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Statistical Standards
Statistical Standards Program
Table of Contents
1. Development of Concepts and Methods
2. Planning and Design of Surveys

2-1 Design of Surveys
2-2 Survey Response Rate Parameters
2-3 Developing RFPs for Surveys
2-4 Pretesting Survey Systems
2-5 Maintaining Data Series Over Time
2-6 Educational Testing

3. Collection of Data
4. Processing and Editing of Data
5. Analysis of Data / Production of Estimates or Projections
6. Establishment of Review Procedures
7. Dissemination of Data
Appendix A
Appendix B
Appendix C
Appendix D
Publication information

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PURPOSE: To assist NCES staff in the preparation of high quality RFPs. Each RFP should include the information required to allow an offeror to submit a proposal that demonstrates technical and managerial competence sufficient to complete successfully all phases of surveys. Each RFP should include evaluation criteria to assist the government in selecting the best offeror to conduct the work. The RFP should provide a clear, precise, and accurate description of the requirement for the work and the expected activities, services, products, and level of effort to be delivered under the contract.

KEY TERMS: award incentive plan, and survey system.

STANDARD 2-3-1: RFPs must be written in compliance with guidelines established in the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) and in other departmental administrative procedures and guidelines.

    GUIDELINE 2-3-1A: The contracting office of the Department of Education is responsible for the acquisition process for NCES and can provide expertise and guidance in the development of the RFP.

    GUIDELINE 2-3-1B: Within NCES, the staff member who is responsible for the development of a Statement of Work (SOW) and related documents should also be designated Contracting Officer's Representative (COR). The staff member responsible for the development of the SOW should have completed courses required for COR certification. Minimally, the individual designated as COR should be included in the development process, to provide familiarity with the contractual requirements and expectations.

STANDARD 2-3-2: The Statement of Work (SOW) must contain technical, managerial, and deliverable specifications (see Standards 1-1 and 2-2).

    GUIDELINE 2-3-2A: The technical specifications for all phases of design, implementation, and analysis include: methodological, statistical, timeline, resource, analysis, and data file parameters. Managerial specifications should be written as specific activities and tasks. Those to be performed by the contractor and those to be performed by NCES should be clearly delineated. There should be a schedule for all deliverables (e.g., analysis plans, final reports).

STANDARD 2-3-3: The COR must be fully certified and must maintain COR certification. COR certification requires courses on contracting overview, independent government cost estimates, preparing performance-based statements of work, and contract administration. To maintain COR certification, the COR must complete an advanced contract administration course every 2 years as well as periodic required courses, such as courses on the Department of Education's financial management system, EDCAPS, and the Contracts and Purchasing Software System (CPSS).

STANDARD 2-3-4: The COR must develop an Independent Government Cost Estimate (IGCE) that includes estimates of the cost of the project for all phases and elements of the survey system in terms of the contractor's manpower commitment by labor categories and other related costs. Automated Data Processing (ADP) cost, or Information Technology (IT) costs, must be estimated within each of the budget categories, to yield an estimate of total ADP costs within the total budget. Total estimated cost must not exceed the NCES budget amount for the project.

    GUIDELINE 2-3-4A: For further information, consult previous comparable project estimates.

STANDARD 2-3-5: To obtain funding commitment, the COR must initiate the authorization and have it approved by the Division's Associate Commissioner. The COR must confirm the survey's fiscal year scheduled activity and obtain all accounting information with the budget contact source in the Office of the Deputy Commissioner (ODC). The ODC will commit the survey funds in the Department's financial system and electronically submit the authorization to the Contracting Officer (CO).

STANDARD 2-3-6: The Proposal Evaluation Plan specifies the membership of the Technical Evaluation Panel (TEP), who serve as advisers to the Contracting Officer (CO). The plan also provides the criteria on which the COR and the TEP assess the proposals. The COR, in collaboration with the CO, assigns the factors and weights associated with each criterion. Only criteria and weights stated in the RFP may be used to evaluate submitted proposals (see Standard 1-1 and 2-2).

    GUIDELINE 2-3-6A: The criteria may include such factors as technical competence, analysis plan, familiarity with data files, and management plan.

STANDARD 2-3-7: The Proposal Preparation Instructions inform the offeror as to the substantive, format, and organizational requirements for completing their proposal. The offeror must submit two separate proposals: (1) technical and (2) business. They are evaluated separately.

STANDARD 2-3-8: The COR must prepare the required clearances and approvals for the planned survey activity. The standard clearances for all new RFPs are currently the Information Technology (IT) Resources clearance, Impact Determination clearance, and the Administrative Test for Characterizing Particular Services as "Personal" or "Nonpersonal" clearance.

    GUIDELINE 2-3-8A: Each RFP survey may have its own applicable/special clearances depending on the type of procurement required. (The ACS Departmental Directive, C: GPA: 2-105, Acquisition Planning, dated June 10, 1992 or later should be referenced to explain the standard clearances noted above and possible other clearances or approvals that might be required.)

STANDARD 2-3-9: The Award Incentive Plan for a performance-based contract must include a description of deliverables, schedules, and other evaluation criteria. It must also provide definitions of quality for each criterion and the associated incentive award fee or penalty. The evaluation criteria must include, but are not limited to, the definition of the work in measurable and/or mission-related terms.

    GUIDELINE 2-3-9A: This plan tells the contractor what activity or product is required to be considered for an award incentive, above and beyond the acceptable standards for the contract. It also tells the contractor when penalties may be applied. In addition to a specified set of activities or products, NCES may include an option to pre-select at random additional deliverables for award or penalty.

    GUIDELINE 2-3-9B: Award incentives criteria frequently include such factors as quantity, timeliness, or quality. Other criteria that are sometimes used include commercial or industry-wide standards that are used to measure performance.

    GUIDELINE 2-3-9C: An award fee incentive can be applied as a specified amount for a specific deliverable or the award fee can be applied in increments related to quality of the deliverable. Award incentive fees are based on the Contracting Officer's Representative's (COR) evaluation and ranking of the deliverables. The amount of the award incentive fee is determined by negotiations involving the COR, NCES senior management, and the Contracting Officer prior to awarding the contract.

    GUIDELINE 2-3-9D: The following documents offer specific guidance on how to develop a performance-based solicitation:

    1. "Information on Best Practices for Performance-Based Service Contracting," October 1998, Published by the Office of Federal Procurement Policy at OMB.
    2. "Federal Acquisition Circular 97-1."
    3. "Federal Acquisition Regulation Subpart 37.6."

    These documents are accessible through the Acquisition Reform Network

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National Center for Education Statistics -
U.S. Department of Education