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    What is the difference between a SOW and the PSW and must we use one over the other? We are told that we cannot state "Qualifications" because NPSC contracts are "not personal services." See Contracting's message: eliminated "qualifications as it makes the PWS look like a personal service which we don't do. We can however, include some of the qualifications as part of evaluation factors for the bid on the contracts."


    Answer

    The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), which governs acquisitions for the federal government, provides the following guidance:
     
    Performance Work Statement (PWS) means a statement of work for performance-based acquisitions that describes the required results in clear, specific and objective terms with measurable outcomes."
     
    There is no definition in the FAR for a Statement of Work, or SOW. SOW is a term used by the Government to describe requirements in terms of detailed instructions to the contractor.
     
     Performance-based acquisition (see subpart 37.6) is the preferred method for acquiring services (Public Law 106-398, section 821). The Service Acquisition Reform Act of 2003, provides for the government's preference for performance based services. The FAR defines Performance-based acquisition (PBA) as an acquisition structured around the results to be achieved as opposed to the manner by which the work is to be performed.
     
    As required by the FAR, Services are to be obtained in the most cost-effective manner, without barriers to full and open competition, and free of any potential conflicts of interest.
     
    Services fall into two categories, personal and non-personal.  "Nonpersonal services contract" means a contract under which the personnel rendering the services are not subject, either by the contract's terms or by the manner of its administration, to the supervision and control usually prevailing in relationships between the Government and its employees. A personal services contract is characterized by the employer-employee relationship it creates between the Government and the contractor's personnel.  Agencies shall not award personal services contracts unless specifically authorized by statute (e.g., 5 U.S.C. 3109) to do so.
     
    The FAR directs that the contracting officer is responsible for ensuring that a proposed contract for services is proper. 


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