On Friday, August 10, 2012, the Federal Acquisition Council published in the Federal Register a proposed regulation: “Small Business Set Asides for Research and Development Contracts.” Federal Register Volume 77, Number 155, Pages 47797-47799.
This proposed rule responds to a request from the Small Business Administration (SBA) to review the last sentence in FAR 19.502(b)(2) which reads: ``In making R&D small business set-asides, there must also be a reasonable expectation of obtaining from small businesses the best scientific and technological sources consistent with the demands of the proposed acquisition for the best mix of cost, performances, and schedules.'' The SBA advises that this language has been interpreted as an additional and unique condition that must be met before a contracting officer can proceed with a small business set-aside for research and development. FAR 19.502-2(b) establishes the general requirements for a total small business set-asides above the simplified acquisition threshold: (1) That offers will be obtained from at least two responsible small business concerns offering the products of different small business concerns; and (2) That the award from the set-aside will be made at fair market prices.
The proposal would amend the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to clarify that contracting officers shall set aside acquisitions for research and development, when there is also a reasonable expectation, as a result of market research, that there are small businesses capable of providing the best scientific and technological approaches.
Comments are due on or before October 9, 2012.