Market research is a vitally important function both with reference to commercial and non-commercial items. For purchasers of the Federal Government, market research is not only an important function of the procurement process but the very base that the entire procurement is founded upon. Market research, as defined in Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Part 2, Definitions, is the process of collecting and analyzing information about capabilities within the market to satisfy agency needs (FarSite, n.d.). The FAR hardly does justice in defining just what is entailed when conducting market research. A broader definition would state that “market research is a continuous process of gathering data on business and industry trends, characteristics of products and services, suppliers’ capabilities, and related business practices” (DOD). The data that is gained through market research is used to make informed decisions with reference to the needs of DOD and whether those needs can be met by commercial products and services. Market research goes well beyond simply determining which vendor will provide the best value or price to the US Government, but it is a continuous process that constantly improves DOD’s decision making ability. When making these decisions several factors must be taken into consideration: to what degree do commercial practices allow a product or service to be altered (hardened) to meet DOD specifications; are the terms and conditions or warranties and discounts conducive to business practices of the DOD; can the needs of the DOD be met through a particular commercial vendor (Market Research Info Paper). Ultimately, the information that is gathered can and will be used to shape a particular acquisition stratify; what will the type and content of the product description or statement (FarSite, n.d.) of work? How will a support strategy be designed based on the market research gathered and how will this effect evaluation factors for a source selection (Market Research Info Paper)? The FAR provides a basic definition of market research, but the FAR is hardly the only federal regulation or statute that makes reference to the important process under certain circumstances. Federal statutes found in the United States Code (U.S.C.)—41 U.S.C. 253a(a)(1), 41 U.S.C.264b, 10 U.S.C. 2377, and 15 U.S.C. 644(e)(2)(A) are implemented by FAR Part 10. Under FAR Part 10 (Market Research), agencies are required to conduct market research based on several different scenarios or circumstances. Agencies and organizations must utilize market research before developing new requirements documents of a procurement; before soliciting offers for acquisitions with an estimated value in excess of the simplified acquisition threshold; before soliciting offers for acquisitions with an estimated value less than the simplified acquisition threshold when adequate information is not available and the circumstances justify its cost; before soliciting offers for acquisitions that could lead to a bundled contract; and, as an ongoing basis, and to take advantage to the maximum extent practicable of commercially available market research methods, to identify the capabilities, including the capabilities of small businesses and new entrants into Federal contracting, that are available in the marketplace for meeting agency requirements in furtherance of a contingency operation or defense against or recovery from a nuclear, biological, chemical, or radiological attack (DOD). Additionally, DOD goes one step further to provide two additional situations wherein market research is required. The first: prior to soliciting offers for acquisitions that could lead to a consolidation of contract requirements as defined in DFARS Subpart 207.170-2. And, the second: Before issuing a solicitation with tiered evaluation of offers (Section 816 of Public Law 109-163) (DOD). It is also important to note that, even if market research was not required by law, there is a...
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