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    1. audit (as in proposal audit): “Audit” means a review of documents or systems for compliance with applicable requirements, statutes, regulations, rules, or procedures. 2. competition: (as in competition improves quality and reduces prices): “Competition” means multiple offerors vying for an award with the objective of establishing the lowest price/best value to the Government (depending upon the type of award identified, in accordance with Part 6 of the Federal Acquisition Regulation). 3. complex (as in she’s working on a large, complex acquisition): “Complex” means, with respect to acquisitions, procurements which may involve technologically sophisticated, state-of-the-art research and development acquisitions, and/or many contractual and programmatic risks and variables. They usually address mission-critical requirements of high monetary value, but smaller, less visible procurements can also be “complex.” 4. condition (as in terms and conditions) “Condition” means, in relation to government acquisitions, something upon which a contract is predicated. The “terms” of a contract are its overall requirements; the conditions (usually identified by conditional words or phrases such as “provided that . . .” or “in the event that . . .” or “if . . .”) describe the circumstances under which the terms are applicable, as in “I will paint your fence for a fee of $150 on Tuesday between the hours of 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM, provided that it doesn’t rain,” or “the estimate price of this contract is $150, provided that no impediments to installation (such as wood rot or warping) are discovered when we remove your windows and doors.” 5. contract term: (as in they won’t accept that contract term): “Contract terms” means statements that stipulate the requirements of the contract, as in “NOFORN” (no foreign nationals are permitted to work on the contract at any tier, in accordance with its security requirements), or “Buy American” (FAR Part 25)or “payment NET 30.” 6. cost: (as in cost estimate): “Cost” means the actual expenses incurred in the production of a commodity or service before fee. Although “cost” is sometimes used interchangeably with “price” (“What will it cost me?”), in contracting, these terms have separate and distinct meanings. “Price” refers to those costs, plus profit or fee, for which an offeror is willing to sell an item or service. 7. dispute: (as in a dispute must be handled under FAR 33.2): “Dispute” means a disagreement or challenge at law regarding the meaning of a specific term or condition: “The agency promised to delivery Government-Furnished Equipment; we never promised that it would work,” vs. the Contractor’s reasonable assumption that any equipment supplied by the federal government would be in functional working order. (Note: This example reflects an actual dispute in which I was involved between the U.S. Navy and a major aerospace corporation.) 8. equitable adjustment: (as in they want an equitable adjustment): “Equitable adjustment” means a modification to the agreement that establishes a “fair” (or equitable) increase or decrease in the quoted price based on circumstances or events that neither party could reasonably have predicted at the time of award. It can be positive (an increase in the contract price to cover some unforeseeable contingency) or negative (a decrease in the contract price to cover some unforeseeable but excusable insufficiency in the contractor’s performance for which it would otherwise be paid). 9. evaluation factor: (as in source selection evaluation factor): “Evaluation factor” means identification of the criteria by which submitted proposals will be judged. They may include technical factors (how well the submitted design or plan meets the requirements); performance factors (how closely the project plan and delivery schedule meet the stated criteria); economic factors (including the reasonableness and realism of the quoted cost/price; risk factors (the perceived ability of the contractor to meet or exceed the requirements of the contract); management factors (how well the contractor’s management plan comports with the agency’s knowledge of how the program should be managed); quality factors (how well the contractor seems to understand what is required, and has established means of ensuring that it is delivered); and programmatic factors (such as how well the labor categories and hours proposed will meet the likely requirements of the work to be performed). However: regardless of how reasonable a subsequently considered evaluation factor may seem, if it is not listed in the original evaluation criteria in the solicitation, it cannot be considered for award. 10. fairly: (as in COs must treat contractors fairly): “Fairly” means impartially, equitably, and without prejudice. In the vernacular, the CO must be careful to establish a “level playing field” in competition (so that all participants have equal advantage), and to deal honestly, ethically, and with the highest integrity in his or her interactions with awardees. 11. incentive: (as in contractual incentive): “Incentive” means a bonus or reward for meeting a stated contractual criterion, typically related to delivery or quality. 12. need (as in an acquisition should fulfill the Government’s needs): “Need” means a specific requirement for a service or commodity capable of meeting identified specifications or performing a stated task. 13. profit (as in we offered them a fair profit): “Profit” means remuneration over and above actual cost for successfully performing a service or producing and delivering goods. It differs from fee (which is the profit margin under a cost reimbursement contract) in that it is calculated as a percentage of total cost (and if the total cost increases as a result of changes in scope or other adjustments to the requirements, so does the dollar amount of profit). In a cost-type contract, fixed fee is only calculated as a percentage of cost to arrive at the original fee dollars; thenceforth, the dollar-amount of the fee thus derived remains the same, regardless of any increase in cost (so that the nominal percentage of fee shrinks as the costs increase). 14. purchase request package (as in the purchase request package was inadequate): “Purchase request package” means that document or group of documents that provides the authorized funding and approved specifications upon which a procurement is based. Also called an “acquisition package,” it includes all of the documents, data, and approved funding vehicles necessary to permit the acquisition team to obtain proposals and/or make an award for the required goods or services. Its contents vary with the size and complexity of the acquisition: a purchase request package for a Commercial-Off-the-Shelf (COTS) item might consist solely of a requisition form detailing the make, model, and manufacturer of the item(s) required, the need date, and the necessary management and accounting approvals, while a sophisticated IT development package could involve any number of technical documents (such as an Analysis of Alternatives, a Functional Requirements Document, an Operational Requirements Document, and a System Requirements Document, in addition to numerous technical and security specifications). Depending upon the status of the procurement, it may also include a market research report, an acquisition plan, an evaluation plan, a Justification of Other than Full and Open Competition, a Justification & Approval document, and other administrative records). 15. rating (as in evaluators will assign a proposal rating): “Rating” means a numerical or adjectival “grade” (as defined in FAR subpart 15.3) that ranks proposals according to their compliance with the stated evaluation factors. (It’s important to note that offers are never ranked against one another, in proposal evaluation; each must be evaluated on its own merits against the evaluation criteria established in the solicitation.) 16. relative importance (as in evaluation factor relative importance): “Relative importance” means how crucial one or more elements of the established evaluation criteria (for example, cost) is to the requiring activity, as compared to the others (quality, risk, management, delivery). In a critical acquisition for military requirements, delivery may be more important than price; in a state-of-the-art space mission, quality may eclipse both price and delivery; under sequestration, cost may be the primary issue; in a large integration project involving many components and contractors, management may take precedence; and in an environment in which funding is readily available, the requirement is not critical, and quality is fairly well established in the industry, all evaluation factors may be equal. It is, however, important to include a clear statement as to which of these scenarios applies in the resulting solicitation (see FAR subpart 15.3). 17. requirement (as in the program office specified its requirements): “Requirement” means a detailed description of the need for procurement of a specific service or commodity to fulfill a stated purpose or objective. 18. risk (as in contract performance risk): “Risk” means the possibility or probability that something unforeseen will prevent a contract from being executed as originally stipulated in the terms or conditions, whether the impediment is of a force majeure or financial, technical, administrative, programmatic, or economic nature. 19. tradeoff (as in source selection tradeoff analysis): “Tradeoff,” in contracting, means consideration of the value of one aspect of a proposal against another. (Proposal A is technically superior to Proposal B, but the differences don’t justify the increased cost; Proposal C is more economical than A or B, but at much greater risk; while Proposal D offers high quality at a reasonable price and low risk.) 20. uncertainty (as in uncertainty about performance outcomes): “Uncertainty” in contracting means the inability of human beings to be absolutely confident about the future; to take into account and mitigate every conceivable risk associated with a contract; or to predict all future needs with pinpoint accuracy. The level of the buyer’s uncertainty about any critical consideration in an acquisition is frequently synonymous with “risk”—and in government contracting, the level of risk a contractor is willing to assume to ensure that the agency receives what it wants, the way it wants it, when it’s required, and at the agreed-to-price translates into the percentage of profit or fee the Government will be willing to grant. (Sometimes, though, the “uncertainty” factor relates to the agency’s inability to determine how much of something it will need, how often; in those cases, it will generally award an “indefinite quantity/indefinite delivery” or “requirements” contract to address such contingencies.)