[Federal Register: July 24, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 142)]
[Rules and Regulations]               
[Page 43859-43863]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]





48 CFR Parts 5, 7, and 10

[FAC 2001-15; FAR Case 2001-030; Item III]
RIN 9000-AJ30

Federal Acquisition Regulation; Electronic Listing of Acquisition 
Vehicles Available for Use by More Than One Agency

AGENCIES: Department of Defense (DoD), General ServicesAdministration 
(GSA), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

ACTION: Final rule.


SUMMARY: The Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council (Council) has 
agreed on a final rule amending the Federal Acquisition Regulation 
(FAR) to require contracting activities to input information in an 
online contract directory for Governmentwide acquisition contracts 
(GWACs), multi-agency contracts, Federal Supply Schedule contracts, and 
other procurement instruments intended for multiple agency use, 
including blanket purchase agreements (BPAs) under Federal Supply 
Schedule contracts. The directory is located at http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html&log=linklog&to=http://www.contractdirectory.gov
; and encourage consideration of the online 
contract directory during acquisition planning and market research.
    The Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) seeks to improve 
application of acquisition basics generally and use of interagency 
contracts in particular. The contract directory furthers both of these 
objectives by providing easier access to information that will support 
more informed acquisition planning and market research. The contract 
directory also furthers the Administration's efforts to create a more 
efficient, effective, and citizen-centric government. See OFPP's May 6, 
2003, memorandum to the Federal Acquisition Council and Agency Senior 
Procurement Executives, ``Roll-Out of the Inter-Agency Contract 
Directory'' available at http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html&log=linklog&to=http://www.acqnet.gov.

DATES: This rule is effective July 24, 2003. This rule applies July 24, 
2003 for the following procurement instruments, except for those 
expiring on or before June 1, 2004: GWACs, multi-agency contracts, 
Federal Supply Schedule contracts, and other procurement instruments 
intended for multiple agency use, including blanket purchase agreements 
(BPAs) under Federal Supply Schedule contracts.

Building, Washington, DC, 20405, (202) 501-4755, for information 
pertaining to status or publication schedules. For clarification of 
content, contact Mr. Gerald Zaffos, Procurement Analyst, at (202) 208-
6091. Please cite FAC 2001-15, FAR case 2001-030.


A. Background

1. The Proposed and Final Rules

    The Council published a proposed rule in the Federal Register on 
February 15, 2002 (67 FR 7255). The proposed rule would add a new FAR 
Subpart 5.6, Publicizing Multi-Agency Use Contracts, to--
    [sbull] Make contracting officers and program managers aware of an 
online database of information about GWACs, multi-agency contracts, 
Federal Supply Schedule contracts, and other procurement instruments 
intended for multiple agency use, including BPAs under Federal Supply 
Schedule contracts;
    [sbull] Require contracting activities, within ten days of award of 
a procurement instrument intended for use by multiple agencies, to 
enter into the database general information about the instrument, as 
specified on the Web site hosting the database; and
    [sbull] Require contracting activities to enter information into 
the database on all existing contracts and other procurement 
instruments intended for multiple agency use by a date to be 
established in the final rule.
    The final rule generally adopts the proposed rule with certain 
changes. In particular, the final rule amends--
    [sbull] FAR 7.105(b)(1) to add a requirement that contracting 
officers and program managers consider the sources contained in the 
database of interagency contracts, to be known as the ``contract 
directory'', as prospective sources of supplies and services; and
    [sbull] FAR 10.002(b)(2)(iv) to encourage querying the database 
during market research for information relevant to agency acquisitions.
    Consistent with the proposed rule, agencies will have ten days 
after contract award to input information on new awards. See FAR 
5.601(b)(1). In addition, as set forth at FAR 5.601(b)(2), agencies 
will be required to enter information on existing contracts by October 
31, 2003. Agencies may, but are not required to, input information on 
contracts that would expire on or before June 1, 2004.
    While the Council intends for the contract directory to provide 
increased visibility regarding the opportunities agencies are creating 
through interagency vehicles, it also recognizes that contracts 
relatively close to expiration may be nearing or at ceiling limits. 
Accordingly, in deciding whether to input such contracts, agencies may 
consider the administrative burden to input such contracts in light of 
the likely amount of customer usage prior to expiration.

2. Data Fields

    The data elements that will populate the contract directory will 
not be prescribed in the FAR. As noted in the preamble to the proposed 
rule, specific elements will be listed on the Web site that hosts the 
database. The address for the Web site is http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html&log=linklog&to=http://www.contractdirectory.gov
    After consideration of public comments (discussed below), the 
following data fields have been selected for use in the initial 
population of the contract directory. The fields fall within one of 
three categories: (1) General information about the procurement 
instrument, (2) information about placing orders, and (3) information 
about the servicing agency. (The numbering of the data fields below is 
provided for easy reference in this preamble and may differ on the 
contract directory Web site.) The list has been annotated to identify 
which fields will be searchable as well as those that will have ``drop-
down'' boxes with more detailed information.

Description of Initial Data Fields for Contract Directory

    Information about the procurement instrument.
    (1) Program name and acronym (searchable).
    (2) Procurement instrument number (searchable).
    (3) Type of procurement instrument (searchable) with drop down 
box that includes GWAC, multi-agency contract, Federal Supply 
Schedule contract, BPA under Federal Supply Schedule contract, 

[[Page 43860]]

    (4) Contractor.
    (5) Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) Number of the 
    (6) North American Industrial Classification (NAICS) code 
    (7) Principal Product or Service Code (searchable).
    (8) Brief description of supplies and services (searchable).
    (9) Applicable socio-economic information (searchable) with drop 
down box to identify from the following status categories those that 
apply to the contractor: Small Business, Emerging Small Business, 
Small Disadvantaged Business, 8(a), Very Small Business, Woman-Owned 
Business, HUBZone, Veteran-Owned Small Business, Service-Disabled 
Veteran-Owned Small Business, Historically Black Colleges and 
Universities, Minority Institution, Javits-Wagner-O'Day 
Participating Nonprofit Agency, Large Business, Other.
    (10) Government Web site address where contract or program 
information is located, if available.
    Information about placing orders.
    (11) Agencies that may place orders (searchable).
    (12) Date through which agencies may place orders.
    (13) Statutory authority for placing orders with a drop down box 
to include--
    (a) Clinger-Cohen GWAC authority (40 U.S.C. 11302(e));
    (b) Economy Act (31 U.S.C. 1535), including Clinger Cohen multi-
agency contract authority (40 U.S.C. 11314(a)(2));
    (c) The Federal Property and Administrative Services Act 
authority for the Multiple Award Schedules Program (41 U.S.C. 
259(b)(3)); and
    (d) Other statutory authority not subject to the Economy Act (to 
be specified).
    (14) Ordering procedures, unless addressed at the Web site 
identified in data field (10), above.
    (15) List of administrative fees, unless addressed at the Web 
site identified in data field (10), above.
    Information about the servicing agency.
    (16) Agency or activity that awarded the procurement instrument 
    (17) Activity point of contact/telephone number/e-mail address.

    The fields described above include the following changes from the 
fields that were described in the preamble to the proposed rule:
    [sbull] Increased search capabilities. More fields will be 
searchable. For example, agencies will be able to search the field that 
identifies who may place orders. This will make it easier for agencies 
to identify vehicles that are available for their own use. The ``type 
of procurement instrument'' field (i.e., field no. 3) is also being 
made searchable so that agencies may view offerings available through a 
particular type of procurement vehicle.
    To improve the visibility of the small business community, data 
captured in the socio-economic information field will be made 
searchable. This field will be further refined so that directory users 
can identify products offered by a Javits-Wagner-O'Day participating 
nonprofit agency.
    The contract directory will not allow users to search for product 
and service offerings by contractor. The FAR Council seeks for the 
directory to be used, in general, to consider a range of sources. 
Broader searching will help agencies get a better sense of marketplace 
capabilities as they consider whether their needs are best met through 
an interagency contract or an open market new procurement action.
    [sbull] New field. A field will be added to identify the 
contractor's Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number. DUNS 
numbers serve as a common link among Government databases. For example, 
DUNS numbers are required for contractors that register to do business 
with the Government in the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) 
database. Although DUNS numbers function as a useful business 
identifier, the directory will not provide for searches by DUNS number 
for the same reason that searches by contractor will not be enabled.
    [sbull] Easier entry and maintenance of data. Data entry of the 
socio-economic field of the directory has been modified so that 
population of this information for woman-owned businesses matches the 
formats for forms DD 350 and SF 279. To aid agencies in maintaining the 
currency of their data, the directory will identify the last date 
information on a given entry was submitted or edited. In addition, at 
the point where agencies may no longer place orders, as identified by 
the agency, the directory will move the information to an inactive 
    The contract directory project is linked to a broader e-Government 
initiative to create an ``integrated acquisition environment'' (IAE). 
The goal of the IAE is to facilitate the migration and leveraging of 
information technology investments to modernized infrastructures. Once 
this transformation occurs, agencies will be able to effectively 
integrate the many functions critical to the successful operation of 
the acquisition process. Among other things, this effort will help to 
eliminate redundant processes. As efforts progress to modernize and 
integrate contract-writing systems, agencies will be able to populate 
fields in the contract directory without re-keying of information. In 
the meantime, electronic data submission is an option.
    Like other IAE initiatives, the contract directory will be subject 
to a governance structure and its operations will be overseen by a 
configuration management board. Currently, a Federal interagency users 
group, the ``E-Catalogs Group,'' under the aegis of GSA in its capacity 
as managing partner of the IAE, meets periodically to discuss how the 
contract directory will operate. The group has sought to minimize 
burden while ensuring the site supports acquisition planning and market 
research efforts.

3. Public Comments

    Twelve respondents submitted public comments on the proposed rule 
and the planned fields for the contract directory (as described in the 
preamble to the proposed rule). The comments primarily focused on: (1) 
The purpose of FAR coverage, (2) the burden associated with populating 
and maintaining the contract directory, (3) the functionality of the 
directory, and (4) impact on small business. All comments were 
considered in developing the final rule and first generation of data 
elements. A summary of the more significant comments and their 
disposition is provided below.
    a. Purpose of FAR coverage. One commenter recommended that the 
coverage proposed for FAR Subpart 5.6 establishing the requirement to 
enter interagency contracts into the database be moved to FAR Part 4, 
where administrative matters, including contract reporting, are 
covered. Another commenter supported finalizing the coverage in its 
proposed location in FAR Part 5.
    The FAR Council recognizes that other data reporting requirements, 
such as that for the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS), are 
addressed in FAR Part 4. However, the Council believes that the primary 
purpose of the contract directory, i.e., to advertise existing 
contracts available for multiple agency use, is better aligned with the 
policies of FAR Part 5, which focus on publicizing contract actions.
    One commenter suggested that FAR Parts 7 and 10 be revised to 
identify the database's usefulness in acquisition planning and market 
research. The FAR Council agrees with this suggestion and, as described 
above, has amended Parts 7 and 10 to ensure contracting officers and 
program managers consider information in the contract directory during 
these important early stages of the acquisition cycle.
    b. Burden. A number of comments focused on the potential burden the 
rule and associated Web site instructions would place on agencies 
required to input information about their interagency contracts into 
the contract directory. The comments focused on

[[Page 43861]]

overall administrative burden, the mandatory nature of individual data 
fields, and the time for entering data.
    i. Overall administrative burden. Several commenters suggested that 
entering the data described in the preamble to the proposed rule would 
create an administrative strain. As an alternative, they recommended 
that the desired information be collected through existing data 
sources, such as the FPDS.
    The FAR Council agrees, in concept, that the functionalities of 
acquisition systems need to be integrated so that duplication of effort 
and associated burden is minimized. As stated above, this is a key goal 
of the ongoing IAE effort, the main acquisition initiative towards the 
creation of a more efficient, effective, and citizen-centric e-
Government. Unfortunately, current information systems do not collect 
the information needed to populate the contract directory. The FPDS, 
for example, does not break out activity by multiple award contract 
vehicle. As a result, it is not possible to easily identify the 
multiple contractors who make up any given multi-agency contract.
    The contract directory is designed to overcome these limitations 
and enable agencies to gauge the number and nature of inter-agency 
contracts currently in effect. This functionality will help senior 
managers better understand their own agency's use of these vehicles. 
Equally important, as noted above, the contract directory will help 
customers during acquisition planning and market research to identify 
whether there may be a suitable existing Federal contract that can 
satisfy their needs.
    For these reasons, the Council believes the insight to be gained by 
the directory, by both customers and servicing agencies, will be worth 
the effort required to make it fully operational. In addition, the 
Council expects that the cost of input will be offset by the 
interagency activity and associated administrative fees servicing 
agencies will collect to cover costs.
    ii. Mandatory vs. non-mandatory data fields. One commenter sought 
clarification as to whether inputs for all of the data fields are 
mandatory. Agencies will be expected to complete each of the 17 data 
fields described above, except that, in providing point of contact 
information (data field no. 17), an agency is not required to furnish 
an individual point of contact and may rely just on an e-mail address 
and/or phone number. Also, an agency is not required to create a Web 
site with program information (i.e., data field no. 10); it is only 
required to identify the address of the Web site, if one already 
    The contract directory, like other IAE projects, is designed to 
minimize redundant effort. If information is already accessible 
elsewhere on the Web, agencies generally will be able to simply provide 
a Web address where users may access that information. For example, if 
ordering procedures (field no. 14) and administrative fees (field no. 
15) are already discussed on an agency's Web site, the contracting 
officer need only provide the Web site address or URL to satisfy those 
    Recent General Accounting Office (GAO) and agency Inspectors 
General (IG) reports confirm that customers of task and delivery order 
contracts need to understand ordering procedures (e.g., fair 
opportunity processes) and be aware of fees if they are to take 
effective advantage of competition and make informed decisions. It is 
especially important in an interagency environment that customers 
external to the agency be aware of any special management steps a 
servicing agency has taken to reinforce strategic and accountable use 
of its vehicle. Accordingly, if information on ordering procedures or 
administrative fees is not available on an existing Web site, agencies 
will need to provide this information on the contract directory or 
otherwise indicate how users may obtain it.
    iii. Time for entering data. Two commenters raised concerns 
regarding the time allotted for entering data. One commenter suggested 
increasing the input period on new contracts from 10 to 45 days. 
Another commenter proposed an exemption for existing contracts with 
fewer than twelve months to expiration.
    The Council believes that information needs to be entered as close 
to the time of award as possible to make the directory as current and 
useful as possible. Hence, the time for input on new contracts will 
remain at 10 days. However, as discussed above, the FAR Council 
recognizes that contracts relatively close to expiration may be nearing 
or at ceiling limits. For this reason, the rule leaves to an agency's 
discretion the determination as whether to input data on contracts that 
will expire on or before June 1, 2004.
    c. Functionality. Numerous comments addressed the planned 
functionality for the database. Commenters focused, in particular, on 
the descriptions to be provided for available products and services, 
searching by individual contractor, information on order placement, 
data on limited use vehicles, and information on 8(a) contracting.
    i. Descriptions of products and services. Several commenters raised 
concerns that the data field calling for a brief description of 
supplies or services (i.e., data field no. 8) will not likely collect 
sufficiently meaningful information for an agency to determine if use 
of a given contract will meet its needs. They noted that the lack of 
standard nomenclature may further reduce the utility of information 
    The FAR Council agrees that information placed in the database 
needs to provide a general level of insight into contract offerings in 
order for the contract directory to have a practical utility. As a 
general matter, the Council expects that agencies will have an 
incentive to exercise quality control and offer meaningful information 
because the Web site offers a means for agencies to secure greater 
visibility for, and use of, their vehicles. To assist agencies, the 
site will provide guidance to address how best to fill in this, and 
other, data fields. In addition, some degree of standardization will be 
provided by asking for principal service and product codes (i.e., data 
field no. 7). While this type of information should help agencies in 
performing their front-end analysis, the Council recognizes that the 
contract directory will not, by itself, provide information sufficient 
for a complete analysis. At the same time, this is not the contract 
directory's role. It is intended to be just one tool for market 
research, and agencies will need to undertake additional efforts 
commensurate with the size and complexity of the acquisition in order 
to understand marketplace capabilities.
    ii. Searching by contractor. A number of commenters requested that 
the ``contractor'' data element (i.e., field no. 4) be searchable. The 
FAR Council acknowledges that there may be some utility in knowing what 
a contractor has offered through various vehicles with different 
agencies. At the same time, the Council is concerned that searches by 
contractor may, too often, conflict with the goal of encouraging 
thoughtful consideration of the marketplace and capabilities of 
multiple sources, as agencies consider whether their needs are better 
met through an interagency contract or through a new procurement action 
on the open market. Therefore, the contract directory will not provide 
for searches by contractor.
    Notwithstanding whether the data field is searchable, one commenter 
suggested that contractor names be standardized in the contract 
directory. The FAR Council agrees with the intent of the comment and 
anticipates that the contract directory's integration with

[[Page 43862]]

other e-acquisition initiatives in the IAE will lead to this result 
over time.
    iii. Order placement. One commenter remarked that while the rule 
provides benefit by laying the foundation for a new market research 
tool, the overall effort is shortsighted because it fails to capture 
any information regarding order placement. The commenter states that 
``procurement goals of transparency and accountability are not served 
when information about many millions of dollars spent under such 
vehicles is not readily available to the public.''
    The FAR Council strongly supports transparency and accountability 
in Government procurement and anticipates that other IAE initiatives, 
including the transformation of the FPDS, will facilitate greater 
insight of the type alluded to by the commenter. However, the Councils 
do not believe that the benefits of the contract directory should be 
delayed until this functionality is available.
    iv. Searching limited use vehicles. Two commenters recommended that 
the contract directory include contracts available for use only to a 
single agency, command or even locale. The FAR Council believes the 
functionality of the directory should, at least initially, focus on 
contracts that are designed for broad usage. Once the directory is 
fully functional and is providing the desired insight, the Council may, 
at a later date, consider expanding the database to accommodate limited 
use contracts.
    v. 8(a) contracting. One commenter suggested providing a greater 
level of detail on the actual use and administration of 8(a) contracts. 
The commenter recommended, for instance, that the contract directory 
include information on how 8(a) contracting could be accomplished 
(e.g., sole source), the competitive procedures to be used when the 
task order exceeds the sole source threshold, agency administrative 
responsibilities, and procedures regarding limitations on 
subcontracting and reporting.
    As noted above, the contract directory will offer basic socio-
economic information, including whether a contractor is an 8(a) small 
business (see field no. 9). Moreover, information on ordering 
procedures (provided through field no. 14) should reflect the steps 
customers will be expected to take in order to make a purchase, 
including those that may need to be taken to be in compliance with 8(a) 
contracting procedures. However, additional detail on the specific 
operation of the 8(a) program (or another socio-economic program) would 
go beyond the general purpose and scope of the contract directory and 
is more appropriately obtained though other means (e.g., from the 
servicing agency, the Small Business Administration (SBA)).
    d. Impact on small business. One commenter stated that the rule 
would have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of 
small entities. The commenter asserted that FAR 8.404, which sets forth 
procedures for the use of FSS contracts, has had a ``withering effect'' 
on small business awards. The commenter further states that small 
business set-asides should be incorporated into the FAR 8.404 
    The Council believes this comment is outside of the scope of this 
rule. The rule focuses on improving access to information about 
vehicles available for interagency use. This rule does not speak to 
specific practices for how these vehicles are to be used. However, the 
Council notes that separate rulemaking efforts have been undertaken to 
address the consideration of small businesses in order placement under 
task and delivery order contracts. See 68 FR 5138, January 31, 2003, 
for notice of proposed FAR changes, and 68 FR 5133, January 31, 2003, 
for notice of proposed changes to SBA regulations. These separate 
efforts are intended to address concerns regarding the impact of 
contract bundling on small business participation for Federal 

B. Executive Order 12866.

    This is not a significant regulatory action and, therefore, was not 
subject to review under section 6(b) of Executive Order 12866, 
Regulatory Planning and Review, dated September 30, 1993. This rule is 
not a major rule under 5 U.S.C. 804.

C. Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Department of Defense, the General Services Administration, and 
the National Aeronautics and Space Administration certify that this 
final rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial 
number of small entities within the meaning of the Regulatory 
Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 601, et seq., because the establishment of an 
online database as a tool to collect information on acquisition 
vehicles intended for multiple agency use in order to facilitate its 
availability to the acquisition community is a matter of internal 
Government operating procedure. In addition, the rule is not intended 
to alter existing requirements addressing the use of small businesses.

D. Paperwork Reduction Act

    The Paperwork Reduction Act does not apply because the changes to 
the FAR do not impose information collection requirements that require 
the approval of the Office of Management and Budget under 44 U.S.C. 
3501, et seq.

List of Subjects in 48 CFR Parts 5, 7, and 10

    Government procurement.

    Dated: July 16, 2003.
Laura Auletta,
Director, Acquisition Policy Division.

Therefore, DoD, GSA, and NASA amend 48 CFR parts 5, 7, and 10 as set 
forth below:
1. The authority citation for 48 CFR parts 5, 7, and 10 is revised to 
read as follows:

    Authority: 40 U.S.C. 121(c); 10 U.S.C. chapter 137; and 42 
U.S.C. 2473(c).


2. Add Subpart 5.6 to read as follows:

Subpart 5.6--Publicizing Multi-Agency Use Contracts

5.601  Governmentwide database of contracts.

    (a) A Governmentwide database of contracts and other procurement 
instruments intended for use by multiple agencies is available via the 
Internet at http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html&log=linklog&to=http://www.contractdirectory.gov. This searchable database 
is a tool that may be used to identify existing contracts and other 
procurement instruments that may be used to fulfill Government needs.
    (b) The contracting activity shall--
    (1) Enter the information specified at http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html&log=linklog&to=http://www.contractdirectory.gov
, in accordance with the instructions on that 
Web site, within ten days of award of a Governmentwide acquisition 
contract (GWAC), multi-agency contract, Federal Supply Schedule 
contract, or any other procurement instrument intended for use by 
multiple agencies, including blanket purchase agreements (BPAs) under 
Federal Supply Schedule contracts.
    (2) Enter the information specified at http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html&log=linklog&to=http://www.contractdirectory.gov
 in accordance with the instructions on that 
Web site by October 31, 2003, for all contracts and other procurement 
instruments intended for use by multiple agencies that were awarded 
before July 24, 2003.


3. Amend section 7.105 by revising the second sentence of paragraph 
(b)(1) to read as follows:

[[Page 43863]]

7.105  Contents of written acquisition plans.

* * * * *
    (b) Plan of action--(1) Sources. * * * Consider required sources of 
supplies or services (see Part 8) and sources identifiable through 
databases including the Governmentwide database of contracts and other 
procurement instruments intended for use by multiple agencies available 
at http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html&log=linklog&to=http://www.contractdirectory.gov. * * *
* * * * *


4. Amend section 10.002 by revising paragraph (b)(2)(iv) to read as 

10.002  Procedures.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (iv) Querying the Governmentwide database of contracts and other 
procurement instruments intended for use by multiple agencies available 
at http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html&log=linklog&to=http://www.contractdirectory.gov and other Government databases that 
provide information relevant to agency acquisitions.
* * * * *

[FR Doc. 03-18535 Filed 7-23-03; 8:45 am]