Can the option period be exercised early?
The requirement exists and funds are available, so if not, why not?
If the solicitation contains FAR 17.208 (b) Insert a provision substantially the same as the provision at 52.217-4, Evaluation of Options Exercised at Time of Contract Award, in solicitations when the solicitation includes an option clause, the contracting officer has determined that there is a reasonable likelihood that the option will be exercised, and the option may be exercised at the time of contract award. With this provision included YES.
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If 17.208 (a) or ( c ) were used in the solicitation, NO.
17.200 -- Scope of Subpart. This subpart prescribes policies and procedures for the use of option solicitation provisions and contract clauses. Except as provided in agency regulations, this subpart does not apply to contracts for…(a) …(b)…and (c) research and development services. However, it does not preclude the use of options in those contracts.
17.203 -- Solicitations. (a) Solicitations shall include appropriate option provisions and clauses when resulting contracts will provide for the exercise of options (see 17.208).
17.205 -- Documentation. (a) The contracting officer shall justify in writing the quantities or the term under option, the notification period for exercising the option, and any limitation on option price under 17.203(g); and shall include the justification document in the contract file. (b) Any justifications and approvals and any determination and findings required by Part 6 shall specify both the basic requirement and the increase permitted by the option.
17.207 While the entire paragraph of referenced here is required, 17.207 -- Exercise of Options. This includes one subparagraph of interest for this question. (d) The contracting officer, after considering price and other factors, shall make the determination on the basis of one of the following:…(3) The time between the award of the contract containing the option and the exercise of the option is so short that it indicates the option price is the lowest price obtainable or the more advantageous offer. The contracting officer shall take into consideration such factors as market stability and comparison of the time since award with the usual duration of contracts for such supplies or services.
In addition to the above, the solicitation must be checked for proper inclusion of 52.217-6, -7, -8, or -9 as the inclusion of proper provisions and clauses must be correct before considering including the inclusion of the option at the time of award. Review FAR Sub Part 17.2, DFARS 217.2, PGI 217.2 and validate with legal.
The Option may be exercised at time of award, pending correct validation of the above.