What is a product description, and what are the different types of product descriptions?

The product description comprises the actual documents used for a requirements document. Types of product descriptions include:

Commercial item description. An indexed, simplified product description that describes (by functional or performance characteristics) the available, acceptable commercial product that will satisfy the government's needs.

Specification. A description of the technical requirements for a material product or service that includes the criteria for determining whether these requirements are met. Specifications state only actual minimum needs of the government and are designed to promote full and open competition. A specification can be written in many different ways; specifications may dictate:

- Performance. A performance specification expresses requirements for the output, function, or operation of a commodity.

- Functionality. A functionality specification states only the end result to be achieved.

- Design. A design specification specifies the exact dimensions, materials, composition, physical and chemical requirements, and other details about the product to be provided or the service to be performed.

See Figure 3-1 for additional information on performance and design criteria.

Non-government voluntary standard. A standard for products supplied to the government established by the private sector and available for public use. Voluntary standards do not include the private standards of individual firms.

Purchase description. A statement of the essential physical characteristics and functions required to meet the government's minimum needs, or a statement of work (SOW) outlining the services to be provided under a contract.

Performance versus Design Criteria

FIGURE 3-1. Performance versus Design Criteria

What must the COR do to encourage government offices to provide the appropriate information when determining the government's needs?

A COR needs to ensure that government offices do all of the following when determining the government's needs:

State requirements in terms the market can satisfy

Promote full and open competition

Include restrictive provisions in the specification or statement of work only to the extent needed to satisfy the minimum needs of the agency or as authorized by law

State requirements in terms of functions to be performed, performance parameters required of the contract deliverables, or essential physical characteristics of a supply item (rather than design characteristics)

Define requirements that enable offerors to supply commercial items or nondevelopmental items (NDI) if suitable commercial items are not available

Provide firms offering commercial or other items an opportunity to compete to meet agency requirements

Require prime contractors and subcontractors to incorporate commercial items or NDI as components of the required items

Require the offeror to comply with federal, state, and local environmental laws and regulations

Modify requirements when appropriate so that commercial items (or if commercial items are not available, NDI) can satisfy the requirement

To the extent practicable, obtain feedback from potential offerors on similar potential or current requirements given to them by other government agencies for other contract work.

What should be avoided, and what must be included, when creating a requirements document?

Figure 3-2 lists potential inadequacies in requirements documents.

What is a surveillance plan, and what is the COR's role in developing it?

A surveillance plan, which is generally developed by the COR, provides a systematic, structured method for the COR to evaluate services and products that contractors are required to furnish. At a minimum, the surveillance plan:

Outlines how the government will monitor a contractor's performance

Is structured according to the surveillance plan format specified in agency policy, as well as the agency's quality control and quality assurance procedures

Includes award/fee plans, as appropriate.

Potential Inadequacies in Requirements Documents

FIGURE 3-2. Potential Inadequacies in Requirements Documents

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