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Tuesday, September 8, 2020



The federal government generally recognizes 6 principal categories of acquisitions. Below is an extract from the FAR for each. It is possible for a product to go through, or be supported by, all 6 acquisition categories during its life cycle.


Whenever practicable, contracts to be performed during the concept exploration phase are for relatively short periods, at planned dollar levels. These contracts are to refine the proposed concept and to reduce the concept's technical uncertainties. The scope of work for this phase of the program is consistent with the government's planned budget for the phase. Follow-on contracts for such tasks in the exploration phase are awarded as long as the concept approach remains promising, the contractor's progress is acceptable, and it is economically practicable to do so.


Whenever practicable, contracts for the demonstration phase provide for contractors to submit, by the end of the phase, priced proposals, totally funded by the government, for full-scale development. The contracting officer provides contractors with operational test conditions, performance criteria, life cycle cost factors, and any other selection criteria necessary for the contractors to prepare their proposals.


Whenever practicable, the full-scale development contracts provide for the contractors to submit priced proposals for production that are based on the latest quantity, schedule, and logistics requirements and other considerations that will be used in making the production decision.


Contracts for full production of successfully tested major systems selected from the full-scale development phase may be awarded if the agency head (a) reaffirms the mission need and program objectives and (b) grants approval to proceed with production.


The primary purpose of contracted R&D programs is to advance scientific and technical knowledge and apply that knowledge to the extent necessary to achieve agency and national goals. Unlike contracts for supplies and services, most R&D contracts are directed toward objectives for which the work or methods cannot be precisely described in advance. It is difficult to judge the probabilities of success or required effort for technical approaches, some of which offer little or no early assurance of full success. The contracting process is used to encourage the best sources from the scientific and industrial community to become involved in the program and must provide an environment in which the work can be pursued with reasonable flexibility and minimum administrative burden.

Contracts are used only when the principal purpose is the acquisition of supplies or services for the direct benefit or use of the federal government. Grants or cooperative agreements are used when the principal purpose of the transaction is to stimulate or support research and development for another public purpose.


"Nonpersonal services contract" means a contract under which the personnel rendering the services are not subject, either by the contract's terms or by the manner of its administration, to the supervision and control usually prevailing in relationships between the Government and its employees.

"Personal Services Contract" means a contract that, by its express terms or as administered, makes the contractor personnel appear, in effect, Government employees.

"Service Contract" means a contract that directly engages the time and effort of a contractor whose primary purpose is to perform an identifiable task rather than to furnish an end item of supply. A service contract may be either a nonpersonal or personal contract. It can also cover services performed by either professional or nonprofessional personnel whether on an individual or organizational basis. Some of the areas in which service contracts are found include the following:

(a) Maintenance, overhaul, repair, servicing, rehabilitation, salvage, modernization, or modification of supplies, systems, or equipment
(b) Routine recurring maintenance of real property
(c) Housekeeping and base services.
(d) Advisory and assistance services
(e) Operation of Government-owned equipment facilities, and systems
(f) Communications services

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