41 USC 256 - Allowable costs
Sec. 256. Allowable costs(a)
Indirect cost that violates FAR cost principle
An executive agency shall require that a covered contract provide that if the contractor submits to the executive agency a proposal for settlement of indirect costs incurred by the contractor for any period after such costs have been accrued and if that proposal includes the submission of a cost which is unallowable because the cost violates a cost principle in the Federal Acquisition Regulation (referred to in section 421 (c)(1) of this title) or an executive agency supplement to the Federal Acquisition Regulation, the cost shall be disallowed.
Penalty for violation of cost principle
(1) If the executive agency determines that a cost submitted by a contractor in its proposal for settlement is expressly unallowable under a cost principle referred to in subsection (a) of this section that defines the allowability of specific selected costs, the executive agency shall assess a penalty against the contractor in an amount equal to—
(A) the amount of the disallowed cost allocated to covered contracts for which a proposal for settlement of indirect costs has been submitted; plus
(B) interest (to be computed based on provisions in the Federal Acquisition Regulation) to compensate the United States for the use of any funds which a contractor has been paid in excess of the amount to which the contractor was entitled.
(2) If the executive agency determines that a proposal for settlement of indirect costs submitted by a contractor includes a cost determined to be unallowable in the case of such contractor before the submission of such proposal, the executive agency shall assess a penalty against the contractor in an amount equal to two times the amount of the disallowed cost allocated to covered contracts for which a proposal for settlement of indirect costs has been submitted.
Waiver of penalty
The Federal Acquisition Regulation shall provide for a penalty under subsection (b) of this section to be waived in the case of a contractor’s proposal for settlement of indirect costs when—
(1) the contractor withdraws the proposal before the formal initiation of an audit of the proposal by the Federal Government and resubmits a revised proposal;
(2) the amount of unallowable costs subject to the penalty is insignificant; or
(3) the contractor demonstrates, to the contracting officer’s satisfaction, that—
(A) it has established appropriate policies and personnel training and an internal control and review system that provide assurances that unallowable costs subject to penalties are precluded from being included in the contractor’s proposal for settlement of indirect costs; and
(B) the unallowable costs subject to the penalty were inadvertently incorporated into the proposal.
Applicability of contract disputes procedure to disallowance of cost and assessment of penalty
An action of an executive agency under subsection (a) or (b) of this section—
(1) shall be considered a final decision for the purposes of section 605 of this title; and
(2) is appealable in the manner provided in section 606 of this title.
Specific costs not allowable
(1) The following costs are not allowable under a covered contract:
(A) Costs of entertainment, including amusement, diversion, and social activities, and any costs directly associated with such costs (such as tickets to shows or sports events, meals, lodging, rentals, transportation, and gratuities).
(B) Costs incurred to influence (directly or indirectly) legislative action on any matter pending before Congress, a State legislature, or a legislative body of a political subdivision of a State.
(C) Costs incurred in defense of any civil or criminal fraud proceeding or similar proceeding (including filing of any false certification) brought by the United States where the contractor is found liable or had pleaded nolo contendere to a charge of fraud or similar proceeding (including filing of a false certification).
(D) Payments of fines and penalties resulting from violations of, or failure to comply with, Federal, State, local, or foreign laws and regulations, except when incurred as a result of compliance with specific terms and conditions of the contract or specific written instructions from the contracting officer authorizing in advance such payments in accordance with applicable provisions of the Federal Acquisition Regulation.
(E) Costs of membership in any social, dining, or country club or organization.
(F) Costs of alcoholic beverages.
(G) Contributions or donations, regardless of the recipient.
(H) Costs of advertising designed to promote the contractor or its products.
(I) Costs of promotional items and memorabilia, including models, gifts, and souvenirs.
(J) Costs for travel by commercial aircraft which exceed the amount of the standard commercial fare.
(K) Costs incurred in making any payment (commonly known as a "golden parachute payment") which is—
(i) in an amount in excess of the normal severance pay paid by the contractor to an employee upon termination of employment; and
(ii) is paid to the employee contingent upon, and following, a change in management control over, or ownership of, the contractor or a substantial portion of the contractor’s assets.
(L) Costs of commercial insurance that protects against the costs of the contractor for correction of the contractor’s own defects in materials or workmanship.
(M) Costs of severance pay paid by the contractor to foreign nationals employed by the contractor under a service contract performed outside the United States, to the extent that the amount of severance pay paid in any case exceeds the amount paid in the industry involved under the customary or prevailing practice for firms in that industry providing similar services in the United States, as determined under the Federal Acquisition Regulation.
(N) Costs of severance pay paid by the contractor to a foreign national employed by the contractor under a service contract performed in a foreign country if the termination of the employment of the foreign national is the result of the closing of, or the curtailment of activities at, a United States facility in that country at the request of the government of that country.
(O) Costs incurred by a contractor in connection with any criminal, civil, or administrative proceeding commenced by the United States or a State, to the extent provided in subsection (k) of this section.
(P) Costs of compensation of senior executives of contractors for a fiscal year, regardless of the contract funding source, to the extent that such compensation exceeds the benchmark compensation amount determined applicable for the fiscal year by the Administrator for Federal Procurement Policy under section 435 of this title.
(A) Pursuant to the Federal Acquisition Regulation and subject to the availability of appropriations, an executive agency, in awarding a covered contract, may waive the application of the provisions of paragraphs (1)(M) and (1)(N) to that contract if the executive agency determines that—
(i) the application of such provisions to the contract would adversely affect the continuation of a program, project, or activity that provides significant support services for employees of the executive agency posted outside the United States;
(ii) the contractor has taken (or has established plans to take) appropriate actions within the contractor’s control to minimize the amount and number of incidents of the payment of severance pay by the contractor to employees under the contract who are foreign nationals; and
(iii) the payment of severance pay is necessary in order to comply with a law that is generally applicable to a significant number of businesses in the country in which the foreign national receiving the payment performed services under the contract or is necessary to comply with a collective bargaining agreement.
(B) An executive agency shall include in the solicitation for a covered contract a statement indicating—
(i) that a waiver has been granted under subparagraph (A) for the contract; or
(ii) whether the executive agency will consider granting such a waiver, and, if the executive agency will consider granting a waiver, the criteria to be used in granting the waiver.
(C) An executive agency shall make the final determination regarding whether to grant a waiver under subparagraph (A) with respect to a covered contract before award of the contract.
(3) The provisions of the Federal Acquisition Regulation implementing this section may establish appropriate definitions, exclusions, limitations, and qualifications. Any submission by a contractor of costs which are incurred by the contractor and which are claimed to be allowable under Department of Energy management and operating contracts shall be considered a "proposal for settlement of indirect costs incurred by the contractor for any period after such costs have been accrued", as used in this section.
(1) The Federal Acquisition Regulation shall contain provisions on the allowability of contractor costs. Such provisions shall define in detail and in specific terms those costs which are unallowable, in whole or in part, under covered contracts. The regulations shall, at a minimum, clarify the cost principles applicable to contractor costs of the following:
(A) Air shows.
(B) Membership in civic, community, and professional organizations.
(D) Employee morale and welfare.
(E) Actions to influence (directly or indirectly) executive branch action on regulatory and contract matters (other than costs incurred in regard to contract proposals pursuant to solicited or unsolicited bids).
(F) Community relations.
(G) Dining facilities.
(H) Professional and consulting services, including legal services.
(J) Selling and marketing.
(L) Public relations.
(M) Hotel and meal expenses.
(N) Expense of corporate aircraft.
(O) Company-furnished automobiles.
(2) The Federal Acquisition Regulation shall require that a contracting officer not resolve any questioned costs until the contracting officer has obtained—
(A) adequate documentation with respect to such costs; and
(B) the opinion of the contract auditor on the allowability of such costs.
(3) The Federal Acquisition Regulation shall provide that, to the maximum extent practicable, a contract auditor be present at any negotiation or meeting with the contractor regarding a determination of the allowability of indirect costs of the contractor.
(4) The Federal Acquisition Regulation shall require that all categories of costs designated in the report of a contract auditor as questioned with respect to a proposal for settlement be resolved in such a manner that the amount of the individual questioned costs that are paid will be reflected in the settlement.
Applicability of regulations to subcontractors
The regulations referred to in subsections (e) and (f)(1) of this section shall require prime contractors of a covered contract, to the maximum extent practicable, to apply the provisions of such regulations to all subcontractors of the covered contract.
Contractor certification required
(1) A proposal for settlement of indirect costs applicable to a covered contract shall include a certification by an official of the contractor that, to the best of the certifying official’s knowledge and belief, all indirect costs included in the proposal are allowable. Any such certification shall be in a form prescribed in the Federal Acquisition Regulation.
(2) An executive agency may, in an exceptional case, waive the requirement for certification under paragraph (1) in the case of any contract if the agency—
(A) determines in such case that it would be in the interest of the United States to waive such certification; and
(B) states in writing the reasons for that determination and makes such determination available to the public.
Penalties for submission of cost known as not allowable
The submission to an executive agency of a proposal for settlement of costs for any period after such costs have been accrued that includes a cost that is expressly specified by statute or regulation as being unallowable, with the knowledge that such cost is unallowable, shall be subject to the provisions of section 287 of title 18 and section 3729 of title 31.
Contractor to have burden of proof
In a proceeding before a board of contract appeals, the United States Court of Federal Claims, or any other Federal court in which the reasonableness of indirect costs for which a contractor seeks reimbursement from the United States is in issue, the burden of proof shall be upon the contractor to establish that those costs are reasonable.
Proceeding costs not allowable
(1) Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, costs incurred by a contractor in connection with any criminal, civil, or administrative proceeding commenced by the United States or a State are not allowable as reimbursable costs under a covered contract if the proceeding
(A) relates to a violation of, or failure to comply with, a Federal or State statute or regulation, and
(B) results in a disposition described in paragraph (2).
(2) A disposition referred to in paragraph (1)(B) is any of the following:
(A) In the case of a criminal proceeding, a conviction (including a conviction pursuant to a plea of nolo contendere) by reason of the violation or failure referred to in paragraph (1).
(B) In the case of a civil or administrative proceeding involving an allegation of fraud or similar misconduct, a determination of contractor liability on the basis of the violation or failure referred to in paragraph (1).
(C) In the case of any civil or administrative proceeding, the imposition of a monetary penalty by reason of the violation or failure referred to in paragraph (1).
(D) A final decision—
(i) to debar or suspend the contractor,
(ii) to rescind or void the contract, or
(iii) to terminate the contract for default,
by reason of the violation or failure referred to in paragraph (1).
(E) A disposition of the proceeding by consent or compromise if such action could have resulted in a disposition described in subparagraph (A), (B), (C), or (D).
(3) In the case of a proceeding referred to in paragraph (1) that is commenced by the United States and is resolved by consent or compromise pursuant to an agreement entered into by a contractor and the United States, the costs incurred by the contractor in connection with such proceeding that are otherwise not allowable as reimbursable costs under such paragraph may be allowed to the extent specifically provided in such agreement.
(4) In the case of a proceeding referred to in paragraph (1) that is commenced by a State, the executive agency that awarded the covered contract involved in the proceeding may allow the costs incurred by the contractor in connection with such proceeding as reimbursable costs if the executive agency determines, in accordance with the Federal Acquisition Regulation, that the costs were incurred as a result of
(A) a specific term or condition of the contract, or
(B) specific written instructions of the executive agency.
(A) Except as provided in subparagraph (C), costs incurred by a contractor in connection with a criminal, civil, or administrative proceeding commenced by the United States or a State in connection with a covered contract may be allowed as reimbursable costs under the contract if such costs are not disallowable under paragraph (1), but only to the extent provided in subparagraph (B).
(i) The amount of the costs allowable under subparagraph (A) in any case may not exceed the amount equal to 80 percent of the amount of the costs incurred, to the extent that such costs are determined to be otherwise allowable and allocable under the Federal Acquisition Regulation.
(ii) Regulations issued for the purpose of clause (i) shall provide for appropriate consideration of the complexity of procurement litigation, generally accepted principles governing the award of legal fees in civil actions involving the United States as a party, and such other factors as may be appropriate.
(C) In the case of a proceeding referred to in subparagraph (A), contractor costs otherwise allowable as reimbursable costs under this paragraph are not allowable if
(i) such proceeding involves the same contractor misconduct alleged as the basis of another criminal, civil, or administrative proceeding, and
(ii) the costs of such other proceeding are not allowable under paragraph (1).
(6) In this subsection:
(A) The term "proceeding" includes an investigation.
(B) The term "costs", with respect to a proceeding—
(i) means all costs incurred by a contractor, whether before or after the commencement of any such proceeding; and
(I) administrative and clerical expenses;
(II) the cost of legal services, including legal services performed by an employee of the contractor;
(III) the cost of the services of accountants and consultants retained by the contractor; and
(IV) the pay of directors, officers, and employees of the contractor for time devoted by such directors, officers, and employees to such proceeding.
(C) The term "penalty" does not include restitution, reimbursement, or compensatory damages.
"Covered contract" defined
(1) In this section, the term "covered contract" means a contract for an amount in excess of $500,000 that is entered into by an executive agency, except that such term does not include a fixed-price contract without cost incentives or any firm, fixed price contract for the purchase of commercial items.
(2) Effective on October 1 of each year that is divisible by five, the amount set forth in paragraph (1) shall be adjusted to the equivalent amount in constant fiscal year 1994 dollars. An amount, as so adjusted, that is not evenly divisible by $50,000 shall be rounded to the nearest multiple of $50,000. In the case of an amount that is evenly divisible by $25,000 but is not evenly divisible by $50,000, the amount shall be rounded to the next higher multiple of $50,000.
In this section:
(1) The term "compensation", for a fiscal year, means the total amount of wages, salary, bonuses and deferred compensation for the fiscal year, whether paid, earned, or otherwise accruing, as recorded in an employer’s cost accounting records for the fiscal year.
(2) The term "senior executives", with respect to a contractor, means the five most highly compensated employees in management positions at each home office and each segment of the contractor.
(3) The term "fiscal year" means a fiscal year established by a contractor for accounting purposes.
Last modified: July 21, 2011