Letters to the Editor
As a member of the Electronic Commerce Resource Center (ECRC) technical support team, I have contacted hundreds of vendors. There were only two— less than 1 percent— who displayed any reluctance about signing up. ~And why should they? The two-page CCR form usually takes less than 10 minutes to complete. It can be mailed to the address on the form or entered online at ccr.edi.disa.mil/ or www.ccr.dlsc.dla.mil/ccr. ~Any company that has a problem can contact the ECRC in its region. The contact information is available at www.ecrc.ctc.com/necrc/recrcpr.htm. ~About 10 percent of those I have contacted said they didn't want to invest in electronic data interchange, but that is another issue. ~The two companies that resisted CCR registration were mostly concerned about giving any information to Dun & Bradstreet in order to get a DUNS number. Providing a DUNS number is the first step in the CCR registration process. ~According to the editorial, educating vendors about changes in the procurement process is crucial to carrying out a successful reform. To this end, the 16 ECRCs present hundreds of classes every month; these are generally scheduled through small-business development centers and procurement assistance centers. Invitations are sent out to the vendor community, and the class schedule is posted on the Internet at www.tda.ecrc.ctc.com/kti/ktisched/search.dbm. ~~Steve T. Bett, Ph.D. ~Technical Support~Orange ECRC~Orange, TexasRefining a Definition
A gross error was included in the response provided by Carl Peckinpaugh in "A Legal View" column "How are mapping services acquired?" [FCW, March 30]. It has caused great concern among several agency officials; thus this clarification is important.
In his response, Peckinpaugh reported, "The General Accounting Office, however, has made it clear that surveying, mapping, etc., can be acquired under the unique procedures of the Brooks Act only when they are incidental to specific construction projects. The Brooks Act does not apply to the acquisition of mapping services that are unrelated to construction projects. (See, for example, Timberland-McCullough Inc., B-208086, Sept. 24, 1982, 82-2 CPD 273.)"
First, it should be noted that Peckinpaugh is relying on old laws and a selective reading of GAO rulings. Timberland-McCullough is no longer relevant and has been superseded by other GAO opinions, congressional action and the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). In fact, the Brooks Act applies to a wide variety of architect and engineering (A&E) services, including surveying and mapping, and not solely those related to construction. GAO has ruled that "it is reasonable to assert that Congress intended the military to adhere to those traditional methods of [A&E] selection embodied in the Brooks Act to the same extent as the civilian agencies of the federal government. It is reasonable to read the exception for [A&E] contractor selection...as applying to [A&E] contract generally rather than to construction only." (See U.S. Comp. Gen., B-199548.2, Association of Soil and Foundation Engineers— Reconsideration, Aug. 13, 1982.)
Since the time of that decision, Congress amended the Brooks Act, enacting a new definition of services to which it applies, specifically including surveying and mapping. (See Section 403 of Public Law 101-574 and Section 742 of Public Law 742-656.) This is now found in 40 U.S.C. : 541(3).
The new (1988) law is now reflected in the FAR. Section 36.601-4(a)(4) states: "Mapping associated with the research, planning, development, design, construction or alteration of real property is considered to be an architectural and engineering service and is to be procured pursuant to 36.601." This clearly does not limit the Brooks Act process to construction-related mapping. In fact, it is inconceivable that any mapping service is not associated with the "research" of real property, for mapping by its nature is the research of geographic or man-made features and the portrayal of such features in a graphic or digital format.
The matter of application of this provision of law and regulation to surveying and mapping services has since been consistently upheld by GAO. (See, for example, Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, Request for Advanced Decision,
[B-233987, July 14, 1989]; White Shield Inc., [B-235522, Sept. 21, 1989]; and White Shield Inc., [B-235967, Oct. 30, 1989]). These cases specifically address the issue of whether such contracts must be limited to those in which licensed architects or engineers are required. The comptroller general has indicated that the services of professionals such as surveyors and photogrammetrists are also to be acquired using the Brooks Act's qualifications-based selection process.
Finally, it should be noted that the Competition in Contracting Act clearly and specifically defined the Brooks Act process as a competitive acquisition process. The law (see 10 U.S.C. : 2302(2)(A) and 41 U.S.C. : 259(b)(1)) defines "competitive procedures" to include "procurement of architectural or engineering services" in accordance with the Brooks Act (40 U.S.C. : 541 et seq.).
The Brooks Act is a time-tested and valuable piece of legislation. Federal agencies and the private mapping profession are highly supportive of and satisfied with this process. It is used for nonconstruction mapping by the U.S. Geological Survey National Mapping Division, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and numerous other agencies. As the government turns to the private sector to satisfy its mapping requirements, the Brooks Act is a key quality-assurance tool to protect the taxpayers' investments.
John M. Palatiello
Management Association for Private Photogrammetric Surveyors
Columnist Peckinpaugh's reply: The writer correctly noted that the definition of A&E services includes those surveying and mapping services traditionally performed by members of the A&E professions and individuals in their employ. This includes such services as cadastral land surveying. However, as stated in FAR 36.601-4(a)(4), "mapping services such as those typically performed by the Defense Mapping Agency that are not connected to traditionally understood or accepted architectural or engineering activities" are outside the definition. Such services may not be acquired under the Brooks Act for A&E services unless they are incidental to a construction project.
Paperless Contracting and the CCR
The cartoon and the editorial in the April 6 issue of FCW sought to explain why only 65,500 (as of March 31) of the estimated 300,000 Defense Department vendors have attempted to complete their Central Contractor Registration (CCR). The editorial suggested that vendors were reluctant to sign up.