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Think you can't do GovCon business if you don't have a BPA, GSA Schedule or GWAC?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Guy Timberlake (
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If I explain the technical aspects mentioned in this piece incorrectly, my hope is that some of the many contracting professionals I know, will take a moment to clarify or correct my errors. Hopefully, that won't be necessary.

Here we go.

Contract vehicles such as Blanket Purchase Agreements, GSA Schedules, Government Wide Acquisition Contracts and Indefinite Delivery Contracts are rampant in this business. For the most part the belief is, if you don't have access in some way to one or more of these tools, you are not considered a serious player in federal contracting. Would you be surprised to know there are ways of doing business with the U.S. Government not based on call's, delivery orders or task orders?

In fact, according to Uncle Sam, the delta between what was purchased from existing agreements or contract vehicles during FY12 was only $17 billion more than what was purchased not using an existing contract vehicle.To go one step further, buys in FY13 made using definitive contracts and purchase orders currently outpaces BPA and delivery/task order buys by $10 billion.

Do I have your attention yet?

While it's easy to make these assertions (based on the information provided by agencies) the situation is, there is a lot of business happening, competitive and non-competitive, where you do not have to compete for a hunting license to see meaningful business opportunities. Personally, I would not throw out my existing vehicles or the teaming agreements that might give me an opportunity to play a role in GSA STARS II or NASA SEWP business opportunities. Available options are nice. I would, however, take the time to do a little market research to figure out which agencies, what they are buying, how much they are spending and how they are making the buys. We have an eight-hour workshop called Ethical Stalking for Government Contractors that can help with that, just in case you are interested.

In the meantime, I'll give you a little head start to get you going.

Let's learn a little lingo first. Simply put, a Definitive Contract is a mutually binding legal relationship obligating the seller to furnish the supplies or services (including construction) and the buyer to pay for them.

Conversely, a Purchase Order is an offer by the Government established to buy supplies or services, including construction and research and development, upon specified terms and conditions, using simplified acquisition procedures.

What definitive contracts and purchase orders have in common is made clear when you look in USASpending or FPDS-NG or whichever solution you have purchased that extracts data from these public sources. Buys made where one of these is the Award/IDV Type will only reference a Procurement Instrument Identifier number or PIID. When an agency places an under an Indefinite Delivery Vehicles (IDV) such as a GWAC, IDC, FSS, BOA, or BPA, they will cite the PIID and a Referenced IDV ID or indefinite delivery vehicle identifier.

Sorry for the geek out there, but it helps with this next part.

During FY13, sixty-two (62) federal agencies,boards and commissions have made competitive and non-competitive awards using definitive contracts and purchase orders. Over $59 billion was issued via definitive contracts, while the rest went out via purchase orders. By dollars spent, the top five departments are DoD, DOE, NASA, HHS and VA. Between them, they account for almost $55 billion of the $62.8 billion spent YTD.

Of the different competition types, Full and Open and Full and Open After Exclusion of Sources account for better than half with $36 billion reported. The other competition types registering included:

  • Competed Under SAP
  • Follow-On to Competed Action
  • Not Available for Competition
  • Not Competed
  • Not Competed Under SAP

Interested in knowing what was purchased? What I will share here is that more than 2300 Product Service Codes (PSCs) were represented, and the top ten accounted for $25 billion of the total spent YTD. Descriptions of some of the top ten PSCs include:

  • Operation of Government R&D GOCO Facilities
  • Medical - General Health Care
  • Transportation/Travel/Relocation - Transportation: Space Transportation/Launch
  • Support - Professional: Engineering/Technical
  • Support - Professional: Other

In closing, if you have existing contract vehicles or the relationships that give you access to them, hold on to them. However, if you don't and based on your offering, there just may be a light at the end of the tunnel that is not an oncoming train.


The Chief Visionary

"The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it."

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