The GovCon Bulletin™
DFARS Rule For Streamlined CSO Technology Acquisitions Becomes Final
On August 17, 2023, the Department of Defense (DoD) issued a Final Rule that incorporates into the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) a streamlined process for acquiring innovative commercial technology known as a Commercial Solutions Opening (CSO). The Final Rule, which becomes immediately effective, makes only one technical change to the proposed rule DoD issued earlier this year on January 31, 2023.
We discussed CSO’s and the proposed rule in some detail in a prior GovCon Bulletin™ article, Commercial Solutions Opening (CSO) - Four Things Government Contractors Should Know About DoD's Streamlined Acquisition Process. As we mentioned in that article and as reiterated by the Final Rule, CSO procurements are used to acquire innovative commercial products, technologies and services under fixed-price contracts. CSO’s were first implemented by DoD under a pilot program authorized by NDAA 2017. DoD subsequently issued a class deviation memorandum providing a basic framework for CSO acquisitions that set out only a handful of procedural requirements. For example, under those requirements DoD agencies were expected to issue solicitations that were similar to broad agency announcements and to make final award selections based on a review by scientific, technological or subject matter expert peers.
The Final Rule now incorporates DoD's basic framework for CSO's acquisitions into a new subpart in DFARS. The Final Rule also adds slightly more structure to CSO procurements by requiring DoD agencies to follow the streamlined acquisition procedures under FAR Part 12 for commercial products and services.
In the preamble to the Final Rule, DoD explained that it expected the simplified solicitation, evaluation, and award procedures to decrease agency acquisition costs, as well as contractor and agency burdens, and that implementation of CSO's in DFARS would bring new entrants into the DoD marketplace. It seems likely, therefore, that DoD agencies will increasingly use CSO's to acquire innovative commercial technologies. Technology companies and innovators that contract or wish to contract with the federal government should remain alert to increased contracting opportunities with DoD that may now become available under CSO procurements.