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Is there an exemption for posting a sole source RFP to the GPE? FAR 5.102 states that all solicitations that have been synopsized are to be posted to the GPE. Is a synopsis of proposed contract action to sole source under FAR 6.302-1 considered a solicitation that has been synopsized? In addition, FAR 15.203(e) allows for sending letter RFPs for sole sources are these suppose to be posted to the GPE? 5.201(e) is not very clear.

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in general (but not always,) using a sole source procurement reflects a failure by the Contracting Office, in one way or another.

Failure to educate the requiring activity, in many cases. Failure to understand the market in others.

The purpose of the GPE is to let the market know when you are thinking about subverting competition, so that other vendors who can do the work besides the requiring activity's preferred vendor get to notify you of that gap in your market research.

What's the benefit of using a sole source ?

Eliminating offers from vendors you prefer not to deal with ?

Protecting you from learning more about other potential sources ?

If you are ashamed of your work, and suspect you are not complying with the law, by all means try to conceal that.

But if you are looking to do the best you can for both your end user and the poor slob who's paying the freight, the taxpaying public, then consider supporting the guiding principles for the Federal Acquisition System enumerated at FAR 1.102.

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Wow Brian - Don't you think your response to a first time poster is a bit harsh?

fereirra - If I remember correctly, when I was part of Army Contracting Command, we were required to post ALL sole source synopsis and a J&A to FedBizOps as well. Perhaps your agency has similar guidance. The FAR states that anything over $25K must be posted unless it meets one of the exceptions. Does your requirement meet any of these exceptions?

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Is there an exemption for posting a sole source RFP to the GPE? FAR 5.102 states that all solicitations that have been synopsized are to be posted to the GPE. Is a synopsis of proposed contract action to sole source under FAR 6.302-1 considered a solicitation that has been synopsized? In addition, FAR 15.203(e) allows for sending letter RFPs for sole sources are these suppose to be posted to the GPE? 5.201(e) is not very clear.

Let?s look at your questions one-by-one. Let's answer based upon the content of the FAR, not upon opinion or experience.

1. ?Is there an exemption for posting a sole source RFP to the GPE??

If your proposed contract action is expected to exceed $25,000 and is not covered by an exception in FAR 15.202, you must post a synopsis on the GPE. One of the special situations in FAR 5.205 may apply and may affect when you may or must post in the GPE.

FAR 5.201 (B)(1) sets out the rule for synopsizing a requirement in the GPE:

Quote

(1) For acquisitions of supplies and services, other than those covered by the exceptions in 5.202, and the special situations in 5.205, the contracting officer must transmit a notice to the GPE, for each proposed --

(i) Contract action meeting the threshold in 5.101(a)(1);

(ii) Modification to an existing contract for additional supplies or services that meets the threshold in 5.101(a)(1); or

(iii) Contract action in any amount when advantageous to the Government.?

Unquote

The threshold set out in FAR 5.101(a)(1) is ?? proposed contract actions expected to exceed $25,000?.?.

FAR 5.202 identifies 15 exceptions to the rule set out in FAR 5.201. FAR 5.205 identifies 6 special situations affecting posts to the GPE.

2. Is a synopsis of proposed contract action to sole source under FAR 6.302-1 considered a solicitation that has been synopsized?

Yes, it must be synopsized unless one of the 15 exceptions set out in FAR 5.202 applies.

3. FAR 15.203(e) allows for sending letter RFPs for sole sources are these suppose to be posted to the GPE?

FAR 15.203 (e) specifically states that ?Use of a letter RFP does not relieve the contracting officer from complying with other FAR requirements.? One of those FAR requirements is the one to synopsize in the GPE. Absent one of the exceptions set out in FAR 5.202, one must synopsize a letter RFP.

Note that there is no FAR 5.201 (e).

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  • 2 months later...

The question appears to me to be does FAR 5.102 require that a "sole source solicitation" be posted to FBO? The responses appear to address synopsis requirements, but not whether the requirement to post solicitations also applies to "sole source solicitations." It is noted that in a sole source environment most likely a solicitation would not be prepared, but a draft contract most certainly would.

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The question appears to me to be does FAR 5.102 require that a "sole source solicitation" be posted to FBO? The responses appear to address synopsis requirements, but not whether the requirement to post solicitations also applies to "sole source solicitations." It is noted that in a sole source environment most likely a solicitation would not be prepared, but a draft contract most certainly would.

Let's take a look at the words in the FAR.

First, let's take a look at the FAR Part 6 coverage of "sole source" contracts. Specifically, let's see FAR 6.302-1(d)

6.302-1 -- Only One Responsible Source and No Other Supplies or Services Will Satisfy Agency Requirements.

(d) Limitations.

(1) Contracts awarded using this authority shall be supported by the written justifications and approvals described in 6.303 and 6.304.

(2) For contracts awarded using this authority, the notices required by 5.201 shall have been published and any bids, proposals, quotations, or capability statements must have been considered.

Note the requirement to publish notices as required by FAR 5.201, not FAR 5.102.

Let's take a look at FAR 5.201:

5.201 -- General.

(a) As required by the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 637(e)) and the Office of Federal Procurement Policy Act (41 U.S.C. 416), agencies must make notices of proposed contract actions available as specified in paragraph (B) of this section.

Note the term "contract action". The word "solicitation" does not appear.

Now, let's look at the definition of "contract action" that appears in FAR 5.001

5.001 -- Definition.

?Contract action,? as used in this part, means an action resulting in a contract, as defined in Subpart 2.1, including actions for additional supplies or services outside the existing contract scope, but not including actions that are within the scope and under the terms of the existing contract, such as contract modifications issued pursuant to the Changes clause, or funding and other administrative changes.

The word "solicitation" does not appear here either.

So, I believe that the term "solicitation" is irrelevant. Whether or not you issue a "solicitation" as part of a process leading to a "contract action", you must publish a notice of the contract action.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Is there an exemption for posting a sole source RFP to the GPE? FAR 5.102 states that all solicitations that have been synopsized are to be posted to the GPE. Is a synopsis of proposed contract action to sole source under FAR 6.302-1 considered a solicitation that has been synopsized? In addition, FAR 15.203(e) allows for sending letter RFPs for sole sources are these suppose to be posted to the GPE? 5.201(e) is not very clear.

If you posted your intent to do a sole source to FedBizOpps - you have satisfied the requirement of FAR. You do not need to ALSO post the RFP.

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Guest Vern Edwards

This was a really easy question to answer. I am astounded by some of the responses. Here is the question:

Is there an exemption for posting a sole source RFP to the GPE?

If the sole source contract action was synopsized in accordance with FAR 5.101(a)(1), 5.201, and 5.202, then the answer is NO. There is no "exemption" unless one of the exceptions in FAR 5.102(a)(5) applies.

FAR 5.102(a)(1) says:

(a)(1) Except as provided in paragraph (a)(5) of this section, the contracting officer must make available through the GPE solicitations synopsized through the GPE, including specifications, technical data, and other pertinent information determined necessary by the contracting officer. Transmissions to the GPE must be in accordance with the interface description available via the Internet at http://www.fedbizopps.gov.

FAR 5.102(a)(5) says:

(5) The contracting officer need not make a solicitation available through the GPE as required in paragraph (a)(4) of this section, when?

(i) Disclosure would compromise the national security (e.g., would result in disclosure of classified information, or information subject to export controls) or create other security risks. The fact that access to classified matter may be necessary to submit a proposal or perform the contract does not, in itself, justify use of this exception;

(ii) The nature of the file (e.g., size, format) does not make it cost-effective or practicable for contracting officers to provide access to the solicitation through the GPE; or

(iii) The agency?s senior procurement executive makes a written determination that access through the GPE is not in the Government?s interest.

There is no general exception for sole source. There is no general exception for letter RFPs.

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  • 3 years later...

I was searching the wifcon forum for this exact question. I see that Vern provided an answer in which he essentially says that even if you have a sole source in accordance with 6.302-1, you must post both a synopsis as well as a solicitation to the GPE (unless a 5.102(a)(5) exception applies), however there are three aspects that the above comments did not address, that I feel need to be rectified before I am totally on board with Vern.

First, FAR 5.203(a) says "An agency must transmit a notice of proposed contract action to the GPE (see 5.201). All publicizing and response times are calculated based on the date of publication. The publication date is the date the notice appears on the GPE. The notice must be published at least 15 days before issuance of a solicitation, or a proposed contract action the Government intends to solicit and negotiate with only one source under the authority of 6.302..." As mentioned earlier in this post, FAR 5.102(a)(1) says "Except as provided in paragraph (a)(5) of this section, the contracting officer must make available through the GPE solicitations synopsized through the GPE." I don't quite understand how these two passages jive together. The former seems to allow you to solicit and negotiate with just one source. Since you are solicitng with just one source, I assume this is NOT a public solicitation and was a direct solicitation to the prospective sole source awardee (via email or some other means). Yet the latter passage says that solicitations synopsized through the GPE must also be solicited on the GPE. Perhaps in the instance of a sole source synopsis, there is no promise of a forthcoming solicitation to be posted, so none needs to be posted? The wording of 5.102(a)(1) could be interpreted to make it so that specifically solicitations synopsized through the GPE must be posted to the GPE. If some other thing (i.e. something that is NOT a solicitation) was synopsized through the GPE, then 5.102(a)(1) could potentially not apply. A sole source synopsis could be considered one of the "other than solicitation" notices. In the case of a sole source synopsis, you could make the argument that the synopsis is not synopsizing a future solicitation, but instead synopsizing the intent to award to a specific source (and thus 5.102(a)(1) could possibly not apply).

The second issue not addressed in the above comments is the fact that this wifcon post references a CAFC decision in which it says "In a sole-source award such as this one, the notice of intent issued by the government is analogous to a request for a proposal." If the synopsis in a sole source situation is analagous to a request for proposal, what would be the need for a separate solicitation posted to the GPE after the synopsis?

Lastly, FAR 5.102(e) says "Provide copies of a solicitation issued under other than full and open competition to firms requesting copies that were not initially solicited, but only after advising the requester of the determination to limit the solicitation to a specified firm or firms as authorized under Part 6." This passage seems to suggest that other than full and open competition solicitations would (or could) have been provided to only some companies. How would this be possible if a solicitation were required to be posted to the GPE? Also, it specifically references "limiting the solicitation", which is the opposite of publically posting the solicitation.

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aordway,

I don't understand why you are reading FAR 5.102( e ) without the context of FAR 5.102. FAR 5.102 acknowledges there are limited circumstances where the solicitation is not required to be posted to the GPE. Namely, if no preaward synopsis was required, then there is no obligation to post the solicitation. Further, paragraph ( a )( 5 ) provides some other exceptions.

You are reading FAR 5.102( e ) as creating another exception to posting the solicitation, despite the clear language of FAR 5.102(a)(1) ("Except as provided in paragraph (a)(5)..."). The better reading of FAR 5.102( e ) is that it imposes an ADDITIONAL requirement on the CO to provide copies of the solicitation when requested. This obligation arises when posting the solicitation is not required to be posted to FBO (either because no presolicitation synopsis was required or an exception at paragraph (a)(5) applies). So, for instance, no presolicitation synopsis was required because the government is relying on unusual and compelling urgency. However, a contractor learns of the government's requirements through the grapevine, and wants a copy of the solicitation (e.g., to determine whether it should try to convince the government that it should be among the offerors solicited, whether it should protest, or because it is interested in subcontracting opportunities).

So, what are the practical results of failing to post the solicitation? Say the government posts a presolicitation synopsis saying they plan to award a sole source contract to Company A on the basis of only one responsible source. Company B provides a capability statement to the government within the deadline provided in the synopsis, but doesn't hear from the government again until it sees an award announcement posted at FBO. (Apparently, the government decided to issue the solicitation on a sole source basis without posting the solicitation.) Generally speaking, Company B can timely protest the sole source award if it protests within 10 days of the award notice. Had the government posted the solicitation (to my mind, had it complied with the FAR), Company B would have had to protest the decision to award on a sole source basis shortly after posting of the solicitation (either prior to the deadline for receipt of proposals if you characterize the protest as being one related to the terms of the solicitation, or, probably the safer course, within 10 days of the posting).

If Company B were really on the ball, it would request a copy of the solicitation at the time it submits its capability statement. Under those circumstances, the agency has the "last clear opportunity" to avoid the protester's being unreasonably precluded from competing.

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Desparado, consider taking a closer look at the posts. The search function on my web browser tells me that, as of Post #11, FAR 5.102 has been mentioned 21 times. FAR 5.102 is entitled, "Availability of Solicitations" and discusses exactly that.

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Thanks Jacques, you make a good point.

Can you explain why FAR 5.203(a) says "An agency must transmit a notice of proposed contract action to the GPE (see 5.201). All publicizing and response times are calculated based on the date of publication. The publication date is the date the notice appears on the GPE. The notice must be published at least 15 days before issuance of a solicitation, or a proposed contract action the Government intends to solicit and negotiate with only one source under the authority of 6.302..."? It seems to clearly show that you EITHER issue a solicitation, or you solicit and negotiate with only one source. If you must post a solicitation even for a sole source under 6.302, why is the "solicit and negotiate with only one source" even mentioned? It can't be in reference to an unusual and compelling urgency situation since it is talking about synopsis response time and those actions are exempt from the synopsis.

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Guest Vern Edwards

Can you explain why FAR 5.203(a) says "An agency must transmit a notice of proposed contract action to the GPE (see 5.201). All publicizing and response times are calculated based on the date of publication. The publication date is the date the notice appears on the GPE. The notice must be published at least 15 days before issuance of a solicitation, or a proposed contract action the Government intends to solicit and negotiate with only one source under the authority of 6.302..."? It seems to clearly show that you EITHER issue a solicitation, or you solicit and negotiate with only one source. If you must post a solicitation even for a sole source under 6.302, why is the "solicit and negotiate with only one source" even mentioned? It can't be in reference to an unusual and compelling urgency situation since it is talking about synopsis response time and those actions are exempt from the synopsis.

FAR says, and I'll paraphrase:

The notice must be published at least 15 days

(1) before issuance of a solicitation,

or

(2) [before soliciting and negotiating] with only one source....

Now, your question is: "If you must post a solicitation even for a sole source under 6.302, why is the "solicit and negotiate with only one source" even mentioned?"

Well, it seems obvious that it's mentioned in order to tell you that you must publish a notice no matter which of the two things you are doing -- conducting a competition or negotiating sole source. I don't understand what you don't understand.

What do you infer from the sentence? What do you think it implies?

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Vern,

I think 5.203(a) implies that you are either synopsisizng and then soliciting publically, or you are synopsizing and then soliciting privately to a single source. But based on everything else said in this thread (including your previous post from 2011), the second situation cannot happen because even a sole source solicitation must be posted publically. So my question is how can you post a synopsis and then solicit WITH ONLY ONE SOURCE in accordance with 5.203(a) if everyone else in this thread agreed that you must post a solicitation publically even if you intend to award to a single source?

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Guest Vern Edwards

Vern,

So my question is how can you post a synopsis and then solicit WITH ONLY ONE SOURCE in accordance with 5.203(a) if everyone else in this thread agreed that you must post a solicitation publically even if you intend to award to a single source?

The FAR does not make things as clear as it could and should. That is due in part to its topical structure and in part to the fact that the people who write the rules do not always think in terms of procedure. You mustn't rely on FAR to lay things out clearly for you. You must study the problem, integrate the rules in different parts, and then patch things together. Your problem is that you're trying to make sense of it all based on a couple of sections in Part 5.

Now, see FAR 6.302-1(d)(2) and 6.303-2( b )(6). Even if you a planning a sole source procurement, the expectation is that you will publish a notice and prepare a solicitation and make it available through the GPE if anyone asks for it. If you receive proposals from other than the planned sole source you must evaluate them, and you then report the acquisition as competitive even if you end up negotiating with only the planned sole source.

I can make an argument that if you know enough and do things right you will rarely have to prepare a J&A, even when you know that Company X is the only one who can do the job. Some will scream that you'd be wasting time and B&P costs and misleading innocent victim offerors, and they might be right, more or less. But you'd make Congress and the IG happy. It might not take much more time than a sole source procurement, if you know how to streamline the source selection.

I sometimes wish I were young and could take over a really screwed up contracting (not purchasing) office. Man, I'd make a jewel out of that place in two years. Oh well, not going to happen.

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aordway, I don't see a conflict. One can comply with both FAR 5.203(a) and FAR 5.102 by making the solicitation available IAW FAR 5.102. Posting the solicitation is not the same thing as inviting proposals from all potential offerors. See, e.g., FAR 5.102(e). Keep in mind the purpose of FAR 5.203, which is about response time. If you expect that FAR to be written with such precision that it is impossible to take language out of context and use it to support a proposition never intended by the Councils, you're asking too much.

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