New FAR Rule Seeks to Curtail Reach of "Unusual and Compelling Urgency" Justification

The Competition in Contracting Act (CICA) requires that agencies maximize the competition for goods and services and thus requires the use of full and open competition when soliciting offers and awarding government contracts. 10 U.S.C. ยง 2304; FAR 6.101. An agency satisfies this requirement through the use of "competitive procedures," which include procedures such as sealed bids, competitive proposals, and multiple award schedules. An agency may employ a competitive procedure (or combination thereof) that is best suited for the procurement and allows the agency to fulfill efficiently its requirements.

There are circumstances, however, under which agencies may limit competition. An agency may, for example, invoke an exception to full and open competition when only "one responsible source" can satisfy the agency's requirements or the disclosure of the agency's needs would compromise national security. An agency also may bypass full and open competition if its "need for the property or services is of such an unusual and compelling urgency that the United States would be seriously injured unless the agency is permitted to limit the number of sources from which it solicits bids or proposals."

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