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I have always believed that the government may allow a contractor to write the SOW or requirements for the government.  The government can use these specifications in their solicitation, but the contractor cannot bid on the resulting contract from those specifications that they supplied because it would be a conflict of interest.  I have searched through the FAR and cannot find any specific FAR language that absolutely prohibits the practice.  This would be a unique service where there is a limited number of contractors available to complete the work with different methods of completing the contract.  Any thoughts.  Thanks.  This is still in pre-solicitation but will be a time sensitive procurement due to a very narrow weather window.

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 Check FAR 9.505-2 and see if any apply.

Since you say this is time sensitive couldn't you issue a single RFP directing offerors to propose PWS' and negotiate and award from there?

Likely to be costly, but it's an option.

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If it is going to competitive, and you believe the preparing contractor will propose, why would you let that happen? Has market research been conducted?

Under what contract vehicle is said contractor writing your SOW? You may have an Agency OCI clause in that contract which backs your intuition.  

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I think it's important to note if the "contractor" who is preparing the SOW is doing it under an existing contract.  See Viereck, B-237726, March 20, 1990.

"The organizational conflict of interest provisions on which the Army relies are intended to assure that the government receives unbiased advice when it employs a firm --"the contractor"-- to prepare specification used in the competitive procurement of items.  Viereck, however, was not hired by the government to prepare the specifications here."

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If you review 9.505 as Jamaal suggested, there is an exception for allowing multiple companies to have input into the SOW.  I think this is good advice when you do not have adequate know-how within the agency to write a good SOW.

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Thanks everyone for your quick responses.  I will definitely check out the FAR 9.505 reference.  It makes it a little tricky because this is not my contract nor my agency, but a complaint from a contractor that believes that he is being shut out of the process by the government and that has furnished a similar service in the past which was very successful for what they were doing..  It is for a high profile contract which is also very politically motivated.  I am not sure that the issue is the government don't know how to write the SOW, but how they are getting to the other contractor that may or may not be successful.  there are some within the political spectrum and within the agency that have stated in public that they would like to see the mission fail but it also has quite a few high profile supporters.

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Currently, there is no contract in place for any work.  We are strictly at the pre-solicitation stage.  But there have been discussions with both contractors.

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See FAR 37.602(a) which says:

(a) A Performance Work Statement (PWS) may be prepared by the Government or result from a Statement of Objectives (SOO) prepared by the Government where the offeror proposes the PWS.

additionally...

(c) Offerors use the SOO to develop the PWS; however, the SOO does not become part of the contract. The SOO shall, at a minimum, include—

(1) Purpose;

(2) Scope or mission;

(3) Period and place of performance;

(4) Background;

(5) Performance objectives, i.e., required results; and

(6) Any operating constraints.

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Guest Vern Edwards

Any government acquisition office that must hire a contractor to write an S.O.W. is staffed by incompetents. I can understand hiring a contractor to write a system, subsystem, or component specification. But an S.O.W.? Please. If an office needs that kind of help it shouldn't be allowed to conduct the acquisition.

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This is a service contract where the place of performance is in a very inhospitable part of the world where there is only a two-three week window every year to do this type of work.  The work is very specialized and extremely dangerous.  there are additional factors on this solicitation, but I was concentrating just on the conflicts of interest areas where a company proposes an alternate solution and the government uses that solution to write the SOW.  i always believed that if KR wrote specs, they were prohibited from bidding on the resulting solicitation if there were other competitors.  I have provided my client with FAR 9 and they can make the determination if it applies to their situation.   

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