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FAR Part 15 Doesn’t Apply - - So Don’t Use It

When Ordering Officers are unfamiliar with Schedules ordering, they understandably fall back on what they do know: the (more complex) FAR Part 15 procedures. Remember that Part 15 is not just unnecessary for a Subpart 8.4 procurement, but also: (1) not a word in FAR Part 15 applies to Schedule orders/BPAs  [FAR 8.404(a)], and (2) trying to import ideas like "discussions," "competitive range," "debriefing," and "proposals/offers" into Schedules ordering can actually end up doing more harm than good.  Where courts and boards have seen some Part 15-like procedures used for a Schedule order, the agency has actually been held to those higher Part 15 procedural requirements!  Ordering activities failing to treat a Schedules procurement under FAR 8.4 as a streamlined acquisition and instead relying on the more complex Part 15 acquisition procedures do so at their peril.  The United States Court of Claims has specifically held that FAR Part 15 is not applicable to MAS orders. See Ellsworth Associates, Inc. v United States, 45 Fed. Cl. 388 (1999). The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has also stated that FAR Part 15 does not apply to Schedule orders. See Computer Products, Inc., B-284702, May 24, 2000. If a formal FAR Part 15 negotiation process or something akin to it is utilized (as in debriefing), GAO may use FAR Part 15 as guidance in reviewing an agency's actions. See ACS Government Solutions Group, Inc., B-282098.2, B-282098.3, June 2, 1999. Discussions with contractors are not required for Schedule orders. Instead the Ordering CO can seek additional information regarding an RFQ without triggering Part 15 discussion rules. See Intelligent Decisions, Inc., B-274626.2, December 23, 1996 and ViON Corporation, B-283804.2, January 24, 2000.

It must be just out of FAR Part 15 habits. I see many examples when ordering activities say they are using FAR SubPart 8.4 but then load up their task order RFQs and other documents with FAR Part 15 terminology and procedures. See the attached for more information on how a Schedule order/BPA is very different than a Part 15 procurement.

Keep It Simple -- Not FAR Part 15!

Also see: Avoid FAR part 15 terminology, just say NO to "Discussions" 

I am planning on writing additional blogs on some of the FAR 15 terms and the ramifications of using those terms. I will also be convering suggestions on how to use tools like a "down-select".  If you would like me to cover a specific topic, let me know.

My first is:

Would you like to know more about Brief Explanations vs. Debriefings? Click Here.

[NOTE:  Original content created by Dave Clemens.  Edited by Dan Briest on 3/13/11, Links edited by Brad deMers 5-15-2014] 

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