Federal Acquisition Reform Act of 1996 (FARA), Pub. L. No. 104-106, Div. D (now redesignated as the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996).
- Efficient competition,
- Efficient approval procedures, and
- Efficient competitive range determinations.
With regard to efficient competition, FARA requires that the FAR "shall ensure that the requirement to obtain full and open competition is implemented in a manner that is consistent with the need to efficiently fulfill the Government's requirements." With regard to efficient approval procedures, FARA raised the thresholds above which noncompetitive contracts must be approved by higher level agency officials. And with regard to efficient competitive range determinations, FARA authorizes contracting officers to limit the number of proposals in the competitive range, in accordance with the criteria specified in the solicitation, to the greatest number that will permit an efficient competition among the offerors rated most highly in accordance with such criteria.
In effect, this requirement changed the standard for determining the competitive range, from those with a reasonable chance for award to those "rated most highly."
In addition, FARA:
- Provides for and specifies the content of pre-award debriefings for contractors eliminated from competition.
- Exempts the procurement of commercial items from a requirement that certified cost or pricing data must accompany an offer — and allows a contracting officer to require such cost or pricing data to the extent necessary to determine the reasonableness of the price of the contract, subcontract, or modification.
- Authorizes through 1999 the use of simplified acquisition procedures for the acquisition of commercial items valued at greater than the simplified acquisition threshold (generally $100,000 including options) but not greater than $5 million when the contracting officer reasonably expects that responses to such offers will include only commercial items.
- Requires the FAR to list Federal procurement provisions that are inapplicable to contracts for the procurement of commercially available off-the-shelf items.
FARA's requirement to achieve "full and open competition . . . consistent with the need to efficiently fulfill the Government's requirements" puts the mandate for achieving results (through acquisition) on an equal footing with the competition mandate. The effect is that contracting officials have greater discretion and decision-making authority to make reasonable choices that balance the two mandates.