Thursday, June 23, 2011

Justification and Approval (J&A)

Justification and Approval (J&A) is a document used to justify and obtain appropriate level approvals to contract without providing for full and open competition as required by the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR).  J&As are required for contracts over $550 thousand except for those awarded to 8(a) small businesses (including Native Enterprises). The threshold for 8(a) small businesses is $20 million.

Under certain conditions, the Government may contract without providing for full and open competition. This authority is found in 10 U.S.C. 2304(c) for the Department of Defense, Coast Guard, and NASA and in 41 U.S.C. 253(c) for all other executive agencies. Contracting without providing for full and open competition or full and open competition after exclusion of sources, is a violation of these statutes unless permitted by one of the seven exceptions listed in FAR 6.302. These exceptions include;
  1. Only one responsible source and no other suppliers or services will satisfy agency requirements
  2. Unusual and compelling urgency
  3. Industrial mobilization, engineering, developmental, or research capability or expert services
  4. International agreement
  5. Authorized or required by statute
  6. National security
  7. Public interest

Each justification must contain, at a minimum, the following 12 elements,
  1. Identification of the agency and the contracting activity, and specific identification of the document as a “Justification for other than full and open competition.”
  2. Nature and/or description of the action being approved.
  3. A description of the supplies or services required to meet the agency’s needs (including the estimated value).
  4. An identification of the statutory authority permitting other than full and open competition.
  5. A demonstration that the proposed contractor’s unique qualifications or the nature of the acquisition requires use of the authority cited.
  6. A description of efforts made to ensure that offers are solicited from as many potential sources as is practicable,
  7. A determination by the contracting officer that the anticipated cost to the Government will be fair and reasonable.
  8. A description of the market research conducted and the results or a statement of the reason market research was not conducted.
  9. Any other facts supporting the use of other than full and open competition,
  10. A listing of the sources, if any, that expressed, in writing, an interest in the acquisition.
  11. A statement of the actions, if any, the agency may take to remove or overcome any barriers to competition before any subsequent acquisition for the supplies or services required.
  12. Contracting officer certification that the justification is accurate and complete to the best of the contracting officer’s knowledge and belief.

The justification requirements for 8(a) small businesses are greatly reduced. Contracting officers need to address only five elements:
  1. A description of the needs of the agency concerned for the matters covered by the contract
  2. A specification of the statutory provisions providing the exception from the requirement to use competitive procedures in entering into the contract
  3. A determination that the use of a sole-source contract is in the best interest of the agency concerned,
  4. A determination that the anticipated cost of the contract will be fair and reasonable,
  5. Such other matters as the head of the agency concerned shall specify.
The aforementioned Statutes require that J&As must be made available to the public within 14 days after contract award. If you believe that you have been inappropriately excluded from consideration, you should check with FedBizOpps to see whether a J&A has been issued.

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