What is the proper contract vehicle to use when issuing a non-technical BAA? by "non-technical" I mean a BAA that focuses on academic policy research and surveys.
1. The FAR references quoted below in pertinent part are applicable to this response:
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FAR 16.103 -- Negotiating Contract Type
(b) A firm-fixed-price contract shall be used when the risk involved is minimal or can be predicted with an acceptable degree of certainty.
FAR 16.207 -- Firm-Fixed-Price, Level-of-Effort Term Contracts
FAR 16.207-1 -- Description
A firm-fixed-price, level-of-effort term contract requires --
(a) The contractor to provide a specified level of effort, over a stated period of time, on work that can be stated only in general terms; and
(b) The Government to pay the contractor a fixed dollar amount.
FAR 16.207-2 -- Application
A firm-fixed-price, level-of-effort term contract is suitable for investigation or study in a specific research and development area. The product of the contract is usually a report showing the results achieved through application of the required level of effort. However, payment is based on the effort expended rather than on the results achieved.
FAR 16.207-3 -- Limitations
This contract type may be used only when --
(a) The work required cannot otherwise be clearly defined;
(b) The required level of effort is identified and agreed upon in advance;
(c) There is reasonable assurance that the intended result cannot be achieved by expending less than the stipulated effort; and
(d) The contract price is $150,000 or less, unless approved by the chief of the contracting office.
FAR Subpart 16.3 -- Cost-Reimbursement Contracts
FAR 16.301-1 -- Description
Cost-reimbursement types of contracts provide for payment of allowable incurred costs, to the extent prescribed in the contract.
FAR 16.301-2 -- Application
(a) The contracting officer shall use cost-reimbursement contracts only when—
(1) Circumstances do not allow the agency to define its requirements sufficiently to allow for a fixed-price type contract (see 7.105); or
(2) Uncertainties involved in contract performance do not permit costs to be estimated with sufficient accuracy to use any type of fixed-price contract.
2. By the use of the term “contract vehicle”, we assume that that this inquiry requests guidance on the contract type that should be used for this BAA. Based on the limited information provided in this inquiry and the criteria set forth in FAR 16.103(b), we believe that a firm-fixed-price contract may be suitable for this acquisition because the risk involved with the performance of a given BAA offer would appear to be minimal or can be predicted with an acceptable degree of certainty.
3. In the alternative, a firm-fixed-price, level-of-effort term contract may also be suitable because the nature of the effort represents investigation or study in a specific research and development area with the product of the contract being a report showing the results achieved. However, the use of this contract type is subject to the limitations specified in FAR 16.207-3.
4. Finally, and based on the limited information provided in this inquiry, we would recommend avoiding the use of a cost-reimbursement type of contract for this acquisition because the work does not appear to meet the criteria set forth in FAR 16.301-2, given that this is a non-technical effort that focuses on academic policy research and surveys that will result in a "paper study" result.