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Federal Acquisition Regulation; Discussion Requirements

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCIES:

Department of Defense (DoD), General Services Administration (GSA), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

The Civilian Agency Acquisition Council and the Defense Acquisition Regulations Council (Councils) have agreed to amend the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to clarify the scope of discussions in competitive negotiated acquisitions.

DATES:

Effective Date: February 19, 2002.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

The FAR Secretariat, Room 4035, GS Building, Washington, DC, 20405, (202) 501-4755, for information pertaining to status or publication schedules. For clarification of content, contact Mr. Ralph DeStefano, Procurement Analyst, at (202) 501-1758. Please cite FAC 2001-02, FAR case 1999-022.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

A. Background

This final rule amends FAR 15.306(d) to clarify that the contracting officer is not required to discuss every area where the proposal could be improved. The rule explains that discussions of offerors' proposals beyond deficiencies and significant weaknesses are a matter of contracting officer judgment. GAO has already interpreted the previous FAR language consistently with this clarification in MRC Federal, Inc. (B-280969, December 14, 1998), and Du & Associates (B-280283.3, December 22, 1998). The rule encourages the contracting officer to discuss other aspects of an offerors' proposal that have the potential, if changed, to materially increase the value of the proposal to the Government (B-280283.3). However, the rule makes clear that whether these discussions would be worthwhile is within the contracting officer's discretion.

DoD, GSA, and NASA published a proposed rule in the Federal Register at 65 FR 17582, April 3, 2000. Five respondents submitted comments on the proposed rule. The Councils considered all comments in the development of the final rule.

This is not a significant regulatory action, and therefore, was not subject to review under Section 6(b) of Executive Order 12866, Regulatory Planning and Review, dated September 30, 1993. This rule is not a major rule under 5 U.S.C. 804.

B. Regulatory Flexibility Act

The Department of Defense, the General Services Administration, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration certify that this final rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities within the meaning of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 601, et seq., because the rule only clarifies existing policy that the scope and extent of discussions beyond the stated minimums are a matter of contracting officer judgment. We did not receive any comments regarding this determination as a result of publication of the proposed rule in the Federal Register at 65 FR 17582, April 3, 2000.

C. Paperwork Reduction Act

The Paperwork Reduction Act does not apply because the changes to the FAR do not impose information collection requirements that require the Start Printed Page 65369approval of the Office of Management and Budget under 44 U.S.C. 3501, et seq.

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List of Subjects in 48 CFR Part 15

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Dated: December 5, 2001.

Al Matera,

Director, Federal Acquisition Policy Division.

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Therefore, DoD, GSA, and NASA amend

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PART 15—CONTRACTING BY NEGOTIATION

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1. The authority citation for

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Authority: 40 U.S.C. 486(c); 10 U.S.C. chapter 137; and 42 U.S.C. 2473(c).

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2. Amend section 15.306 in paragraph (d)(1) by removing “shall” and inserting “must” in its place; by revising paragraph (d)(3); and by redesignating paragraph (d)(4) as (d)(5) and adding a new (d)(4) to read as follows:

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Exchanges with offerors after receipt of proposals.
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(d) * * *

(3) At a minimum, the contracting officer must, subject to paragraphs (d)(5) and (e) of this section and 15.307(a), indicate to, or discuss with, each offeror still being considered for award, deficiencies, significant weaknesses, and adverse past performance information to which the offeror has not yet had an opportunity to respond. The contracting officer also is encouraged to discuss other aspects of the offeror's proposal that could, in the opinion of the contracting officer, be altered or explained to enhance materially the proposal's potential for award. However, the contracting officer is not required to discuss every area where the proposal could be improved. The scope and extent of discussions are a matter of contracting officer judgment.

(4) In discussing other aspects of the proposal, the Government may, in situations where the solicitation stated that evaluation credit would be given for technical solutions exceeding any mandatory minimums, negotiate with offerors for increased performance beyond any mandatory minimums, and the Government may suggest to offerors that have exceeded any mandatory minimums (in ways that are not integral to the design), that their proposals would be more competitive if the excesses were removed and the offered price decreased.

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[FR Doc. 01-30542 Filed 12-17-01; 8:45 am]

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