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Subpart 9.2—Qualifications Requirements

9.200  Scope of subpart.

This subpart implements 10 U.S.C. 2319 and 41 U.S.C.253c and prescribes policies and procedures regarding qualification requirements and the acquisitions that are subject to such requirements.

9.201  Definitions.

As used in this subpart—

“Qualified bidders list (QBL)” means a list of bidders who have had their products examined and tested and who have satisfied all applicable qualification requirements for that product or have otherwise satisfied all applicable qualification requirements.

“Qualified manufacturers list (QML)” means a list of manufacturers who have had their products examined and tested and who have satisfied all applicable qualification requirements for that product.

9.202  Policy.

(a)(1) The head of the agency or designee shall, before establishing a qualification requirement, prepare a written justification—

(i) Stating the necessity for establishing the qualification requirement and specifying why the qualification requirement must be demonstrated before contract award;

(ii) Estimating the likely costs for testing and evaluation which will be incurred by the potential offeror to become qualified; and

(iii) Specifying all requirements that a potential offeror (or its product) must satisfy in order to become qualified. Only those requirements which are the least restrictive to meet the purposes necessitating the establishment of the qualification requirements shall be specified.

(2) Upon request to the contracting activity, potential offerors shall be provided—

(i) All requirements that they or their products must satisfy to become qualified; and

(ii) At their expense (but see 9.204(a)(2) with regard to small businesses), a prompt opportunity to demonstrate their abilities to meet the standards specified for qualification using qualified personnel and facilities of the agency concerned, or of another agency obtained through interagency agreements or under contract, or other methods approved by the agency (including use of approved testing and evaluation services not provided under contract to the agency).

(3) If the services in (a)(2)(ii) of this section are provided by contract, the contractors selected to provide testing and evaluation services shall be—

(i) Those that are not expected to benefit from an absence of additional qualified sources; and

(ii) Required by their contracts to adhere to any restriction on technical data asserted by the potential offeror seeking qualification.

(4) A potential offeror seeking qualification shall be promptly informed as to whether qualification is attained and, in the event it is not, promptly furnished specific reasons why qualification was not attained.

(b) When justified under the circumstances, the agency activity responsible for establishing a qualification requirement shall submit to the competition advocate for the procuring activity responsible for purchasing the item subject to the qualification requirement, a determination that it is unreasonable to specify the standards for qualification which a prospective offeror (or its product) must satisfy. After considering any comments of the competition advocate reviewing the determination, the head of the procuring activity may waive the requirements of 9.202(a)(1)(ii) through (4) for up to 2 years with respect to the item subject to the qualification requirement. A copy of the waiver shall be furnished to the head of the agency or other official responsible for actions under 9.202(a)(1). The waiver authority provided in this paragraph does not apply with respect to qualification requirements contained in a QPL, QML, or QBL.

(c) If a potential offeror can demonstrate to the satisfaction of the contracting officer that the potential offeror (or its product) meets the standards established for qualification or can meet them before the date specified for award of the contract, a potential offeror may not be denied the opportunity to submit and have considered an offer for a contract solely because the potential offeror—

(1) Is not on a QPL, QML, or QBL maintained by the Department of Defense (DoD) or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); or

(2) Has not been identified as meeting a qualification requirement established after October 19, 1984, by DoD or NASA; or

(3) Has not been identified as meeting a qualification requirement established by a civilian agency (not including NASA).

(d) The procedures in Subpart 19.6 for referring matters to the Small Business Administration are not mandatory on the contracting officer when the basis for a referral would involve a challenge by the offeror to either the validity of the qualification requirement or the offeror’s compliance with such requirement.

(e) The contracting officer need not delay a proposed award in order to provide a potential offeror with an opportunity to demonstrate its ability to meet the standards specified for qualification. In addition, when approved by the head of an agency or designee, a procurement need not be delayed in order to comply with 9.202(a).

(f) Within 7 years following enforcement of a QPL, QML, or QBL by DoD or NASA, or within 7 years after any qualification requirement was originally established by a civilian agency other than NASA, the qualification requirement shall be examined and revalidated in accordance with the requirements of 9.202(a). For DoD and NASA, qualification requirements other than QPL’s, QML’s and QBL’s shall be examined and revalidated within 7 years after establishment of the requirement under 9.202(a). Any periods for which a waiver under 9.202(b) is in effect shall be excluded in computing the 7 years within which review and revalidation must occur.

9.203  QPL’s, QML’s, and QBL’s.

(a) Qualification and listing in a QPL, QML, or QBL is the process by which products are obtained from manufacturers or distributors, examined and tested for compliance with specification requirements, or manufacturers or potential offerors, are provided an opportunity to demonstrate their abilities to meet the standards specified for qualification. The names of successful products, manufacturers, or potential offerors are included on lists evidencing their status. Generally, qualification is performed in advance and independently of any specific acquisition action. After qualification, the products, manufacturers, or potential offerors are included in a Federal or Military QPL, QML, or QBL. (See 9.202(a)(2) with regard to any product, manufacturer, or potential offeror not yet included on an applicable list.)

(b) Specifications requiring a qualified product are included in the following publications:

(1) GSA Index of Federal Specifications, Standards and Commercial Item Descriptions, FPMR 101-29.1.

(2) Department of Defense Acquisition Streamlining and Standardization Information System (ASSIST) at (http://assist.daps.dla.mil).

(c) Instructions concerning qualification procedures are included in the following publications:

(1) Federal Standardization Manual, FSPM-0001.

(2) Defense Standardization Manual 4120.24-M, Appendix 2, as amended by Military Standards 961 and 962.

(d) The publications listed in paragraphs (b) and (c) of this section are sold to the public. The publications in paragraphs (b)(1) and (c)(1) of this section may be obtained from the addressee in 11.201(d)(1). The publications in paragraphs (b)(2) and (c)(2) of this section may be obtained from the addressee in 11.201(d)(2).

9.204  Responsibilities for establishment of a qualification requirement.

The responsibilities of agency activities that establish qualification requirements include the following:

(a) Arranging publicity for the qualification requirements. If active competition on anticipated future qualification requirements is likely to be fewer than two manufacturers or the products of two manufacturers, the activity responsible for establishment of the qualification requirements must—

(1) Periodically furnish through the Governmentwide point of entry (GPE) a notice seeking additional sources or products for qualification unless the contracting officer determines that such publication would compromise the national security.

(2) Bear the cost of conducting the specified testing and evaluation (excluding the costs associated with producing the item or establishing the production, quality control, or other system to be tested and evaluated) for a small business concern or a product manufactured by a small business concern which has met the standards specified for qualification and which could reasonably be expected to compete for a contract for that requirement. However, such costs may be borne only if it is determined in accordance with agency procedures that such additional qualified sources or products are likely to result in cost savings from increased competition for future requirements sufficient to amortize the costs incurred by the agency within a reasonable period of time, considering the duration and dollar value of anticipated future requirements. A prospective contractor requesting the United States to bear testing and evaluation costs must certify as to its status as a small business concern under Section 3 of the Small Business Act in order to receive further consideration.

(b) Qualifying products that meet specification requirements.

(c) Listing manufacturers and suppliers whose products are qualified in accordance with agency procedures.

(d) Furnishing QPL’s, QML’s, or QBL’s or the qualification requirements themselves to prospective offerors and the public upon request (see 9.202(a)(2)(i)).

(e) Clarifying, as necessary, qualification requirements.

(f) In appropriate cases, when requested by the contracting officer, providing concurrence in a decision not to enforce a qualification requirement for a solicitation.

(g) Withdrawing or omitting qualification of a listed product, manufacturer or offeror, as necessary.

(h) Advising persons furnished any list of products, manufacturers or offerors meeting a qualification requirement and suppliers whose products are on any such list that—

(1) The list does not constitute endorsement of the product, manufacturer, or other source by the Government;

(2) The products or sources listed have been qualified under the latest applicable specification;

(3) The list may be amended without notice;

(4) The listing of a product or source does not release the supplier from compliance with the specification; and

(5) Use of the list for advertising or publicity is permitted. However, it must not be stated or implied that a particular product or source is the only product or source of that type qualified, or that the Government in any way recommends or endorses the products or the sources listed.

(i) Reexamining a qualified product or manufacturer when—

(1) The manufacturer has modified its product, or changed the material or the processing sufficiently so that the validity of previous qualification is questionable;

(2) The requirements in the specification have been amended or revised sufficiently to affect the character of the product; or

(3) It is otherwise necessary to determine that the quality of the product is maintained in conformance with the specification.

9.205  Opportunity for qualification before award.

(a) If an agency determines that a qualification requirement is necessary, the agency activity responsible for establishing the requirement must urge manufacturers and other potential sources to demonstrate their ability to meet the standards specified for qualification and, when possible, give sufficient time to arrange for qualification before award. The responsible agency activity must, before establishing any qualification requirement, furnish notice through the GPE. The notice must include—

(1) Intent to establish a qualification requirement;

(2) The specification number and name of the product;

(3) The name and address of the activity to which a request for the information and opportunity described in 9.202(a)(2) should be submitted;

(4) The anticipated date that the agency will begin awarding contracts subject to the qualification requirement;

(5) A precautionary notice that when a product is submitted for qualification testing, the applicant must furnish any specific information that may be requested of the manufacturer before testing will begin; and

(6) The approximate time period following submission of a product for qualification testing within which the applicant will be notified whether the product passed or failed the qualification testing (see 9.202(a)(4)).

(b) The activity responsible for establishing a qualification requirement must keep any list maintained of those already qualified open for inclusion of additional products, manufacturers, or other potential sources.

9.206  Acquisitions subject to qualification requirements.

9.206-1  General.

(a) Agencies may not enforce any QPL, QML, or QBL without first complying with the requirements of 9.202(a). However, qualification requirements themselves, whether or not previously embodied in a in a QPL, QML, or QBL, may be enforced without regard to 9.202(a) if they are in either of the following categories:

(1) Any qualification requirement established by statute prior to October 30, 1984, for civilian agencies (not including NASA); or

(2) Any qualification requirement established by statute or administrative action prior to October 19, 1984, for DoD or NASA. Qualification requirements established after the above dates must comply with 9.202(a) to be enforceable.

(b) Except when the agency head or designee determines that an emergency exists, whenever an agency elects, whether before or after award, not to enforce a qualification requirement which it established, the requirement may not thereafter be enforced unless the agency complies with 9.202(a).

(c) If a qualification requirement applies, the contracting officer need consider only those offers identified as meeting the requirement or included on the applicable QPL, QML, or QBL, unless an offeror can satisfactorily demonstrate to the contracting officer that it or its product or its subcontractor or its product can meet the standards established for qualification before the date specified for award.

(d) If a product subject to a qualification requirement is to be acquired as a component of an end item, the contracting officer must ensure that all such components and their qualification requirements are properly identified in the solicitation since the product or source must meet the standards specified for qualification before award.

(e) In acquisitions subject to qualification requirements, the contracting officer shall take the following steps:

(1) Use presolicitation notices in appropriate cases to advise potential suppliers before issuing solicitations involving qualification requirements. The notices shall identify the specification containing the qualification requirement and establish an allowable time period, consistent with delivery requirements, for prospective offerors to demonstrate their abilities to meet the standards specified for qualification. The notice shall be publicized in accordance with 5.204. Whether or not a presolicitation notice is used, the general synopsizing requirements of Subpart 5.2 apply.

(2) Distribute solicitations to prospective contractors whether or not they have been identified as meeting applicable qualification requirements.

(3) When appropriate, request in accordance with agency procedures that a qualification requirement not be enforced in a particular acquisition and, if granted, so specify in the solicitation (see 9.206-1(b)).

(4) Forward requests from potential suppliers for information on a qualification requirement to the agency activity responsible for establishing the requirement.

(5) Allow the maximum time, consistent with delivery requirements, between issuing the solicitation and the contract award. As a minimum, contracting officers shall comply with the time frames specified in 5.203 when applicable.

9.206-2  Contract clause.

The contracting officer shall insert the clause at 52.209-1, Qualification Requirements, in solicitations and contracts when the acquisition is subject to a qualification requirement.

9.206-3  Competition.

(a) Presolicitation. If a qualification requirement applies to an acquisition, the contracting officer shall review the applicable QPL, QML, or QBL or other identification of those sources which have met the requirement before issuing a solicitation to ascertain whether the number of sources is adequate for competition. (See 9.204(a) for duties of the agency activity responsible for establishment of the qualification requirement.) If the number of sources is inadequate, the contracting officer shall request the agency activity which established the requirement to—

(1) Indicate the anticipated date on which any sources presently undergoing evaluation will have demonstrated their abilities to meet the qualification requirement so that the solicitation could be rescheduled to allow as many additional sources as possible to qualify; or

(2) Indicate whether a means other than the qualification requirement is feasible for testing or demonstrating quality assurance.

(b) Post solicitation. The contracting officer shall submit to the agency activity which established the qualification requirement the names and addresses of concerns which expressed interest in the acquisition but are not included on the applicable QPL, QML, or QBL or identified as meeting the qualification requirement. The activity will then assist interested concerns in meeting the standards specified for qualification (see 9.202(a)(2) and (4)).

9.207  Changes in status regarding qualification requirements.

(a) The contracting officer shall promptly report to the agency activity which established the qualification requirement any conditions which may merit removal or omission from a QPL, QML, or QBL or affect whether a source should continue to be otherwise identified as meeting the requirement. These conditions exist when—

(1) Products or services are submitted for inspection or acceptance that do not meet the qualification requirement;

(2) Products or services were previously rejected and the defects were not corrected when submitted for inspection or acceptance;

(3) A supplier fails to request reevaluation following change of location or ownership of the plant where the product which met the qualification requirement was manufactured (see the clause at 52.209-1, Qualification Requirements);

(4) A manufacturer of a product which met the qualification requirement has discontinued manufacture of the product;

(5) A source requests removal from a QPL, QML, or QBL;

(6) A condition of meeting the qualification requirement was violated; e.g., advertising or publicity contrary to 9.204(h)(5);

(7) A revised specification imposes a new qualification requirement;

(8) Manufacturing or design changes have been incorporated in the qualification requirement;

(9) The source is listed in the System for Award Management Exclusions (see Subpart 9.4); or

(10) Performance of a contract subject to a qualification requirement is otherwise unsatisfactory.

(b) After considering any of the above or other conditions reasonably related to whether a product or source continues to meet the standards specified for qualification, an agency may take appropriate action without advance notification. The agency shall, however, promptly notify the affected parties if a product or source is removed from a QPL, QML, or QBL, or will no longer be identified as meeting the standards specified for qualification. This notice shall contain specific information why the product or source no longer meets the qualification requirement.


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