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Quoting Open Market Items through GSA eBuy

Note:  Other Direct Costs (ODCs) for services may be included in eBuy quotes as either open market items or Order Level Materials (OLMs).  See the last section below for more information. 


What is eBuy?

GSA’s eBuy is a Request for Quote (RFQ)/Request for Information (RFI) system that lets government buyers request information, find sources, and request and receive quotes from GSA contractors who have been awarded a Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) contract.  eBuy is a powerful and intuitive acquisition tool used by thousands of US federal agencies and military services worldwide to achieve required competition, best pricing, and value. eBuy saves the federal buyer time and money, while keeping the buy Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) compliant.

What products and services may be quoted through eBuy?

The purpose of the eBuy system is for quoting GSA contract items, therefore it is imperative for GSA contractors who respond to Requests for Quote (RFQs) through eBuy to quote only Schedule contract items.  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.”  

Even though eBuy has a warning to contractors preparing quote responses stating that it is for Schedule quotes only and not for open market or other contract vehicle quotes, there is a systemic problem with contractors quoting open market items when they do not have the required items on their Schedule contract.  

For example, an ordering activity may post an RFQ for an Office Machine Model 999 and a contractor who does not have that item on their Schedule contract submits a quote anyway. This violates FAR 8.404(a), which prohibits seeking competition outside of the Schedules program.  In this example, the ordering activity would be ordering an item not on Schedule, without properly competing the item under open market procedures, in accordance with (IAW) FAR 8.402(f).  

Likewise, for services, a contractor without the proper labor categories should not submit a quote with “in lieu of” categories that have not been awarded on their MAS contract.    

Why Does It Matter?

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 MAS contracts, ordering activities may not consider or compare open market items (or items from other contract vehicles) with Schedule items.  Additionally, open market items are required to be competed in accordance with FAR procedures, as stated in FAR Subpart 8.402(f).  Quoting open market items through eBuy  puts the ordering activity at risk of not properly following FAR procedures and not meeting Competition in Contracting Act (CICA) requirements.  

It is in everyone’s best interest to ensure that all quotes submitted through the eBuy system are for Schedule contract items only.  Open-market quotes clog-up the system -   preparing them wastes the contractor’s time and  having to sift through them to verify that the items are on Schedule wastes the ordering activity’s time.  GSA advises ordering activities to exclude any open market quotes received through eBuy and consider them non-responsive.  

Exception for Other Direct Costs (ODCs)

Other Direct Costs (ODCs) are products or services that are integral and necessary to the performance of the work.  It is acceptable to include open market ODCs on Schedule orders and there are two ways to properly do so: 

1.  OLM procedures.  The preferred and simplest method is to use the Order Level Materials (OLMs) procedures, provided the items being offered meet the requirements to become Schedule items. e.g. they are commercial items, Trade Agreements Act (TAA) compliant, etc.  OLM contract line item numbers (CLINs) are limited to 33.33% of the total cost of the order or BPA.  See www.gsa.gov/olm.  

2.  Open market procedures.  IAW FAR Subpart 8.402(f), open market items may be added to a Schedule order for administrative convenience, provided that all open market procedures are followed for those items.  These items are generally ODCs, but may be other items.  The ordering activity must ensure that all open market rules are followed for these items.  There is no dollar amount or percentage limitation on open market CLINs; it is at the discretion of the ordering activity. 

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