b) Industry Engagement. Contracting officers shall comply with the Acting Chief Acquisition Officer’s memorandum, “Encouraging Industry Engagement”, December 22, 2015, by initiating a proactive, appropriate and robust dialogue with industry.
c) Market Research. During the acquisition planning process, contracting officers, in cooperation with program offices, should survey the market to determine capabilities (lead-times, production, delivery, and estimated cost). The use of sources sought notices to identify SDVOSBs and VOSBs and sending requests for information to firms within the VIP is encouraged in conducting market research and should be used when appropriate to identify the capable businesses most likely to provide an offer. In performing market research the contracting officer must use the VIP database as the initial source to identify verified SDVOSBs or VOSBs that may meet VA eligibility requirements. The assessment of those businesses must consist of an examination of entities contained in the VIP database when determining whether VA must set the procurement aside under the VA Rule of Two. The assessment and all market research needs to be completed and thoroughly documented in the contract file, to memorialize compliance with the VA Rule of Two.
As companies grow or expand into new fields, they may exceed the NAICS size standards. Therefore, it is important that the contracting officer verify that an otherwise eligible firm meets the size standard applicable to the NAICS used for the particular procurement. Contracting officers should verify the size standard in System for Award Management (SAM).
If the contracting officer cannot locate a SDVOSB/VOSB concern for the agency’s requirement, the contracting officer may contact the OSDBU for assistance. Additionally, the contracting officer should include a statement in individual written acquisition plans, if required (see FAR 7.105(b), addressing whether or not OSDBU was able to identify any additional verified SDVOSBs and VOSBs.
Contracting officers shall ensure market research that considers SDVOSBs/ VOSBs is thoroughly conducted and comprehensively documented in the contract file. Contracting officers shall review the market research conducted and documented to ensure compliance with the VA Rule of Two requirement and that the VIP database has been reviewed. This is irrespective of whether an initial decision was made to set aside the acquisition for SDVOSBs or VOSBs.
If market research demonstrates that offers are likely to be received from two or more capable and verified SDVOSBs or VOSBs and award will be made at a fair and reasonable price that is the best value to the United States, the action should be appropriately set aside in the contracting order of priority set forth in VAAR 819.7004. Contracting officers shall also ensure SDVOSBs or VOSBs have been listed as verified in the VIP database at the time of offer submission and before award on an SDVOSB or VOSB set-aside. Supporting documentation must be maintained in the contract file in the Electronic Contract Management System (eCMS).
d) Evaluation of Acquisition Strategy. The Contracting officer shall identify and consider using existing contracts where the requirement is within scope of the contract and represents the best business solution. The contracting officer will apply the results of market research to determine if two or more verified SDVOSBs or VOSBs can reasonably be expected to submit offers at a fair and reasonable price offering the best value to the Government. If an existing vehicle can support a set-aside, the CO shall set-aside on that vehicle if it represents the best business solution. If no existing vehicle can support a setaside, the contracting officer should pursue an open market set-aside. Alternatively, if otherwise justifiable and appropriate, consider use of a sole source award as authorized by 38 U.S.C. 8127(c). The contracting officer shall document this decision on VA Form 2268 and submit it with supporting documentation, as indicated in the OSDBU Small Business Procurement Review Program (PRP) Policy memorandum dated June 22, 2016.
e) VA Form 2268, Small Business Reviews. The contracting officer will document the market research results on the VA Form 2268. The OSDBU Small Business Procurement Review Program (PRP) Policy memorandum provides the most recent information on which requirements must have an OSDBU review and requires review of acquisitions not set-aside for SDVOSBs or VOSBs. For submission instructions for the eCMS, alternative submission guidelines, and OSDBU’s VA Form 2268 Decision Matrix see http://vaww.va.gov/osdbu/ast/2268.asp.