Speaking up about DOD’s proposed Independent Research and Development costs rule

A February 8, 2016, Department of Defense (DOD) advance notice of proposed rulemaking sought input to help address agency concerns regarding substantial future Independent Research and Development (IR&D) when such effort is undertaken as a means of reducing evaluated bid prices in competitive source selections. The proposed rule, if made final, would require the government to add costs (for proposal evaluation purposes) to any contractor offers that rely on IR&D efforts. In a recent client alert, Dentons encouraged contractors to participate in the comment process on the proposed rulemaking.

Dentons partners Thomas A. Lemmer and Steven M. Masiello submitted comments on the proposed rule. Specifically, they describe the relevant decisional authority establishing the appropriate methodology for distinguishing between direct costs of contract effort versus indirect costs of IR&D effort. Based upon this relevant authority, DOD’s concerns underlying the proposed rulemaking initiative to attribute IR&D project costs to the proposed price for evaluation purposes are misplaced.

Indeed, contrary to DOD’s concerns, relevant decisional authority confirms that IR&D efforts properly permit contractors willing to undertake, at their own risk, IR&D projects, to gain a relative price and technical advantage. Moreover, DOD should not discourage innovation by penalizing contractors for conducting IR&D projects resulting in innovation relevant to a competitive government procurement. Finally, IR&D costs are not contract costs, and treating them as such for evaluation purposes during the competitive procurement process misconstrues their nature and may skew award decisions.

You can read Dentons’ comments in full here.

Additionally, Dentons lawyers advised the American Bar Association Section of Public Contract Law on its comments on the proposed rule, which can be found here.

Thomas Lemmer

About Thomas Lemmer

Thomas A. Lemmer routinely counsels and litigates for clients on US federal contract formation, contract administration and dispute resolution. Tom also counsels clients on global procurement issues, with the assistance of Dentons’ offices worldwide, including employment issues, how to do business in a given country, how to do business with the US government and risk assessments.

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Steven Masiello

About Steven Masiello

Steven M. Masiello is the chair of the US Government Contracts practice and a leader of the firm's Global Government Contracts and Procurement group. Masiello serves as lead counsel in complex government contract matters across numerous industry segments concerning state, federal, and foreign military funded transactions in the US courts, agency boards and under domestic and international alternative dispute resolution procedures.

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