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    Government Contracting Database

    Competition in Contracting Act

    The Competition in Contracting Act of 1984 (CICA), 41 U.S.C. 253, revised the FAR to encourage competition for the award of all types of government contracts. The purpose was to increase the number of competitors and to increase savings through lower, more competitive pricing. The elements of CICA are embodied in Part 6 of the FAR and apply to all solicitations for bids issued after April 1, 1985. The policy of the Act is that: 

    Contracting Officers shall provide for full and open competition through use of the competitive procedure or combination of competitive procedures contained in this subpart that is best suited to the circumstances of the contract action. (FAR 6.101). 

    The competitive procedures are “sealed bidding” (formerly termed “formal advertising”) and “competitive proposals” (formerly termed “negotiating”). CICA requires that for all contract actions expected to exceed $25,000.00, the contracting agency must publish (synopsize) the proposed contracts in the Commerce Business Daily (CBD). Currently, these notices must be published at least fifteen (15) days before the issuance of a solicitation for bids. The agencies are also required to allow at least thirty (30) days response time between issuing the solicitation and receiving bids (sealed bidding) or proposals (competitive proposals) (FAR 5.203). The intent of the Act is to increase the number of bidders or proposers competing for government contracts by publicizing contracting opportunities. 

    To insure enhancement of competition, the statute requires the government to obtain full and open competition and has only a limited number of exceptions to this rule. The agencies are not permitted to use sole-source procurements unless the written authorization of the Agency head is obtained and specific statutory or regulatory authority exists for sole source or limited competition. Every deviation from the requirement for full and open competition must be documented in writing and authorized by the appropriate government official. Therefore, agencies rarely seek to limit competition. 

    In addition, CICA requires each agency and procuring activity to establish a “competition advocate” within its organization to review and challenge any procurement that limits competition. At the Congressional level, a new Senate subcommittee was established to oversee implementation of CICA and encourage competition for government contracts. 

    CICA also amended the protest procedures that are contained in Part 33 of the FAR. Specifically, it established that a protest before contract award to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) will cause the award to be suspended until GAO rules on the protest. It also established a deadline of 90 work days for GAO to issue a ruling or 45 calendar days if the express option is requested by either party. 

    Updated: June 5, 2018

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