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IR&D Definition Clarified


In a decision that should resolve finally nearly 40 years of disagreement between contractors and the government about the definition of Independent Research and Development (IR&D), the Federal Circuit has held in ATK Thiokol Inc. v. U.S. (Mar. 19, 2010), that R&D effort must be "specifically required" by the terms of a contract in order to be excluded from the definition of allowable IR&D costs, endorsing the contractors' argument that effort that is "implicitly" required in order to perform the contract or "necessary" to perform but not explicitly required by the contract is allowable IR&D. In addition, and perhaps even more important, the decision acknowledges more generally in its analysis of the distinction between direct and indirect costs that "CAS 402 gives the contractor considerable freedom in the classification of particular costs, so long as the contractor maintains consistency in making that determination."

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