Responsibility Determinations Under the Federal Acquisition Regulation: Legal Standards and Procedures [January 4, 2013] [open pdf - 349KB]
"This report discusses the standards and procedures that federal agencies use in making responsibility determinations under the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). As a general rule, government agencies contract with the lowest-priced (or best-value) qualified responsible bidder or offeror. Responsibility is an attribute of the contractor, while price and qualifications are attributes of the bid or offer. Under the FAR, '[n]o purchase or award shall be made unless the contracting officer makes an affirmative determination of responsibility.'"
CRS Report for Congress, R40633
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html