While government contracts have many requirements and specifications, you don’t have worry about any of it unless you can qualify as government supplier. Section 9 of Federal Acquisitions Regulations (FAR) defines who can qualify and the requirements to get qualified. This is one of the first steps for suppliers who want to get into government contracts – qualifying – so it is important to understand the entire process as laid out in subsection 9.2.
Subpart 9-2 describes the policies and procedures regarding qualification requirements for suppliers. To establish qualification requirements, the head of the agency must establish and publish in writing the requirements that prospective suppliers must demonstrate. It is then the responsibility of the supplier/offeror to demonstrate that they have the ability to meet all the requirements. The agency then has the responsibility to promptly either approve or not. In the case that a supplier is not approved, they will be provided with an explanation of what requirements they don’t meet. When there is a specific project or contract, agencies go to the QPLs, QMLs, and QBLs which are all just listings of qualified suppliers and what requirements they meet. This is where they usually pull a list of who to solicit bids from.
If an agency decides that additional requirements for qualification are necessary, they must give ample time to suppliers to arrange qualification before awarding a contract. They must publish the requirements and qualify potential suppliers before evaluating and awarding a contract. Section 206-3 also establishes the necessity for adequate competition. During pre-solicitation, the agency must establish that there is an adequate number of competitors for contracts from the qualified lists. If there isn’t enough competitors, the agency they evaluates whether the requirement is feasible and/or solicits suppliers to demonstrate that they can meet the additional requirements to promote more competition.
Section 207 details how qualified status can change for a supplier. A qualified supplier can become unqualified if it submits products that do not meet qualifications, if products that were previously rejected and defects aren’t corrected, if the supplier fails to request a reevaluation after moving locations or changing ownership, if the qualifying product is discontinued, performance on a contract is unsatisfactory, or revised specifications impose new qualification requirements. The supplier can also request to be removed from a qualified list at any point. Any change in status must also be accompanied by a detailed report that contains why the supplier no longer meets the requirements.Written by: Ashley Peth TGG Accounting