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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GAO Sustains Protest Where Single FSS Contract Didn’t Extend Long Enough to Cover Awarded BPA

If you are a Federal Supply Schedule contract holder competing for a BPA, then there’s an important principle that you should bear in mind: your underlying FSS contract should cover the entire anticipated duration of the blanket purchase agreement, including all option years. And don’t try to provide this coverage with two different FSS contracts. That will get you into trouble–as one unfortunate contractor recently found out.

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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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Bundling Didn’t Allow Agency to Purchase FSS Open Market Items, GAO Says

An agency cannot buy “Open Market” items from a Federal Supply Schedule vendor when the same items are readily available under another vendor’s FSS contract–even if the vendor selling Open Market items offers them as a discounted bundle and the FSS vendor does not.

In a recent decision, GAO held that it was improper for an agency to buy bundled software packages as Open Market items when another vendor sold the same licenses on its FSS contract as four separate items.

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GAO: Navy Cannot Order Items Not Listed on Vendor’s FSS Schedule

Like many, I enjoy a good meal out on the town. I tend to order strictly from the menu without any additions or substitutions. Perhaps, it is from all my years of waitressing prior to attending law school. In a recent GAO decision, however, the Navy attempted to order items not on the vendor’s menu only to have GAO determine that the order was beyond the scope of that menu.

In Bluewater Management Group, LLC, B-414785 (Sept. 18, 2017), Bluewater protested the Navy’s award of lodging and transportation services to DMC Management Services, LLC, alleging the award was improper because DMC’s GSA Schedule contract did not include transportation services.

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GSA Schedule Debriefing Doesn’t Extend Protest Time Frame, GAO Says

You’ve submitted a great proposal, but then you get the bad news – you lost. As most seasoned contractors know, an unsuccessful offeror often can ask for a debriefing from the agency and in doing so, hopefully get some valuable insight into its decision-making process. Many also understand that the benefits of asking for a debriefing may include extending the timeline for filing a GAO bid protest.

But not all solicitations are subject to the same debriefing regulations, and depending on how the procurement was conducted, an offeror might not be entitled to that extended deadline–as one company recently learned the hard way in the context of a GSA Schedule procurement.

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Claim Under VA FSS Task Order Should Have Gone To GSA

It’s a well-known aspect of federal contracting: if a contractor wishes to formally dispute a matter of contract performance, the contractor should file a claim with the contracting officer.

But if the contractor is working under a task or delivery order, which contracting officer should be on the receiving end of that claim—the one responsible for the order, or the one responsible for the underlying contract?

As a recent Civilian Board of Contract Appeals decision demonstrates, when a contractor is performing work under a Federal Supply Schedule order, a claim involving the terms of the underlying Schedule contract must be filed with the GSA contracting officer.

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