Are general purpose items (hand tools, computer gear-peripherals, etc) allowable costs on a Cost Contract?
The basic foundation of a cost-reimbursement type contract provides for payment of ALLOWABLE incurred cost, to the extent prescribed in the contract. A cost is considered allowable IAW FAR 31.201-2 when the cost is considered reasonable, allocable, and follows the standards of CAS/GAAP and the terms of the contract.
As long as the cost is allowable, the government will pay the cost under a cost-reimbursement contract. The question then becomes whether the contractor can charge the equipment/items as a direct cost or an indirect cost to the contract. The equipment/items may be billed as a direct cost if the purchase supports a single cost objective (FAR 31.202). Or IAW FAR 31.203 the cost may be billed as an indirect cost if the cost supports two or more final cost objectives (supports different contracts). The details describing the contractors methodology of charging indirect or direct cost is generally outlined in the contractors Disclosure Statement (DS). Direct charging of cost for equipment/ tools would generally equate to Contractor Acquired Property, i.e. Government Property. The contracting officer should review the DS if available, as well as consult with DCAA regarding the specific accounting practices detailed in the contractors Disclosure Statement.
FAR 45.102 states contractors are "ordinarily" required to furnish all property necessary to perform contracts, however this does not mean the Government will NOT furnish Government Property(GP) if it is in our best interest. The determination to provide GP is made during acquisition planning (FAR 7.105(b)(15). Further guidance on providing GP can be found at DFARS PGI 245.103-70-2.