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Proposed Rule

Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement; Payment Withholding

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

Published Document

This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

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AGENCY:

Department of Defense (DoD).

ACTION:

Proposed rule with request for comments.

SUMMARY:

DoD is proposing to amend the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) to remove the requirement that a contracting officer withhold 5 percent of the payments due under a time-and-materials or labor-hour contract unless otherwise prescribed in the contract Schedule. The proposed rule would permit, but not require, the administrative contracting officer (ACO) to withhold payment amounts if the ACO determines the withholding to be necessary to protect the Government's interests.

DATES:

DoD will consider all comments received by April 29, 2003.

ADDRESSES:

Respondents may submit comments directly on the World Wide Web at http://emissary.acq.osd.mil/​dar/​dfars.nsf/​pubcomm. As an alternative, respondents may e-mail comments to: dfars@acq.osd.mil. Please cite DFARS Case 2002-D017 in the subject line of e-mailed comments.

Respondents that cannot submit comments using either of the above methods may submit comments to: Defense Acquisition Regulations Council, Attn: Ms. Sandra Haberlin, OUSD(AT&L)DPAP(DAR), IMD 3C132, 3062 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-3062; facsimile (703) 602-0350. Please cite DFARS Case 2002-D017.

At the end of the comment period, interested parties may view public comments on the World Wide Web at http://emissary.acq.osd.mil/​dar/​dfars.nsf.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Ms. Sandra Haberlin, (703) 602-0289.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

A. Background

Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) 52.232-7, Payments under Time-and-Materials and Labor-Hour Contracts, requires the contracting officer to withhold 5 percent of the amounts due, up to a maximum of $50,000, unless otherwise specified in the contract Schedule. The Government retains the withheld amount until the contractor executes and delivers, at the time of final payment, a release discharging the Government from all liabilities, obligations, and claims arising under the contract.

This rule proposes to add DFARS 232.111(b) and DFARS 252.232-7XXX, Alternate A, to specify that, normally, there should be no need to withhold payments when dealing with contractors that typically comply with contractual requirements in a timely manner. This is in contrast to the current requirement in time-and-materials and labor-hour contracts that contracting officers must withhold payments unless other direction is provided in the contract.

DoD is considering revising its policy because the current withholding provisions are administratively burdensome and may, in some situations, result in the withholding of amounts that exceed reasonable amounts needed to protect the Government's interests. In addition, the contractor is already incentivized to execute and deliver the release discharging the Government from all liabilities, obligations, and claims under the contract, since this release is a condition for final payment.

This rule was not subject to Office of Management and Budget review under Executive Order 12866, dated September 30, 1993.Start Printed Page 9628

B. Regulatory Flexibility Act

DoD does not expect this rule to 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 applies only to time-and-materials and labor-hour contracts. Most contracts awarded to small entities use simplified acquisition procedures or are awarded on a competitive, fixed-price basis. Therefore, DoD has not performed an initial regulatory flexibility analysis. DoD invites comments from small businesses and other interested parties. DoD also will consider comments from small entities concerning the affected DFARS subparts in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 610. Such comments should be submitted separately and should cite DFARS Case 2002-D017.

C. Paperwork Reduction Act

The Paperwork Reduction Act does not apply because the rule does not impose any information collection requirements that require the approval 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 Parts 232 and 252

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Michele P. Peterson,

Executive Editor, Defense Acquisition Regulations Council.

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Therefore, DoD proposes to amend 48 CFR Parts 232 and 252 as follows:

1. The authority citation for 48 CFR Parts 232 and 252 continues to read as follows:

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Authority: 41 U.S.C. 421 and 48 CFR Chapter 1.

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PART 232—CONTRACT FINANCING

2. Section 232.111 is added to read as follows:

Contract clauses for non-commercial purchases.

(b) Use the clause at FAR 52.232-7, Payments under Time-and-Materials and Labor-Hour Contracts, with 252.232-7XXX, Alternate A, in solicitations and contracts when a time-and-materials or labor-hour contract is contemplated.

(i) Alternate A permits the administrative contracting officer (ACO) to withhold 5 percent of the amount due until a reserve is set aside in an amount the ACO considers to be necessary, but not to exceed $50,000, to protect the Government's interests.

(ii) Normally, there should be no need to withhold payment for a contractor with a record of timely submittal of the release discharging the Government from all liabilities, obligations, and claims.

(iii) If the ACO determines that it is necessary to withhold payment to protect the Government's interests, the ACO shall issue written direction to the contractor to withhold 5 percent of amounts due until a sufficient reserve is set aside.

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PART 252—SOLICITATION PROVISIONS AND CONTRACT CLAUSES

3. Section 252.232-7XXX is added to read as follows:

Alternate A.

Alternate A (XXX 2003)

As prescribed in 232.111(b), substitute the following paragraph (a)(2) for paragraph (a)(2) of the clause at FAR 52.232-7:

(a)(2) The Administrative Contracting Officer (ACO) may unilaterally issue written direction to the Contractor to withhold amounts from its billings until a reserve is set aside in an amount that the ACO considers necessary to protect the Government's interests. The ACO may withhold 5 percent of the amounts due under this paragraph (a), but the total amount withheld shall not exceed $50,000. The amounts withheld shall be retained until the Contractor executes and delivers the release required by paragraph (f) of this clause.

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[FR Doc. 03-4700 Filed 2-27-03; 8:45 am]

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