A February 8, 2016, Department of Defense (DOD) advance notice of proposed rulemaking sought input to help address agency concerns regarding substantial future Independent Research and Development (IR&D) when such effort is undertaken as a means of reducing evaluated bid prices in competitive source selections. The proposed rule, if made final, would require the government to add costs (for proposal evaluation purposes) to any contractor offers that rely on IR&D efforts. In a recent client alert, Dentons encouraged contractors to participate in the comment process on the proposed rulemaking.

Dentons partners Thomas A. Lemmer and Steven M. Masiello submitted comments on the proposed rule. Specifically, they describe the relevant decisional authority establishing the appropriate methodology for distinguishing between direct costs of contract effort versus indirect costs of IR&D effort. Based upon this relevant authority, DOD’s concerns underlying the proposed rulemaking initiative to attribute IR&D project costs to the proposed price for evaluation purposes are misplaced.

Indeed, contrary to DOD’s concerns, relevant decisional authority confirms that IR&D efforts properly permit contractors willing to undertake, at their own risk, IR&D projects, to gain a relative price and technical advantage. Moreover, DOD should not discourage innovation by penalizing contractors for conducting IR&D projects resulting in innovation relevant to a competitive government procurement. Finally, IR&D costs are not contract costs, and treating them as such for evaluation purposes during the competitive procurement process misconstrues their nature and may skew award decisions.

You can read Dentons’ comments in full here.