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    Question: Some of think the cost estimate is the proposal and we can take the project to point of award by getting the 35% design documents . Others think the cost estimate is not a proposal and using the cost estimate for a proposal circumvents the requirements of AFFARS MP 5332.7. Para A provision covering the preparation of designs in the last quarter of the fiscal year in anticipation of fall out funds (Sample Hold Harmless Agreement), does this cover getting actual proposals? Is a cost estimate and a proposal the same thing?


    In researching the regulations that you are referencing, you are dealing with a SABER contract. With the sections that you referenced, AF Construction Guide Chapter 3, section 3.2.2, Para, since Chapter 3 is titled “Simplified Acquisition of Base Engineer Requirements (SABER)” I can also assume your action does not exceed SAT.
    When you refer to receiving cost estimates from the contractor, you are referring to 3.2.2 which is entitled “Minimum Design.” So it appears that you will only receive a cost estimate when the contractor has to do a design. 
    Under section 3.6. SABER Execution and Contract Administration of the AF Construction Guide Chapter 3.  It provides guidance on the government providing and independent government estimate for all projects greater than $100,000 and at section 3.6.3 on contractor’s project order proposals.  It requires the contractor to develop a detailed price proposal by identifying necessary tasks in the UPG, verifying as-built drawings, refining quantities, pricing NPIs, preparing working drawings, and developing performance times.
    With this said I respond to your question: Is a cost estimate and a proposal the same thing?  No.  The cost estimate is supposed to be an unbiased cost estimate based upon the specifications and without the influence of potential contractor’s marketing effort or input. In the Air Force construction environment, the IGE is generally prepared by either the government’s own design engineer or estimator, or by the Architectural & Engineering firm that prepared the design. FAR 15.404-1(b)(2)(v) discusses the comparison of proposed prices with independent Government cost estimates and this is a price analysis method for non-commercial items.
    As to your second question on the hold harmless agreement and its reference to MP 5332.7. Para, I could not find this exact reference I found one that was revised April 6, 2015 and it no longer  refers to a hold harmless agreement.

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