Working with the Government, Contractors must become familiar with the Organization Conflicts of Interest (OCI) FAR clause and how to submit a Mitigation Plan.
What is an OCI? An OCI is a situation in which a person is unable, or potentially unable, to render impartial assistance or advice to the Government, or the person’s objectivity in performing the contract work is or might be otherwise impaired. Another example would be where one person has an unfair competitive advantage because of other activities or relationships (In this context, “person” refers to corporate entity). The three types of OCI defined in the FAR subpart 9.5 are: Unequal Access to Information, Impaired Objectivity, and Biased Ground Rules.
Unequal Access to Information – This includes situations where a firm has access to nonpublic information as part of its performance on a Government contract and where that information may provide the firm a competitive advantage in a later competition for a Government contract. In these “unequal access to information” cases, the concern is limited to the risk of the firm gaining a competitive advantage; there is no issue of bias.
Impaired Objectivity – This includes situations where a firm’s work under one Government contract could entail evaluating itself, either through an assessment of performance under another contract or evaluation of proposals. In these impaired objectivity cases, the concern is that the firm’s ability to render impartial advice to the Government could appear to be undermined by its relationship with the entity whose work product is being evaluated.
Biased Ground Rules – This speaks to instances where a firm has, in some sense, set the ground rules for another Government contract. An example would be writing the Statement of Work / Performance Work Statement or the specifications as part of its performance of a government contract. In these biased ground rules cases, the primary concern is that the firm could skew the competition, whether intentionally or not, in favor of itself. These situations may also involve a concern that the firm, by virtue of its special knowledge of the customer’s future requirements, would have an unfair advantage in the competition for those requirements.
The Government cannot award a contract to a firm that has an OCI, unless the OCI has been mitigated or waived (FAR 9.503 and FAR 9.504(e)).
OCI Mitigation Plans identify procedures to anticipate and manage potential or actual conflicts of interests or unfair competitive advantage resulting from unequal access to information, biased ground rules, or impaired objectivity in performing Federal contract work.
If you need additional information or need support writing your Mitigation Plan, please contact us.
Revolutionary Solutions, LLC.