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Peer Reviews

ACON 051


The Office of the Principal Director, Defense Pricing and Contracting (DPC), using the procedures at PGI 201.170, will organize teams of reviewers and facilitate peer reviews for solicitations and contracts with an estimated value of $1 billion or more. DoD components conduct peer reviews for contracts valued at less than $1 billion.

General Information

The expectation of a peer review is that the quality of work can be validated or improved by reviewers who are independent, objective and who possess specialized knowledge about a subject. Peer reviews are a well-established tradition found in Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards (GAGAS), Research and Development, as well as in publishing scientific and technical papers.  The Small Business Procurement Advisory Council (SBPAC) conducts peer reviews and reports annually to Congress using a check list developed by the Small Business Administration.  The checklist is used to determine compliance by each Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization.  However, this article focuses on the pre-award peer review and the Independent Management Review (formerly the Post Award Peer Review) of contracts for acquiring supplies and services for the Department of Defense (DoD).

The requirement to conduct peer reviews may be found in DFARS 201.170.  DoD components may request a Defense Pricing and Contracting (DPC) led peer review for procurements that would not otherwise require (i.e. <$1 billion) a DPC-led peer review.

DFARS 201.170-2(a)  Pre-award peer reviews for competitive acquisitions shall be conducted prior to each of the following three phases of the acquisition:

  1.  Issuance of the solicitation.
  2.  Request for final proposal revisions (if applicable).
  3.  Contract award.

DFARS 201.170-2(b)  Pre-award peer reviews for non-competitive acquisitions shall be conducted prior to each of the following two phases of the acquisition:

  1.  Negotiation.
  2.  Contract award.

From Procedures, Guidance, and Information (PGI) 201.170-1, the objectives of peer reviews are to:

  1. Ensure that DoD contracting officers are implementing policy and regulations in a consistent and appropriate manner;
  2. Continue to improve the quality of contracting processes throughout DoD; and
  3. Facilitate cross-sharing of best practices and lessons learned throughout DoD.  DPC maintains a compilation of peer review lessons learned and best practices that is available for competitive peer reviews and for noncompetitive peer reviews.

Pre-award peer reviews occur in three phases for competitive procurements. The Phase 1 peer review occurs prior to the issuance of the solicitation. Good contracts start with good requirements and a pertinent question is if the requirements are clearly defined and stated in performance-based terms. The Phase 2 peer review, if applicable, is prior to the request for final proposal revisions. This peer review addresses compliance with Sections L and M of the RFP and the Source Selection Plan; how the source selection evaluation has progressed, including consistency and fairness in applying ratings; what clarifications and communications, if any, were made. If there were communications, both the offeror and the government need to clearly understand one another. The contracting officer then requests proposal revisions (see FAR 15.307). And finally, the Phase 3 peer review is prior to the actual contract award. Questions may examine how the final proposal revisions were incorporated into the evaluation. Documentation should clearly summarize and justify the evaluation results as documented in the Proposal Analysis Report (if used) and the Source Selection Decision Document.

For non-competitive acquisitions, peer reviews are held prior to negotiations and contract award. Peer Reviews of non-competitive procurements generally focus on cost and pricing issues along with any special contract requirements (Section H clauses).

Independent Management Review (IMR)

The requirement for Independent Management Reviews (IMR) may be found in DoDI 5000.74 at para. 4.6. INDEPENDENT MANAGEMENT REVIEWS.
a. DoD Components will establish procedures for periodic independent management reviews of contracts with a total value of $100 million or more for services in their post-award period and any additional contracts that the DoD Component deems necessary.

The IMR was formerly known as the post award peer review.