A little-heralded change to the statutory definition of “commercial item” has now made its way to a proposed FAR rule, which will open up regulatory relief to a whole new class of government contractors – companies, both domestic and foreign, that regularly sell products developed at private expense to friendly foreign governments. With the December 12, 2017, passage of Section 847 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2018, Pub. L. 115-91 (“2018 NDAA”), the statutory set of definitions for the term “commercial items” was amended. See 41 U.S.C. § 103. More specifically, Section 103(8), addressing “nondevelopmental items,” was broadened as follows:

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The House version of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (“NDAA”) (passed July 14, 2017) includes key provisions that would radically change the way the Government purchases certain commercial items, and it may result in the extinction of large parts of the Federal Supply Schedules as we know them. Section 801 of the NDAA promotes Government wide use of online commercial marketplaces (“online marketplaces”) such as Amazon, Staples, and Grainger for the acquisition of certain commercial off-the shelf (“COTS”) items, defined as “commercial products” in the proposed legislation. If enacted, the NDAA would be a revolutionary development in the way the Government buys many of its products, allowing agencies to leapfrog over competitive bidding requirements and numerous mandatory clauses now included in Government contracts for commercial items.

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The comment period for DoD’s proposed rule amending DFARS 212 has been extended to November 10. Click here.

The passage of the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act of 1994 and the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996 saw the dawning of a new era in procurement policy, pursuant to which sweeping changes to the procurement laws and regulations governing the acquisition of goods and services offered and sold in the commercial marketplace took hold. These goods and services are referred to, and defined, in the Federal Acquisition Regulation (“FAR”) as “commercial items.” Two major effects of these legislative landmarks were: (1) the streamlining and modification of certifications and clauses required in solicitations and contracts for commercial items; and (2) the exemption of commercial item suppliers from the requirement to submit certified cost or pricing data under the Truth in Negotiations Act (“TINA”).


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