A little-heralded change to the statutory definition of “commercial item” has now made its way to a proposed FAR rule, which will open up regulatory relief to a whole new class of government contractors – companies, both domestic and foreign, that regularly sell products developed at private expense to friendly foreign governments.
With the December 12, 2017, passage of Section 847 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2018, Pub. L. 115-91 (“2018 NDAA”), the statutory set of definitions for the term “commercial items” was amended. See 41 U.S.C. § 103. More specifically, Section 103(8), addressing “nondevelopmental items,” was broadened as follows:
(8) a nondevelopmental item if the procuring agency determines, in accordance with conditions in the Federal Acquisition Regulation, that the item was developed exclusively at private expense and has been sold in substantial quantities, on a competitive basis, to multiple State and local governments or to multiple foreign governments.
(Emphasis reflects new language). On May 10, 2019, the FAR Council promulgated a Proposed Rule amending and broadening the definition of “commercial item” in FAR 2.101 to include the statutory language.
A “nondevelopmental item” (“NDI”) is separately defined by FAR 2.101 as, in pertinent part:
(1) an already developed product “used exclusively for governmental purposes by a Federal agency, a State or local government, or a foreign government with which the United States has a mutual defense agreement”; (2) a product which meets the definition in (1) that requires minor modifications or modifications “of a type customarily available in the commercial marketplace;” or (3) a product which does not meet the definition in either (1) or (2) “solely because the item is not yet in use.”
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