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Don't Quote Open-Market Items in eBuy

GSA’s eBuy is a Request for Quote (RFQ)/Request for Information (RFI) system designed to allow government buyers to request information, find sources, and request and receive quotes from GSA contractors who have been awarded a Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) contract. 

It is important for GSA contractors responding to RFQs/RFIs through eBuy to quote only Schedule contract items through the system.  Contractors should not quote prices for any products or services that have not been awarded on their MAS contract; such items are commonly referred to as “open-market items.”  The purpose of the eBuy system is for quoting Schedule contract items only. 

Why Does It Matter?

The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Subpart 8.404(a) states that ordering activities “shall not” seek competition outside of the Schedules Program.  This means that when placing orders against Multiple Award Schedule contracts ordering-activities may not consider or compare open-market items with Schedule items. GSA advises ordering-activities to exclude any open-market quotes they receive through eBuy and consider them nonresponsive.

It is in everyone’s best interest to ensure that all quotes submitted through the eBuy system are for contract items only.  Open-market quotes clog-up the system, waste the contractor’s time in preparing them, and waste the ordering activity’s time in having to sift through them and try to verify if the items are on Schedule or not. 

Quote Only Your Own Offerings

Another eBuy issue that crops up occasionally is where one contractor quotes items from another contractor’s Schedule contract without any formal agreement.  It is not permissible for contractors to sell other contractor’s products or services without an authorized dealer agreement; the dealer’s name and address should be listed on the approved Schedule price list.  If quoting in this situation it is recommended that you provide a copy of such agreement and evidence that it is has been submitted to GSA via the price list so that buyers will be able to understand the relationship.

Contractors may also work together through a Contractor Teaming Arrangement (CTA).  When quoting as a team, the Teaming Agreement document (signed by all parties) should be included as part of the quote.  Under a CTA each contractor is selling its own product or service from its own Schedule contract, though usually one contractor has been named “team leader.”  For more information on CTAs see www.gsa.gov/cta.

Update Your Contact Information

eBuy is a great resource for contractors to receive and respond to RFQs. However, the RFQ can’t be delivered to non-working email addresses.  You should ensure that your contact information is up to date in your eBuy profile so that RFQs may be successfully delivered.

The information in eBuy is populated from GSA Advantage.  You should make sure that your SIP file is current and up-to-date in GSA Advantage so that your company will be visible in eBuy.

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Comments

DaveClemens
<p>&nbsp;</p><p>What is the reference (from something in the FAR or in the MAS contract) that prohibits Ordering Officer discretion in permitting necessary open-market items on FSS quotes, whether eBuy or non-eBuy?</p><p>FAR 8.402(f) permits Ordering Officers to include open-market items as long as procedures applicable to those open-market items are followed. Permitting open market items is a matter within the discretion of the Ordering Officer. For example, if the Ordering Officer decided to allow open market items but (to avoid extra work) also decided to limit the open-market total to below the micropurchase threshold, that is something the Ordering Officer could reasonably do in the (eBuy or non-eBuy) RFQ</p><p>Is it GSA&#39;s position that an Ordering Officer with an RFQ permitting&nbsp;ANY open-market items is precluded from using GSA&#39;s eBuy for that RFQ?</p><p>If a GSA Schedule contractor is prohibited from quoting open-market items on eBuy, what specific GSA contract clause should we point them to that restricts the applicability of FAR 8.402(f) when it comes to their eBuy quotes?</p>
Steve Sizemore
<p>This article is not addressing FAR 8.402(f) as described above. &nbsp;It is acceptable to include ancillary items/contract support items/ODCs on Schedule orders for administrative convenience. &nbsp;The issue this article is addressing is where a contractor is submitting an open market quote in response to a Schedules RFQ. &nbsp;This is a frequent problem for commodities and in some cases for services. &nbsp;For example, an ordering activity may post an RFQ for an Office Machine Model 999 and a contractor that does not have that item on their contract submits a quote anyway. &nbsp;This would not be acceptable and would violate 8.404(a), which prohibits seeking competition outside of the Schedules program. If the order was placed in this case the ordering activity would be ordering an item not on Schedule under the assumption that it was or not properly competing it under open market procedures if they were aware it wasn&#39;t on Schedule. &nbsp;This would be comparing non-Schedule items with Schedule items. &nbsp;Likewise for services, a contractor without the proper labor categories should not submit &quot;in lieu of&quot; categories that are outside the government&#39;s&nbsp;requirement. &nbsp;Admittedly, there is a lot more leeway and scope flexibility in services as opposed to products.</p><p>This is a systemic problem in eBuy with contactors quoting open market items when they don&#39;t have the required item on their Schedule contract. &nbsp;eBuy has a warning to contractors that it is for Schedule quotes only and not for open market or other contractor vehicle quotes. &nbsp;We are not talking about the ancillary products that can be included as provided for under 8.402(f). Ancillary items/ODCs are allowable. Contractors and contracting officers alike understand the difference. &nbsp;</p><p>Additionally, this is primarily an issue for products. &nbsp;We have even heard of contractors stating that they didn&#39;t have the requested item on Schedule and then provided a quote from another contract vehicle such as Army CHESS or NASA SEWP. &nbsp;This is the type of behavior that should not occur. &nbsp;eBuy is for valid, legitimate Schedule quotes. &nbsp;</p><p><br />&nbsp;</p>
Brad deMers
<p>Thank you Steve for an excellent response. &nbsp;Here is hoping someday that E-buy can incorporate an algorithm in its programing that functions the same as NASA SEWP with regard to open market items. &nbsp;The algorithm goes like this: &nbsp;IF what you are quoting is in your GSA MAS Contract THEN it will PASS. &nbsp;IF it is NOT, it will show as Open Market. &nbsp;To my knowldege, the NASA SEWP RFQ tool has done this from day one. &nbsp; In other words, the RFQ tool is fail safe. &nbsp;A contractor CANNOT quote an item/service or hourly rate that is NOT on their contract or else it shows as Open Market. &nbsp;I realize NASA SEWP is a much smaller program than FSS, but an IF/THEN algorithm is infinite.&nbsp;</p>
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