(a) The contracting officer shall include in the
solicitation and contract the appropriate quality requirements. The type
and extent of contract quality requirements needed depends on the
particular acquisition and may range from inspection at time of
acceptance to a requirement for the contractor’s implementation of a
comprehensive program for controlling quality.
(b) As feasible, solicitations and contracts may
provide for alternative, but substantially equivalent, inspection
methods to obtain wide competition and low cost. The contracting officer
may also authorize contractor-recommended alternatives when in the
Government’s interest and approved by the activity responsible for
(c) Although contracts generally make contractors
responsible for performing inspection before tendering supplies to the
Government, there are situations in which contracts will provide for
specialized inspections to be performed solely by the Government. Among
situations of this kind are--
- (1) Tests that require use of specialized test
equipment or facilities not ordinarily available in suppliers’ plants or
commercial laboratories (e.g., ballistic testing of ammunition, unusual
environmental tests, and simulated service tests); and
- (2) Contracts that require Government testing for first
article approval (see Subpart
- (d) Except as otherwise specified by the contract, required
contractor testing may be performed in the contractor’s or
subcontractor’s laboratory or testing facility, or in any other
laboratory or testing facility acceptable to the Government.
46.202 -- Types of Contract Quality Requirements.
Contract quality requirements fall into four general categories, depending
on the extent of quality assurance needed by the Government for the
46.202-1 -- Contracts for Commercial Items.
When acquiring commercial items (see Part 12), the Government shall rely on contractors’ existing quality assurance systems as a substitute for
Government inspection and testing before tender for acceptance unless customary market practices for the commercial item being acquired
include in-process inspection. Any in-process inspection by the Government shall be conducted in a manner consistent with commercial
- 46.202-2 --
Government Reliance on Inspection
- (a) Except as specified in
- (b) of this section, the Government shall rely
on the contractor to accomplish all inspection and testing needed to ensure
that supplies or services acquired at or below the simplified acquisition
threshold conform to contract quality requirements before they are tendered
to the Government (see 46.301).
- (b) The Government shall not rely on inspection by the contractor if the
contracting officer determines that the Government has a need to test the
supplies or services in advance of their tender for acceptance, or to pass
judgment upon the adequacy of the contractor’s internal work processes. In
making the determination, the contracting officer shall consider--
- (1) The
nature of the supplies and services being purchased and their intended use
- (2) The potential losses in the event of
- (3) The likelihood of uncontested replacement
or correction of defective work and
- (4) The cost of detailed Government inspection.
- 46.202-3 -- Standard Inspection Requirements.
- (a) Standard inspection requirements are
contained in the clauses prescribed in 46.302 through 46.308,
and in the product and service specifications that are included in
solicitations and contracts.
- (b) The clauses referred to in (a) of this section--
- (1) Require the contractor to provide and maintain an inspection system that is acceptable to the Government
(2) Give the Government the right to make
inspections and tests while work is in process; and
(3) Require the contractor to keep complete,
and make available to the Government, records of its inspection work.
- 46.202-4 -- Higher-Level Contract Quality Requirements.
- (a) Agencies shall establish procedures for determining when higher-level contract quality requirements are necessary,
for determining the risk (both the likelihood and the impact) of nonconformance, and for advising the contracting officer about which
higher-level standards should be applied and included in the solicitation and contract. Requiring compliance with higher-level quality standards is
necessary in solicitations and contracts for complex or critical items (see 46.203)
or when the technical requirements of the contract require:
- (1) Control of such things as design, work operations, in-process controls, testing, and inspection; or
- (2) Attention to such factors as organization, planning, work instructions, documentation control, and advanced metrology.
(b) Examples of higher-level quality standards include overarching quality management system standards such as ISO 9001, ANSI/ASQC E4; ASME NQA-1, SAE
AS9100, SAE AS9003, and ISO/TS 16949, and product or process specific quality standards such as SAE AS5553.
46.203 -- Criteria for Use of Contract Quality Requirements.
- The extent of contract quality requirements, including contractor inspection, required under a contract shall usually be based upon
the classification of the contract item (supply or service) as determined by its technical description, its complexity, and the criticality of its
- (a)Technical description. Contract items may be technically
- (1) Commercial (described in commercial catalogs,
drawings, or industrial standards; see Part 2); or
- (2) Military-Federal (described in Government
drawings and specifications).
- (b)Complexity.(1) Complex items have quality characteristics,
not wholly visible in the end item, for which contractual conformance must
be established progressively through precise measurements, tests, and
controls applied during purchasing, manufacturing, performance, assembly,
and functional operation either as an individual item or in conjunction with
(2) Noncomplex items have quality
characteristics for which simple measurement and test of the end item are
sufficient to determine conformance to contract requirements.
- (1) A critical application of an item is one in
which the failure of the item could injure personnel or jeopardize a vital
agency mission. A critical item may be either peculiar, meaning it has only
one application, or common, meaning it has multiple applications.
(2) A noncritical application is any other
application. Noncritical items may also be either peculiar or common.