Last week we posted a discussion differentiating between Statements of Work (SOW) and Performance Work Statements (PWS). If you missed that discussion, you can read it here and you probably should before reading the rest of this article. After publishing the blog, someone asked us about SOOs (Statement of Objectives) and wondered how SOOs differed from SOWs and PWSs. So, we thought we had better cover that subject as well.
Lets start with the FAR definition. Its found in FAR (Federal Acquisition Regulations) 2.101. FAR states that a Statement of Objective or SOO is " ... a Government-prepared document incorporated into the solicitation that states the overall performance objectives. It is used in solicitations when the Government intends to provide the maximum flexibility to each offeror to propose an innovative approach" to whatever it is the Government wants to buy.
So then, a SOO would be an alternative to a performance work statement (PWS). It is a summary of key agency goals, outcomes, or both , that is incorporated into performance-based service acquisitions in order that competitors may propose their solutions, including a technical approach, performance standards, and a quality assurance surveillance plan based upon commercial business practices. It gives contractors a lot of latitude in responding to a Government need.
SOOs do not normally address each work breakdown structure (WBS) element, but each WBS element should be traceable to do something in the SOO. For example, a SOO may instruct the bidder to address his engineering approach. That is not a particular WBS element, but several WBS elements might be created to break out the engineering tasks.
Compared to standardized formats for SOWs and PWSs, there is no predetermined catalog of content that must be included in a SOO. Contracting officers are instructed to make it be a "concise, cogent document of appropriate length".
Recall our grass cutting example from the aforementioned post. Under a SOW, the requirements might specify that the contractor cut the grass every two weeks. Under a PWS, the requirement might specify that the grass length be maintained at a height of one to two inches. Under a SOO, the requirement might simply state "do something with this piece of land to make it pleasing to the eye and inexpensive to maintain.