This concern is not new. Contractors have wide latitude on how to spend their IR&D funds and as long as their is some level of "relevance" to the Government, the projects and related costs are rarely questioned. For decades, the Government has known contractors use IR&D funds to augment their "funded" developmental contracts.
The Defense Department is now considering a proposed approach whereby solicitations would require offerors to describe in detail the nature and value of prospective IR&D projects on which the offeror would rely to perform the resultant contract. Then, as a standard approach, DoD would evaluate proposals in a manner that would take into account the reliance by adjusting the total evaluated price to the Government, for evaluation purposes only, to include the value of related future IR&D projects.
The Defense Department is seeking comments on such an approach in order to assist in the development of a proposed DFARS rule. Specifically, the department is
...interested in understanding whether the planned approach would achieve the objective of treating the proposed use of substantial future IR&D expenses as a means to reduce evaluated bid prices in competitive source selections in a uniform manner that is consistent with the objective of making IR&D an allowable cost.We don't see how this will ever work. But, if you've got any ideas, you might want to attend DoD's meeting next month.