The Federal Acquisitions Regulation (FAR) was established with the purpose of setting forth the basic regulations that govern how the US federal government should conduct its acquisitions (Feldman, 2013). The guidelines are divided into various sections, each elaborating on a specific method of government acquisition and the threshold requirements therein. Part 15 of the PAR governs the federal government acquisition through competitive negotiations. The section was reengineered in 1997 and published in 1998 with the purpose of making competitive negotiations easy (Feldman, 2013). The purpose of reviewing the guidelines was to ensure that it encourages and enhances openness in the communication between the government and the contracting parties when the government is making acquisitions.
The purpose of this paper is to analyze the checklists that should be considered when acquiring a new tax processing software system at the Internal Revenue Service (ISR). It also examines whether correcting the Offeror’s mistake is required in a proposal for a competitive acquisition.
Proposal Adequacy Checklist
In considering the proposals made by Offeror to provide the ISR with the new software system, it is necessary to examine the nature of the item description. The ISR’s proposal adequacy checklist follows the required standards under Part 15 of PAR for sole source actions above TINA threshold. In this case, ISR examines the proposals based on the description of the price of the item (the software system) to be acquired.
The Five Checklists for the item price are:
- It is a properly completed first page of the proposal developed according to the FAR table 15-2I.A or as per the contracting officer in the solicitation process? (Keyes, 2006)
- Does the proposal provide an index of all the certified cost, pricing data, and information to accompany the proposal?
- Does the proposal provide an exception to the submission of the certified pricing data or cost according to FAR 15.403-1(B)? (Keyes, 2006)
- Is there a comprehensive summary of the total cost per each element of the cost?
- Does the proposal show the total price of the item per annum?
Summary of the intrinsic value of suggestions on the checklist
The second and fourth items are important in this analysis. One of the proposals received at the ISR office from the potential Offerors suggests that the software system is different from the conventional products acquired in the department because it will need frequent maintenance and that the Offeror will provide those services throughout its expected life. In Item 2 of the checklist, the Offeror’s proposal states that the company has provided the certified cost, pricing data, and information to accompany the proposal based on the suggestion that the product will need adequate maintenance. It states that the prices of the maintenance expected to change with time. Thus, the included price data is that of the initial cost of the product and not the annual cost of maintenance.
Secondly, item 4 of the checklist finds that the comprehensive summary of the total cost per each element of the cost goes in line with the specifications of the software system. The elements specified in the Offeror’s proposals include the initial cost of the product and its installment. However, the cost of maintenance and annual restructuring of the software are not provided because the company’s proposal states that the costs are expected to change. In addition, the elements include the review of the system to go in line with the latest requirements of technology.
The tax return software system to be acquired is a technology-based product. It requires the acquisition of the initial item, installation, and frequent maintenance or review to ensure that it performs the expected task and within the context of the current technology. Therefore, as a contracting officer, my position is to consider the proposals that provide an adequate specification of these costs. We need to consider the proposal in which the Offeror has specified the number of maintenances per year as the item for determining the cost. In addition, the best proposal must describe the expected life of the product and the cost of reviewing the system to ensure that it goes in line with the latest technology.
Preaward Proposal Mistakes
In this case, the ISR (the offeree) reserves the right to let a mistake in the offeror’s proposal go uncorrected even in situations where the error has the probability of causing a loss to the institution. The offeree’s action is protected under section 15.508 (discovery of mistakes), which states that the mistakes in the contractor’s proposal that may be disclosed after the award of the contract have been made should be processed according to the procedures outlined under section 14.407-4.
In this case, it is the responsibility of the offeror to go through the proposals carefully to determine the presence of mistakes and notify the offeree before the proposal is processed as per the section 14.407-4. In case the offerer fails to review for mistakes and the offeree suffers a loss, the offerer is liable for the compensation of the offeree as described in Giesler v. the US, 232 F. 3d 864 – Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit 2000 (Kathuria, 2009). In this case, the court ruled that the offeror deserves to compensate the state for the failure to read comprehensively the specifications, which caused an error.
The regulations provided under Part 15 of PAR are meant to ensure that the government acquisition is easy and free of fraud. In this case, it is important to follow the checklist to ensure that the offeror does not make errors in the pricing and other aspects of the proposal and mitigate the legal risks involved.
Feldman, S. W. (2013). Government contract guidebook. Eagan, MN: Thomson Reuters.
Kathuria, S. (2009). Best practices for compliance with the new government contractor compliance and ethics rules under the federal acquisition regulation. Public Contract Law Journal, 13(2), 803-856.
Keyes, W. N. (2006). Government Contracts under the Federal Acquisition Regulation. St. Paul, MN: West Publishing Company.