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  • Question

    Is there a regulation, AFI, FAR statement that states that being co located with another agency in the same office of contracted is a conflict of interest? Or if not a conflict of interest, per se, then otherwise improper as it exposes our FOUO and sensative source-selection material to individuals who are not part of the procurement process? For example, at home-station, Contracting Offices all have cipher locks, and guests are usually granted entrance if they have official business.


    Answer

    If it is any consolation… we have been in your situation many, many times before in the deployed environment!
     
    Bottom Line Up Front:  There is no regulation, directive or instruction at the Federal Government, Department of Defense or service component level which states co-locating another organization with contracting is a conflict of interest in and of itself.  Even the USAF Policy Memo 13-C-05 Implementing Air Force Contingency Contracting Planning and Execution Readiness Program, dated 6 Dec 2013, has limited guidance (see sections B2.1.8 and B3.4).
     
    This comes down to a facilities and space utilization issue for which many factors and risks need to be considered and mitigated.  This is especially complex in the contingency environment where space limitations, force protection concerns, changing personnel “footprints”, and other factors and realities come into play.  Typically, the service components will have instructions or regulations that provide guidance on how to effectively utilize facilities and space.  These will often include “table of allowance” type guidance such as square footage allocation, storage, equipment, etc. to help planners.  But again, as indicated above, they will not be prescriptive in directing a contracting organization not be co-located with other functional areas.
     
    The challenge for your contracting office is going to be in establishing processes and procedures (requesting additional storage or semi-permanent dividers, etc.) in order to meet your regulatory/legal requirement to: protect certain information, reduce the probability of conflicts of interest and organizational conflicts of interest.  As FAR 1.102-2(c)(2) states” the System must shift its focus from “risk avoidance” to one of “risk management.”
     
    As you may be aware, these are the FAR and Service Supplements that provide the requirements to safe guard information and the contracting process: 
     
    FAR Subpart 3.1 Safeguards (this includes 3.104 Procurement Integrity)
    FAR Subpart 3.11 Preventing Personal Conflicts of Interest for Contractor Employees Performing Acquisition Functions
    DFARS Subpart 203.1 Safeguards
    AFFARS Subpart 5303.1 Safeguards

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