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NASA Implementation of Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Award Fee Language Revision

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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National Aeronautics and Space Administration.


Interim rule.


This interim rule revises the NASA FAR Supplement (NFS) to implement the FAR Award Fee revision issued in Federal Acquisition Circular (FAC) 2005-46.


Effective Date: February 8, 2011.

Comment Date: Interested parties should submit written comments to NASA at the address below on or before April 11, 2011 to be considered in the formulation of the final rule.


Interested parties may submit comments, identified by RIN number 2700-AD69, via the Federal eRulemaking Portal: Follow the instructions for submitting comments. Comments may also be submitted to Bill Roets, NASA Headquarters, Office of Procurement, Contract Management Division, Washington, DC 20546. Comments may also be submitted by e-mail to

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Bill Roets, NASA, Office of Procurement, Contract Management Division (Suite 5G86); (202) 358-4483; e-mail:

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A. Background

Federal Acquisition Circular (FAC) 2005-46 significantly revised FAR Parts 16.305, 16.401, and 16.405-2, incorporating new requirements relative to the use of award fee incentives. Specifically, this FAR rule implements section 814 of the John Warner 2007 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and section 867 of the Duncan Hunter 2009 NDAA and requires agencies to:

(1) Link award fees to acquisition objectives in the areas of cost, schedule, and technical performance;

(2) Clarify that the base fee may be included in a cost plus award fee type contract at the discretion of the contracting officer;

(3) Prescribe narrative ratings when making a percentage of award fee available;

(4) Prohibit the issuance of award fees for a rating period if the contractor's performance is judged to be below satisfactory;

(5) Conduct an analysis and consider the results of the analysis when determining whether to use an award fee type contract or not;

(6) Include specific content in the award fee plans; and

(7) Prohibit the rolling over of unearned award fees to subsequent rating periods.

These significant revisions in FAR award fee guidance resulted in the need Start Printed Page 6697to make associated changes to the NFS award fee regulations.

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

NASA certifies that this interim rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities within the meaning of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, at 5 U.S.C. 601, et seq., because it merely implements the FAR Award Fee revisions and does not impose an economic impact beyond that addressed in the FAC 2005-46 publication of the FAR final rule.

Therefore, an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis has not been performed. NASA will consider comments from small entities concerning the affected NFS Part 1816 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. in correspondence.

C. Paperwork Reduction Act

The Paperwork Reduction Act does not apply because this interim rule does not contain any 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

In accordance with 41 U.S.C 418(d), NASA has determined that urgent and compelling reasons exist to promulgate this interim rule without prior opportunity for public comment. This action is necessary to harmonize the NFS Award Fee coverage with that in the FAR which was effective per FAC 2005-46. However, pursuant to Public Law 98-577 and FAR 1.501, NASA 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 1816

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William P. McNally,

Assistant Administrator for Procurement.

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Accordingly, 48 CFR part 1816 is amended as follows:

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1. The authority citation for

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Authority: 42 U.S.C. 2455(a), 2473(c)(1).

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2. Section 1816.405-270 is revised to read as follows:

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CPAF contracts.

(a) Use of an award fee incentive requires advance approval by the Assistant Administrator for Procurement. Requests for approval, that include Determination & Findings (D&F) cited in paragraph (b) of this section, shall be submitted to Headquarters Office of Procurement, Program Operations Division.

(b) Contracting officers shall prepare a D&F in accordance with FAR 16.401(d) prior to using an award fee incentive. In addition to the items identified in FAR 16.401(e)(1), D&Fs will include a discussion of the other types of contracts considered and shall indicate why an award fee incentive is the appropriate choice. Award fee incentives should not be used on contracts with a total estimated cost and fee less than $2 million per year. Use of award fee incentive for lower-valued acquisitions may be authorized in exceptional situations such as contract requirements having direct health or safety impacts, where the judgmental assessment of the quality of contractor performance is critical.

(c) Except as provided in paragraph (d) of this section, an award fee incentive may be used in conjunction with other contract types for aspects of performance that cannot be objectively assessed. In such cases, the cost incentive is based on objective formulas inherent in the other contract types (e.g., FPI, CPIF), and the award fee provision should not separately incentivize cost performance.

(d) Award fee incentives shall not be used with a cost-plus-fixed-fee (CPFF) contract.

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3. Section 1816.405-271 is revised to read as follows:

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Base fee.

(a) A base fee shall not be used on CPAF contracts for which the periodic award fee evaluations are final (1816.405-273(a)). In these circumstances, contractor performance during any award fee period is independent of and has no effect on subsequent performance periods or the final results at contract completion. For other contracts, such as those for hardware or software development, the procurement officer may authorize the use of a base fee not to exceed 3 percent. Base fee shall not be used when an award fee incentive is used in conjunction with another contract type (e.g., CPIF/AF).

(b) When a base fee is authorized for use in a CPAF contract, it shall be paid only if the final award fee evaluation is “satisfactory” or better. (See 1816.405-273 and 1816.405-275) Pending final evaluation, base fee may be paid during the life of the contract at defined intervals on a provisional basis. If the final award fee evaluation is “unsatisfactory”, all provisional base fee payments shall be refunded to the Government.

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4. Section 1816.405-274 is revised to read as follows:

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Award fee evaluation factors.

(a) Explicit evaluation factors shall be established for each award fee period. Factors shall be linked to acquisition objectives which shall be defined in terms of contract cost, schedule, and technical performance. If used, subfactors should be limited to the minimum necessary to ensure a thorough evaluation and an effective incentive.

(b) Evaluation factors will be developed by the contracting officer based upon the characteristics of an individual procurement. Cost control, schedule, and technical performance considerations shall be included as evaluation factors in all CPAF contracts, as applicable. When explicit evaluation factor weightings are used, cost control shall be no less than 25 percent of the total weighted evaluation factors. The predominant consideration of the cost control evaluation should be a measurement of the contractor's performance against the negotiated estimated cost of the contract. This estimated cost may include the value of undefinitized change orders when appropriate.

(c)(1) The technical factor must include consideration of risk management (including mission success, safety, security, health, export control, and damage to the environment, as appropriate) unless waived at a level above the contracting officer, with the concurrence of the project manager. The rationale for any waiver shall be documented in the contract file. When safety, export control, or security are considered under the technical factor, the award fee plan shall allow the following fee determinations, regardless of contractor performance in other evaluation factors, when there is a major breach of safety or security.

(i) For evaluation of service contracts under 1816.405-273(a), an overall fee rating of unsatisfactory for any evaluation period in which there is a major breach of safety or security.

(ii) For evaluation of end item contracts under 1816.405-273(b), an overall fee rating of unsatisfactory for Start Printed Page 6698any interim evaluation period in which there is a major breach of safety or security. To ensure that the final award fee evaluation at contract completion reflects any major breach of safety or security, in an interim period, the overall award fee pool shall be reduced by the amount of the fee available for the period in which the major breach occurred if an unsatisfactory fee rating was assigned because of a major breach of safety or security.

(2) A major breach of safety must be related directly to the work on the contract. A major breach of safety is an act or omission of the Contractor that consists of an accident, incident, or exposure resulting in a fatality or mission failure; or in damage to equipment or property equal to or greater than $1 million; or in any “willful” or “repeat” violation cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) or by a state agency operating under an OSHA approved plan.

(3) A major breach of security may occur on or off Government installations, but must be directly related to the work on the contract. A major breach of security is an act or omission by the contractor that results in compromise of classified information, illegal technology transfer, workplace violence resulting in criminal conviction, sabotage, compromise or denial of information technology services, equipment or property damage from vandalism greater than $250,000, or theft greater than $250,000.

(4) The Assistant Administrator for Procurement shall be notified prior to the determination of an unsatisfactory award fee rating because of a major breach of safety or security.

(d) In rare circumstances, contract costs may increase for reasons outside the contractor's control and for which the contractor is not entitled to an equitable adjustment. One example is a weather-related launch delay on a launch support contract. The Government shall take such situations into consideration when evaluating contractor cost control.

(e) Emphasis on cost control should be balanced against other performance requirement objectives. The contractor should not be incentivized to pursue cost control to the point that overall performance is significantly degraded. For example, incentivizing an underrun that results in direct negative impacts on technical performance, safety, or other critical contract objectives is both undesirable and counterproductive. Therefore, evaluation of cost control shall conform to the following guidelines:

(1) Normally, the contractor should be given an unsatisfactory rating for cost control when there is a significant overrun within its control. However, the contractor may receive a satisfactory or higher rating for cost control if the overrun is insignificant. Award fee ratings should decrease sharply as the size of the overrun increases. In any evaluation of contractor overrun performance, the Government shall consider the reasons for the overrun and assess the extent and effectiveness of the contractor's efforts to control or mitigate the overrun.

(2) The contractor should normally be rewarded for an underrun within its control, up to the maximum award fee rating allocated for cost control, provided the adjectival rating for all other award fee evaluation factors is very good or higher (see FAR 16.401(e)(iv)).

(3) The contractor should be rewarded for meeting the estimated cost of the contract, but not to the maximum rating allocated for cost control, to the degree that the contractor has prudently managed costs while meeting contract requirements. No award shall be given in this circumstance unless the average adjectival rating for all other award fee evaluation factors is satisfactory or higher.

(f) When an AF arrangement is used in conjunction with another contract type, the award fee's cost control factor will only apply to a subjective assessment of the contractor's efforts to control costs and not the actual cost outcome incentivized under the basic contract type (e.g. CPIF, FPIF).

(g)(1) The contractor's performance against the subcontracting plan incorporated in the contract shall be evaluated. Emphasis may be placed on the contractor's accomplishment of its goals for subcontracting with small business, HUBZone small business, women-owned small business, veteran-owned small business, and service-disabled veteran-owned small business concerns.

(2) The contractor's performance against the contract target for participation as subcontractors by small disadvantaged business concerns in the NAICS Major Groups designated by the Department of Commerce (see FAR 19.201(c)) shall also be evaluated if the clause at FAR 52.219-26, Small Disadvantaged Business Participation—Incentive Subcontracting, is not included in the contract (see FAR 19.1204(c)).

(3) The contractor's achievements in subcontracting high technology efforts as well as the contractor's performance under the Mentor-Protégé Program, if applicable, may also be evaluated.

(4) The evaluation weight given to the contractor's performance against the considerations in paragraphs (g)(1) through (g)(3) of this section should be significant (up to 15 percent of available award fee). The weight should motivate the contractor to focus management attention to subcontracting with small, HUBZone, women-owned, veteran-owned, and service-disabled veteran-owned small business concerns, and with small disadvantaged business concerns in designated NAICS Major Groups to the maximum extent practicable, consistent with efficient contract performance.

(h) When contract changes are anticipated, the contractor's responsiveness to requests for change proposals should be evaluated. This evaluation should include the contractor's submission of timely, complete proposals and cooperation in negotiating the change.

(i) Only the award fee performance evaluation factors set forth in the performance evaluation plan shall be used to determine award fee scores.

(j) The Government may unilaterally modify the applicable award fee performance evaluation factors and performance evaluation areas prior to the start of an evaluation period. The contracting officer shall notify the contractor in writing of any such changes 30 days prior to the start of the relevant evaluation period.

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5. Section 1816.405-275 is revised to read as follows:

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Award fee evaluation rating.

(a) All award fee contracts shall utilize the adjectival rating categories and associated descriptions as well as the award fee pool available to be earned percentages for each adjectival rating category contained in FAR 16.401(e)(iv).

(b) The following numerical scoring system shall be used in conjunction with the FAR adjectival rating categories and associated descriptions (see FAR 16.401(e)(iv)).

(1) Excellent (100-91)

(2) Very good (90-76)

(3) Good (75-51)

(4) Satisfactory (50)

(5) Unsatisfactory (less than 50) No award fee shall be paid for an unsatisfactory rating.

(c) As a benchmark for evaluation, in order to be rated “Excellent” overall, the contractor would typically be under cost, on or ahead of schedule, and providing outstanding technical performance.Start Printed Page 6699

(d) A weighted scoring system appropriate for the circumstances of the individual contract requirement should be developed. In this system, each evaluation factor (e.g., technical, schedule, cost control) is assigned a specific percentage weighting with the cumulative weightings of all factors totaling 100. During the award fee evaluation, each factor is scored from 0-100 according to the ratings defined in 1816.405-275(b). The numerical score for each factor is then multiplied by the weighting for that factor to determine the weighted score. For example, if the technical factor has a weighting of 60 percent and the numerical score for that factor is 80, the weighted technical score is 48 (80 × 60 percent). The weighted scores for each evaluation factor are then added to determine the total award fee score.

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[FR Doc. 2011-2772 Filed 2-7-11; 8:45 am]