Circular No. A-131
May 21, 1993
TO THE HEADS
OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND ESTABLISHMENTS
2. Supersession Information
5. Relationship to other management improvement processes
8. Agency responsibilities
9. Reports to OMB
10. Inspectors General audits
11. Related Guidance
12. Effective date and Implementation
13. Sunset review
1. Purpose. This Circular requires Federal Departments and
Agencies to use value engineering (VE) as a management tool, where
appropriate, to reduce program and acquisition costs.
2. Supersession Information. This Circular supersedes and
cancels OMB Circular No. A-131, Value Engineering, dated
January 26, 1988.
3. Authority. This Circular is issued pursuant to 31 U.S.C.
4. Background. For the purposes of this Circular, value analysis,
value management, and value control are considered synonymous with
VE. VE is an effective technique for reducing costs, increasing
productivity, and improving quality. It can be applied to hardware
and software; development, production, and manufacturing; specifications,
standards, contract requirements, and other acquisition program
documentation; facilities design and construction. It may be successfully
introduced at any point in the life-cycle of products, systems,
or procedures. VE is a technique directed toward analyzing the functions
of an item or process to determine "best value," or the best relationship
between worth and cost. In other words, "best value" is represented
by an item or process that consistently performs the required basic
function and has the lowest total cost. In this context, the application
of VE in facilities construction can yield a better value when construction
is approached in a manner that incorporates environmentally-sound
and energy-efficient practices and materials.
in the industrial community, and it has spread to the Federal Government
due to its potential for yielding a large return on investment.
VE has long been recognized as an effective technique to lower the
Government's cost while maintaining necessary quality levels. Its
most extensive use has been in Federal acquisition programs.
1991 recent audit of VE in the Federal Government by the President's
Council on Integrity and Efficiency concluded that more can and
should be done by Federal agencies to realize the benefits of VE.
Reports issued by the General Accounting Office and agency Inspectors
General have also consistently concluded that greater use of this
technique would result in additional savings to the Government.
5. Relationship to other management improvement processes.
VE is a management tool that can be used alone or with other management
techniques and methodologies to improve operations and reduce costs.
For example, the total quality management process can include VE
and other cost cutting-techniques, such as life-cycle costing, concurrent
engineering, and design-to-cost, approaches, by using these techniques
as analytical tools in process and product improvement.
to the overall management objectives of streamlining operations,
improving quality, reducing costs, and can result in the increased
use of environmentally-sound and energy-efficient practices and
materials. The complementary relationship between VE and other management
techniques increases the likelihood that overall management objectives
As used in this Circular, the term "agency" means an Executive
department or an independent establishment within the meaning
of sections 101 and 104(1), respectively, of Title 5, United
cost. The total cost of a system, building, or other product,
computed over its useful life. It includes all relevant costs
involved in acquiring, owning, operating, maintaining, and disposing
of the system or product over a specified period of time, including
environmental and energy costs.
savings. A reduction in actual expenditures below the projected
level of costs to achieve a specific objective.
avoidance. An action taken in the immediate time frame that
will decrease costs in the future. For example, an engineering
improvement that increases the mean time between failures and
thereby decreases operation and maintenance costs is a cost avoidance
savings. Net life-cycle cost savings achieved by in-house
agency staff using VE techniques.
savings. Net life-cycle cost savings realized by contracting
for the performance of a VE study or by a Value Engineering Change
Proposal submitted by a contractor.
Quality Management (TQM). A customer-based management philosophy
for improving the quality of products and increasing customer
satisfaction by restructuring traditional management practices.
An integral part of TQM is continuous process improvement, which
is achieved by using analytical techniques to determine the causes
of problems. The goal is not just to fix problems but to improve
processes so that the problems do not recur. Value engineering
can be used as an analytical technique in the TQM process.
Engineering. An organized effort directed at analyzing the
functions of systems, equipment, facilities, services, and supplies
for the purpose of achieving the essential functions at the lowest
life-cycle cost consistent with required performance, reliability,
quality, and safety. These organized efforts can be performed
by both in-house agency personnel and by contractor personnel.
Engineering Change Proposal (VECP). A proposal submitted
by a contractor under the VE provisions of the Federal Acquisition
Regulations (FAR) that, through a change in a project's plans,
designs, or specifications as defined in the contract, would
lower the project's life-cycle cost to the Government.
Engineering Proposal (VEP). An in-house agency-developed
proposal, or a proposal developed by a contractor under contract
to provide VE services, to provide VE studies for a Government
7. Policy. Federal agencies shall use VE as a management
tool, where appropriate, to ensure realistic budgets, identify and
remove nonessential capital and operating costs, and improve and
maintain optimum quality of program and acquisition functions. Senior
management will establish and maintain VE programs, procedures and
processes to provide for the aggressive, systematic development
and maintenance of the most effective, efficient, and economical
and environmentally-sound arrangements for conducting the work of
agencies, and to provide a sound basis for identifying and reporting
8. Agency responsibilities. To ensure that systemic VE improvements
are achieved, agencies shall, at a minimum:
a senior management official to monitor and coordinate agency
criteria and guidelines for both in-house personnel and contractors
to identify programs/projects with the most potential to yield
savings from the application of VE techniques. The criteria and
guidelines should recognize that the potential savings are greatest
during the planning, design, and other early phases of project/program/system/product
development. Agency guidelines will include:
the net life-cycle cost savings from value engineering. The
net life-cycle cost savings from value engineering is determined
by subtracting the Government's cost of performing the value
engineering function over the life of the program from the
value of the total saving generated by the value engineering
- Dollar amount
thresholds for projects/programs requiring the application of
VE. The minimum threshold for agency projects and programs which
require the application of VE is $1 million. Lower thresholds
may be established at agency discretion for projects having a
major impact on agency operations.
for granting waivers to the requirement to conduct VE studies,
in accordance with the FAR 48.201(a).
to ensure that the application of VE to construction projects/programs
and other projects/programs, will include consideration of environmentally-sound
and energy efficient considerations to arrive at environmentally-sound
and energy efficient results.
responsibility to the senior management official designated pursuant
to [[section]]8a above, to grant waivers of the requirement to
conduct VE studies on certain programs and projects. This responsibility
may be delegated to other appropriate officials.
training in VE techniques to agency staff responsible for coordinating
and monitoring VE efforts and for staff responsible for developing,
reviewing, analyzing, and carrying out VE proposals, change proposals,
that funds necessary for conducting agency VE efforts are included
in annual budget requests to OMB.
files on projects/programs/systems/products that meet agency
criteria for requiring the use of VE techniques. Documentation
should include reasons for granting waivers of VE studies on
projects/programs which met agency criteria. Reasons for not
implementing recommendations made in VE proposals should also
to the acquisition requirements of the FAR, including the use
of VE clauses set forth in Parts 48 and 52.
annual plans for using VE in the agency. At a minimum, the plans
should identify both the in-house and contractor projects, programs,
systems, products, etc., to which VE techniques will be applied
in the next fiscal year, and the estimated costs of these projects.
These projects should be listed by category, as required in the
agency's annual report to OMB. VEP's and VECP's should be included
under the appropriate category. Annual plans will be made available
for OMB review upon request.
annually to OMB on VE activities, as outlined below.
9. Reports to OMB. Each agency shall report the Fiscal Year
results of using VE annually to OMB, except those agencies whose
total budget is under $10 million or whose total procurement obligations
do not exceed $10 million in a given fiscal year. The reports are
due to OMB by December 31st of the calendar year, and should include
the current name, address, and telephone number of the agency's
format is provided in the Attachment.
Part I of
the report asks for net life-cycle cost savings achieved through
VE. In addition, it requires agencies to show the project/program
dollar amount thresholds the agency has established for requiring
the use of VE if greater than $1 million. If thresholds vary by
category, show the thresholds for all categories. Savings resulting
from VE proposals and VE change proposals should be included under
the appropriate categories.
Part II asks
for a description of the top 20 fiscal year VE projects (or all
projects if there are fewer than 20). List the projects by title
and show the net life-cycle cost savings and quality improvements
achieved through application of VE.
Part III requires
agencies to submit a detailed schedule of year-by-year cost savings,
cost avoidances and cost sharing with contractors for each program/project
for which the agency is reporting cost savings or cost avoidances.
The aggregate total of all schedules shall equal the totals reported
in Part I.A. of the annual report.
10. Inspectors General audits. Two years after the issuance
of this revised Circular, Agency Heads shall ask the Inspectors
General (IGs) to audit agency value engineering programs to (1)
validate the accuracy of agency reported value engineering savings
and (2) assess the adequacy of agency value engineering policies,
procedures and implementation of this revised Circular. Periodically
thereafter, agency IGs shall audit agency reported VE savings as
the need arises.
11. Related Guidance. In general, value engineering investments
should have positive net present value when discounted with the
appropriate interest rate, as described in OMB Circular No. A-94,
section 8.c. For detailed guidance on value engineering, refer to
the appropriate sections of the Federal Acquisition Regulations.
12. Effective date and Implementation. This Circular takes
effect within 30 days of its publication in the Federal Register.
Heads of departments and agencies are responsible for taking all
necessary actions to assure effective implementation of these policies,
such as disseminating this Circular to appropriate program and other
staff, developing implementation strategies and initiating staff
training. Since these policies must be implemented in the Federal
Acquisition Regulation (FAR), agencies should not duplicate the
development of implementing procurement regulations being undertaken
by the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Councils. However, implementation
of these policies in the FAR must be accomplished within the time
period specified below, with inclusion in agency solicitations and
resulting contracts, as appropriate, to occur immediately thereafter.
subsections 6(a) of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy Act,
as amended, (41 U.S.C. 401 et seq.), the Federal Acquisition
Regulatory Councils shall ensure that the policies established herein
are incorporated in the FAR within 180 days from the date this Circular
is published in final form in the Federal Register. Promulgation
of final FAR regulations within that 180 day period shall be considered
issuance in a "timely manner" as prescribed in 41 USC 405(b)."
13. Sunset review. The policies contained in this Circular
will be reviewed by OMB five years from the date of issuance.
14. Inquiries. Further information about this Circular may
be obtained from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), 725
17th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20503, Telephone (202) 395-6803.
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