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  2. Justification and Approval (J&A)

Justification and Approval (J&A)

ACON 040


A document required by the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) that justifies and obtains approval for contract solicitations that use other than Full and Open Competition (FOC).

Alternate Definition

Justification and Approval (J&A) is a document required to justify and obtain appropriate level approvals to contract without providing for full and open competition as required by the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR).
41 U.S.C. 253(c) and 10 U.S.C. 2304(c) each authorize, under certain conditions, contracting without providing for full and open competition. The Department of Defense, Coast Guard, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration are subject to 10 U.S.C. 2304(c). Other executive agencies are subject to 41 U.S.C. 253(c). Contracting without providing for full and open competition or full and open competition after exclusion of sources is a violation of statute, unless permitted by one of the exceptions in FAR 6.302.

General Information

The FAR provides guidance for the requirements information included in the J&A. Pursuant to FAR 6.302 there are limited circumstances that allow for contracting using other than full and open competition. These are:


  1. 6.302-1-- Only One Responsible Source and No Other Supplies or Services Will Satisfy Agency Requirements.
  2. 6.302-2-- Unusual and Compelling Urgency.
  3. 6.302-3-- Industrial Mobilization; Engineering, Developmental, or Research Capability; or Expert Services.
  4. 6.302-4-- International Agreement.
  5. 6.302-5-- Authorized or Required by Statute.
  6. 6.302-6-- National Security.
  7. 6.302-7-- Public Interest.



A contracting officer shall not commence negotiations for a sole source contract, commence negotiations for a contract resulting from an unsolicited proposal, or award any other contract without providing for full and open competition unless the contracting officer --


  1. Justifies, if required in 6.302, the use of such actions in writing;
  2. Certifies the accuracy and completeness of the justification; and
  3. Obtains the approval required by 6.304.


Technical and requirements personnel are responsible for providing and certifying as accurate and complete necessary data to support their recommendation for other than full and open competition. The contracting officer does not certify this information but does ensure it is complete to support the final document.


Justifications may be made on an individual or class basis for all circumstances except 6.302-7 Public Interest. Any justification for contracts awarded under the authority of 6.302-7 shall only be made on an individual basis. Whenever a justification is made and approved on a class basis, the contracting officer must ensure that each contract action taken pursuant to the authority of the class justification and approval is within the scope of the class justification and approval and shall document the contract file for each contract action accordingly. The justifications for contracts awarded under the authority cited in 6.302-2 may be prepared and approved within a reasonable time after contract award when preparation and approval prior to award would unreasonably delay the acquisitions. This should be used only when there is no other option.




Each justification shall contain sufficient facts and rationale to justify the use of the specific authority cited. Contracting officers should review their agency or service guidance for additional information on content. As a minimum, each justification shall include the following information:


  1. Identification of the agency and the contracting activity, and specific identification of the document as a “Justification for other than full and open competition.”
  2. Nature and/or description of the action being approved.
  3. A description of the supplies or services required to meet the agency’s needs (including the estimated value).
  4. An identification of the statutory authority permitting other than full and open competition.
  5. A demonstration that the proposed contractor’s unique qualifications or the nature of the acquisition requires use of the authority cited.
  6. A description of efforts made to ensure that offers are solicited from as many potential sources as is practicable, including whether a notice was or will be publicized as required by Subpart 5.2 and, if not, which exception under 5.202 applies.
  7. A determination by the contracting officer that the anticipated cost to the Government will be fair and reasonable.
  8. A description of the market research conducted (see Part 10) and the results or a statement of the reason market research was not conducted.
  9. ny other facts supporting the use of other than full and open competition, such as:
    1. Explanation of why technical data packages, specifications, engineering descriptions, statements of work, or purchase descriptions suitable for full and open competition have not been developed or are not available.
    2. When 6.302-1 is cited for follow-on acquisitions as described in 6.302-1(a)(2)(ii), an estimate of the cost to the Government that would be duplicated and how the estimate was derived.
    3. When 6.302-2 is cited, data, estimated cost, or other rationale as to the extent and nature of the harm to the Government.
  10. A listing of the sources, if any, that expressed, in writing, an interest in the acquisition.
  11. A statement of the actions, if any, the agency may take to remove or overcome any barriers to competition before any subsequent acquisition for the supplies or services required.
  12. Contracting officer certification that the justification is accurate and complete to the best of the contracting officer’s knowledge and belief.


Each justification shall include evidence that any supporting data that is the responsibility of technical or requirements personnel (e.g., verifying the Government’s minimum needs or schedule requirements or other rationale for other than full and open competition) and which form a basis for the justification have been certified as complete and accurate by the technical or requirements personnel.




The justification for other than full and open competition shall be approved in writing. General approval levels based on FAR guidance is provided below – however, service/agency specific guidance should be reviewed for additional guidance.


  1. For a proposed contract not exceeding $700,000, the contracting officer’s certification required by 6.303-2(b)(12) will serve as approval unless a higher approving level is established in agency procedures.
  2. For a proposed contract over $700,000 but not exceeding $13.5 million, by the competition advocate for the procuring activity designated pursuant to 6.501. This authority is not delegable.
  3. For a proposed contract over $13.5 million but not exceeding $68 million, or, for DoD, NASA, and the Coast Guard, not exceeding $93 million, by the head of the procuring activity, or a designee who--
    1. If a member of the armed forces, is a general or flag officer; or
    2. If a civilian, is serving in a position in grade above GS-15 under the General Schedule (or in a comparable or higher position under another schedule).
  4. For a proposed contract over $68 million, or, for DoD, NASA, and the Coast Guard, over $93 million, by the senior procurement executive of the agency designated pursuant to the OFPP Act (41 U.S.C. 414(3)) in accordance with agency procedures. This authority is not delegable except in the case of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, acting as the senior procurement executive for the Department of Defense.


If the justification is for a contract awarded under the authority of 6.302-7 Public Interest, regardless of dollar amount, it shall be considered approved when the determination required by 6.302-7(c)(1) is made. A class justification for other than full and open competition shall be approved in writing in accordance with agency procedures. The approval level shall be determined by the estimated total value of the class. The estimated dollar value of all options shall be included in determining the approval level of a justification.




Unless the justification is based on 6.302-2-- Unusual and Compelling Urgency, the agency shall make the required justification publically available within 14 days after contract award as required by 10 U.S.C. 2304(f)(4) and 41 U.S.C. 253(f)(4)—


  1. At Contract Opportunities; and
  2. On the website of the agency


In the case of a contract award permitted under 6.302-2, the justification shall be posted within 30 days after contract award. Contracting officers shall carefully screen all justifications for contractor proprietary data and remove all such data, and such references and citations as are necessary to protect the proprietary data, before making the justifications available for public inspection. Contracting officers shall also be guided by the exemptions to disclosure of information contained in the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C.552) and the prohibitions against disclosure in FAR Part 24.202 -- Prohibitions in determining whether other data should be removed.