Medium 9781567262483

Federal Acquisition

Views: 91
Ratings: (0)
Take the First Step Toward Building a Strong Foundation in Federal Acquisition!
Federal Acquisition: Key Issues and Guidance is an essential guide to understanding and working within the complex world of federal government contracting. It offers brief but comprehensive explanations of the major phases and essential tasks in the contracting process. Written in a clear and easy-to-understand style, this resource provides the perfect foundation for building a thorough understanding of federal contracting.
Author Paula Compton focuses on the most problematic areas of federal contracting, highlighting the deficiencies cited most often by the Government Accountability Office and Inspector General audits and reports, such as:
• Not performing market research
• Inadequate independent government cost estimates
• Violation of the bona fide needs rule
• Insufficient statements of work
• Inadequate price or cost analysis
Anyone new to government acquisition will find that reading this book is the ideal first step on the path to understanding the federal acquisition process. Seasoned contract professionals will find it an excellent quick review.

List price: $79.95

Your Price: $59.96

You Save: 25%

Remix
Remove

21 Chapters

Format Buy Remix

Chapter 1 - Funding: The Availability of Appropriations and the Bona Fide Needs Rule

ePub

(FAR 32.7; Government Accountability Office, Principles of Federal Appropriations Law, Volumes I and II)

The first phase of the federal acquisition process is known as the acquisition planning phase. Understanding the rules that apply to federal appropriations is an important part of the planning phase—one that is too often neglected. Acquisition audit reports have identified many violations of the rules that pertain to federal appropriations. The audit reports indicate that some federal agencies do not adhere to the limitations on purpose, amount, and time. For example, an acquisition organization violated the purpose limitation by using a contract for computers and accessories to purchase army Humvees. Another organization violated the time and amount limitation by awarding a contract to purchase equipment for use in fiscal year 2005 with expired fiscal year 2004 funds.

It is essential, then, for every acquisition professional to understand that appropriations for federal agencies are made for specific purposes during specified fiscal years and that the funds may be obligated and expended only within the amounts appropriated by Congress. They must also understand that appropriated funds may be obligated only to meet a legitimate—or bona fide—need in the fiscal year(s) for which appropriation was made.

 

Chapter 2 - Independent Government Cost Estimates

ePub

(FAR 4.803, 13.106-3, 15.404-1 and 406-1, 36.203, 36.605)

A cost estimate is the estimated cost or price of supplies or services to be purchased for the federal government. Commonly referred to as independent government cost estimates (IGCE) within the federal government, cost estimates are important in the acquisition process, but they are often prepared incorrectly. Acquisition audit reviews have shown that too many contracts have incomplete or inadequate estimates.

Sadly, some believe that government estimates are not important. Not long ago, an acquisition instructor noted that government estimates were not worth the paper they were written on, implying that they were not necessary. On the contrary: Cost estimates are essential. When a cost estimate is prepared properly and includes supporting information, it will help determine whether prices offered by vendors are fair and reasonable. Incomplete estimates or those that lack cost details make cost or price analysis much more difficult. All acquisition professionals should understand why cost estimates are important and how to develop and use them.

 

Chapter 3 - Justifying Contract Awards without Full and Open Competition

ePub

(FAR 6.3)

Did you know that a written justification is required when an agency decides to award a contract without full and open competition and that the justification is required by law to be made available for public inspection? This written justification must be prepared in accordance with FAR 6.3 (Other than Full and Open Competition).

A recent acquisition audit reported that an agency had awarded a contract valued at $100 million to one vendor without the required justification and agency approvals for a noncompetitive solicitation. When written justifications are provided, audit review reports often find that they are inadequate, incomplete, and not prepared in accordance with FAR policy.

Preparation of a proper and complete justification always prevents contract problems. Acquisition professionals are strongly encouraged to comply with the statutory authority in FAR 6.3 when contracting without allowing for full and open competition.

The Competition in Contracting Act of 1984, as amended, mandates that all agencies use full and open competition for both the sealed bid and competitive negotiation methods of contracting unless exempted. Two statutory authorities allow federal agencies to execute contracts without using competitive procedures: 10 USC 2304(c) and 41 USC 253(c), as implemented in FAR 6.3. The Department of Defense (DoD), U.S. Coast Guard, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) must comply with the provisions in 10 USC 2304(c); civilian agencies are subject to the provisions in 41 USC 253(c).

 

Chapter 4 - Market Research

ePub

(FAR part 10)

Market research is the process of gathering, recording, and analyzing information about vendors and commercial products in the commercial marketplace. Correctly done, market research provides information on the range of commercial supplies or services available. It also helps determine whether full and open competition for an acquisition is feasible.

Federal agencies often overlook market research when developing contracts. Acquisition audit reports have found that market research documentation is not always included in contract files and that market research is infrequently performed for acquisitions made through interagency contracting.

Market research is a basic contracting fundamental. It must be performed for all acquisition actions over $150,000 unless the contract is to be awarded on a sole source basis. Although market research is not mandatory for actions under $150,000, it is in the best interest of acquisition professionals to perform some research for all competitive acquisition actions under that threshold. Information on just about any product used by the public is readily available online.

 

Chapter 5 - The Statement of Work

ePub

(FAR 2.1, 8.405-2, 11.002, 15/2-4-1 and 2, 16.504, 35.005, 36.601-3)

The Services Acquisition Reform Act (SARA) of 2003 established an advisory panel to come up with recommendations for improving federal acquisition practices. The Acquisition Advisory Panel found that the federal government was not developing well-defined requirements. The private commercial sector did a better job defining its requirements because commercial organizations invested the necessary time and resources for requirements definition. Based on its review, the panel concluded that commercial organizations were able to get quality supplies and services at reduced prices because they had well-defined requirements and used full and open competition. The panel came up with 89 recommendations for improving federal acquisition practices. One of the recommendations called for federal agencies to improve their requirements definition. It is important for acquisition professionals to ensure that the government’s requirements are well defined before soliciting offers from vendors.

 

Chapter 6 - Acquisition Methods and Selecting the Appropriate Type of Contract

ePub

(FAR parts 14, 15, and 16)

In the past few years, acquisition audit reviews have found that there is a growing trend toward the use of time-and-materials and cost-plus contracts. Unfortunately, these contract types are often selected only because the government cannot explain what it wants. They place little risk on the contractor and are very costly, practically allowing the contractor to spend as much as it wants to, so they should not be used unless their use can be justified. Acquisition professionals should spend taxpayer dollars wisely by making an effort to use contract types that impose sufficient but not undue risk on the contractor to encourage good performance.

There are two basic methods of contracting within the federal government: sealed bidding and contracting by negotiation. One of these two methods must be used for all noncommercial acquisitions exceeding the simplified acquisition threshold of $150,000. The contracting officer, in coordination with the program office requesting the supplies or services, is responsible for deciding which method will be used. Their decision is based on the SOW, which dictates the method and type to be used.

 

Chapter 7 - Performance-Based Acquisition for Services

ePub

(FAR 2.1, 7.1, 12.1, 32.10, 37.101, and 103, 37.6)

In an effort to improve federal acquisition methods and procedures, in 2005 the Acquisition Advisory Panel reviewed seven parts of the federal acquisitions system. The panel found that there was a need for improvement in the implementation of performance-based acquisition (PBA). The Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) has encouraged greater use of performance-based contracting since 1991, but the panel found it had not been fully implemented by federal agencies. The panel reported that agencies were not clearly defining their requirements, developing adequate statements of work, identifying meaningful quality measures and effective incentives, or effectively managing contracts.

To improve their use of performance-based contracting, acquisition professionals must understand the processes that govern it, and they must help program offices develop clear performance requirements, measurable performance standards, and quality assurance plans.

 

Chapter 8 - The Federal Small Business Program

ePub

(FAR part 19)

The small business program is probably the least understood component of the federal government acquisition system. The program, like the federal acquisition system, is governed by complex laws and regulations. Those responsible for the program are often not included in the planning stage of acquisition actions. There is seldom any coordination between acquisition professionals and small business professionals. When the groups do communicate, it usually happens late in the acquisition process and long after any meaningful input can be made by the small business professionals.

Currently, more and better coordination is needed between the small business and acquisition offices within every government agency. To ensure that they are afforded sufficient opportunities to participate in federal contracts, it is imperative that all acquisition professionals understand the contracting requirements that govern the small business program. The information provided in this chapter highlights some small business policies and procedures that will ensure fair awards to small businesses. It is recommended that small business professionals be made a part of the acquisition team during the planning stage of all new acquisition actions.

 

Chapter 9 - Solicitation and Contract Formats, Provisions, and Clauses

ePub

(FAR parts 12, 15, and 52)

Sometimes, federal agencies do not include all the provisions and clauses required by law and regulation in solicitations issued to the public. This may be because the requirement is urgent or the acquisition team isn’t aware that certain elements must be included. Regardless of the circumstances, solicitation and contract documents must include the proper provisions and clauses and be prepared in the format required by the FAR to be in compliance with law and regulation.

The federal government uses two different types of contract formats for most solicitations and contracts. One format, the uniform contract format (UCF), is for the acquisition of supplies and services under the negotiated method of contracting; the other is for the acquisition of commercial items. The contract formats simplify the preparation of solicitations and contracts for the federal agencies.

The government uses the UCF for most solicitations and resulting contracts when purchasing supplies and services that cannot be defined as commercial items. Per FAR 15.204, the government is not required to use the UCF for the following acquisition actions:

 

Chapter 10 - Source Selection and Technical Evaluation Plans

ePub

(FAR 15.3)

When reviewing bid protests, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) often finds that the evaluation procedures specified in solicitations are not used in the evaluation of proposals. An agency acquisition covered by the Trade Agreements Act was recently protested by Tiger Truck, LLC. The protest was sustained by the comptroller general in January 2009 (B-400685, January 14, 2009). The agency had failed to follow the required evaluation procedures, which included requirements of the Trade Agreements Act. Sometimes an agency evaluation team will not follow the evaluation procedures or will not use all the evaluation criteria because they were poorly drafted or too general in content. The evaluation criteria must be prepared with great care so that they fit the requirements in the statement of work (SOW). The care with which the criteria are prepared will contribute to the quality of the evaluation and the supplies or services received.

The purpose of a source selection plan or technical evaluation plan is to define the approach for evaluating proposals solicited from vendors. The plan serves as a guide for the evaluation team. It denotes team members’ roles and responsibilities and establishes the standards of conduct to be maintained by the team, from preparation of the requirements through the award of the contract. The evaluation plan is used for both technical and nontechnical proposals received from vendors in competitive and noncompetitive negotiated acquisitions.

 

Chapter 11 - Legal Review during the Solicitation Phase

ePub

(FAR 1.602-3, 4.8; 14.407-3, 14.407-4, 15.303, 42.12, part 33, 37.103, 37.104, part 49)

A recent audit performed by an agency inspector general revealed that an acquisition office had made a conscious decision not to comply with agency policy requiring legal review of solicitations because its solicitations were not being reviewed on time. Other acquisition audits also have reported that solicitations are not being reviewed for legal sufficiency prior to issuance. Some acquisition organizations skip the legal review process for solicitations because they are not aware of its benefits.

A legal review ensures that a solicitation and related transactions are in compliance with acquisition laws and are legally defensible in case of a protest. Every acquisition professional is responsible for reviewing agency regulations and policies on legal sufficiency reviews and complying with them. This chapter discusses the legal review process for solicitations, which should be followed by all acquisition professionals. A legal review (also called a legal sufficiency review) is not a technical review. Rather, it is a review that determines whether a solicitation and related transactions are lawful. Legal departments commonly assume that the technical information in a solicitation is in compliance with agency regulation and policy, so no review of the technical content is performed unless requested by the contracting officer.

 

Chapter 12 - Technical and Cost or Price Evaluations

ePub

(FAR 1.102-2(c), 3.104-3, 9.505-3, 12.5, 14.201-6, 15.3, and 15.6)

The third phase of the federal acquisition process is known as the evaluation, negotiation, and award phase. In recent years, vendors protested several large acquisitions because evaluations were not performed based on the agency’s evaluation procedures, and the protests were sustained by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). A technical evaluation of a vendor’s proposal must be performed against the evaluation criteria specified in the solicitation and the government’s requirements. When the evaluation is not performed in accordance with the evaluation criteria and the requirements provided in the solicitation, competing vendors will certainly protest it.

An evaluation is done to assess the quality of a proposing vendor’s offer and to determine whether the vendor is capable of performing the work at a reasonable price for the government. The evaluation process begins when proposals are received from proposing vendors, and it continues through the negotiation process and the evaluation of the revised final proposals.

 

Chapter 13 - Determining Price Reasonableness

ePub

(FAR 8.4, 12.209, 13.106-3, 13.202, 14.408-2, 15.4, and 15.305)

The government requires contractors to be paid fair and reasonable prices. There is no set definition for the term “fair and reasonable,” and obtaining a fair and reasonable price depends on many factors. Also, the process of determining price reasonableness is sometimes not adequately documented or supported, so the basis for a determination of price reasonableness may not be apparent. In one audit, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the price reasonableness determinations for 25 out of 49 contract actions were not properly documented or supported. GAO also found that some agencies had added work to existing contracts without determining whether the prices for the new work were fair and reasonable.

A good cost or price analysis and good business judgment help agencies make a good determination of price reasonableness. The purpose of this chapter is to help the acquisition professional understand the processes involved in determining a fair and reasonable price.

 

Chapter 14 - Determining Responsibility

ePub

(FAR 9.1)

FAR 9.103 mandates that contracts be awarded only to responsible prospective contractors. The agency contracting officer is responsible for determining that the vendor chosen for contract award is qualified to perform work for the government and capable of doing so. This responsibility determination requirement goes hand in hand with the determination that the price offered is fair and reasonable.

The determination of responsibility must be based on relevant, factual information, as required by regulation, and on sound business judgment reached in good faith. If the contracting officer does not ground his or her judgment of responsibility in fact, a contractor determined to be non-responsible will surely file a protest. However, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has repeatedly said that contracting officers have broad discretion in exercising sound business judgment when determining responsibility. Thus, GAO rarely sustains non-responsibility protests, unless the protester can demonstrate that the contracting officer had no reasonable basis for the determination or that he or she acted in bad faith.

 

Chapter 15 - Reviewing the Award Document

ePub

(FAR 4.8, 33.102, 37.103, and 37.104)

The FAR does not provide instructions on legal reviews for award documents, but it does provide examples of records that should be maintained in the agency contract files (FAR 4.803, Contents of Contract Files). The 24th example is “required approvals of award and evidence of legal review.” Some agencies, however, do not submit award documents to their legal office for review. An acquisition audit performed on 49 contract files by an agency inspector general reported that many of the files contained inadequate legal reviews or none at all.

Having legal counsel review award documents for legal sufficiency is even more important than obtaining legal review for a solicitation. Some agencies may decide to award a contract without legal review to meet a deadline or because the legal office is unable to provide timely reviews. But acquisition professionals must make sure award documents are submitted for legal review. The review is essential: It ensures that the contract is in compliance with applicable acquisition laws, regulations, executive orders, and government policies and that it is legally binding and enforceable.

 

Chapter 16 - Announcing Contract Awards

ePub

(FAR 5.303)

As required by regulation, federal agencies must announce all contract awards of $3.5 million or above to the public, unless agency acquisition regulations mandate a different threshold. The FAR requires all federal agencies to make public announcements regarding their contract awards by 5:00 p.m. Washington, D.C., time on the day of the award. The FAR does not require agencies to notify members of Congress when contracts are awarded in their jurisdictions, but agencies typically want to involve congresspeople in the contract award process. Notifying them is a courtesy. Public announcements and notifications to Congress help keep the federal acquisition system transparent to taxpayers. This transparency is essential to maintaining public trust.

Most agencies have policies and procedures on the dollar thresholds for making public announcements and notifying members of Congress about contract awards.

FAR 5.303(a) states the following on public announcements of contract awards:

 

Chapter 17 - Notifying and Debriefing Unsuccessful Vendors

ePub

(FAR 15.306(c)(3), 5.5)

Notifications and debriefings are very important to competing vendors. When an unsuccessful vendor is notified that it is no longer in the competition, it can stop all activities for that acquisition and can then devote its financial and human resources to other business opportunities. If a vendor chooses to be debriefed, it can find out why it was eliminated from the competitive process. Debriefings usually let vendors know the ways in which they must improve. A good debriefing will help a vendor succeed in future competitions and improves the full and open competition process for the government.

Preaward notices are required by FAR 15.503(a), and postaward notices are required by 41 USC 253b(c) and 10 USC 2305(b)(5), as implemented in FAR 15.503(b) (Notification to Unsuccessful Offerors). Preaward debriefings are permitted by 41 USC 253b(f-h) and 10 USC 2305(b)(6)(A) as implemented in FAR 15.505, and, when requested, postaward debriefings are required by 41 USC 253b(e) and 10 USC 2305(b)(5), as implemented in FAR 15.506. Debriefings must be requested in writing by unsuccessful vendors.

 

Chapter 18 - The Federal Supply Schedule Program and Price Reductions

ePub

(FAR 8.4, 38.0)

The federal government’s use of the Federal Supply Schedule Program has increased considerably within the last ten years. This is because the amount of commercial supplies and services provided by the program has increased and because the program simplifies obtaining commercial items and price discounts and reductions for customers. Despite the program’s growing popularity, some agencies still do not take advantage of the price discounts and reductions that are permitted by regulation. This program allows the government to request price discounts and reductions prior to award. Discounts and reductions are normally requested during the evaluation, negotiation, and award phase of the acquisition process.

This chapter explains the Federal Supply Schedule Program and offers guidance on price discounts and reductions offered by schedule vendors. Acquisition professionals are encouraged to become familiar with the program’s benefits.

The Federal Supply Service within the General Services Administration (GSA) awards and manages contracts under its Federal Supply Schedule Program, also known as the GSA Schedules Program and Multiple Award Schedule Program. This program simplifies the process for obtaining commercial supplies or services that are commonly used in the open marketplace.

 

Load more


Details

Print Book
E-Books
Chapters

Format name
ePub
Encrypted
No
Sku
BPE0000250060
Isbn
9781567263305
File size
2.8 MB
Printing
Allowed
Copying
Allowed
Read aloud
Allowed
Format name
ePub
Encrypted
No
Printing
Allowed
Copying
Allowed
Read aloud
Allowed
Sku
In metadata
Isbn
In metadata
File size
In metadata