they would like you to collect information could be part of the method, the engagement, however, would take place along with the Technical Expert Panel before the official recommendations are made.

Answer: The Offeror should adequately describe their process for developing methods for citizen input.

Question #13: Was any consultant or contractor involved with formulation of the RFP?

Answer: No.

Question #14: B.4 (pg. 2) prohibits "Food and Beverages" (unallowable costs). Can the government confirm these are unallowable and won't be required for any stakeholder meetings?

Answer: Catering will be required at each stakeholder meeting. However, the costs for such shall be deducted from the participants' per diem, which should be included in the budget as part of their Firm Fixed Price for the contract.

Question #15: Subtask 4.3 states requirements for travel and other such expenses. Can the government confirm the contractor will be reimbursed for such expenses?

Answer: The Contractor will be reimbursed for all costs that they include as part of their Firm Fixed Price for the contract, if allowable. Travel is an allowable contractual expense in most cases and, as long as it is part of the proposal, would be reimbursed.

Question #16: Is there an expected stakeholder panel size contemplated?

Answer: AHRQ expects the next stakeholder panel to be comprised of approximately 20 individuals.

Question #17: Will video recording of the meetings be required?

Answer: No.

Question #18: Does support include coaching on public speaking? (subtask 5.4)

Answer: No.

Question #19: Subtask 6.7: Will a transition plan be required?

Answer: Yes.

Question #20: Do consultant fees include contractor rates or subcontractors or is there a special definition?

Answer: Consultants are individuals who do not work for your company or organization as employees. You cannot treat any employee as a consultant for billing purposes to the contract. You can, however, apply contractor G&A rates to consultant costs as part of the formulation of your firm fixed price.

Question #21: To clarify on page 33, we are being asked to provide a hotel reservation block, but not to pay for the per diem rate, correct?

Answer: The Contractor IS responsible for travel expenses, including per diem. These costs should be included in the budget as part of their Firm Fixed Price for the contract.

Question #22: How many contracts, minimum and maximum, are required to show adequate past performance?

Answer: You can provide as much or as little as you deem necessary to show adequate past performance. It is to the Offeror's advantage to show as much positive past performance as possible, but the government realizes that, in cases where this maybe extensive, an Offeror might not want to supply all of its past performance for the past 3 years.

Question #23: Will the government accept email delivery of the Past Performance questionnaire to the government office?

Answer: The government will accept email delivery of past performance as long as it comes directly from the person doing the rating and not through the entity being graded.

Question #24: Do the transmittal letter, cover page, and table of contents count toward the 100 page limit?

Answer: The transmittal letter does not count toward the page count. Everything else does.

Question #25: In Section L.8 of the RFP, guidance for preparation of the technical proposal provides information for tasks 1-5, but not Task 6. Was this an oversight? Could you please provide Task 6 guidance?

Answer: This was not an oversight. Project Management should be described under L.8 Part D. AHRQ did not want to create undue burden in asking for duplicate information to be described in Parts C and D.

Question #26: The description of qualifications for the Project Director in Section L8 suggests a very unique individual with very specific qualifications. Because these type individuals are hard to come by, may we propose two people to serve in the role?

Answer: Yes, you may propose co-directors for the project. Your proposal should clearly articulate how this approach provides a management advantage and address any potential disadvantages, such as coordination between the co-directors and other team members and any cost implications.

Question #27: Would AHRQ consider changing the requirement from FFP to CPFF?

Answer: No, by statute, ARRA contracts must be firm fixed price contracts whenever possible. The requirements for avoiding doing this are prohibitive in nature.

Question #28: We note on page 42 of the RFP that the work in option years will be negotiated at time of award. Are they to be included in the proposal?

Answer: A cost estimate for the option period(s) will not be required as part of the proposal since this will be negotiated at the time of option exercise based on the base years of the contract.

Question #29: Will the contractor be required to post an employee at AHRQ?

Answer: No.

Question #30: Can the comparative research topics to be explored be topics already researched by AHRQ, such as Medicine to Reduce Risk of Breast Cancer?

Answer: Yes.

Question #31: Do letters of support count against the 50-page appendices limit?

Answer: Yes.

Question #32: Do letters of commitment by TEP members count against the 50-page appendices limit?

Answer: Yes.

Question #33: Can you verify your fax number?

Answer: (301) 427-1740

Answer already posted on 3-12-2010: Fax number, in case there are inconsistencies in the RFP, is (240) 427-1740.

Question #34: There are considerable cost differences attached to the methods described in Table 1. Can these be identified as options depending on the outcomes of the literature review, methods assessment and TEP?

Answer: Yes.

Question #35: Given that methods used and locations of the demonstrations may vary widely, can AHRQ give guidance on the expected budget for travel since this is a Fixed Price bid?

Answer: AHRQ cannot give a cost estimate to the Offeror for any aspect of this requirement. That is for the Offeror to determine for themselves, based on their understanding of the requirements and their unique approach to accomplishing the work.

Question #36: The requirement for OMB clearance appears to pose challenges to the overall time table in the RFP. Since OMB clearance takes 6-8 months, and the demonstration is scheduled for month 12, this suggests that the OMB package should be prepared no later than months 4-6. This is prior to the TEP and other activities that inform choice of methods. Can AHRQ clarify?

Answer: We did not assume OMB clearance would be required when developing the deliverable schedule as it may not be required for all projects depending on the methods proposed. If the Offeror proposal includes the need for OMB clearance earlier in the project, they should discuss the impact on the timeline.

Question #37: Can AHRQ provide additional detail on what they expect in the conduct of Task 2.7, Evaluation? Does AHRQ anticipate the need for additional data collection outside of the data collected during the scope of the project to complete this task?

Answer: As noted in subtask 2.7 the evaluation is integral to the project and all relevant data should be collected during the project.

Question #38: As a number of the tasks can vary extensively in their scope, can AHRQ provide an estimate of the anticipated hours needed to conduct this project in the base and option years?

Answer: AHRQ cannot give a cost estimate to the Offeror for any aspect of this requirement. That is for the Offeror to determine for themselves, based on their understanding of the requirements and their unique approach to accomplishing the work.

Question #39: Optional Task 3.7 is not in the table of deliverables. When does it occur?

Answer: As stated on pg 28, "The option to carry out subtask 3.7 may be exercised at the discretion of AHRQ during the contract period through a contract modification if time permits or during option years. A budget will be negotiated at the time the tasks are identified."

Question #40: On page 20 of the RFP AHRQ states that a minimum of "4 target groups should be defined." and then states that "Target Group 1 would be convened in groups of 4, meeting 3 times each". Does this imply that each target group would be convened 12 times so that potentially 48 or more "groups" would be convened (4x12)? Can AHRQ provide more clarity on target groups and the number of times they will convene individually and collectively?

Answer: The original RFP was intended to say, as an example, that Target Group 1 would include 60 members, who would be convened in 4 groups (of 15 persons each), with each of these groups meeting 3 times. So there would be a total of 4x3=12 meetings, not 48. Again, this is an example.

Question #41: Does AHRQ intend that each question should be tested in a target group?

Answer: The Offeror should propose whether each question is addressed in all target groups, or whether different groups explore different questions when describing their approach to the solicitation.

Question #42: On page 32 the RFP notes "AHRQ has commissioned an evaluation of the EHC governance structure." which will inform task design. Who is the contractor for this effort? Are there reports from the effort that can be made public at this time?

Answer: The contractor for this effort is IMPAQ International, LLC. There are no public reports at this time as the efforts are still underway.

Question #43: Can AHRQ provide a definition for major subcontractors with respect to past performance requirements?

Answer: Past Performance Questionnaires and instructions are included in the RFP.

Question #44: Section A, RFP page 1 asks for the hard copies of the Technical Proposal and CD's of the Appendices. Please confirm that the Technical Proposal will not be required to be burned onto a CD and that hard copies of the Appendices will not be required.

Answer: The government confirms this assessment of the requirement.

Question #45: What is the area of coverage of the forums? Nationwide, regional or local?

Answer already posted on 3-12-2010: The area of coverage is up to the Offeror, whether community forums, regional or national. The Offeror will have to make that decision based on balancing the feasibility of covering a larger area vise the cost effectiveness of a more ambitious coverage area.

Question #46: Why is this effort not a small business set-aside?

Answer: A previous market survey confirmed that not enough qualified sources existed to make this a small business set-aside.

Answer already posted on 3-12-2010: The sources sought had to return at least TWO qualified small businesses that could do the work themselves or with limited help from larger businesses and the government did not feel that any of the capability statements received reflected this ability.

Question #47: Can you post a cost estimate?

Answer: No we cannot. The government wants proposals based on the Offeror's understanding of the requirement and unique approach to accomplishing the tasks there in. A cost estimate would tend to result, in many cases, in the paring down or building up of a Offeror's proposal to meet the estimated Firm Fixed Price.

Answer already posted on 3-12-2010: No, we cannot. The government is looking for proposals that truly understand the requirement and part of that understanding would be reflected in the cost proposed for the work. A proposal that is way under or way over what the government expects should be the cost would likely either have not understood the requirement OR would have put too much into their proposal. This would not NECESSARILY eliminate an Offeror in and of itself, however. But it would be another gauge for assessing understanding of the requirement.

Question #48: Can you extend the due date for proposals?

Answer: No, we cannot.

Answer already posted on 3-12-2010: No, we cannot.

Question #49: There is a reference to Attachment 5, but no Attachment 5?

Answer: There is no Attachment 5. This was an error.

Answer already posted on 3-12-2010: That was a mistake. There is NO Attachment #5.

Question #50: We do not have much past performance. Will that work against us? Will there be a "neutral rating" for us for past performance?

Answer: The government will assign a neutral rating for past performance if none exists. However, even a neutral rating will not garner as many points as extensive, positive past performance ratings will.

Answer already posted on 3-12-2010: Yes, no or little past performance would receive a neutral rating. While this is not necessarily bad in a vacuum, it would not look as good as positive, extensive past performance would and would receive a grade that would be lower than that.

Question #51: Are the entities currently participating in the EHC eligible to bid on this procurement? We are referring to the EPC's, DECIDE Network members, CERTs projects, CHOICE grantees and the Eisenberg Center, for example.

Answer: Yes.

Question #52: Is the contractor who holds the contract referenced on page 32 of the RFP eligible to bid on this procurement? What firm holds this contract?

Answer: The contractor for the governance evaluation effort is IMPAQ International, LLC. This contractor is eligible to bid on this procurement.

Question #53: Will AHRQ entertain a bid for certain parts of the contract rather than the whole?

Answer: No, offerors must submit proposals for the entire effort. All others will be disqualified.

Current as of March 22, 2010


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