No, the government isn’t trying to figure out how it can bundle home and auto coverage to save on its insurance premiums. Instead, “consolidation” in the federal government contract context refers to the action of collecting requirements being performed under discrete small business set-aside contracts into a single procurement.
Before an agency may consolidate contracts, it must consider the impacts the proposed consolidation will have on small business participation. Recently, however, GAO was asked to determine whether consolidation analyses are required for Blanket Purchase Order (“BPA”) procurements, and its decision did not adopt the SBA’s position.
A small business set-aside procurement did not violate the FAR’s restrictions on contract bundling, according to the GAO.
In a recent bid protest decision, the GAO pointed out the bundling occurs when a procurement would be unsuitable for award to small business, and held that a set-aside procurement–by its nature–is not unsuitable for small businesses.
“Bundling” under the FAR is often misunderstood. One common misconception is that any time an agency consolidates requirements from multiple contracts into a single contract unsuitable for small businesses, the consolidation is impermissible “bundling” unless the consolidated contract cannot be broken down into smaller requirements.
Unfortunately for small businesses, the FAR’s definition of bundling is not so broad. For example, as demonstrated in a recent GAO bid protest decision, a consolidation of requirements being performed by large businesses likely will not qualify as impermissible bundling.