FAR 52.246-2 states that inspection data will be "made available" to the Government. What does "made available" mean? The Ask the Professor answer referenced above states that the Govt has unlimited rights to this data. Can the Government make paper or electronic copies, or can the contractor limit Government inspection data access to the contractor's computer screen?
You are correct with what FAR 52.246-2 says in that the contractor is required to have inspection records and “make them available” to you. This means that you can only ask the contractor to see their records not ask them for hard copies. By asking for hard copies you are actually adding a deliverable to the contract and they can claim constructive change and charge the government for that deliverable. So, they are complying with the intent of the FAR when they allow you to look at the records and not give you a copy in that they are making them available to you. It sounds like your contractor knows the FAR. If they voluntarily give you a copy then that’s a decision they made and you can take them. You just can’t ask for copies.
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One other point I would like to make is if their concern is proprietary information that is another issue. As a DCMA QAS when you come on board with the government you sign a non-disclosure agreement that says you will protect any information that is considered proprietary. You can be punished under violation of that agreement if you do otherwise. Most contractors do not know that which is why they claim you have no rights to their proprietary information. I have even seen them try and get us to sign a non-disclosure agreement with them. NEVER sign any agreement between you and the contractor. You are always covered with the one you signed with the government. If their proprietary information is related to a government contract you have the right to look at it.
If any of the above comes into question please consult your Legal advisor for their direction.