Rule reinforces performance buys

FAR interim rule on performance-based contracting

Federal regulators have issued a new rule to make it absolutely clear to contracting officers that performance-based acquisitions are the preferred way to buy commercial services.

The interim rule, issued Wednesday by the Federal Acquisition Regulation Council, takes effect immediately, even though the council will be accepting comments until July 2 before publishing a final rule. The haste comes because the fiscal 2001 Defense Authorization Act requires that the explanation be included in the FAR within six months.

The rule, as required by the act, establishes that when acquiring services, contracting officers should exhaust all possible performance-based contracting methods before turning to a contract that does not use such measured outcomes.

The FAR Council also issued another interim rule required by the authorization act, placing severe limits on the use of minimum experience or education requirements for contractors when agencies are acquiring information technology services.

Several members of Congress expressed concern last year that agencies' vendors were limited in their ability to go after the best IT personnel because of requirements that federal contractors have certain academic degrees.

The rule prohibits the use of minimum requirements unless the contracting officer can prove that the needs of the agency cannot be met without them or the agency needs to use something other than a performance-based contract.

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