Panoptic Enterprises'


Federal Acquisition Developments, Guidance, and Opinions

March 2003
Vol. IV, No. 3


FAR Changes Proposed for Contract Bundling, Cost Principles, Debriefings, Commercial Items
PTO Acquisition Guidelines Issued
DFARS "Transformation," Many Changes Proposed
OMB Releases Third Set of FAIR Act Inventories

FAR Changes Proposed for Contract Bundling,
Cost Principles, Debriefings, Commercial Items

The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Council was busy at the end of January and during February, publishing proposed rules to address President Bush's small business agenda item on discouraging contracting bundling, to revise or clarify various cost principles, to add information that must be disclosed to unsuccessful offerors under competitive proposals, and to solicit comments on laws that should not apply to commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) items.

PTO Acquisition Guidelines Issued

On February 6, the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) published nonbinding guidelines for the acquisition of its products and services. However, the PTO is exempt from the FAR, and the acquisitions guidelines are not binding on PTO contracting officers and other PTO employees involved in the procurement process. So "PTO employees may use procedures other than those set forth in the FAR and this notice so long as these procedures comply with all applicable statutes, executive orders and regulations, will further the legitimate interests of the PTO and are calculated to result in fair decisions." Nevertheless, "PTO employees may assume that following either the FAR procedures or...the alternate procedures set forth in this notice will ensure compliance with applicable legal requirements and result in fair and appropriate decisions."

Some of the more significant provisions of PTO's acquisition guidelines are:

DFARS "Transformation," Many Changes Proposed

The Department of Defense (DOD) has announced that it is planning on a "major transformation" of the Defense FAR Supplement (DFARS) by taking "a new look at the purpose and content of the DFARS and the process of creating and maintaining it." As that "new look" is being undertaken, DOD published several relatively-minor DFARS changes and proposed changes.

OMB Releases Third Set of FAIR Act Inventories

On February 6, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released the third set of Fiscal Year 2002 Commercial Activities Inventories of non-governmental functions being performed by government agencies. These inventories are required to be compiled and made available to the public by the Federal Activities Inventory Reform (FAIR) Act of 1998. This third set of inventories covers approximately 540,000 positions -- the first set covered approximately 250,000, and the second set covered almost 54,000 positions. Inventories in this third set are from the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy, Justice, Labor, State, Transportation; General Services Administration; Social Security Administration; U.S. Agency for International Development; and others. The agencies' lists are available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/procurement/index.html.

Interested parties have 30 working days (that is, until March 21, 2003) to challenge the omission or inclusion of an activity on an agency's list.

The Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) has prepared a summary "FAIR Act User's Guide" and it is available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/procurement/fair-index.html. This User's Guide will help interested parties review 2002 FAIR Act inventories, and include the website addresses for individual agency inventories.

Copyright 2003 by Panoptic Enterprises. All Rights Reserved.

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