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What’s going on with contracting today?

Well folks, the biggest thing moving in federal acquisitions today is the CIO-SP4 government wide acquisition contract. This massive Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (ID/IQ) contract will have hundreds of prime contractor teams included. This is a great example of how contracting works in the federal arena. Many efforts, projects, buys, actions, etc. are performed as single contracts. That is the normal process.

Anyone can go to today and perform key word searches for all sorts of efforts. Also, there is a fairly clunky, but functional filtering capability. We (industry) looking for opportunities to bid on, can go to this site for free and see announcements, requests for information, events and other categories of information for procurements at the federal level. Depending on the agency policy and possibly the anticipated value of the contract, posting and opportunity to may be mandatory. In legal speak, this is referred to as a Governmentwide Point of Entry (GPE). Reference Federal Acquisition Regulation 5.003.

NERD BREAK!! FAR 5.101(a)(1) says any contract action exceeding $25,000 must be posted to a GPE. Seems pretty straight forward…but then FAR 5.202(a) lists 14 ways around this rule including raising the dollar value to $250,000 (aka the Simplified Acquisition Threshold). Over important source information is the Small Business Act 15 USC 637(e) and Office of Federal Procurement Policy Act 41 USC 1708. Those say the same thing with other exclusions.

Great, that’s a good bulk of efforts and those that will be trackable in the public very easily. Add a layer of complexity and now we start talking about ID/IQs. In the business, these are commonly referred to as hunting licenses. An agency may get enough requirements in a particular area (IT, building maintenance, hardware, etc) to justify forming an ID/IQ. Another good reason for these is lack of support staff. It takes Contracting Officers a fair amount of time to pull contracts together. Bidding and vetting contracts is a time-consuming process. If a Contract Officer can get through the vetting part of the competition up front and leave the technical evaluations to a later date, now you’re talking about some real time savings.

Think about it this way. The Air Force has lots of bases around the world. Most bases pretty much look the same. The computer systems going into these bases aren’t exactly the same but they don’t very wildly either. Basically, those bases use the same type “stuff” at MacDill in Tampa, FL and they do at Scott AFB in Illinois. Sure, the Contract Officer at MacDill and another at Scott can both do their own contract action to buy some computers. An option though, is for the headquarters to do a single ID/IQ contract. Industry bids prices to establish the options available, like placing their options on a restaurant menu. MacDill and Scott can then use that ID/IQ to place orders rather than start new contracts for scratch. MUCH SIMPLIER AND LESS TIME.

Run with that concept and we turn a single agency ID/IQ to a Multiple Award Contract, meaning more than one contractor is listed. Think if you could order McDonald’s and Burger King off the same menu without needing to go to two different physical locations.

Open the same concept up even more and allow more than just one agency to use the contract and you have Government Wide Acquisition Contract (GWAC). What’s good for the Air Force is good for the Army and even Department of Interior! Why waste taxpayer money, consolidate the efforts.

Those get big very quickly. The aforementioned CIO-SP4 is slated to be $40 Billion…. yep, the BILLION!! It will be a GWAC MAC. All federal agencies can use it and hundreds of contractors will be awarded prime contracts. CIO-SP3 for context was $20 Billion.

Lots of debate on the pros and cons for this type of structure. Visibility is a negative. Opportunities are no longer visible through, only through eGOS…which you don’t see unless you got a prime award. Small businesses starting up in the next 15 years won’t be able to compete as a prime due to the period of performance (unless they decide to do an “on ramp”). But again, the benefits are there too. More streamline contracting which saves time and money.

Bottom line, understand there are many layers to this “government contracting” thing. What was and now is just the tip of an immense rabbit hole of contracting. by Andrew Bennett

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