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The Competition in Contracting Act (CICA)

In accordance with FAR 6.102(d)(3), use of the Federal Supply Schedules (FSS) Program is considered a “competitive procedure” under CICA when the FSS ordering procedures are followed – i.e., the Ordering Procedures for Supplies, and Services Not Requiring a Statement of Work (FAR 8.405-1) or the Ordering Procedures for Services Requiring a Statement of Work (FAR 8.405-2).

The Competition in Contracting Act (CICA) was passed into law in 1984 as a foundation for the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and to foster competition and reduce costs. The theory was that more competition for procurements would reduce costs and allow more small businesses to win Federal Government contracts. Under CICA all procurements must be competed as full and open (there are some exceptions found in FAR Part 6 such as FSS) so any qualified company can submit an offer.  Additionally, CICA requires that all procurements with an estimated value exceeding $25,000 be advertised for at least 15 days before issuance of a solicitation (FAR 5.203 (a)), on FedBizOpps (FBO).  CICA also requires minimum response times (30 to 45 days) for receipt of bids or proposals from the date of issuance of a solicitation (FAR 5.203 (c), (d) & (e)). 

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 FAR Part 33. 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 ninety (90) working days for GAO to issue a ruling or forty-five (45) calendar days if the express option is requested by either party.

Although CICA is still the foundation for competitive requirements, law and regulation make certain exceptions to CICA’s competitive mandates and establish other competitive requirements.  “Full and open competition” is not the only competitive mandate.  For example, CICA does not apply to:

  • Orders placed under single-award requirement contracts or definite-quantity contracts
  • Orders placed under single-award indefinite-quantity contracts that were entered into pursuant to the provisions of CICA
  • Orders placed against a single-award task order and delivery order contracts entered into pursuant to FAR Subpart 16.5

CICA competitive standards do not apply to prospective contracts that will be awarded using simplified acquisition procedures of FAR Part 13 or other contracting procedures that are expressly authorized by statute, which include the competitive procedures that apply to orders placed under the GSA Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) Program.  There are also fair-opportunity competitive procedures that apply to orders placed against multiple award, task order and delivery order contracts, such as Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs) or Multiple Agency (or Award) Contracts (MACs).

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