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What is the commercial activities competitive process and who are the officials responsible for its execution?
Once an agency decides that it wants to compete a function, the first decision is whether to conduct a streamlined competition or a standard competition. If 65 or fewer full time equivalent (FTE) positions are involved, the agency has the option of conducting a streamlined competition. If more than 65 FTE are involved, the agency must conduct a standard competition. The agency will then need to consult with any affected employees and their unions.
In a streamlined competition, an agency determines an estimated contract price for performing the work by a private contractor. To accomplish this, the agency may solicit proposals from prospective contractors or conduct more informal market research.
The agency also determines how much it costs to perform the function in-house, with government employees. The agency can either cost the existing organization or develop a plan to streamline the organization (called a "most efficient organization," or MEO) and base its in-house cost estimate on that plan.
After the costs for both the public and private sectors are compared, the organization that costs the least, wins. A streamlined competition must be completeda decision made to keep the work in-house or contract it out within 90 days from the date it was publicly announced.
In a standard competition, an agency selects a service provider based on formal offers submitted in response to an agency contract solicitation. The government submits its own offer along with those submitted by prospective private contractors.
In a standard competition, the government organization develops an MEO based on the staffing plan that will form the basis for the agency's offer in the competition. The MEO typically involves streamlining of the existing organization and is designed to place the government in the best competitive position against the private sector offerors.
A standard competition must be completed within 12 months of the date that it was publicly announced. The Competitive Sourcing Official (CSO) can extend this deadline by an additional six months; as in a streamlined competition, this deadline may be extended even further with OMB's prior written approval.
In a standard competition, unlike a streamlined competition, there is a conversion differential, which is added to the costs of the non-incumbent competitors. The conversion differential is the lesser of 10 percent of the MEO's personnel-related costs or $10 million over all the performance periods stated in the solicitation. This is intended to preclude moving work from one provider to another where estimated savings are marginal and captures non-quantifiable costs related to a conversion, such as disruption and decreased productivity.
Winning the competition
OMB Circular A-76 provides that an agency may choose from several different procedures for determining the winner of a competition, and two of these give an agency leeway to take non-cost factors into account. However, cost will in all cases continue to be an important factor, often the most important factor, in selection decisions.
OMB Circular A-76 requires the CSO to appoint competition officials for every standard competition and, as appropriate, for streamlined competitions. These officials include:
The CSO is responsible for implementation of the Circular within the agency. This person is typically a senior official in the agency.
The agency tender official (ATO) is responsible for developing the agency offer (the MEO submitted in response to a solicitation for a standard competition) and represents the government team's offer during source selection.
The human resources advisor (HRA) is a human resources expert who is responsible for assisting the ATO in human resource-related matters related to the agency bid.
The performance work statement (PWS) team leader develops the PWS and quality assurance surveillance plan (QASP), determines if the government will furnish property, and assists the CO in developing the solicitation.
The source selection authority (SSA) is responsible for determining the winner.
The CO is responsible for issuance of the solicitation and the source selection evaluation, and also serves as a member of the PWS team.
What is the COR's role in commercial activities?
The COR will most likely initially be involved with the PWS team leader in developing the PWS and the QASP. Later, the COR may be required to assist the CO in developing the source selection criteria for the solicitation and subsequently may be involved in the source selection evaluation process. The COR will need to work closely with the CO to understand the unique aspects of CA acquisitions in order to comply with the somewhat different procedures that apply.
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