Quiz Yourself on NIH Acquisitions Terminology

Funding News Edition: May 05, 2021
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The government may ask questions of offerors when determining whether a proposal should rate within the competitive range.

Credit: FDA

How familiar are you with NIAID’s solicitation and contract vocabulary? Test your knowledge by taking the quiz below and pay attention to the explanations for each answer.

Questions

  1. A broad agency announcement (BAA)
    • a. Is an NIH-wide notice of a policy change that impacts ongoing contracts
    • b. Is used when the government wants the offeror to propose the best way to achieve a goal or research objective
    • c. Anticipates an offeror proposing a statement of work defined by the government (See answer)
  2. NIAID uses requests for proposals (RFPs) to
    • a. Purchase equipment and supplies for our intramural laboratories
    • b. Conduct market research on prices and availability of research services
    • c. Officially communicate NIAID’s requirements to prospective offerors (See answer)
  3. An indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract
    • a. Is used when the government cannot determine the exact quantity or delivery requirements at the time of award
    • b. Does not use task orders to meet the government’s needs as they arise
    • c. Does not guarantee anything to the contractor (See answer)
  4. The contracting officer (CO)
    • a. Is usually your institution’s signing official
    • b. Is the only government employee with the authority to bind the government financially
    • c. Provides technical direction to offerors (See answer)
  5. The contracting officer’s representative (COR)
    • a. Conducts oversight for Congressional reports
    • b. Can bind the government financially
    • c. Provides technical advice to the CO (See answer)
  6. The competitive range
    • a. Is determined before technical review based on cost
    • b. Is determined after technical review based on ratings against evaluation criteria
    • c. Must include at least three proposals (See answer)
  7. When establishing the competitive range, exchanges between a CO and offerors are called:
    • a. Clarifications
    • b. Communications
    • c. Discussions (See answer)
  8. The scope
    • a. Provides technical instruction to potential offerors
    • b. Sets a budget cap for a contractor's initial contract offer
    • c. Defines the work that can be performed under the contract (See answer)
  9. A change order
    • a. Is a unilateral change to the contract within scope as authorized by the changes clause
    • b. Requires the contractor to complete out-of-scope work at its own expense
    • c. Allows the contractor to petition for a change in the direction of the research (See answer)
  10. A contracting officer’s authorization (COA)
    • a. Allows the contractor to perform work not within scope of the contract
    • b. Authorizes the contractor to perform work under specific provisions applicable to direct costs
    • c. Enables the government to conduct oversight of contracted research projects (See answer)
  11. Price reasonableness
    • a. Is assessed during technical evaluation
    • b. Is typically defined in the solicitation
    • c. Is determined on a case-by-case basis by the COR (See answer)
  12. The government pays a contractor for reasonable charges resulting from 
    • a. Termination for purpose
    • b. Termination for cause
    • c. Termination for convenience (See answer)

Answers

  1. b. Is used when the government wants the offeror to propose the best way to achieve a goal or research objective—If NIAID knows the area in which it wants research or what goals it wants to achieve, but does not know the best way to go about it, it can issue a BAA. Here, the government is asking offerors to tell the government the best way to go about accomplishing the goal in anticipation of meaningful proposals with varying approaches that will advance the state of the art or increase knowledge or understanding of the scientific area. The offeror proposes the statement of work (SOW) and, if awarded a contract, performs the work. The government evaluates the proposals and funds those that it finds to be meritorious, in line with agency goals, and affordable. (Go to the next question)
  2. c. Officially communicate NIAID's requirements to prospective offerors—If NIAID knows the area in which it wants research or what goals it wants to achieve as well as the terms and conditions by which it wants any resultant contract to accomplish those objectives, it can issue an RFP. The approach by which research and development should be accomplished is well described within the RFP, and the SOW is largely determined by the government. (Go to the next question)
  3. a. Is used when the government cannot determine the exact quantity or delivery requirements at the time of award—When the government is unsure of the quantity or delivery schedule it needs, it issues an IDIQ contract. Task orders are issued to the contractor under the base IDIQ contract as the government’s needs become realized. The contractor is guaranteed the minimum amount, and the collective orders issued under the base IDIQ may not exceed the stated maximum. (Go to the next question)
  4. b. Is the only government employee with the authority to bind the government financially—The CO is the only government personnel legally permitted to financially bind the government. Any direction that results in an increase in cost must come from the CO through modification to the contract. (Go to the next question)
  5. c. Provides technical advice to the CO—The COR is the technical advisor to the CO. The COR is permitted to give technical direction, but may not commit the government financially and may not give the contractor technical direction that would increase the cost of the contract. If the COR directs the contractor to perform work that would increase the cost of the contract, it is an unauthorized commitment. The contractor should contact his or her CO on how to proceed before performing this work, as the contractor is not guaranteed to be paid for work performed under an unauthorized commitment. (Go to the next question)
  6. b. Is determined after technical review based on ratings against evaluation criteria—NIAID evaluates all proposals and, if discussions are to be conducted, establishes the competitive range. The CO establishes a competitive range comprising all the most highly rated proposals based on the ratings of each proposal against all evaluation criteria, although in certain situations the range may be further reduced for purposes of efficiency. (Go to the next question)
  7. b. Communications—The government may ask questions of offerors when determining whether a proposal should rate within the competitive range. Communications are not an opportunity for the offeror to revise its proposal. Conversely, discussions are exchanges between the government and offerors undertaken with the intent of allowing the offeror to revise its proposal. Clarifications are limited exchanges to clarify certain aspects of proposals when the award will be made without conducting discussions. (Go to the next question)
  8. c. Defines the work that can be performed under the contract—The scope sets the parameters that the SOW will follow. Changes that are within scope may be made unilaterally by the CO under the changes clause. Changes that are out of scope of the contract generally may not be made except in extraordinary circumstances, and then only bilaterally. (Go to the next question)
  9. a. Is a unilateral change to the contract within scope as authorized by the changes clause—The government has the authority under the changes clause to unilaterally alter the contract within the scope of the contract, in designated areas. In a cost-reimbursement contract for services, these areas are the description of services and the time and place of performance. The contractor is required to continue performing the work under the contract, as changed. However, if the contract is cost reimbursement, the contractor is not obligated to perform work or incur costs that will take the contract beyond the funding limits. Further, the contractor may be entitled to an equitable adjustment if the change results in a change in cost or estimated completion schedule. (Go to the next question)
  10. b. Authorizes the contractor to perform work under specific provisions applicable to direct costs—Certain actions, though within scope and allowable under the contract, require specific authorization from the CO before the contractor can proceed. In these cases, the contractor must receive a COA from the CO before any work progresses on these items. Section B of the contract will list the provisions applicable to direct costs. Travel is one such example. (Go to the next question)
  11. a. Is assessed during technical evaluation—Price reasonableness is assessed during evaluation to establish that the price being proposed is appropriate for the supplies or services being offered and fair to both parties. Cost realism is a separate analysis done by the CO, often in conjunction with the COR, to establish that the costs in an offeror’s proposal are realistic, reflect a clear understanding of contract requirements, and are consistent with the various elements of the proposal. (Go to the next question)
  12. c. Termination for Convenience—The government reserves the right to terminate a contract, or any part thereof, for its sole convenience. When doing so, the government will often pay for work performed before the notice of termination as well as reasonable charges incurred by the contractor resulting from the termination. Conversely, under termination for cause, in which the contractor has failed to comply with contract terms and conditions, the government is not liable to provide the same accommodations.

Contact Us

Email us at deaweb@niaid.nih.gov for help navigating NIAID’s grant and contract policies and procedures.

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