Contracting with the U.S. Government is a complex process with huge benefits for both the government contractor and the requiring activity. The process includes developing an agency requirement, market research, acquisition planning, requesting proposals, evaluating proposals, awarding the contract, administering the contract and then closing out the contract.
Each phase of the process has a myriad of potential legal issues that can be avoided or positioned for successful resolution. Understanding these issues can help eliminate disputes before they arise, resolve disputes as they appear, and, ultimately, help establish a strong relationship with the agency. That relationship is key to positive results, successful contract completion, and a positive past performance rating for winning more government contracts.
The ability to challenge the award or proposed award of a government contract is critical to ensure the government contracting process is transparent and provides “full and open competition” for all responsible offerors.
Contract changes inevitably affect costs associated with government contracts. The ability to request equitable adjustments and submit claims is essential to ensuring contractors are compensated for their good faith performance.
Government Contract Compliance Programs are a fundamental part of protecting and insulating businesses in the performance of a government contract. Businesses need solid government contract compliance programs, policies, and processes to fully perform all requirements in a government contract.
The Small Business Administration has several socio-economic groups and polices that help set-aside government resources for Small Business, Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB), Women-Owned Small Business, HUBZone Business, Veteran-Owned Small Business, and Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business.
The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program are a vital part of the government reinvestment in small business innovation. These programs offer non-dilutive government funding for research and development initiatives that address government needs while developing for commercialization.
The federal government is constantly evolving the various methods by which it finds procurement sources in order to follow a more streamlined, business-like approach. In recent years the government, especially the DoD, has been relying ever more heavily on Other Transaction Authority (“OTAs”). GSA Schedule contracts have been a mainstay of streamlined procurement for years yet the government buys more and more from GSA Schedule contracts every year and the program is continually revised.
Being able to leverage the capabilities of other companies to compete for government requirements is an important part of competing in the innovation ecosystem. The collaborative benefits include helping companies become competitive for requirements that they otherwise would not, while building additional capacity, expertise, and past performance.
Inevitably the government’s needs develop, evolve, or wholly change during the course of contract performance. Sometimes, the government may need to terminate the contract before it is completed. Further, a contractor may find itself at odds with the government’s interpretation of the contract. Every government contractor must know its rights when one of these situations arises so that it can maximize its recovery of the costs incurred while performing the contract.
The Federal Acquisition Regulation is the baseline rule for all government contracts (though there are other statutes, regulations, and court precedents that may come into play). Understanding the key parts of the FAR and rules incumbent on government contractors is critical to successful performance of a government contract.