Panoptic Enterprises’


Federal Acquisition Developments, Guidance, and Opinions

July 2015
Vol. XVI, No. 7
[pdf version]


DOD Adjusts Acquisition Thresholds to Reflect Changes in Consumer Price Index Since 2010
FAR Changes Would Implement Small Business Jobs Act
NASA Issues Third (and Final) Increment of 2015 NFS
DOE Addresses Clause Proliferation in STRIPES

DOD Adjusts Acquisition Thresholds to Reflect
Changes in Consumer Price Index Since 2010

The Department of Defense (DOD) has adjusted the acquisition-related thresholds in the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) to reflect the 7.7% inflation that has taken place in the past five years (since 2010). In addition, DOD has revised the DFARS to reflect the organization of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), relocated a subpart to conform to the FAR organization, and finalized an interim rule that addressed the allowability of legal costs for whistleblower proceedings, and issued an interim rule that clarifies costs associated with indirect offsets under Foreign Military Sales (FMS) agreements.

FAR Changes Would Implement Small Business Jobs Act

To implement various sections of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-240) and corresponding changes made by the Small Business Administration (SBA) to its regulations, the FAR Council published three proposed rules and is seeking comments on each. (For more on Public Law 111-240, see the October 2010 Federal Contracts Perspective article “Parity Among Small Business Programs Mandated by Statute.”)

NASA Issues Third (and Final) Increment of 2015 NFS

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has issued its third, and final, increment of its 2015 version of the NASA FAR Supplement (NFS). The NFS was last updated in 2004, so NASA decided it was time to go through the entire NFS and eliminate unnecessary regulation, streamline overly-burdensome regulation, clarify language, and simplify processes where possible. The first two increments were finalized in March 2015 (see the April 2015 Federal Contracts Perspective article “Acquisition Regulations Subjected to Spring Cleaning”).

The proposed rule addressed changes to the following 12 NFS parts:

   1801,Federal Acquisition Regulations Systems
   1805,Publicizing Contract Actions
   1807,Acquisition Planning
   1812,Acquisition of Commercial Items
   1813,Simplified Acquisition Procedures
   1823,Environment, Energy and Water Efficiency, Renewable Energy Technologies, Occupational Safety, and Drug-Free Workplace
   1833,Protests, Disputes and Appeals
   1836,Construction and Architect-Engineer Contracts
   1850,Extraordinary Contractual Actions and the Safety Act
   1852,Solicitation Provisions and Contract Clauses

No comments were submitted in response to the proposed rule, so it is finalized without changes. For more on the proposed rule, see the May 2015 Federal Contracts Perspective article “NASA Proposes Third, and Final, Set of NFS Revisions.”

No changes were made to the following 23 NFS parts in the 2015 version of the NFS:

   1803,Improper Business Practices and Personal Conflicts of Interest
   1804,Administrative Matters
   1808,Required Sources of Supplies and Services
   1810,Market Research
   1811,Describing Agency Needs
   1814,Sealed Bidding
   1818,Emergency Acquisitions
   1822,Application of Labor Laws to Government Acquisitions
   1824,Protection of Privacy and Freedom of Information
   1825,Foreign Acquisition
   1826,Socio-Economic Programs
   1830,Cost Accounting Standards Administration
   1835,Research and Development Contracting
   1836,Construction and Architect-Engineer Contracts
   1838,Federal Supply Schedule
   1839,Acquisition of Information Technology
   1843,Contract Modifications
   1844,Subcontracting Policies and Procedures
   1845,Government Property
   1848,Value Engineering
   1872,Acquisition of Investigations

DOE Addresses Clause Proliferation in STRIPES

The Department of Energy (DOE) has issued Acquisition Letter (AL) 2015-06 to heads of contracting activity and contracting officers to affirm “the mandatory use of STRIPES [Strategic Integrated Procurement Enterprise System] for all DOE unclassified solicitations and contracts...and as the sole system of record to maintain the official contract files. Additionally, it establishes the primacy and mandatory use of provisions, clauses, and templates (hereafter “clauses”) maintained in STRIPES. This latter requirement will provide for improved oversight, standardization and consistency of clauses maintained in STRIPES.”

STRIPES is a web-based information technology system that is used for awarding and administering DOE’s contracts. It consolidates existing procurement-related contract writing systems and tools across DOE to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of awarding and administering contracts. DOE started the rollout of STRIPES in 2008 and completed it in 2012. Its use is mandatory throughout DOE "for the award and administration of all unclassified DOE contracts, Federal Supply Schedule orders, purchase card transactions, and interagency agreements...Required pre- and post-award contract documentation must be maintained in electronic form, must reside in STRIPES, and shall be considered the official contract file, except for any documents required by regulation to be maintained in paper copy.”

However, “since implementation, over a thousand separate, duplicative and sometimes contradictory clauses have been added to STRIPES. These clauses in many cases have lacked key information required by the FAR, i.e., prescription, numbering, version date, etc. Though clauses tailored to local needs are appropriate in some instances, the unmanaged growth of these clauses has reduced the efficacy of STRIPES. The Contract and Financial Assistance Policy Division of the Office of Acquisition and Project Management (MA-611) undertook an exhaustive study of each corporate and local clause to provide a baseline to better manage the clauses in STRIPES. Clauses from across the complex were reviewed to identify areas to consolidate or build upon. Overall this effort has drastically reduced the number of clauses in the system needed for our use going forward, while maintaining the corporate and local substantive matter required for successful contract administration and execution. The resulting clauses also contain the essential requirements prescribed by the FAR, i.e., prescriptions, appropriate numbering, titles, and version dates. This listing and format will be the basis from which any new proposed clause will be compared to determine need, minimize duplication and maintain standardization across the department.”

Therefore, AL 2015-16 states that “field sites may no longer independently add clauses to STRIPES, but may have clauses added to STRIPES” (emphasis in original). The Contract and Financial Assistance Policy Division of the Office of Acquisition and Project Management (MA-611) and Site Points of Contact (SPOCs) are the only individuals who can submit to the STRIPES functional team a request for a clause or template addition or revision. Such requests are to be sent to the STRIPES functional team via email to DL-CF-40StripesFunctionalTeam@hq.doe.gov. The STRIPES functional team will coordinate with MA-611 and, if approved, the STRIPES functional team will add the local clause or template to STRIPES.

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