Acquisition rules changing

Central Contractor Registration Rule

New rules could establish share-in-savings contracting rules, centralize and streamline payment processes and speed up the purchase of items related to protection from chemical and biological weapons.

The Civilian Agency Acquisition Council and the Defense Acquisition Regulations Council published the rules today.

The new rules make permanent a set of interim regulations that had already been published by the councils. They raise the micropurchase threshold from $2,500 to $7,500, and doubled the amount agencies can spend under a streamlined acquisition process from $100,000 to $200,000 for purchases aimed at recovering from or preventing attacks.

The share-in-savings notice is not a rule, but an "advance notice of rulemaking" released to get preliminary comments. Share-in-savings is a popular pricing model for service companies, where the amount they get paid is proportional to the amount of money they save customers. Continued delays in implementing share-in guidelines are frustrating to Alan Chvotkin, senior vice president and counsel at the Professional Services Council, who said almost a year has passed since the E-Government Act authorizing civilian agencies to use share-in-savings was passed.

"The rule that they've incorporated in the [Federal Register notice] seems to be a fairly close recitation of the statute," he said. "The e-gov act was passed, we're coming up on 12 months and we don't have a single pilot program created using the special authorities that the e-gov act provided."

The share-in notice enumerates several questions that procurement councils want answers to, such as what information vendors need in the solicitation to prepare an adequate proposal, or whether cancellation costs should be calculated the same fashion as for a more conventional contract.

"They're asking the right questions," Chvotkin said. But "they could have asked the same questions six months ago."

The contractor registration rule was expected, Chvotkin said. Vendors must register with the Defense Department's Central Contractor Repository and provide basic information about the company and a nine-digit unique identifier number from Dun and Bradstreet, Inc.

The registration makes it easier for the government to keep tabs on which companies are working on what contracts, and will have potential future payoffs also, Chvotkin said.

"There is a proposed law that requires all contracts over a certain dollar amount to get paid electronically, and the only way to do that is to have a database of your bank account information," he said.

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