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Mandatory Qualification Criteria for Offerors SOP

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This standard operating procedure (SOP) includes the following sections: Purpose, Procedure, Contacts, and Links.


To establish objectively measurable criteria an offeror must meet when submitting a proposal to be considered for award.


NIH views mandatory qualifications or special contractor standards with concern because they restrict competition and discourages their use. Any such restrictions should be weighed carefully and approved as part of the acquisition plan. The request for proposals must provide the rationale for the restriction.

NIAID will use and evaluate mandatory qualification criteria as described below.


  • When a solicitation has mandatory qualification criteria, include documentation that demonstrates that you have met the criteria in one clearly marked section of your initial technical proposal.

Contracting Officer

  • Work with the contracting officer’s representative (COR) to discuss the need for mandatory qualification criteria. You make the final determination.
  • Document the mandatory qualification criteria proposed and why they are essential. Criteria should be clear-cut and objectively measurable.
  • Ensure that the use of mandatory qualification criteria is approved as part of the acquisition plan package.
  • Specify in the solicitation that offerors must meet the mandatory qualification criteria when submitting an initial technical proposal, and include applicable provisions.
  • Provide solicitation instructions requiring offerors to document that the qualification criteria have been met in one clearly marked section of the initial technical proposal.
  • Receive proposals containing documentation in response to mandatory qualification criteria and forward within one business day to the COR.
  • Ensure that the COR reviews each offeror's documentation in light of the mandatory qualification criteria, document whether the offeror has the mandatory qualifications, and sign the recommendation.
  • You make the final decision on which proposals meet the mandatory qualification criteria and document this decision in the contract file.
  • Within 14 calendar days, notify offerors who have not met the mandatory qualification that they will no longer be considered for award.
  • Forward only proposals that have met the mandatory qualification criteria to the Scientific Review Program for technical evaluation.

Contracting Officer's Representative (COR)

  • Work with the contracting officer to discuss the use of mandatory qualification criteria.
  • Write the mandatory qualification criteria as part of the acquisition plan package.
  • Review each technical proposal to recommend whether the offeror has met the mandatory qualification criteria at the time of the initial technical proposal submission. Your recommendation is based only on the documentation in the technical proposal.
  • Document whether the mandatory qualification criteria have been met for each proposal and give signed copies of your recommendation to the contract specialist within seven calendar days.


Check the solicitation for contact information, or see the Office of Acquisitions staff listing for the appropriate contract specialist.

See the SRP staff directory for peer review contacts.

If you have knowledge to share or want more information on this topic, email with the title of this page or its URL and your question or comment. Thanks for helping us clarify and expand our knowledge base.


NIH Policy Manual 6315-1, Initiation, Review, Evaluation, and Award of R&D Contracts, Item (E.) (1.)(e.)(5.)(a.)

Contracting Officer SOP

Contracting Officer's Representative (COR) SOP

Last Updated November 13, 2014

Last Reviewed July 30, 2014