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Proposed Rule

Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement; Discussions Prior to Contract Award (DFARS Case 2010-D013)

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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Defense Acquisition Regulations System, Department of Defense (DoD).


Proposed rule with request for comments.


DoD is proposing to amend the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) to strongly encourage discussions prior to award for source selections of procurements estimated at $100 million or more. The proposed change was recommended by the DoD Source Selection Joint Analysis Team.


Comments on the proposed rule should be submitted in writing to the address shown below on or before January 24, 2011, to be considered in the formation of the final rule.


Submit comments identified by DFARS Case 2010-D013, using any of the following methods:

Federal eRulemaking Portal: Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

E-mail: Include DFARS Case 2010-D013 in the subject line of the message.

Fax: 703-602-0350.

Mail: Defense Acquisition Regulations System, Attn: Meredith Murphy, OUSD (AT&L) DPAP (DARS), Room 3B855, 3060 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-3060.

Comments received generally will be posted without change to, including any personal information provided.

To confirm receipt of your comment(s), please check approximately two to three days after submission to verify posting (except allow 30 days for posting of comments submitted by mail).

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Ms. Meredith Murphy, Defense Acquisition Regulations System, OUSD (AT&L) DPAP (DARS), 3060 Defense Pentagon, Room 3B855, Washington, DC 20301-3060. Telephone 703-602-1302; facsimile 703-602-0350. Please cite DFARS Case 2010-D013.

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I. Background

This DFARS case was initiated at the request of the DoD Source Selection Joint Analysis Team (JAT), chartered by the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics) to revise the DoD source selection procedures (which are being published separately).

In their examination of current source selection processes utilized within the DoD, members of the JAT determined that there is a significant positive correlation between high-dollar value source selections conducted without discussions and protests sustained. Therefore, to improve the quality of high-dollar value, more complex source selections and reduce turbulence and inefficiency resulting from sustained protests, the JAT recommended that discussions prior to award be strongly encouraged for source selections with a dollar value of $100 million or more.

DoD research has indicated that holding meaningful discussions with industry prior to contract award on high-dollar value, complex requirements improves both industry's understanding of solicitation requirements and the Government's understanding of industry issues. By identifying and discussing these issues prior to submission of final proposals, the Government is often able to issue clarifying language. The modified requirements documentation allows Start Printed Page 71648industry to tailor proposals and better describe the offeror's intended approach, increases the probability that the offeror's proposal satisfies Government requirements, and often results in better contract performance. Asking contracting officers to conduct discussions with industry provides a reasonable approach to recognizing and addressing valid industry concerns and a constructive alternative to protests resulting from industry frustration over misunderstood requirements.

DoD notes the potential disadvantages of this proposed change in increased time to complete the source-selection process and additional workload for acquisition staff. However, failure to hold discussions in high-dollar value, more complex source selections has led to misunderstandings of Government requirements by industry and flaws in the Government's evaluation of offerors' proposals, leading to protests that have been sustained, and ultimately extending source-selection timelines. DoD proposes to decrease the possibility of this outcome by making such discussions the default procedure for source selections for procurements at or above $100 million. However, use of the term “should,” as defined in FAR part 2, provides that the expected course of action need not be followed if inappropriate for a particular circumstance.

II. Executive Order 12866

This is not a significant regulatory action and, therefore, is not subject to review under Section 6 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.

III. 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 does not add to or delete existing regulations on discussions for the vast majority of DoD procurements, i.e., those under $100 million. For the largest procurements of at least $100 million, any increase in discussions is anticipated to benefit all offerors, including small businesses, by providing them an opportunity to explain details of the offer and market their particular capabilities.

An initial regulatory flexibility analysis has been prepared and is summarized as follows: The opportunity to participate in discussions increases the probability of selection for award, as described above. In fiscal year 2009, the most recent fiscal year for which data is available, DoD awarded 620 new contracts and 252 new task orders/delivery orders of $100 million or more to small businesses. While there is no way to determine how many more small businesses may have been selected for high-dollar value DoD awards had discussions been held, it is reasonable to assume that the number would have been higher, thus providing small businesses with a net positive benefit.

DoD invites comments from small business concerns and other interested parties on the expected impact of this rule on small entities. DoD will also consider comments from small entities concerning the existing regulations in subparts affected by this rule in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 610. Interested parties must submit such comments separately and should cite 5 U.S.C. 610 (DFARS Case 2010-D013) in correspondence.

IV. Paperwork Reduction Act

The Paperwork Reduction Act does not apply, because there are no 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 Part 215

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Clare M. Zebrowski,

Editor, Defense Acquisition Regulations System.

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Therefore, DoD proposes to amend 48 CFR part 215 as follows:

1. The authority citation for 48 CFR part 215 continues to read as follows:

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

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2. Add sections 215.203-71 and 215.209 to read as follows:

Requests for proposals—procurements of $100 million or more.

For source selections when the procurement is $100 million or more, contracting officers should conduct discussions with offerors in the competitive range.

Solicitation provisions and contract clauses.

(a) For source selections when the procurement is $100 million or more, contracting officers should use the provision at 52.215-1, Instructions to Offerors—Competitive Acquisition, with its Alternate I.

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[FR Doc. 2010-29510 Filed 11-23-10; 8:45 am]