OFPP draws heat for planned time and materials provision

OFPP draws heat for planned time and materials provision

The Office of Federal Procurement Policy is coming under fire from agency procurement officials, members of Congress and industry groups for adding a provision to the upcoming Section 803 Federal Acquisition Regulation.

The rule would strongly discourage Defense Department contracting officers from using time and materials contracts when they buy from the General Services Administration's Federal Supply Service schedules.

Time and material contracts are favored by contracting officers and vendors.

'There is total disbelief in the entire procurement community that OFPP, whose clarion call is for transparency, would attempt to make a major rule change at the last possible minute when no one had an opportunity to comment,' said Larry Allen, executive director for the Coalition for Government Procurement, a Washington trade group.

'We are extremely concerned not just with the proposal but how it is being handled,' he said. 'We are willing to have an open discussion on this or any other multiple-award contract issue through a proper comment period or whatever established channels we have'and there are many.'

Allen said he has been trying to contact OFPP administrator Angela Styles to discuss the change for the last few days and has not received any word from her office.

A nongovernment source said the provision would have a big effect on DOD's use of the schedules.

'This would force contracting officers use firm, fixed-price contracts, which could be worse for the government because it makes the government pay a certain price no matter the real cost,' said the source, who asked not to be named. 'This is a major, major change regarding the schedules, and it came out of the blue. Section 803 is a completely different issue.'

The 803 regulation will ensure competition among schedule vendors by requiring DOD contracting officers to obtain at least three bids per schedule buy. OFPP planned to release the new regulation June 26, but Allen said he believes the time and materials issue will push back the announcement. He said he doubts the time and materials provision will be included in the final 803 rule because of the firestorm its proposal created.

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