Subpart 16.6- Time-and-Materials, Labor-Hour, and Letter Contracts
16.601 Time-and-materials contracts.
- (a) Description. A time-and-materials contract provides for acquiring supplies or services on the basis of-
- (1) Direct labor hours at specified fixed hourly rates that include wages, overhead, general and administrative expenses, and profit; and
- (2) Materials at cost, including, if appropriate, material handling costs as part of material costs.
- (b) Application. A time-and-materials contract may be used only when it is not possible at the time of placing the contract to estimate accurately the extent or duration of the work or to anticipate costs with any reasonable degree of confidence.
- (1) Government surveillance. A time-and-materials contract provides no positive profit incentive to the contractor for cost control or labor efficiency. Therefore, appropriate Government surveillance of contractor performance is required to give reasonable assurance that efficient methods and effective cost controls are being used.
- (2) Material handling costs. When included as part of material costs, material handling costs shall include only costs clearly excluded from the labor-hour rate. Material handling costs may include all appropriate indirect costs allocated to direct materials in accordance with the contractor's usual accounting procedures consistent with Part 31.
- (3) Optional method of pricing material. When the nature of the work to be performed requires the contractor to furnish material that it regularly sells to the general public in the normal course of its business, the contract may provide for charging material on a basis other than at cost if-
- (i) The total estimated contract price does not exceed $25,000 or the estimated price of material so charged does not exceed 20 percent of the estimated contract price;
- (ii) The material to be so charged is identified in the contract;
- (iii) No element of profit on material so charged is included as profit in the fixed hourly labor rates; and
- (iv) The contract provides-
- (A) That the price to be paid for such material shall be based on an established catalog or list price in effect when material is furnished, less all applicable discounts to the Government; and
- (B) That in no event shall the price exceed the contractor's sales price to its most-favored customer for the same item in like quantity, or the current market price, whichever is lower.
- (c) Limitations. A time-and-materials contract may be used (1) only after the contracting officer executes a determination and findings that no other contract type is suitable; and (2) only if the contract includes a ceiling price that the contractor exceeds at its own risk. The contracting officer shall document the contract file to justify the reasons for and amount of any subsequent change in the ceiling price.
16.602 Labor-hour contracts.
Description. A labor-hour contract is a variation of the time-and-materials contract, differing only in that materials are not supplied by the contractor. See 16.601(b) and 16.601(c) for application and limitations, respectively.
16.603 Letter contracts.
A letter contract is a written preliminary contractual instrument that authorizes the contractor to begin immediately manufacturing supplies or performing services.
- (a) A letter contract may be used when (1) the Government's interests demand that the contractor be given a binding commitment so that work can start immediately and (2) negotiating a definitive contract is not possible in sufficient time to meet the requirement. However, a letter contract should be as complete and definite as feasible under the circumstances.
- (b) When a letter contract award is based on price competition, the contracting officer shall include an overall price ceiling in the letter contract.
- (c) Each letter contract shall, as required by the clause at 52.216-25, Contract Definitization, contain a negotiated definitization schedule including (1) dates for submission of the contractor's price proposal, required cost or pricing data, and, if required, make-or-buy and subcontracting plans, (2) a date for the start of negotiations, and (3) a target date for definitization, which shall be the earliest practicable date for definitization. The schedule will provide for definitization of the contract within 180 days after the date of the letter contract or before completion of 40 percent of the work to be performed, whichever occurs first. However, the contracting officer may, in extreme cases and according to agency procedures, authorize an additional period. If, after exhausting all reasonable efforts, the contracting officer and the contractor cannot negotiate a definitive contract because of failure to reach agreement as to price or fee, the clause at 52.216-25 requires the contractor to proceed with the work and provides that the contracting officer may, with the approval of the head of the contracting activity, determine a reasonable price or fee in accordance with Subpart 15.4 and Part 31, subject to appeal as provided in the Disputes clause.
- (d) The maximum liability of the Government inserted in the clause at 52.216-24, Limitation of Government Liability, shall be the estimated amount necessary to cover the contractor's requirements for funds before definitization. However, it shall not exceed 50 percent of the estimated cost of the definitive contract unless approved in advance by the official that authorized the letter contract.
- (e) The contracting officer shall assign a priority rating to the letter contract if it is appropriate under 11.604.
A letter contract may be used only after the head of the contracting activity or a designee determines in writing that no other contract is suitable. Letter contracts shall not-
- (a) Commit the Government to a definitive contract in excess of the funds available at the time the letter contract is executed;
- (b) Be entered into without competition when competition is required by Part 6; or
- (c) Be amended to satisfy a new requirement unless that requirement is inseparable from the existing letter contract. Any such amendment is subject to the same requirements and limitations as a new letter contract.
16.603-4 Contract clauses.
- (a) The contracting officer shall include in each letter contract the clauses required by this regulation for the type of definitive contract contemplated and any additional clauses known to be appropriate for it.
- (b) In addition, the contracting officer shall insert the following clauses in solicitations and contracts when a letter contract is contemplated:
- (1) The clause at 52.216-23, Execution and Commencement of Work, except that this clause may be omitted from letter contracts awarded on SF 26;
- (2) The clause at 52.216-24, Limitation of Government Liability, with dollar amounts completed in a manner consistent with 16.603-2(d); and
- (3) The clause at 52.216-25, Contract Definitization, with its paragraph (b) completed in a manner consistent with 16.603-2(c). If, at the time of entering into the letter contract, the contracting officer knows that the definitive contract will be based on adequate price competition or will otherwise meet the criteria of 15.403-1 for not requiring submission of cost or pricing data, the words "and cost or pricing data supporting its proposal" may be deleted from paragraph (a) of the clause. If the letter contract is being awarded on the basis of price competition, the contracting officer shall use the clause with its Alternate I.
- (c) The contracting officer shall also insert the clause at 52.216-26, Payments of Allowable Costs Before Definitization, in solicitations and contracts if a cost-reimbursement definitive contract is contemplated, unless the acquisition involves conversion, alteration, or repair of ships.