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Federal Acquisition Regulation; FAR Case 2005-038, Emergency Acquisitions

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AGENCIES:

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

ACTION:

Interim rule with request for comments.

SUMMARY:

The Civilian Agency Acquisition Council and the Defense Acquisition Regulations Council (Councils) have agreed on an interim rule amending the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to provide a single reference to acquisition flexibilities that may be used to facilitate and expedite acquisitions of supplies and services during emergency situations.

DATES:

Effective Date: July 5, 2006.

Comment Date: Interested parties should submit written comments to the FAR Secretariat on or before September 5, 2006 to be considered in the formulation of a final rule.

ADDRESSES:

Submit comments identified by FAC 2005-11, FAR case 2005-038, by any of the following methods:

Instructions: Please submit comments only and cite FAC 2005-11, FAR case 2005-038, in all correspondence related to this case. All comments received will be posted without change to http://www.acquisition.gov/​comp/​far/​ProposedRules/​comments.htm, Start Printed Page 38248including any personal and/or business confidential information provided.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

For clarification of content, contact Ms. Gloria Sochon, Procurement Analyst, at (202) 219-0311. Please cite FAC 2005-11, FAR case 2005-038. For information pertaining to status or publication schedules, contact the FAR Secretariat at (202) 501-4755.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

A. Background

The 2005 Atlantic hurricane season was a record one in terms of the number of hurricanes and their strength. The size and strength of Hurricane Katrina resulted in one of the largest natural disasters to strike the United States. As a result of last year’s hurricane season, Federal agencies are looking for methods to expedite their responses during an emergency. Emergency situations, however, go beyond natural disasters and include contingency operations as defined in FAR 2.101 and actions to facilitate the defense against or recovery from nuclear, biological, chemical, or radiological attack against the United States.

This rule revises FAR Part 18 to provide a single reference to the acquisition flexibilities already available in the FAR to facilitate and expedite acquisitions of supplies and services during all types of emergencies. For clarity and ease of use, the flexibilities are divided into two main groups. The first group titled “Available Acquisition Flexibilities” identifies the flexibilities that may be used anytime and do not require an emergency declaration. The second group titled “Emergency acquisition flexibilities” identifies the flexibilities that may be used only after an emergency declaration or designation has been made by the appropriate official. The second group is further divided into three subgroups: contingency operation; defense or recovery from certain attacks; and incidents of national significance, emergency declaration, or major disaster declarations.

In May 2003, the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) published guidance on the use of emergency procurement flexibilities to help ensure agencies were well positioned to effectively meet the demands associated with fighting terrorism. The OFPP is currently updating its guidance to also address flexibilities that can be used in other emergency situations such as national emergencies. The final rule will include a reference to the updated OFPP guidance. The Councils would like to hear the views of interested parties on the sufficiency of these provisions.

In particular, the Councils are interested in input on whether the provisions sufficiently clarify the existing FAR flexibilities that can be used in emergency situations or whether more detailed, comprehensive coverage is needed.

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 interim rule is not expected 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 makes no change to contracting policy. Therefore, an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis has not been performed. The Councils will consider comments from small entities concerning the affected FAR Part 18 in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 610. Interested parties must submit such comments separately and should cite 5 U.S.C 601, et seq. (FAC 2005-11, FAR case 2005-038), in correspondence.

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 approval of the Office of Management and Budget under 44 U.S.C. 3501, et seq.

D. Determination to Issue an Interim Rule

A determination has been made under the authority of the Secretary of Defense (DoD), the Administrator of General Services (GSA), and the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) that urgent and compelling reasons exist to promulgate this interim rule without prior opportunity for public comment. This action is necessary to improve the Government’s ability to expedite acquisitions of supplies and services during emergency situations. However, pursuant to Public Law 98-577 and FAR 1.501, the Councils will consider public comments received in response to this interim rule in the formation of the final rule.

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List of Subjects in 48 CFR Part 18

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Dated: June 28, 2006.

Ralph De Stefano,

Director,Contract Policy Division.

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Therefore, DoD, GSA, and NASA amend

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1. The authority citation for

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Authority: 40 U.S.C. 121(c); 10 U.S.C. chapter 137; and 42 U.S.C. 2473(c).

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2. Add Part 18 to read as follows:

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PART 18-EMERGENCY ACQUISITIONS

18.000
Scope of part.
18.001
Definition.
Subpart 18.1-Available Acquisition Flexibilities
18.101
General.
18.102
Central contractor registration.
18.103
Synopses of proposed contract actions.
18.104
Unusual and compelling urgency.
18.105
Federal Supply Schedules (FSSs), multi-agency blanket purchase agreements (BPAs), and multi-agency indefinite delivery contracts.
18.106
Javits-Wagner O’ Day (JWOD) specification changes.
18.107
Qualifications requirements.
18.108
Priorities and allocations.
18.109
Soliciting from a single source.
18.110
Oral requests for proposals.
18.111
Letter contracts.
18.112
Interagency acquisitions under the Economy Act.
18.113
Contracting with the Small Business Administration (The 8(a) Program).
18.114
HUBZone sole source awards.
18.115
Service-disabled Veteran-owned Small Business (SDVOSB) sole source awards.
18.116
Overtime approvals.
18.117
Use of patented technology under the North American Free Trade Agreement.
18.118
Bid guarantees.
18.119
Advance payments.
18.120
Assignment of claims.
18.121
Electronic funds transfer.
18.122
Protest to GAO.
18.123
Contractor rent-free use of Government property.
18.124
Extraordinary contractual actions.
Subpart 18.2—Emergency Acquisition Flexibilities
18.201
Contingency operation.
18.202
Defense or recovery from certain attacks.
18.203
Incidents of national significance, emergency declaration, or major disaster declaration.
18.204
Resources.
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Authority: 40 U.S.C. 121(c); 10 U.S.C. chapter 137; and 42 U.S.C. 2473(c).

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Scope of part.

(a) This part identifies acquisition flexibilities that are available for emergency acquisitions. These Start Printed Page 38249flexibilities are specific techniques or procedures that may be used to streamline the standard acquisition process. This part includes—

(1) Generally available flexibilities; and

(2) Emergency acquisition flexibilities that are available only under prescribed circumstances.

(b) The acquisition flexibilities in this part are not exempt from the requirements and limitations set forth in FAR Part 3, Improper Business Practices and Personal Conflicts of Interest.

Definition.

Emergency acquisition flexibilities, as used in this part, means flexibilities provided with respect to any acquisition of supplies or services by or for an executive agency that, as determined by the head of an executive agency, may be used—

(a) In support of a contingency operation as defined in 2.101;

(b) To facilitate the defense against or recovery from nuclear, biological, chemical, or radiological attack against the United States; or

(c) When the President declares an incident of national significance, emergency declaration, or a major disaster declaration.

Subpart 18.1— Available Acquisition Flexibilities

General.

The FAR includes many acquisition flexibilities that are available to the contracting officer when certain conditions are met. These acquisition flexibilities do not require an emergency declaration or designation of contingency operation.

Central contractor registration.

Contracts awarded to support unusual and compelling needs or emergency acquisitions are exempt from the requirements pertaining to Central Contractor Registration. (See 4.1102.)

Synopses of proposed contract actions.

Contracting officers need not submit a synopsis notice when there is an unusual and compelling urgency and the Government would be seriously injured if the agency complied with the notice time periods. (See 5.202(a)(2).)

Unusual and compelling urgency.

Agencies may limit the number of sources and full and open competition need not be provided for contracting actions involving urgent requirements. (See 6.302-2.)

Federal Supply Schedules (FSSs), multi-agency blanket purchase agreements (BPAs), and multi-agency indefinite delivery contracts.

Streamlined procedures and a broad range of goods and services may be available under Federal Supply Schedule contracts (see Subpart 8.4), multi-agency BPAs (See 8.405-3(a)(4)), or multi-agency, indefinite-delivery contracts (see 16.505(a)(7)). These contracting methods may offer agency advance planning, pre-negotiated line items, and special terms and conditions that permit rapid response.

Javits-Wagner-O’Day (JWOD) specification changes.

Contracting officers are not held to the notification required when changes in JWOD specifications or descriptions are required to meet emergency needs. (See 8.712(d).)

Qualifications requirements.

Agencies may determine not to enforce qualification requirements when an emergency exists. (See 9.206-1.)

Priorities and allocations.

The Defense Priorities and Allocations System (DPAS) supports authorized national defense programs and was established to facilitate rapid industrial mobilization in case of a national emergency. (See 11.6.)

Soliciting from a single source.

For purchases not exceeding the simplified acquisition threshold, contracting officers may solicit from one source under certain circumstances. (See 13.106-1(b).)

Oral requests for proposals.

Oral requests for proposals are authorized under certain conditions. (See 15.203(f).)

Letter contracts.

Letter contracts may be used when contract performance must begin immediately. (See 16.603.)

Interagency acquisitions under the Economy Act.

Interagency acquisitions are authorized under certain conditions. (See Subpart 17.5.)

Contracting with the Small Business Administration (The 8(a) Program).

Contracts may be awarded to the Small Business Administration (SBA) for performance by eligible 8(a) firms on either a sole source or competitive basis. (See Subpart 19.8.)

HUBZone sole source awards.

Contracts may be awarded to Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) small business concerns on a sole source basis. (See 19.1306.)

Service-disabled Veteran-owned Small Business (SDVOSB) sole source awards.

Contracts may be awarded to Service-disabled Veteran-owned Small Business (SDVOSB) concerns on a sole source basis. (See 19.1406.)

Overtime approvals.

Overtime approvals may be retroactive if justified by emergency circumstances. (See 22.103-4(i).)

Use of patented technology under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Requirement to obtain authorization prior to use of patented technology may be waived in circumstances of extreme urgency or national emergency. (See 27.208.)

Bid guarantees.

The chief of the contracting office may waive the requirement to obtain a bid guarantee for emergency acquisitions when a performance bond or a performance bond and payment bond is required. (See 28.101-1(c).)

Advance payments.

Agencies may authorize advance payments to facilitate the national defense for actions taken under Public Law 85-804 (see Part 50, Extraordinary Contractual Actions). These advance payments may be made at or after award of sealed bid contracts, as well as negotiated contracts. (See 32.405.)

Assignment of claims.

The use of the no-setoff provision may be appropriate to facilitate the national defense in the event of a national emergency or natural disaster. (See 32.803(d).)

Electronic funds transfer.

Electronic funds transfer payments may be waived for acquisitions to support unusual and compelling needs or emergency acquisitions. (See 32.1103(e).)

Protest to GAO.

When urgent and compelling circumstances exist, agency protest override procedures allow the head of the contracting activity to determine that the contracting process may continue after GAO has received a protest. (See 33.104(b) and (c).)

Contractor rent-free use of Government property.

Rental requirements do not apply to items of Government production and research property that are part of a Start Printed Page 38250general program approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and meet certain criteria. (See 45.404(a)(3) and (4).)

Extraordinary contractual actions.

Part 50 prescribes policies and procedures for entering into, amending, or modifying contracts in order to facilitate the national defense under the extraordinary emergency authority granted by Public Law 85-804 (50 U.S.C. 1431-1434). This includes—

(a) Amending contracts without consideration (see 50.302-1);

(b) Correcting or mitigating mistakes in a contract (see 50.302-2); and

(c) Formalizing informal commitments (See 50.302-3).

Subpart 18.2—Emergency Acquisition Flexibilities

Contingency operation.

(a) Contingency operation is defined in 2.101.

(b) Micro-purchase threshold. The threshold increases when the head of the agency determines the supplies or services are to be used to support a contingency operation. (See 2.101 and 13.201(g).)

(c) Simplified acquisition threshold. The threshold increases when the head of the agency determines the supplies or services are to be used to support a contingency operation. (See 2.101.)

(d) SF 44, Purchase Order-Invoice-Voucher. The normal threshold for the use of the SF 44 is at or below the micro-purchase threshold. Agencies may, however, establish higher dollar limitations for purchases made to support a contingency operation. (See 13.306.)

(e) Test program for certain commercial items. The threshold limits authorized for use of the test program may be increased for acquisitions to support a contingency operation. (See 13.500(e).)

Defense or recovery from certain attacks.

(a) Micro-purchase threshold. The threshold increases when the head of the agency determines the supplies or services are to be used to facilitate defense against or recovery from nuclear, biological, chemical, or radiological attack. (See 2.101.)

(b) Simplified acquisition threshold. The threshold increases when the head of the agency determines the supplies or services are to be used to facilitate defense against or recovery from nuclear, biological, chemical, or radiological attack. (See 2.101.)

(c) Commercial items to facilitate defense and recovery. Contracting officers may treat any acquisition of supplies or services as an acquisition of commercial items if the head of the agency determines the acquisition is to be used to facilitate the defense against or recovery from nuclear, biological, chemical, or radiological attack. (See 12.102(f)(1) and 13.500(e).)

(d) Test program for certain commercial items. The threshold limits authorized for use of the test program may be increased when it is determined the acquisition is to facilitate defense against or recovery from nuclear, biological, chemical, or radiological attack. (See 13.500(e).)

Incidents of national significance, emergency declaration, or major disaster declaration.

(a) Authorized or required by statute. Agencies may limit the use of full and open competition when statutes authorize or require that the acquisition be made through another agency or from a specified source. This includes the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. (See 6.302-5 and Subpart 26.2.)

(b) Disaster or emergency assistance activities. Preference will be given to local organizations, firms, and individuals when contracting for major disaster or emergency assistance activities when the President has made a declaration under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. (See Subpart 26.2 and 6.302-5(b)(5).)

(c) Ocean transportation by U.S. flag vessels. The provisions of the Cargo Preference Act of 1954 may be waived in emergency situations. (See 47.502(c).)

Resources.

(a) National Response Plan. The National Response Plan (NRP) provides a single, comprehensive framework for the management of domestic incidents where Federal involvement is necessary as required by the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (Public Law 107-296). The NRP only applies to incidents of national significance, defined as an actual or potential high-impact event that requires a coordinated and effective response by an appropriate combination of Federal, State, local, tribal, nongovernmental, and/or private-sector entities in order to save lives, minimize damage, and provide for long-term community recovery and mitigation activities. The Department of Homeland Security is responsible for the NRP. The NRP is available at http://www.dhs.gov/​dhspublic/​interapp/​editorial/​editorial_​0566.xml.

(b) [Reserved]

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[FR Doc. 06-5964 Filed 7-3-06; 8:45 am]

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