General Information
Step 1 Qualifications and Registration
Step 2 Technical Cost Proposal Organization
Step 3 Preparing a Cost Proposal
Step 4 Submitting a Proposal
Proposal Evaluation
Templates and Forms
Prime Contract Documents
Useful Links
Praxis > Suppliers > Introduction > Step 3
Step 3: Preparing a Cost Proposal
The following instructions explain how to prepare Budget and Cost Proposals. The instructions may not be all-inclusive, but they address most issues for developing the required data. An offeror's cost data must be current and complete. The proposed funding plan will define the task's estimated costs by cost element for each period. Proposed costs shall conform to the following principles and procedures:

  • Educational Institutions: OMB Circular A-21, Cost Principles for Educational Institutions

  • Nonprofit Organizations: OMB Circular A-122, Cost Principles for Non-Profit Organizations

  • Nonprofit Organizations exempt from the provisions of OMB Circular A-122:
    • Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Part 31, Contract Cost Principles and Procedures
    • Defense FAR Supplement (DFARS) Part 231, Contract Cost Principles and Procedures

  • Industrial Organizations:
    • Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Part 31, Contract Cost Principles and Procedures
    • Defense FAR Supplement (DFARS) Part 231, Contract Cost Principles and Procedures
Types of Contracts
  • Cost Reimbursement Contract refers to contracts that provide for payment of allowable incurred costs, to the extent prescribed in the contract. These contracts establish an estimate of total cost for the purpose of obligating funds and establishing a ceiling that the contractor may not exceed (except at its own risk) without the approval of the contracting officer (see FAR 16.301-1).

  • Firm Fixed Price (FFP) Contract refers to a contract that provides for a price that is not subject to any adjustment on the basis of the contractor's cost experience in performing the contract. This contract type places upon the contractor maximum risk and full responsibility for all costs and resulting profit or loss. It provides maximum incentive for the contractor to control costs and perform effectively and imposes a minimum administrative burden upon the contracting parties (see FAR 16.202-1).

  • Fixed Price (FP) Contract refers to a contract that provides for a firm price or, in appropriate cases, an adjustable price. Fixed-price contracts providing for an adjustable price may include a ceiling price, a target price (including target cost), or both. Unless otherwise specified in the contract, the ceiling price or target price is subject to adjustment only by operation of contract clauses providing for equitable adjustment or other revision of the contract price under stated circumstances (see FAR 16.201).

  • Time and Material (T&M) Contract refers to a contract that provides for the procurement of supplies or services pursuant to FAR 16.601 on the basis of direct labor hours at specified fixed hourly rates (which rates include direct and indirect labor, overhead, and profit), and material at cost (including material handling costs, if appropriate).

  • Labor-hour Contract refers to a contract that provides for the procurement of supplies or services pursuant to FAR 16.602 and it is a variation of the time-and-materials contract, differing only in that materials are not supplied by the Subcontractor.
Cost Proposal Requirements
The offeror should:

  1. Provide these instructions to any lower tier subcontractors and/or subawards.

  2. Furnish Tables 1 and 2 for the entire performance period including any options (supported by the rationale required by paragraph 4) in both hard copy and on a CD, Microsoft Word/Excel to include all cell formulas. Include a separate Cost Element Summary (Table 1) for each option proposed.

  3. Provide the following information as the first page of the cost proposal (if separate from the technical proposal) for the entire period of performance, including any options:

    1. Name, title, telephone and fax numbers and e-mail address of offeror's business and technical points of contact

    2. Proposed funding for basic effort and each option

    3. Name, address, and telephone number of the cognizant contract administration and Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) offices, if known

    4. Name, title, and signature of offeror's duly authorized representative

    5. Date offer is submitted

    6. Solicitation number under which the proposal is submitted

  4. Organize the proposal as discussed below (Cost is Section 8.0 of the proposal template). The cost proposal is not restricted in length and must provide cost information for all performance periods. Certified cost or pricing data may be required for awards over $650,000. 8.0 COST. This section should include all of the proposed costs of the project. Identify when the offeror's fiscal year begins and ends. Submit a Cost Element Summary (Table 1) by major cost element for the basic period of performance and each option proposed using the format in Table 1. The detail required for each of the major cost elements is described below. Address all elements of cost applicable to the proposed effort and provide a narrative to support costs included in Table 1.

    1. Direct Labor Cost Element. Show each category of direct labor proposed on a separate row. In supporting rationale, identify the source and explain the derivation of the labor rate proposed for the first year in each labor category, and explain the methodology used to project each rate for subsequent years. If temporary or part-time labor is proposed, explain the differences between the rates of pay for full time and temporary or part time workers and the impact of those differences on the direct rates proposed. Identify any uncompensated labor (straight time and/or overtime) included in this cost element, and explain the impact of uncompensated time on the direct rates proposed. Show hours proposed for each labor category by year/rate. For new or unfilled positions, a historical average, signed offer sheet, or description of the labor category sufficient to allow comparison to salary surveys should be provided.

    2. Indirect Cost Rates and/or Factors Cost Element. Identify all indirect cost rates (such as fringe benefits, labor overhead, material overhead, G&A, etc.) and their applicable allocation bases. If composite rates are used, provide the calculations used in deriving the composite rates. Identify the basis of proposed rates (e.g., Forward Pricing Rate Agreement and date of agreement, bidding rates and the date of submission or actual rates used and the effective date, billing rates and the date of approval, etc.).

      Fringe Benefits, Indirect Costs (Overhead, General and Administrative [G&A], Facilities and Administrative [F&A]), and Other. The most recent rates, dates of negotiation, the base or bases, and periods to which the rates apply must be disclosed and a statement included to identify whether the proposed rates are provisional or fixed. If the rates have been negotiated by a Government agency, state when and by which agency. A copy of the negotiation memorandum should be provided. If negotiated forecast rates do not exist, offerors must provide sufficient detail to enable Praxis to determine that the costs included in the forecast rates are allocable according to applicable OMB Circulars or FAR/DFARS provisions. An offeror's disclosure should be sufficient to permit a complete understanding of the content of the rate(s) and how it was established.

    3. Subcontractor and/or Subaward Cost Element. If applicable, obtain cost proposals from each subcontractor/subaward using the same cost breakout required for Table 1. Using Table 2, provide a list of anticipated subcontractors/subawards. Perform and provide evaluation results of cost/price analysis of these proposals. Note that the offeror is required to obtain competition to the maximum extend practicable when selecting sub-tier subcontractors or subawards. If the offeror has obtained competitive quotes from potential subcontractors/subawards, copies of the quotes should be provided. If the offeror has selected other than the low subcontractor/subaward bid for inclusion in their proposal or intends to award the subtier subcontract/subaward effort on a sole-source basis, provide rationale for that decision. If competition was not sought prior to submitting a proposal, the offer should have the subtier subcontractors/subawards provide the same supporting information as shown in paragraphs (a) through (h) for subtier subcontractor/subaward proposals that exceed $100,000. Certified cost or pricing data may be required for offeror or subtier subcontractor/subaward proposals over $650,000. If the subcontractor/subaward is not yet determined, the proposal must include a list of the tasks to be performed, an explanation of the method used to estimate the subtier subcontract/subaward price, and the reason proposals/quotes cannot be requested/provided at this time.

      It is especially important that adequate data on subtier subcontractors, subawards, or consultants be provided. Rates are particularly important. Note that the absence of adequate data on subtier subcontractors, subawards, or consultants is a frequent source of avoidable delay in contract award.

      You are responsible for ensuring that each proposed subtier subcontractor, subaward, or consultant is supported by cost or pricing data when it is both in excess of $650,000 and not covered by an exception or waiver in accordance with FAR 15.403-1. Particular attention is directed to the importance of furnishing complete detailed information and supporting data as indicated in FAR 15.408, Table 15-2. All details, broken down by cost element, are to be prepared for each major task along with supporting rationale. All cost details shall be broken down to coincide with your accounting periods as related to the specific period of performance as indicated in the proposed milestone chart.

    4. Consultants Cost Element. If applicable, use Table 2 to provide a list of anticipated consultants. The nature of proposed consultant services shall be justified and information furnished on each individual's expertise, primary organizational affiliation, daily compensation rate, number of days of expected service, and estimated travel and per diem costs.

    5. Travel, Materials, Equipment, and Supplies, and Other Direct Cost Cost Element. Separately identify costs for travel, material, equipment, supplies, and Other Direct Costs (ODC) to perform the basic effort and each option.

      1. Travel. Provide a breakout of travel costs for each year including the purpose and number of trips, origin and destination(s), duration, and travelers per trip.

      2. Materials, Equipment, and Supplies. Provide an itemized list of all proposed materials, equipment, and supplies for each year including quantities, unit prices, proposed vendors (if known), and the basis of estimate (e.g., quotes, prior purchases, catalog price lists, etc.). If the total cost for materials, equipment and supplies exceeds $50,000 per year, then select a sample of the items proposed and provide catalog price lists/quotes/prior purchase orders to support the price for the items in the sample. All items with a unit price over $10,000 regardless of the total cost for materials, equipment, and supplies must be supported with a copy of catalog price lists/quotes/prior purchase orders.

      3. Other Direct Costs. Provide an itemized breakout and explanation of all other proposed ODCs by year. Include the basis for proposed costs for other anticipated direct costs such as tuition remission, communications, transportation, insurance, and rental of equipment other than computer related. The cost of computer services, including computer-based retrieval of scientific, technical, and educational information, may be proposed. A justification/explanation based on the established computer service rates at the offeror's facilities should be included. The proposal may also request reasonable costs for leasing automated data processing (ADP) equipment. The purchase of computers or associated hardware and software should be requested as items of equipment. Unusual or expensive items shall be fully justified.

    6. Cost of Money (COM). Refer to FAR 52.215-16, Facilities Capital Cost of Money. Provide a schedule which contains proposed cost of money (COM) factors, if applicable, to include a display of all individual bases for the COM amounts. Submit a DD Form 1861 for each year.

    7. Permanent Equipment and Facilities. If equipment or facilities are required, a justification why this property should be furnished by the Government must be submitted. State the offeror's inability or unwillingness to furnish the facilities or equipment. An offeror must provide an itemized list of permanent equipment or facilities showing the cost of each item. OMB Circular A-110 defines equipment as "tangible nonexpendable personal property . . . having a useful life of more than one year and an acquisition cost of $5,000 or more per unit." NOTE: It is the policy of the DoD that all commercial and nonprofit contractors provide the equipment needed to support proposed research and development efforts. In those cases where Praxis and/or the Government approve specific additional equipment for commercial and nonprofit organizations, such approved cost elements shall be "non-fee-bearing."

    8. Profit/Fee (if applicable). This section specifies the profit or fee percentage proposed and the base to which the rate applies. Any usual contract performance risk factors should be identified. Profit or fee is not allowed on direct costs for facilities, in cooperative agreements or other transaction instruments, or in cost-sharing contracts.

Table 1. Cost Element Summary (Sample)
Cost Element
Year 1
Year 2 or Each Option Year Total Amount
Base Rate Amt Base Rate Amt
Direct Labor (list each labor category separately) Hours Rate $ Hours Rate $ $
Subtotal, Direct Labor
$ $ $
Fringe Benefits $ % $ $ % $ $
Subtotal, Labor & Overhead
$ $ $
Subcontractors or Consultants (list separately) $ $ $
Materials & Equipment $ $ $
Material Overhead $ % $ $ % $ $
Travel $ $ $
ODCs $ $ $
G&A (includes IR&D/B&P) $ % $ $ % $ $
Subtotal, Costs
$ $ $
Cost of Money (see DD Form 1861) $ $ $
Total Cost
$ $ $
Profit/Fee @ % $ $ $
Total Price/Fee
$ $ $

Download Table 1 in Word.

Table 2. Subcontractors, Subawards, and Consultants (if applicable)
Column #1 Column #2 Column #3 Column #4 Column #5 Column #6
Subtier Subcontractor or Subaward or Consultant Name SOW Tasks Performed (See Note) Type of Award Price of Subtier Subcontractor or Subaward or Consultant Quoted Price Cost Proposed for Subtier Subcontractor or Subaward or Consultant Delta (Column 4 Minus Column 5 if Applicable)
NOTE: Identify SOW, task, milestone, or Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) paragraph or provide a narrative explanation as an addendum to this table that describes the effort to be performed.

Download Table 2 in Word.

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