GovCon Basics: Common Procurement Methods and Terminology

The acronyms and terminology used in federal government contracting can be a labyrinth–one sadly devoid of David Bowie. In this post, I’ll clarify some of the common methods used for government procurements, the regulations defining them, and the terminology associated with them.

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Federal Supply Schedule Acquisitions Require Price Comparisons to Determine Lowest Overall Cost, Says GAO

In a recent protest, GAO examined the rules for price evaluation and source selection methodology required under the Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) Program. At a minimum, an agency must perform price comparisons to evaluate what vendor will be lowest cost along with any additional features and benefits to the government. Because the FSS solicitation at issue failed to include proper price evaluation terms, GAO sustained a challenge to those terms.

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GAO: Federal Supply Schedule Shorter in Duration than Blanket Purchase Agreement Spells Doom for Protester

Many GAO protests can hinge on fairly minute details that render a proposal unacceptable. A recent GAO case is a reminder that a contractor’s GSA Federal Supply Schedule must have sufficient duration to cover the period of performance for a blanket purchase agreement or the contractor may be ineligible for award.

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BPA Awardees Cannot Challenge Fellow Awardees, GAO Says

To file a viable bid protest at GAO, the protester must be an “interested party.” Intuition might say that an awardee under a multiple-award vehicle like a blanket purchase agreement should be able to protest other awardees, right?

The GAO recently held otherwise.

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GSA Schedule BPA Award Does not Allow for Size Protest

Generally, a size protest must be filed within five business days of when the protester receives notice of the identity of the awardee.  But there are some nuances to this rule, such as whether a corrective action will extend the deadline and whether the clock starts running upon notice of the prospective awardee or the actual contract award date (Hint: notice of awardee).

But when does the 5-day protest period start to run in the context of a Blanket Purchase Agreement issued under a GSA Schedule contract? A recent SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals decision is a reminder that the award of a BPA does not trigger a new 5-day period to file a size protest.

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Agencies May Use “On-Ramps” Under BPAs, GAO Confirms

When an agency solicits competitive proposals to establish multiple blanket purchase agreements, the agency may include “on-ramp” procedures to potentially award additional BPAs at a later date.

In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO confirmed that the FAR allows agencies to use on-ramp procedures to add additional BPAs–and that on-ramped BPA holders don’t enjoy an inherent unfair competitive advantage, at least not under the facts at issue.

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GAO: Extraneous Information Sinks Offeror’s Proposal

A recent GAO decision should serve to caution offerors to be careful what they include with their proposals. Any information that contradicts the proposal or otherwise does not conform to the terms of the solicitation could result in disqualification.

In Independent Systems, Inc., B-413246 (Comp. Gen. Sept. 15, 2016), GAO held that the agency could reasonably disqualify an offeror based on extraneous information the offeror included with the intent of providing the agency with more information, but not changing the terms of the offer.

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