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I'm looking for some feedback on this topic. Specifically, the type of research that I contract for is scientific and does not involve the development of a physical end product. Rather, it develops a set of scientific data upon which Biological Opinions are then based, and may include recommendations for that Opinion. Appreciate any thoughts you might have.

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I guess I'm looking for a discussion on this, guessing that there is not going to be a cut and dried answer. Specifically, in this instance, a study that we have contracted for to investigate methods to prevent the loss of Salmon Fish Nets by fisherman. More typically we contract for studies on the impact of various things (dams, farming, etc) on watersheds and marine life, or methods to return Endangered Species Act populations to healthy levels.

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Guest Vern Edwards

I will interpret your question to be: Is research a commercial item as defined in FAR 2.101?

Research is a service. Here is the portion of the FAR definition of commercial item that pertains to services:

(5) Installation services, maintenance services, repair services, training services, and other services if?

(i) Such services are procured for support of an item referred to in paragraph (1), (2), (3), or (4) of this definition, regardless of whether such services are provided by the same source or at the same time as the item; and

(ii) The source of such services provides similar services contemporaneously to the general public under terms and conditions similar to those offered to the Federal Government.

(6) Services of a type offered and sold competitively in substantial quantities in the commercial marketplace based on established catalog or market prices for specific tasks performed or specific outcomes to be achieved and under standard commercial terms and conditions. For purposes of these services?

(i) ?Catalog price? means a price included in a catalog, price list, schedule, or other form that is regularly maintained by the manufacturer or vendor, is either published or otherwise available for inspection by customers, and states prices at which sales are currently, or were last, made to a significant number of buyers constituting the general public; and

(ii) ?Market prices? means current prices that are established in the course of ordinary trade between buyers and sellers free to bargain and that can be substantiated through competition or from sources independent of the offerors.

Do you think that anything in the above would cover a study to find ways to prevent salmon fishermen from losing their nets?

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Do you mean to tell me that the Federal Government is contracting a study to determine how and why salmon fishermen are losing their nets? Are you kidding me? Things that make you go HMMMMMM

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Do you mean to tell me that the Federal Government is contracting a study to determine how and why salmon fishermen are losing their nets? Are you kidding me? Things that make you go HMMMMMM

Not "how and why" they lose the nets, but rather, how to prevent them from losing the nets. I was intrigued as well, and a quick google search turned up the following article from USA Today:

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/enviro...servation_N.htm

One could argue that this is money well spent because it may ultimately help reduce the amount of derelict fishing gear lurking in the deeps that poses a danger to other innocent marine life, boats and the environment generally. Additionally, it appears that we've spent a fair amount of tax dollars just trying to recover some of this stuff.

As for these research services, my bet is that they would be considered commercial.

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Not "how and why" they lose the nets, but rather, how to prevent them from losing the nets. I was intrigued as well, and a quick google search turned up the following article from USA Today:

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/enviro...servation_N.htm

One could argue that this is money well spent because it may ultimately help reduce the amount of derelict fishing gear lurking in the deeps that poses a danger to other innocent marine life, boats and the environment generally. Additionally, it appears that we've spent a fair amount of tax dollars just trying to recover some of this stuff.

As for these research services, my bet is that they would be considered commercial.

Thanks for the link. I read the article. Makes much more sense now. Commercial Services.

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Leo1102 and Parkerr - I'm not following why you felt investigating how to prevent fishing net loss would be commercial services. Did you believe it fit one of the definitions that Vern listed from FAR 2.101? If so, which one?

I can't speak for Leo1102, but yes, I do believe that these services probably fall within the FAR definition of commercial services. Specifically, FAR 2.101 provides that "Commercial Item" means:

Installation services, maintenance services, repair services, training services, and other services if?

(i) Such services are procured for support of an item referred to in paragraph (1), (2), (3), or (4) of this definition, regardless of whether such services are provided by the same source or at the same time as the item; and

(ii) The source of such services provides similar services contemporaneously to the general public under terms and conditions similar to those offered to the Federal Government

.

The items referred to in paragraph (1) of the definition are:

(1) Any item, other than real property, that is of a type customarily used by the general public or by non-governmental entities for purposes other than governmental purposes, and?

(i) Has been sold, leased, or licensed to the general public; or

(ii) Has been offered for sale, lease, or license to the general public;

Surely, salmon fishing nets are a commercial item. These services would be in support of that item. The actual determination of whether or not the sources of these services provide them "contemporaneously to the general public under terms and conditions similar to those offered to the Federal Government" would require some market research, but I'm betting that the second prong of the definition would be borne out. I can imagine, for example, that there are associations of commercial fishing interests, as well as non-governmental environmental groups, that would be customers for that type of research.

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Guest Vern Edwards
Surely, salmon fishing nets are a commercial item. These services would be in support of that item.

The notion that government research into how to prevent fishermen from losing their nets is a service in support of nets is ridiculous.

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Guest Vern Edwards

In no sense would the research be "supporting" nets. The support services examples given in the definition of commercial items all relate to services that are applied to the item: installation, maintenance, repair, and training [in the use of]. The government buys a commercial item and then needs to hire someone to install it, maintain it, repair it, and teach government personnel how to use it. That's what FAR means by "support" of an item. Research is study and investigation. In this case the research does not support an item purchased by the government. It does not "support" any item. The researchers will study fishing operations to see if there are ways that fishermen can work that will not result in the loss of their nets to the detriment of the environment. To stretch that objective into "supporting" a commercial item simply is not consistent with the obvious intent of FASA and the FAR and is the kind of thing that half-baked COs do that brings us more restraining laws and regulations.

The research in question may be a commercial item, but not because it "supports" a commercial item. Whether it is a commercial item or not depends on the answer to the question I first asked and to which wlevitch has yet to respond.

In any case, this is undoubtedly a small procurement and a competent CO could have written a noncommercial RFP for an FFP-LOE contract and gotten the thing out on the street for competition in the time that has passed since the post that opened this thread. He or she would not have to resort to contortionist thinking just to use commercial item procedures.

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I am of the same mind as Vern.

Research into how to prevent fishing nets from being lost at sea is a whole different field than the fishing net industry.

It's possible that the research will result in information that might later be used to regulate the fishing net industry. But being regulated isn't something an industry usually solicites. There is no service to the fishing nets or the fishing net industry in researching fishing net loss.

It is not a commercial service.

But I think it's a common mistake to think that because a topic of research includes an object made commercially, that the research must be commercial.

So, I think this is a good discussion.

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I'm not a commercial fisherman, but it just seemed to me that figuring out how not to lose a net is something that would be of some value to someone involved in that line of work.

That doesn't make acquiring a federal research contract to discover how to improve commercial fishing practices acquisition of a commercial item (or a commercial service).

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I think it comes across in the article referenced, but the circumstances that cause the nets to be lost, usually also cause the nets to be torn up to a point beyond repair. If the fishermen retrieves the net, they are just hauling trash. Sometimes fishermen dump irrepairable nets into the ocean, rather than carry them to port and pay for them to go into trash.

COs involved in research areas in which they are not familiar make this kind of mistake.

Things often aren't as obvious as they seem.

COs have to spend some time asking their customer questions and/or doing some research on their own to understand the objective in research contracts. Too often that doesn't happen. The name or brief subject description of research can make it seem like something simple when it is not.

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Having taken a long hard look at the definition and Vern's Post #12, I see where I was wrong on this. I agree that the services would not qualify as commercial under paragraph (5) unless the Government were actually buying nets and wanted to contract for research on how to properly use them. I was reading (5) more "globally" than I should have; I apologize.

If they are commercial at all, it would have to be under (6).

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