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FEDERAL CONTRACTS PERSPECTIVE

Federal Acquisition Developments, Guidance, and Opinions


January 2004
Vol. V, No. 1

CONTENTS

FAC 2001-18 Implements New A-E Form, Electronic Procurement Data Reporting
Proposed FAR Changes on Debarred List, JWOD
Navy Marine Corps Acquisition Regulation Issued
Homeland Security Acquisition Regulation Issued
Disabled Veteran Set-Asides Established
Automobile Reimbursement Increased to 37.5 Cents/Mile
Trade Agreements Act and NAFTA Thresholds Revised
PRO-Net, CCR Databases Integrated



FAC 2001-18 Implements New A-E Qualifications Form,
Electronic Procurement Data Reporting

On December 11, 2003, Federal Acquisition Circular (FAC) 2001-18 amended the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to implement the new Standard Form 330, Architect-Engineer Qualifications, to reflect changes in contract action reporting to the Federal Procurement Data System Next Generation (FPDS-NG), to address the placement of orders against existing contracts and agreements with contractors that have been debarred, a few cost principles, and some odds and ends.



Proposed FAR Changes on Debarred List, JWOD

Besides FAC 2001-18, four proposed FAR changes were recently published:



Navy Marine Corps Acquisition Regulation Issued

On November 25, 2003, the Navy Assistant Secretary for Research, Development and Acquisition issued a memorandum notifying the public that the new Navy Marine Corps Acquisition Regulation Supplement (NMCARS) is replacing the Navy Acquisition Procedures Supplement (NAPS).

"The NCMARS has been streamlined to reduce its content and focus principally on mandatory policies and procedures, including delegations of authority and assignment of responsibilities," the memorandum says. In addition to the NMCARS, the Navy Marine Corps Acquisition Guide (NMCAG) is being issued, and it "primarily addresses administrative matters including procedures for processing documents for higher level approval, internal reporting requirements, and various discretionary practices" (the NMCARS is available at http://www.abm.rda.hq.navy.mil/2november2003nmcars.doc, and the NMCAG is available at http://www.abm.rda.hq.navy.mil/nmcagnov2003final.doc.)



Homeland Security Acquisition Regulation Issued

On December 4, 2003, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued the long-awaited Homeland Security Acquisition Regulation (HSAR) to provide uniform procedures "that will ensure seamless continued acquisition and contracting operations of the previous agencies and organizations that now comprise DHS." The HSAR is Chapter 30 of Title 48 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), and it is available at http://www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/interapp/editorial/editorial_0378.xml.

DHS consists of more than 20 agencies and other operating elements that pre-existed the formation of DHS. Prior to DHS's formation, those agencies and elements used supplemental acquisition regulations as a foundation for the conduct of their procurement and acquisition functions. For example, the Coast Guard utilized the Department of Transportation (DOT) Acquisition Regulations (DTAR), but the Coast Guard can no longer rely on the DTAR since it is no longer are a part of DOT. Similarly, organizations that used the Department of Treasury's or Department of Justice's acquisition supplements can no longer rely on those regulations. The HSAR will provide a common departmentwide set of procurement procedures. (EDITOR'S NOTE: The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is exempt from the HSAR by the Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001 (Public Law 107-71). It is developing its own set of regulations).

The HSAR will be amended by Homeland Security Acquisition Circulars (HSAC), and HSAR Notices will be issued when interim guidance is necessary. Each HSAR Notice will have a specific expiration date. Internal agency guidance and procedures are contained in the Department of Homeland Security Acquisition Manual (HSAM), which is available at http://www.dhs.gov/interweb/assetlibrary/DHS_HSAM_12-19-03.pdf.

The following are some of the unique provisions contained in the HSAR:

The HSAR is issued as an interim rule, and comments must be submitted by January 5, 2004, by e-mail to acquisition@dhs.gov, or by mail to the Department of Homeland Security, Office of the Chief Procurement Officer, Acquisition Policy and Oversight, ATTN: Kathy Strouss, 245 Murray Drive, Bldg. 410 (RDS), Washington, DC 20528.



Disabled Veteran Set-Asides Established

On December 16, 2003, President Bush signed Public Law 108-183, the Veterans Benefits Act of 2003, which establishes a service-disabled veteran-owned small business (SDVOSB) set-aside program. The new SDVOSB program is essentially the same as the Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) sole source and set-aside programs implemented in FAR Subpart 19.13.

The SDVOSB program provides:

While these requirements and restrictions are very similar to those for the HUBZone program, there are some significant differences:

Expect the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the FAR to publish proposed implementing rules in the near future.



Automobile Reimbursement Increased to 37.5 Cents/Mile

The General Services Administration (GSA) is amending Federal Travel Regulation (FTR) 301-10.303, What am I reimbursed when use of a POV is determined by my agency to be advantageous to the Government?, to increase the 2004 mileage reimbursement rate for use of a privately owned automobile on official travel from 36.0 cents per mile to 37.5 cents per mile; for use of a privately owned airplane from 95.5 cents per mile to 99.5 cents per mile; and the cost of operating a privately owned motorcycle from 27.5 cents per mile to 27.8 cents per mile. This increase reflects the current costs of operation as determined in GSA's cost studies.

The same statute that directs the Administrator of General Services to establish the POV mileage reimbursement rates also provides that the automobile reimbursement rate cannot exceed the single standard mileage rate established by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The IRS announced a new single standard mileage rate for automobiles of 37.5 cents per mile effective January 1, 2004, so the new FTR rate of 37.5 cents per mile conforms with the IRS rate.



Trade Agreements Act and NAFTA Thresholds Revised

The Trade Agreements Act exempts products of "designated countries" (that is, signatories to World Trade Organization Government Procurement Agreement -- see FAR 25.003, Definitions) from the application of the Buy American Act (see FAR Subparts 25.1 and 25.2) in acquisitions that exceed certain thresholds. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) does the same for products of Canada and Mexico (see FAR Subpart 25.4, Trade Agreements, for more on compliance with the Trade Agreements Act and NAFTA).

The United States Trade Representative (USTR) is required to adjust the thresholds about every two years to reflect changes in the value of the U.S. dollar against other currencies. Therefore, on December 19, the Office of the USTR announced that it is adjusting the Trade Agreements Act and NAFTA thresholds for calendar years 2004 and 2005 as follows:

Trade Agreements Act: Goods and Services -- $175,000 (up from $169,000); Construction -- $6,725,000 (up from $6,481,000).

NAFTA: Goods and Services -- $58,550 (up from $56,190); Construction $7,611,532 (up from $7,304,733) (EDITOR'S NOTE: The NAFTA threshold for Canadian goods and services remains $25,000).

For information on the threshold changes made by the USTR in 2002, see the March 2002 Federal Contracts Perspective article "Trade Agreements Act and NAFTA Thresholds Revised."



PRO-Net, CCR Databases Integrated

On December 22, SBA announced the integration of PRO-Net (SBA's database of small businesses interested in contracting with the government) and Central Contractor Registration (CCR) (DOD's database of all contractors interested in contracting with the government) "to create one portal for entering and searching small business sources, and to assist small businesses with marketing their goods and services to the federal government." On January 1, 2004, CCR will assume all of PRO-Net's search capabilities and functions -- small businesses will no longer need to register in both PRO-Net and CCR.

To conduct market research and confirm eligibility for SBA's procurement preference programs, users will go to http://www.ccr.gov and click on "Dynamic Small Business Search." All the search options and information that existed in PRO-Net is now in the "Dynamic Small Business Search."



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