|873.106||Presolicitation exchanges with industry.|
|873.108||Publicizing contract actions.|
|873.109||General requirements for acquisition of health-care resources.|
|873.111||Acquisition strategies for health-care resources.|
|873.113||Exchanges with offerors.|
|873.114||Best value pool.|
|873.116||Source selection decision.|
|873.117||Award to successful offeror.|
AUTHORITY: 38 U.S.C. 501 and 8151-8153; 40 U.S.C. 121(c); and 48 CFR 1.301-1.304.
[Deviation per Class Deviation–Veterans First Contracting Program (VFCP 2016), dated July 25, 2016, revises VAAR 873.101 and VAAR 873.102 to reflect that to the extent not otherwise excluded by law, the Veterans First Contracting Program in VAAR subpart 819.70 applies to VA contracts under VAAR part 873 and has precedence over the other small business programs. This deviation is effective until incorporated into the VAAR or the VAAM or is otherwise rescinded.]
The simplified acquisition procedures set forth in this part apply to the acquisition of health-care resources consisting of commercial services or the use of medical equipment or space. These procedures shall be used in conjunction with the FAR and other parts of the VAAR. When a policy in the FAR or parts of the VAAR is inconsistent with a policy in this part, the policy in part 873 takes precedence. These procedures contain more flexibility than provided in the FAR or elsewhere in the VAAR. (38 U.S.C. 8151-8153)
(a) General. To the extent not otherwise excluded by law, the Veterans First Contracting Program in subpart 819.70 applies to contracts under this part and has precedence over other small business programs.
(b) The contracting officer shall ensure priorities for Veteran-owned small businesses are implemented within the VA hierarchy of small business program preferences, established by section 38 U.S.C. 8127 and 8128, the Veterans First Contracting Program, as implemented in subpart 819.70. Specifically, the contracting officer shall consider preferences for verified service-disabled Veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSBs) first, then preferences for verified Veteran-owned small businesses (VOSBs). These priorities will be followed by preferences for other small businesses in accordance with FAR 19.203, 819.203-70 and 819.7004.
(c) When there is need for a waiver, pursuant to 873.107, the OSDBU Director will be notified.
Commercial service means a service, except construction exceeding $2,000 and architect-engineer services, that is offered and sold competitively in the commercial marketplace, is performed under standard commercial terms and conditions, and is procured using firm-fixed price contracts. (38 U.S.C. 8153)
Health-care providers include health-care plans and insurers and any organizations, institutions, or other entities or individuals who furnish health-care resources. (38 U.S.C. 8153)
Health-care resource includes hospital care and medical services (as those terms are defined in section 1701 of title 38 United States Code (U.S.C.)), any other health-care service, and any health-care support or administrative resource, including the use of medical equipment or space. (38 U.S.C. 8153)
Without regard to FAR 8.002(a)(2), except for the acquisition of services available from the Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled (AbilityOne) (see FAR subpart 8.7), there are no priority sources for the acquisition of health-care resources consisting of commercial services or the use of medical equipment or space. (38 U.S.C. 8151-8153) See 873.101(a) – (b) for applicability of 38 U.S.C. 8127 and 8128.
(a) Without regard to FAR Part 6, if the health-care resource required is a commercial service, the use of medical equipment or space, or research, and is to be acquired from an institution affiliated with the Department in accordance with section 7302 of title 38 U.S.C., including medical practice groups and other approved entities associated with affiliated institutions (entities will be approved if determined legally to be associated with affiliated institutions), or from blood banks, organ banks, or research centers, the resource may be acquired on a sole source basis. (38 U.S.C. 8153)
(b) Acquisition of health-care resources identified in paragraph (a) of this section are not required to be publicized as otherwise required by 873.108 or FAR 5.101. In addition, written justification, as otherwise set forth in section 303(f) of the Federal Property and Administration Services Act of 1949 (41 U.S.C. 253(f)) and FAR Part 6, is not required. (38 U.S.C. 8153)
(c) Without regard to FAR 6.101, if the health-care resource required is a commercial service or the use of medical equipment or space, and is to be acquired from an entity not described in paragraph (a) of this section, contracting officers must seek competition to the maximum extent practicable and must permit all responsible sources, as appropriate under the provisions of this part, to submit a bid, proposal or quotation (as appropriate) for the resources to be procured and provide for the consideration by the Department of bids, proposals, or quotations so submitted. (38 U.S.C. 8153)
(d) Without regard to FAR 5.101, acquisition of health-care resources identified in paragraph (c) of this section shall be publicized as otherwise required by 873.108. Moreover, for any such acquisition described in paragraph (c) of this section to be conducted on a sole source basis, the contracting officer must prepare a justification that includes the information and is approved at the levels prescribed in section 303(f) of the Federal Property and Administration Services Act of 1949 (41 U.S.C. 253(f)) and FAR Part 6. (38 U.S.C. 8153)
(b) For the acquisition of health-care resources consisting of commercial services or the use of medical equipment or space, where the acquisition is expected to exceed the simplified acquisition threshold (SAT), an acquisition team must be assembled. The team shall be tailored by the contracting officer for each particular acquisition expected to exceed the SAT. The team should consist of a mix of staff, appropriate to the complexity of the acquisition, and may include contracting, fiscal, legal, administrative, and technical personnel, and such other expertise as necessary to assure a comprehensive acquisition plan. The team should include the small business advocate representing the contracting activity or a higher level designee and the SBA Procurement Center Representative (PRC), if available. As a minimum, the team must include the contracting officer and a representative of the requesting service. (38 U.S.C. 8153)
(c) Prior to determining whether a requirement is suitable for acquisition using these simplified acquisition procedures, the contracting officer or the acquisition team, as appropriate, must conduct market research to identify interested businesses. It is the responsibility of the contracting officer to ensure the requirement is appropriately publicized and information about the procurement opportunity is adequately disseminated as set forth in 873.108. (38 U.S.C. 8153)
(d) In lieu of the requirements of FAR Part 7 addressing documentation of the acquisition plan, the contracting officer may conduct an acquisition strategy meeting with cognizant offices to seek approval for the proposed acquisition approach.If a meeting is conducted, briefing materials shall be presented to address the acquisition plan topics and structure in FAR 7.105. Formal written minutes - summarizing decisions, actions, and conclusions - shall be prepared and included in the contract file, along with a copy of the briefing materials. (38 U.S.C. 8153)
(a) This section shall be used in lieu of FAR Part 10, except as provided in paragraph (b)(3) of this section. In conducting market research, exchange of information by all interested parties involved in an acquisition, from the earliest identification of a requirement through release of the solicitation, is encouraged. Interested parties include potential offerors, end users, Government acquisition and support personnel, and others involved in the conduct or outcome of the acquisition. The nature and extent of presolicitation exchanges between the Government and industry shall be a matter of the contracting officer’s discretion (for acquisitions not exceeding the simplified acquisition threshold) or the acquisition team’s discretion, as coordinated by the contracting officer. (38 U.S.C. 8153)
(3) Market research in accordance with FAR 10.002(b), which shall be followed to the extent that the provisions therein would provide relevant information;
(11) Use of the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) (http://www.bpn.gov/ccrinq/scripts/search.html) and the “Advanced Search” feature on VetBiz Vendor Information Pages (http://vip.vetbiz.gov/general_user/search/default.html) to search for vendors. (38 U.S.C. 8153).
(a) Implementation. This section provides additional authority, over and above that found at FAR 19.502, to waive small business set-asides. For acquisitions above the micro-purchase threshold, if, through market research, the contracting officer determines that there is reasonable expectation that reasonably priced bids, proposals, or quotations will be received from two or more responsible small businesses, a requirement for health-care resources must be reserved for small business participation. Without regard to FAR 13.003(b)(1), 19.502-2, and 19.502-3, the head of the contracting activity (HCA) may approve a waiver from the requirement for any set-aside for small business participation when a waiver is determined to be in the best interest of the Government. (38 U.S.C. 8153)
(1) The contracting officer (or, if a waiver has been approved in accordance with paragraph (a) of this section, the HCA) must consider and respond to a recommendation from an SBA representative to set a procurement aside for small business within 5 working days. If the recommendation is rejected by the contracting officer (or, if a waiver has been approved, by the HCA) and if SBA intends to appeal that determination, SBA must, within 2 working days after receipt of the determination, notify the contracting officer involved of SBA’s intention to appeal.
(2) Upon receipt of the notification of SBA’s intention to appeal and pending issuance of a final Department appeal decision to SBA, the contracting officer involved must suspend action on the acquisition unless the contracting officer makes a determination in writing that proceeding to contract award and performance is in the public interest. The contracting officer must promptly notify SBA of the determination to proceed with the solicitation and/or contract award and must provide a copy of the written determination to SBA.
(3) SBA shall be allowed 10 working days after receiving the rejection notice from the contracting officer (or the HCA, if a waiver has been approved) for acquisitions not exceeding $5 million, or 15 working days after receiving the rejection notice for acquisitions exceeding $5 million, to file an appeal. SBA must notify the contracting officer within this 10 or 15 day period whether an appeal has, in fact, been taken. If notification is not received by the contracting officer within the applicable period, it shall be deemed that an appeal was not taken.
(c) Contracting with the Small Business Administration (the 8(a) Program). The procedures of FAR 19.8 shall be followed where a responsible 8(a) contractor has been identified.
(d) Certificates of Competency and determinations of responsibility. The Director, Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the Assistant Administrator, Office of Industrial Assistance, Small Business Administration (SBA), shall serve as ombudsmen to assist VA contracting officers on any issues relating to Certificates of Competency (COC). Copies of all COC referrals to SBA shall be submitted to the Director, OSDBU (00SB).
(a) Without regard to FAR 5.101, all acquisitions under this part 873, except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, for dollar amounts in excess of the simplified acquisition threshold (SAT), as set forth in FAR Part 13, shall be publicly announced utilizing a medium designed to obtain competition to the maximum extent practicable and to permit all responsible sources, as appropriate under the provisions of this part, to submit a bid, proposal, or quotation (as appropriate).
(1) The publication medium may include the Internet, including the Governmentwide point of entry (GPE), and local, regional or national publications or journals, as appropriate, at the discretion of the contracting officer, depending on the complexity of the acquisition.
(2) Without regard to FAR 5.203, notice shall be published for a reasonable time prior to issuance of a request for quotations (RFQ) or a solicitation, depending on the complexity or urgency of the acquisition, in order to afford potential offerors a reasonable opportunity to respond. If the notice includes a complete copy of the RFQ or solicitation, a prior notice is not required, and the RFQ or solicitation shall be considered to be announced and issued at the same time.
(3) The notice may include contractor qualification parameters, such as time for delivery of service, credentialing or medical certification requirements, small business or other socio-economic preferences, the appropriate small business size standard, and such other qualifications as the contracting officer deems necessary to meet the needs of the Government. (38 U.S.C. 8153)
(b) The requirement for public announcement does not apply to sole source acquisitions, described in 873.104(a), from institutions affiliated with the Department in accordance with section 7302 of title 38 U.S.C., including medical practice groups and other approved entities associated with affiliated institutions (entities will be approved if determined legally to be associated with affiliated institutions), or from blood banks, organ banks, or research centers. In addition, the requirement for public announcement does not apply to sole source acquisitions of hospital care and medical services (as those terms are defined in section 1701 of title 38 U.S.C.) or any other health-care services, including acquisitions for the mutual use or exchange of use of such services. However, as required by 38 U.S.C. 8153(a)(3)(D), acquisitions from non-affiliates, if conducted on a sole source basis, must still be justified and approved (see 873.104(d)).(38 U.S.C. 8153)
(a) Source selection authority. Contracting officers shall be the source selection authority for acquisitions of health-care resources, consisting of commercial services or the use of medical equipment or space, utilizing the guidance contained in this part 873. (38 U.S.C. 8153)
(b) Statement of work/Specifications. Statements of work or specifications must define the requirement and should, in most instances, include qualifications or limitations such as time limits for delivery of service, medical certification or credentialing restrictions, and small business or other socio-economic preferences. The contracting officer may include any other such terms as the contracting officer deems appropriate for each specific acquisition. (38 U.S.C. 8153)
(1) Without regard to FAR 5.203, contracting officers shall set a reasonable time for receipt of quotations or proposals in requests for quotations (RFQs) and solicitations.
(2) Without regard to FAR 15.208 or 52.212-1(f), quotations or proposals received after the time set forth in an RFQ or request for proposals (RFP) may be considered at the discretion of the contracting officer if determined to be in the best interest of the Government. Contracting officers must document the rationale for accepting quotations or proposals received after the time specified in the RFQ or RFP. This paragraph (d)(2) shall not apply to RFQs or RFPs if alternative evaluation techniques described in 873.111(e)(1)(ii) are used. This paragraph (d)(2) does not apply to invitations for bid (IFBs). (38 U.S.C. 8153)
(e) Cancellation of procurements. Without regard to FAR 14.404-1, any acquisition may be canceled by the contracting officer at any time during the acquisition process if cancellation is determined to be in the best interest of the Government. (38 U.S.C. 8153)
(a) As provided in 873.109(d), contracting officers shall insert the provision at 852.273-70, Late offers, in all requests for quotations (RFQs) and requests for proposals (RFPs) exceeding the micro-purchase threshold. (38 U.S.C. 8153)
(b) The contracting officer shall insert a provision in RFQs and solicitations, substantially the same as the provision at 852.273-71, Alternative negotiation techniques, when either of the alternative negotiation techniques described in 873.111(e)(1) will be used. (38 U.S.C. 8153)
(c) The contracting officer shall insert the provision at 852.273-72, Alternative evaluation, in lieu of the provision at 52.212-2, Evaluation--Commercial Items, when the alternative negotiation technique described in 873.111(e)(1)(ii) will be used. (38 U.S.C. 8153)
(d) When evaluation information, as described in 873.112, is to be used to select a contractor under an RFQ or RFP for health-care resources consisting of commercial services or the use of medical equipment or space, the contracting officer may insert the provision at 852.273-73, Evaluation-health-care resources, in the RFQ or RFP in lieu of FAR provision 52.212-2. (38 U.S.C. 8153)
(e) As provided at 873.113(f), if award may be made without exchange with vendors, the contracting officer shall include the provision at 852.273-74, Award without exchanges, in the RFQ or RFP. (38 U.S.C. 8153)
(f) The contracting officer shall insert the FAR clause at 52.207-3, Right of First Refusal of Employment, and the clause at 852.207-70, Report of employment under commercial activities, in all RFQs, solicitations, and contracts issued under the authority of 38 U.S.C. 8151-8153 which may result in a conversion, from in-house performance to contract performance, of work currently being performed by Department of Veterans Affairs employees. (38 U.S.C. 8153)
Without regard to FAR 13.003 or 13.500(a), the following acquisition processes and techniques may be used, singly or in combination with others, as appropriate, to design acquisition strategies suitable for the complexity of the requirement and the amount of resources available to conduct the acquisition. These strategies should be considered during acquisition planning. The contracting officer shall select the process most appropriate to the particular acquisition. There is no preference for sealed bid acquisitions. (38 U.S.C. 8153)
(1) Without regard to FAR 6.1 or 6.2, contracting officers must solicit a sufficient number of sources to promote competition to the maximum extent practicable and to ensure that the purchase is advantageous to the Government, based, as appropriate, on either price alone or price and other factors (e.g., past performance and quality). RFQs must notify vendors of the basis upon which the award is to be made.
(2) For acquisitions in excess of the SAT, the procedures set forth in FAR Part 13 concerning RFQs may be utilized without regard to the dollar thresholds contained therein. (38 U.S.C. 8153)
(b) Sealed bidding. FAR Part 14 provides procedures for sealed bidding.
(1) General. Without regard to FAR 15.202, multiphase acquisitions may be appropriate when the submission of full proposals at the beginning of an acquisition would be burdensome for offerors to prepare and for Government personnel to evaluate. Using multiphase techniques, the Government may seek limited information initially, make one or more down-selects, and request a full proposal from an individual offeror or limited number of offerors. Provided that the notice notifies offerors, the contracting officer may limit the number of proposals during any phase to the number that will permit an efficient competition among proposals offering the greatest likelihood of award. The contracting officer may indicate in the notice an estimate of the greatest number of proposals that will be included in the down-select phase. The contracting officer may down-select to a single offeror.
(2) First phase notice. In the first phase, the Government shall publish a notice (see 873.108) that solicits responses and that may provide, as appropriate, a general description of the scope or purpose of the acquisition and the criteria that will be used to make the initial down-select decision. The notice may also inform offerors of the evaluation criteria or process that will be used in subsequent down-select decisions. The notice must contain sufficient information to allow potential offerors to make an informed decision about whether to participate in the acquisition. The notice must advise offerors that failure to participate in the first phase will make them ineligible to participate in subsequent phases. The notice may be in the form of a synopsis in the Governmentwide point of entry (GPE) or a narrative letter or other appropriate method that contains the information required by this paragraph.
(3) First phase responses. Offerors shall submit the information requested in the notice described in paragraph (d)(2) of this section. Information sought in the first phase may be limited to a statement of qualifications and other appropriate information (e.g., proposed technical concept, past performance information, limited pricing information).
(5) Subsequent phases. Additional information shall be sought in the second phase so that a down-select can be performed or an award made without exchanges, if necessary. The contracting officer may conduct exchanges with remaining offeror(s), request proposal revisions, or request best and final offers, as determined necessary by the contracting officer, in order to make an award decision.
(1) Contracting officers may utilize alternative negotiation techniques for the acquisition of health-care resources. Alternative negotiation techniques may be used when award will be based on either price or price and other factors. Alternative negotiation techniques include but are not limited to:
(i) Indicating to offerors a price, contract term or condition, commercially available feature, and/or requirement (beyond any requirement or target specified in the solicitation) that offerors will have to improve upon or meet, as appropriate, in order to remain competitive.
(2) Except as otherwise permitted by law, contracting officers shall not conduct acquisitions under this section in a manner that reveals the identities of offerors, releases proprietary information, or otherwise gives any offeror a competitive advantage (see FAR 3.104). (38 U.S.C. 8153)
(a) Without regard to FAR 15.304 (except for 15.304(c)(1) and (c)(3), which do apply to acquisitions under this authority), the criteria, factors, or other evaluation information that apply to an acquisition, and their relative importance, are within the broad discretion of agency acquisition officials as long as the evaluation information is determined to be in the best interest of the Government. (38 U.S.C. 8153)
(b) Price or cost to the Government must be evaluated in every source selection. Past performance shall be evaluated in source selections for negotiated competitive acquisitions exceeding the SAT unless the contracting officer documents that past performance is not an appropriate evaluation factor for the acquisition. (38 U.S.C. 8153)
(c) The quality of the product or service may be addressed in source selection through consideration of information such as past compliance with solicitation requirements, technical excellence, management capability, personnel qualifications, and prior experience. The information required from quoters, bidders, or offerors shall be included in notices or solicitations, as appropriate. (38 U.S.C. 8153)
(a) Without regard to FAR 15.201 or 15.306, negotiated acquisitions generally involve exchanges between the Government and competing offerors. Open exchanges support the goal of efficiency in Government by providing the Government with relevant information (in addition to that submitted in the offeror’s initial proposal) needed to understand and evaluate the offeror’s proposal. The nature and extent of exchanges between the Government and offerors is a matter of contracting officer judgment. Clarifications, communications, and discussions, as provided for in the FAR, are concepts not applicable to acquisitions under this part 873. (38 U.S.C. 8153)
(b) Exchanges with potential offerors may take place throughout the source selection process. Exchanges may start in the planning stages and continue through contract award. Exchanges should occur most often with offerors determined to be in the best value pool (see 873.114). The purpose of exchanges is to ensure there is mutual understanding between the Government and the offerors on all aspects of the acquisition, including offerors’ submittals/proposals. Information disclosed as a result of oral or written exchanges with an offeror may be considered in the evaluation of an offeror’s proposal. (38 U.S.C. 8153)
(c) Exchanges may be conducted, in part, to obtain information that explains or resolves ambiguities or other concerns (e.g., perceived errors, perceived omissions, or perceived deficiencies) in an offeror’s proposal. (38 U.S.C. 8153)
(e) Except for acquisitions based on alternative negotiation techniques contained in 873.111(e)(1), the contracting officer and other Government personnel involved in the acquisition shall not disclose information regarding one offeror’s proposal to other offerors without consent of the offeror in accordance with FAR Parts 3 and 24. (38 U.S.C. 8153)
(f) Award may be made on initial proposals without exchanges if the solicitation states that the Government intends to evaluate proposals and make award without exchanges, unless the contracting officer determines that exchanges are considered necessary. (38 U.S.C. 8153)
(a) Without regard to FAR 15.306(c), the contracting officer may determine the most highly rated proposals having the greatest likelihood of award based on the information or factors and subfactors in the solicitation. These vendors constitute the best value pool. This determination is within the sole discretion of the contracting officer. Competitive range determinations, as provided for in the FAR, are not applicable to acquisitions under this part 873. (38 U.S.C. 8153)
(b) In planning an acquisition, the contracting officer may determine that the number of proposals that would otherwise be included in the best value pool is expected to exceed the number at which an efficient, timely, and economical competition can be conducted. In reaching such a conclusion, the contracting officer may consider such factors as the results of market research, historical data from previous acquisitions for similar services, and the resources available to conduct the source selection. Provided the solicitation notifies offerors that the best value pool can be limited for purposes of making an efficient, timely, and economical award, the contracting officer may limit the number of proposals in the best value pool to the greatest number that will permit an efficient competition among the proposals offering the greatest likelihood of award. The contracting officer may indicate in the solicitation the estimate of the greatest number of proposals that will be included in the best value pool. The contracting officer may limit the best value pool to a single offeror. (38 U.S.C. 8153)
(c) If the contracting officer determines that an offeror’s proposal is no longer in the best value pool, the proposal shall no longer be considered for award. Written notice of this decision must be provided to unsuccessful offerors at the earliest practicable time. (38 U.S.C. 8153)
(a) Without regard to FAR 15.307, the contracting officer may request proposal revisions as often as needed during the proposal evaluation process at any time prior to award from vendors remaining in the best value pool. Proposal revisions shall be submitted in writing. The contracting officer may establish a common cutoff date for receipt of proposal revisions. Contracting officers may request best and final offers. In any case, contracting officers and acquisition team members must safeguard proposals, and revisions thereto, to avoid unfair dissemination of an offeror’s proposal. (38 U.S.C. 8153)
(b) If an offeror initially included in the best value pool is no longer considered to be among those most likely to receive award after submission of proposal revisions and subsequent evaluation thereof, the offeror may be eliminated from the best value pool without being afforded an opportunity to submit further proposal revisions. (38 U.S.C. 8153)
(c) Requesting and/or receiving proposal revisions does not necessarily conclude exchanges. However, requests for proposal revisions should advise offerors that the Government may make award without obtaining further revisions. (38 U.S.C. 8153)
(a) An integrated comparative assessment of proposals should be performed before source selection is made. The contracting officer shall independently determine which proposal(s) represents the best value, consistent with the evaluation information or factors and subfactors in the solicitation, and that the prices are fair and reasonable. The contracting officer may determine that all proposals should be rejected if it is in the best interest of the Government. (38 U.S.C. 8153)
(b) The source selection team, or advisory boards or panels, may conduct comparative analysis(es) of proposals and make award recommendations, if the contracting officer requests such assistance. (38 U.S.C. 8153)
(c) The source selection decision must be documented in accordance with FAR 15.308.
(b) If a request for proposal (RFP) process was used for the solicitation and if award is to be made without exchanges, the contracting officer may award a contract without obtaining the offeror’s signature a second time. The offeror’s signature on the offer constitutes the offeror’s agreement to be bound by the offer. If a request for quotation (RFQ) process was used for the solicitation, and if the contracting officer determines there is a need to establish a binding contract prior to commencement of work, the contracting officer should obtain the offeror’s acceptance signature on the contract to ensure formation of a binding contract. (38 U.S.C. 8153)
(d) When an award is made to an offeror for less than all of the items that may be awarded and additional items are being withheld for subsequent award, each notice shall state that the Government may make subsequent awards on those additional items within the offer acceptance period. (38 U.S.C. 8153)
Offerors excluded from a request for proposals (RFP) may submit a written request for a debriefing to the contracting officer. Without regard to FAR 15.505, preaward debriefings may be conducted by the contracting officer when determined to be in the best interest of the Government. Post-award debriefings shall be conducted in accordance with FAR 15.506. (38 U.S.C. 8153)