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What is Fair and Reasonable: Looking Ahead to 2024

As calendar year 2023 ends, the Coalition is looking ahead to 2024 and the policies, programs, and initiatives that will shape the federal procurement system and the delivery of customer agency mission support. Consistent with the thoughtful dialogue among government officials and industry partners that took place at the Coalition’s 2023 Fall Training Conference, our continued focus in 2024 will be on “what is fair and reasonable?” 

“Fair and reasonable” is foundational to sound business opportunities that deliver best value mission support for customer agencies. There are many factors that impact fair and reasonably structured solutions to meet the government’s needs. The following market-shaping factors are among the issues that the Coalition will focus on in 2024:

  • Cybersecurity will be the watchword for 2024.  The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC), NIST 800-171, Software Bill of Materials (SBOMs), software attestation, new FAR cybersecurity cases, Section 889, FedRAMP, and the work of the Federal Acquisition Security Council (FASC) are all in various stages of government review and/or public comment. It will be critical that all these efforts do not work at cross purposes. For this reason, harmonization, rationalization, reciprocity, and access to commercial solutions will be keys to cyber success. A particular challenge will be the urge of individual agencies to develop their own unique cybersecurity requirements, thereby creating uncertainty in the federal market and potentially undermining access to the commercial market.
  • Sustainability and the ongoing FAR case addressing greenhouse gas emissions reporting also have the potential to shape the federal market significantly. Additional reporting requirements increase the operational costs associated with the performance of federal contracts. Stakeholders must appreciate and understand that there is a nexus between requirements and price, especially for small businesses. 
  • Data context in assessing fair and reasonable pricing is foundational to sound acquisition business decisions. It is also a regulatory requirement. See FAR 15.405, 15.403-3 and 15.402. Terms and conditions, among them, quality, quantity, delivery, warranty, capability, complexity and place of performance, factor into pricing decisions. As GSA’s Transactional Data Reporting (TDR) and price evaluation tools expand across the Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) program, tracking key terms and conditions and their impact on price will be vital to what is “fair and reasonable.” 
  • In the same vein, the Office of Management and Budget’s Better Contracting Initiative appropriately identifies data sharing and data driven decision-making as keys to improving procurement outcomes. That data driven analysis cannot solely focus on price, but needs to include an analysis of the key terms and conditions that drive best value. 
  • Competition and industrial base are important to the vitality of the procurement system.  Ensuring a healthy, robust, and competitive industrial base depends on communication and understanding between government and industry. Working together, we can identify opportunities to streamline processes, reduce burdens (which may serve as barriers to entry into the federal market, affecting competition), and invest in capabilities to meet mission needs. 
  • Contract vehicles that increase access to the commercial market will be front and center in 2024.  The Coalition will continue to engage with the GSA and VA MAS programs, NASA SEWP, CIO-SP4, Alliant, POLARIS, OASIS+, ASTRO, and the MSPV program. We look forward to working across agencies, including with the VA, GSA, DoD, and DLA, to promote effective and efficient contracting programs that deliver best value mission support.   

As stated, the foregoing are just some of the items the Coalition will be focusing on in the coming year. We look forward to working with all our members in identifying opportunities to promote “common sense in government procurement” that delivers best value agency mission support for the American people. 

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