Must I reject the vendors counteroffer to make the purchase order F.O.B. Origin, or is there an exception of which I am unaware to allow the vendor to ship commercial items F.O.B. Origin, with Inspection/Acceptance at Origin (per FAR 47.304-1(f)) without actually having a Government representative Inspecting/Accepting at Origin?
FAR 46.404(a) provides the Government with flexibility in determining the extent of quality assurance/inspection required for items valued below the simplified acquisition threshold. Thus, it may not be incompatible to have f.o.b. origin terms without requiring inspection at origin. Further, FAR 46.501 states: "Supplies or services shall ordinarily (emphasis added) not be accepted before completion of Government contract quality assurance actions." Additionally, FAR 47.304-1 states: "The contracting officer shall determine f.o.b. terms generally on the basis of overall costs, giving due consideration (emphasis added) to the criteria given in 47.304." Finally, the fact that this is a FAR Part 12 acquisition, which provides for Government accommodation of customary supplier practices, give further support for tailoring f.o.b. terms to what suppliers will normally accept.
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The FAR content above supports Government flexibility when deciding on f.o.b. terms. As this issue deals with the Government's rights, please consult with your activity's legal counsel for more authoritative guidance.