48 CFR § 35.006 - Contracting methods and contract type.
(a) In R&D acquisitions, the precise specifications necessary for sealed bidding are generally not available, thus making negotiation necessary. However, the use of negotiation in R&D contracting does not change the obligation to comply with part 6.
(b) Selecting the appropriate contract type is the responsibility of the contracting officer. However, because of the importance of technical considerations in R&D, the choice of contract type should be made after obtaining the recommendations of technical personnel. Although the Government ordinarily prefers fixed-price arrangements in contracting, this preference applies in R&D contracting only to the extent that goals, objectives, specifications, and cost estimates are sufficient to permit such a preference. The precision with which the goals, performance objectives, and specifications for the work can be defined will largely determine the type of contract employed. The contract type must be selected to fit the work required.
(c) Because the absence of precise specifications and difficulties in estimating costs with accuracy (resulting in a lack of confidence in cost estimates) normally precludes using fixed-price contracting for R&D, the use of cost-reimbursement contracts is usually appropriate (see subpart 16.3). The nature of development work often requires a cost-reimbursement completion arrangement (see 16.306(d)). When the use of cost and performance incentives is desirable and practicable, fixed-price incentive and cost-plus-incentive-fee contracts should be considered in that order of preference.
(d) When levels of effort can be specified in advance, a short-duration fixed-price contract may be useful for developing system design concepts, resolving potential problems, and reducing Government risks. Fixed-price contracting may also be used in minor projects when the objectives of the research are well defined and there is sufficient confidence in the cost estimate for price negotiations. (See 16.207.)
(e) Projects having production requirements as a follow-on to R&D efforts normally should progress from cost-reimbursement contracts to fixed-price contracts as designs become more firmly established, risks are reduced, and production tooling, equipment, and processes are developed and proven. When possible, a final commitment to undertake specific product development and testing should be avoided until (1) preliminary exploration and studies have indicated a high degree of probability that development is feasible and (2) the Government has determined both its minimum requirements and desired objectives for product performance and schedule completion.