Alpha Contracting can be summarized as a collaborative approach to the requirements documents between the government and the prospective contractor. An open line of communication during the pre-award phase results in mutual understanding of the requirements document, approach to scope, and level of effort.
Alpha Contracting is an acquisition process adopted to reduce the time of the acquisition lifecycle by replacing a serial process with a concurrent one. In doing this, the Integrated Product Team (IPT) involves not only the government, but the prospective contractor team. In simpler terms this means prior to the submitting a proposal, government stakeholders and representatives from industry work collaboratively to hash out the requirements and staffing levels, which ultimately decreases the Procurement Action Lead Times (PALT), and manages expectations regarding contract execution since members of industry are more intimately involved prior to contract award. You may be asking, how can the government utilize this process, isn’t providing an unfair advantage to certain prospective contractors? Alpha Contracting can only be used in sole source acquisitions or when issuing a task order against a single award indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (ID/IQ) contract. An acquisition plan and Justifications and Approval (J&A) are required prior to the contracting office deciding to proceed with Alpha Contracting, permitting negotiations to begin.
In an Alpha Contracting procurement, the joint government/industry IPT drafts the requirements, contract terms and conditions, performance standards, qualifications for key personnel, and determines the appropriate level of effort. Alpha Contracting eliminates the need for a solicitation and often times for a proposal, instead opting for the IPT to jointly develop all of the technical and cost details that are the basis for the contract. In the cases of ID/IQ contracts, the IPT will finalize all aspects of the contract government. During the course of the IPT, the participants are encouraged to identify efficiencies in order to improve performance, lower risk, or reduce cost.
Alpha Contracting offers several advantages such as reduction in the PALT, improved mutual expectations and understanding of the contract requirements, lower program risk, and overall greater customer satisfaction. Alpha Contracting is a proven approach to reduce PALT times by 50 percent or more, reducing program costs by decreasing risk, and improving both negotiated agreement and the probability of program success. Some of the disadvantages presented by Alpha Contracting include a more labor-intensive process pre-award, and dedicated personnel for during the lengthy IPT process.
Alpha Contracting is an open, honest, and cooperative approach that reduces the potential for modifications or requests for equitable adjustment during program execution and opens the door for other initiatives to reduce costs.