Be ready for end of year purchases

  • Published
  • By Darcee Copus-Sabart
  • 934th AW contracting officer
Just as we do in our private lives, most customers would like to specify the brand name or contractor they want. Unfortunately, Federal laws and regulations mandate that every acquisition be competed under "full and open competition", unless there is a justifiable reason why only one contractor or brand will meet the Government's need.

In order for Contracting to initiate a purchase, a complete acquisition package must be submitted. The following items must be included in the package for it to be considered complete.

1. Purchase request (PR) or other funding document such as the AF Form 9, AF Form 4009 or DD Form 1348-6.
2. Complete Statement of Work (SOW) for services or Item Description for supplies.
3. Suggested source(s).
4. Sole Source or Brand Name Only Justifications (if applicable).

Market research is the key to determining what exists in the market place and who can meet your needs. Market research begins with the requiring activity and is accomplished by soliciting information from such places as the internet (Google and GSA Advantage are two good examples), vendor brochures and your counterparts at other installations. The purpose of market research is to get as much information about the item or service and the contractors who offer the item or service.

While use of the internet and vendor websites/catalogs is encouraged, you are discouraged from contacting vendors for specific quotations. If both your estimate and the proposal come from one vendor, there is no independent measure of price reasonableness and it's also fairly common for small, local vendors to be ineligible for contract award.

The Item Description/SOW/ contains specific technical requirements that the contractor must meet in the performance of the contract. As such, the person best qualified to write the Item Description/SOW is one who has the necessary technical knowledge and experience in the subject matter. Item Descriptions/SOWs should be written as simply as possible while stating the requirements clearly. If requesting a brand name item, you must provide the salient characteristics or features of the item you want as part of your item description.

Contracting officers are prohibited from accepting inadequate or overly restrictive specifications/descriptions. Restrictive descriptions can sometimes lead to protest on the part of the contractors and further complicate and delay the acquisition of the supplies or service.

Final thoughts -

As we approach fiscal year end, remember the tenets of time, purpose and amount for your requirements.

Time: The requirement must be a current need, not something you'll need next year.

Purpose: Make sure you are authorized the item you want. Coordinate with Supply if requisitioning an equipment item, the Comm Squadron if it's an IT item and Civil Engineers for installation recommendations.

Amount: Just because you've received word that your unfunded requirement was "funded" or approved by the Financial Management Board doesn't mean that they have prepared your funding document for you. A funding document must be completed by your organization.