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Office Hours Webinar on Blanket Purchase Agreements Draws Lots of Questions… and Answers

GSA’s Office of Professional Service and Human Capital (PSHC) Categories held one of our Office Hours webinar on May 10 around the use of Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs).  Steve Sizemore, Director, Direct Client Support Divison with GSA's Federal Acquisition Service, provided an excellent presentation on the regulations that guide the creation and use of BPAs and best practices.

A copy of the presentation can be found here. The webinar generated a tremendous number of questions that we determined might be relevant to the larger acquisition community. Below are the questions and answers from Steve.

PSHC hosts monthly Office Hoursthat are designed to address federal customer agency questions about professional services acquisition. The Office Hours focus on a variety of professional service acquisition solutions such as OASIS, OASIS Small Business, the Professional Services Schedule, and other acquisition related topics. Click here to register for upcoming webinars.

Q&A - Office Hours Blanket Purchase Agreements

Are orders issued against GSA Schedules protestable?

Yes. Schedules may be protested at any dollar amount. See 8.404(e). Some people confuse the protest levels for MACs and GWACs prescribed at FAR 16.505(a)(10) ($10M for Civilian agency contracts and $25M for DoD contracts - this threshold is based on who issues the contract and not the order) as applying to Schedules orders. It does not apply.

Are you able to use T&M for services contracts under MAS?

Yes, you can issue FFP, T&M or Labor Hour task orders against Schedules.  You must prepare a D&F when issuing an order on an other than FFP basis. See FAR 8.404(h).

With a 5 year base and three 5 year options, are the options written in the base?

Yes, and the options clause (I-FSS-163) is in the base contract.

If I award a single award BPA off GSA Schedule and want to include options, do I need to include the Option FAR Clauses in the BPA?

There is nothing in the FAR that prescribes the option clause for the BPA, however as a best practice and to eliminate any confusion or misunderstandings, it should be included in the BPA.  It will not cause any harm and may help to eliminate confusion. 

Do you post the notice of award on FBO?

No. Award notices are not posted to FBO. Schedule quoters should be notified through eBuy (if that system was used) or through email.  

Is DD 2579 small business coordination is not required for orders?

The DD 2579 (or other agency equivalent) is required per agency policy. Under a multiple award BPA environment, if the BPAs are awarded to small businesses, there should not be any additional 2579 at the order level. However, if there is a mix of large and small business BPA holders, a 2579 will likely be required at the order level.  It really depends on how it was applied at the BPA level. The intent is to ensure that socioeconomic considerations have been analyzed.

Do we have to ask the vendors for the GSA discounted rate every time we put in a BPA order or do the vendors' cost proposals automatically include the discounted rate?

For orders over the SAT, you are required to seek a discount off the Schedule rates. As a best practice, you should seek discounts each time an order is placed against Schedules.

Is there a maximum ceiling on BPAs?

No.  We do not recommend a ceiling since it isn’t required by the FAR. Some ordering offices still do it.  However, an estimate will give you more flexibility if you need to exceed it.

What about a maximum on individual calls?

T&M / LH orders must have a ceiling. If the agency established a BPA ceiling it should be monitored and not exceeded. If an estimate was established, it should be monitored and exceeded within reason using caution, while planning for a follow-on.

If one or more BPA vendors do not propose on a particular BPA Request for Proposal (RFP) call is it okay for the COR to contact the vendor to find out why or to talk with them before placing the BPA call?

Yes. Under Schedules, you are free to talk to contractors at the Schedule, BPA, or order level at any time during the process.

Scenario based question. You issue a single award BPA as a small business set aside with a base year and 4 option years. When you go to exercise the final option year on the BPA you check the contractor's record in e-Library and find that the business is no longer identified as a small business contractor under the schedule contract your BPA is placed against.  Question 1: Can you follow through and exercise the final option year? Question 2: If you can exercise the final option year will orders you place against the BPA be reported as awards to small business or awards to an other than small business?

The option may be exercised, but you cannot count any new orders against your small business goals. The BPA should be modified to reflect the new size standard. See FAR 19-301-2(d).

When does the BPA become a Contract?

It doesn’t, however, the terms and conditions of the Schedule contract always apply to the BPA and orders placed against it. It it different than a FAR Part 13 BPA that has no contract behind it. The GSA contracts have the BPA clause, which states that all terms and conditions apply.  

Is there a central location where we can find all the GSA BPA?

GSA eLibrary www.gsaelibary.gsa.gov. Additionally, some non GSA BPAs can be found on the Acquisition Gateway https://hallways.cap.gsa.gov.

Can BPAs be created under OASIS?

No.  BPAs are not allowed under OASIS. Task orders can be structured on a cost or T&M basis that could function similar to a BPA, using the Technical Direction Process. Though it is different, and different rules apply.

If there is no requirement for a ceiling, and where is the citation for that?

There is no citation addressing BPA ceilings either way. However, as a best practice, GSA recommends establishing an estimate to allow for flexibility. Keep in mind that T&M / LH orders placed against Schedules (or Schedule BPAs) require a ceiling.

Can you sole source to a 8(a) vendor who is on GSA?

No. While you can issue a competitive 8(a) set aside against Schedules, there is no provision to conduct an 8(a) sole source award under Schedules. Keep in mind that, under a competitive 8(a) award against GSA Schedules, the SBA offer and acceptance process must be followed.

If you were to want to cancel a 5 year BPA only couple of years into performance, does the process under FAR Part 49 apply or is there a special process under GSA?

No. Part 49 does not apply to commercial item acquisitions. For Schedule BPAs, you may simply cancel them or stop awarding orders against the BPA based upon your agency requirements. For orders, termination should be conducted in accordance with FAR 8.406-4 or 8.406-5 procedures.

I have a unique HR situation where we occasionally need Investigative Services. Would you recommend a BPA since we don't need the service all the time... just occasionally... but when we need it, we need it quickly.

Yes. A Schedule BPA could work well in this scenario.

We recently received an email saying that the micro-purchase limit was increased from $3,500 for supplies and services to $10,000.  Does this mean that we don't need to obtain 3 quotes/bids for anything under $10K?

Yes, that is correct.  

Can an order can go past the contract expiration date?

Yes. FAR 52.216-22(d), which is included in GSA Schedule contracts, allows orders to extend up to 60 months (including options) beyond the expiration of the contract.

If you're purchasing severable services (i.e., janitorial services for 5 years with a fixed monthly price), is it better to issue an order with options or should you do a single award BPA and issue a new order against the BPA each year?

Either approach would work.  Since the FAR gives preference to multiple-award BPAs, it may be a better approach to place an order with options vs. a single-award BPA.

Is there a dollar limit for the Limited Source Justification (LSJ)?

No. There is no maximum dollar limitation for using an LSJ.  However, if an order is under the SAT, a full-blown LSJ isn’t required. The FAR states that the CO must document the circumstances for limiting competition.   

How is a BPA affected when the contractor size status changes after the agreement is in place?

You cannot count any new orders against your small business goals and the BPA should be modified to reflect the new size standard. See FAR 19-301-2(d).

Can I award a service order to a BPA holder under the micro purchase threshold without competition? Can I establish a  rotating award schedule for these small orders?

Yes.  See FAR 8.405-3(c)(2)(i).

Are GSA BPA awards protestable?

Yes.  Regardless of the dollar amount, FAR 33.1 applies.

What is the protest history for AMCOM's BPA orders and/or On-ramping?

There have been some protests, though minimal, compared to the number of BPAs and task orders awarded. The government has generally prevailed.  

Can I establish BPA pricing at a fixed percentage below the the GSA Schedule rate?

Yes.

If you have a BPA currently in place and did have options when you originally solicited, is there away to add options now or will I have start all over again?

You must start over. You cannot add options after the fact on any federal contract instrument, including Schedule BPAs.

Can BPA's for services be used to contract out functional office areas of an accounting office?

Yes. No restrictions with using a Schedules BPA for this as long as all other regulatory requirements are followed, e.g. inherently governmental.

If a BPA lapses can it be renewed by issuing a bilateral modification?

No. The ordering activity would be required to follow the procedures in FAR 8.405-3 to establish a new BPA. This includes market research, competition, evaluation, etc.

If you have any further questions send them to professionalservices@gsa.gov

 

 

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