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April 17, 2020

US Army Corps of Engineers Task Order Awards: New Procedures

By Miro Kurka

COVID-19 is due to peak this week, and already the President and various state governors are discussing how to reopen the economy. As the economy and our clients start getting “back to normal,” there will be changes to how A/E firms are selected to execute U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) task orders off multiple award, indefinite delivery contracts.

For the past year, various USACE districts have changed the way they award task orders on indefinite delivery contracts. They’ve been requiring additional information—in some cases, SF330 supplements—from the contract holders. These changes were a result of the district counsel’s and contracting officer’s interpretation that Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) subpart 36.6 required competition at the task order level.

This change affected many in the AE industry because of the extra time and effort required to submit mini proposals—averaging an additional 8 to 16 hours per task order. Considering the average “win rate” is 25%, this was a significant burden, especially for small businesses. Additionally, both the AE community and USACE program/project managers were concerned that this could significantly delay the award to task order.

Working with USACE

In response to these concerns, the competition of task orders on multiple award indefinite delivery contracts became a major topic of the American Council of Engineering Companies’ (ACEC) Federal Agency Procurement Advocacy Committee. For several months, the committee exchanged ideas on this topic with USACE across multiple levels.

In early March, USACE published a Directors’ Policy Memorandum subject: Procedures for the Selection of Task Orders on Architect-Engineer Indefinite Delivery Contracts (IDCs). I’ve reviewed this memorandum thoroughly. Basically, it requires USACE Districts to issue a Task Order Requirement Notice (TORN) to all contract holders on any upcoming task order, and to provide them an opportunity to submit a three-page (or less) response. Firms would typically have five business days to respond.

Some things I definitely like about the Directors’ Policy memorandum:

  1. It limits the scope of SATOCs and prevents overlapping and competing SATOCs (para 6.c.)
  2. Even if less than three firms in MATOCs respond to TORN, it still allows for award of the task order (para 6.d.)
  3. It limits overly broad scopes (para 6.e.)
  4. It allows for but does not require annual updates of SF 330s (para 6.f.)
  5. It requires notification of all contract holders of the opportunity (para 7.a.)
  6. It recommends keeping the response to TORN fairly brief – 3 pages or less (para 7.a.(2))
  7. It recommends a five-day turnaround (para 7.a.(4))
  8. It states that firms do not have to provide additional information if they so desire (para 7.a.(4))
  9. It specifically states that covers, tabs, etc. are not required (sample TORN)

Although the Directors’ Policy Memorandum on procedures for the selection of task orders on Architect-Engineer Indefinite Delivery Contracts (IDCs) is relatively new, some USACE Districts have already been doing something similar for a number of years. This new policy will be a change for some, but will also make procedures across USACE more uniform.

Bottom line?

Eventually, the COVID-19 crisis will pass, and USACE, while currently very heavily involved in the COVID-19 response, will once again focus on executing its military, civil works, and support for other programs. When this happens, they will need support from the AE community, and the procedures for obtaining that support will be different. Our community is preparing for this new normal, so we can present a united front as we face the future.

Miro Kurka is the water resources group leader at Mead & Hunt and chair of ACEC's Federal Agencies Procurement Advocacy Committee.


All comments to blog posts will be moderated by ACEC staff.

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