What exactly is a Technical Direction Letter (TDL) and how is it used. What contract types or in what scenarios is a TDL best used in. What are the pros and cons. Also, is it possible to integrate the use of TDLs an already established contract that does not have language authorizing the use of TDLs, or does it have to be done at base award level.
This is really a “scope” question, and we like your COR! They probably took the COR 222 Contracting Officer Representative Course.
Statements of Work and/or Performance Work Statements are frequently inexact, resulting in the need for technical instructions or clarifications as the work progresses. In many instances a primary function delegated to the COR may involve the issuance of technical direction to the contractor.
Technical direction, technical instruction, and technical direction letter are generic terms used to qualify a subset of formal communication with contractor management. Some contracts may have a “Technical Direction” Clause or language in the SOW or PWS that formalizes how the government will communicate these technical directions. If in writing; many agencies (including DoD) use the term Technical Direction Letter. The technical direction provided MUST be within scope of the existing contract (or Task Order in your instance) and cannot conflict with any other terms of the contract or task order under which it was issued. Yes, often these technical directions do eliminate confusion, save time, and as a result reduce costs.
Note: we teach CORs to make sure they KNOW if their KO has delegated to them the authority to provide technical direction.
To answer your question: Can the TDL can be incorporated into the contract to 'expedite' the contract?'
It is up to you, the KO (contracting officer). Again, as long as you make sure that any technical direction issued is or will be within the scope of the contract and not conflict with any other terms and conditions, then there should be no problem adding it. Your scenario stated CPFF contract so it is reasonable to assume that it was anticipated there would be uncertainties and unknowns that could occur during contract performance.
We suggest engaging with the stakeholders (e.g. project manager, customer, legal, contractor, etc.) to ensure they are onboard with the incorporation of the TDLs and ensure there is no conflict with current terms/conditions of the existing contract. We strongly emphasize the guidance on what the COR is authorized to direct in the TDLs be VERY explicit and that their limitations are clearly communicated.
Also a very good idea to make sure FAR 52.243-7 is in the contract and applies to all Task Orders. Any TDL that the contractor did reasonably rely on and performed but ends up adding scope and additional costs to the contract could be either a constructive change or unauthorized commitment depending on the facts and circumstances.