Jump to content
The Wifcon Forums and Blogs
br549dewey

FBO - Interested Parties ,check box

Recommended Posts

FBO permits one, on solicitations and pre-sols, to click whether bidders/offerors/potentials want to be listed as interested parties. FBO also lets one check a box that permits such parties to "see" other such parties.

Is there guidance on when these need to be checked, and when not?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Very funny. I was asking from the perspective of a buyer. Why do we have a choice? i.e. when would we not select the boxes that permit contractors to express interest.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Vern Edwards

Hmmm. Maybe you would not select it when you're not interested in finding out who is interested.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am hoping there is an answer. Is it based on case law? For commercial buys it makes complete sense. But when would we not select these boxes, to permit parties to express and see interested? There must be some reason that we can choose whether or not interest can be expressed, and seen. I know that the concept of interested parties (and of course, being deemed not an interested party) is very pertinent to bid protests.... Who has some knowledge on this?

thanks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

FBO permits one, on solicitations and pre-sols, to click whether bidders/offerors/potentials want to be listed as interested parties. FBO also lets one check a box that permits such parties to "see" other such parties.

Is there guidance on when these need to be checked, and when not?

I haven't responded because you specifically asked if there is "guidance on when these need to be checked, and when not". I haven't been able to find regulatory requirement. I wish that a contracting officer or specialist with the US Army Corps of Engineers will provide input here. However, I found that many (most? all?) USACE Districts used to (still do? ) provide information concerning lists of prospective bidders/offerors so that prospective construction contract primes and subs could communicate for purposes of identifying subcontracting opportunities and obtaining quotes or proposals. As you may be aware, the majority of construction work is often performed by specialty subcontractors these days.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, I am generally aware of USACE practice to check both boxes (for interested parties and to see others...) for construction and commercial contracts. Still trying to get the bottom of this - is whether a Contract Specialist makes these features available to potential bidders a matter of strategy, or a matter of regulation, or case law?

The two features are used often, but not all the time? How is it supposed to be decided? Having trouble believing it is a matter of preference....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Vern Edwards

Gee whiz, br549dewey.

All kidding aside, the obvious purpose is to allow prospects (1) to let the government know that they are interested, in case the government is seeking sources or wants to assess the market and (2) to let other vendors know about and contact each other about subcontracting opportunities or the possibility of teaming. It also allows prospective offerors to keep us with unfolding developments over the course of lengthy and complex acquisitions.

If a contract specialist thinks that either of those things would facilitate the objectives of the acquisition, he or she can allow prospects (1) to indicate their interest and (2) to contact one another. It's a business communications thing. You know, business. Business people are supposed to be able to understand the possible utility of such communication and make an intelligent decision about it.

For instance, it you're planning a short, simple, commercial item procurement with no subcontracting or teaming opportunities, why bother? On the other hand, if you're contemplating a lengthy, complex procurement with plenty of subcontracting/teaming opportunities and you want to know who's out there and small business potential, and you want to let potential business partners notify each other of their interest and existence, then check both boxes.

There is no regulation or case law. (Case law??? !!!!). :blink: You're having trouble believing it is a matter of preference????? :unsure:

Sheesh.

Maybe the requirement for business course credits is not enough. Forget CON 90. Maybe we need a think like a business person boot camp.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

...Sheesh.

Maybe the requirement for business course credits is not enough. Forget CON 90. Maybe we need a think like a business person boot camp.

I agree with that !

The practice goes back, before the FBO site and before the Internet. Vern is spot on, plus identifying prospective bidders/offerors and those who requested plans and specs was necessary for knowing who to send amendments other notices to. Some of the original usage may no longer be necessary because the solicitations, including amendments, are now readily available via FBO.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If it's really that simple, which I believe it is, why not permit interested vendors to decide for themselves by default?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Vern Edwards

I can't think of any reason why not. On the other hand, most procurements are small, simple, and fast, and there probably isn't much interest in such info.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi all. I don't think those who responded as recently actually know the answer. Interested parties does related to protests, and to who has standing. And yes, I have had business courses.

Most of my business courses had some emphasis on politeness. So far I know that this matter does relate to case law. My approach is different. If I don't know, I ask a question. :-} Oh, - " I suppose" is not much of my answer. I will research this on my own. I am a Phi Beta Kappa, so I will hope I can find an answer. Thanks for stirring the pot. I will try to make soup now.

:-}

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just learned that recently a system change in FBO made it necessary to log in in order to register as an interested party. The explanation for this change is not clear. It does appear that it will make it more difficult to index information that is in FBO.

I have noted that some of the interested parties are just trying to advertise - proposal preparation, etc.

The original purpose (pre-internet) seems to have become blurry. i.e. it is clearly not just a way to be put on the bidder's list.

Question to consider: If one checks the box as an interested party, does that give grounds to protect? that is, even if one does not submit a bid/quote?

Best to you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Vern Edwards

br549dewey:

So, perhaps what you really want to know is: Who is an "interested party" for purposes of a bid protest under the Competition in Contracting Act and the Tucker Act, and what if any connection is there between being registered at FBO as an "interested vendor" and status as an "interested party" to protest?

Who is or is not an "interested party" to protest depends largely on the stage of the acquisition process and the extent of a firm's participation and eligibility as an actual or prospective competitor. It can be complicated.

For a good explanation with respect to protests to the GAO under the Competition in Contracting Act, see the definition of "interested party" in 4 CFR § 21.0 and Precise Management, LLC-Reconsideration, B-410912.2, 2015 CPD ¶ 193, June 30, 2015. See also the definition of "interested party" at FAR 33.101. There is no mention in those sources of a relationship between "interested party" and "interested vendor."

For a good explanation with respect to protests to the COFC under the Tucker Act, see Square One Armoring Service, Inc. v. U.S., COFC No. 15-340 C, September 28, 2015, at 7. I couldn't find "interested party" and "interested vendor" or FBO or FedBizOps in the same paragraph in any COFC or Federal Circuit decision that I found.

For a definition of "interested party" for purposes of protesting to the SBA about a firm's size status, see 13 CFR 121.1001. For "interested party" with respect to disadvantaged status see 13 CFR § 124.1007. For "interested party" with respect to Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business Program see 13 CFR 125.8. For "interested party" with respect to the HUBZone Program see 13 CFR 126.103. For "interested party" with respect to the Woman-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program see 13 CFR 127.102. None of those references mention FBO.

(There are other definitions of "interested party" for other purposes. I don't have time to list them all.)

Bottom line: You don't have to be registered at FBO in order to be an interested party for the purposes of a bid protest, and being registered at FBO does not necessarily make you an interested party. I found no case law that connects status as an "interested vendor" at FBO and status of an "interested party" at GAO or COFC. There are many, many GAO and COFC decisions that address the question of who is and who is not an "interested party."

Had I known that you are a member of Phi Beta Kappa I would have understood your confusion and taken both you and your inquiry much, much more seriously. And I'm glad to see that PBK membership is open to people who write stuff like: "Interested parties does related to protests, and to who has standing," and "Oh, - ' I suppose' is not much of my answer." How democratic and populist of the Kappas! Do you wear your key to work?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think registering on the FBO site (interested vendors) has been confused by many contract specialists, and their supervisors, with determining who is an interested party. I have heard it said that "you have to register as an interested vendor or they will toss you out." This appears incorrect, clearly. Further, on the other end of the spectrum, some firms or individuals just use it (FBO) for free advertising.

Further, along with what Mr. Edwards recently wrote, I re-learned last night that there are subtle differences in determining who is an interest party, depending on the venue. For instance, GAO's definition of an interested party is different from that of the SBA, for size protests. As for more about confusion - I know of more than one case recently where legal counsel wanted to know if a firm that had protested to GAO had registered as an interested vendor in FBO. Perhaps more misunderstanding of what interested vendor is for? Since we put everything on FBO for interested bidders, including links, I am back to asking why this feature is even on FBO?? I intend to take the FBO tutorial in order to glean out more about its functionality, and FBO's "intentions" for the thousands of buyers who sculpt their notices and solicitations into FBO. Since we who use FBO must perform the equivalent of "Functional Tests' for FBO, we are the ones to let them know what is working, what is not, and what is extraneous. The recent change that makes registration and logon required for being an interested vendor shows that FBO continues to slowly morph. I originally asked this question about FBO and interested vendors because I saw a lot of variation in FBO solicitations. For instance, why would you not permit interested vendor registration for a commercial, full and open competition? Other Contract Specialists permit interested vendors on simple informative notices, with no apparent use for vendor registration. FBO is like so many software applications we use in that the designed functionality permits too wide a range of responses, with the associated differences in interpretation. Hence, we see wild and wide differences in its use for almost identical solicitations.....

Thank you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Each contracting officer makes his or her own decision about checking the box to allow for FBO readers to identify themselves as interested vendors. Maybe some use the same approach every time, but others think about it a little. I ask myself two questions:

(1) Am I interested in seeing who might be interested in a solicitation I intend to release? YES or NO.

(2) Do I want to encourage subcontractor possibilities by allowing potential primes and subs to see each other? YES or NO.

If the answer is YES to either question, I likely will check the box.

If the answer is NO to both questions, I likely won't check the box.

It's really that simple. CO discretion every time. It is never mandatory and it is never prohibited. We do not need more regulations on when to enable the field.

However, the notion that a FBO reader might become an "interested party" for protest or other purposes simply by listing itself in FBO's interested vendor field is not a credible notion and goes far beyond what the FBO designers ever intended.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Agreed. I see it (interested vendors) on intended sole source notifications. This is confusing, since they have to challenge a proposed sole source (typically sole responsible source), not register as an interest vendor.

Note that lawyers do at times want to know if bidders registered as an interested vendor for a solicitation. View that this is oblique, but it is in some cases recorded, like a footnote that is at best indirectly related to the matter at hand.

The interested vendor field does seem to be best used to stimulate competition, and especially for commercial items or services.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi. See below that the interested vendor function is for competitive solicitations, or notices, such as sources sought, that are in preparation for a competed solicitation. This is from the FBO buyer's guide -

"Opportunity Actions: Vendors are able to add themselves to the Interested Vendors List (IVL) for an opportunity. If the buyer has indicated that reviewing vendors are able to review other interested vendors, vendors can review the list of vendors who have expressed interest in the opportunity. Vendors can request explicit access to view controlled, unclassified packages with explicit access designation. If the vendor’s profile indicates that the vendor is eligible for access to export controlled packages, the system allows the vendor access. Additionally, Vendors can electronically respond to RFIs, RFQs, and RFPs directly through the web site for those notices which have the Bid Module enabled by the buyer. Note: The Interested Vendor list is only available to those with FBO accounts. Agency buyers / engineers will need to go to the FBO homepage and login in order to view."

Hence, the interested vendors function seems inappropriate and even problematic and confusing, for sole source actions, where competition is not intended. For that matter, the interested vendor function appears to make business sense only when trying to stimulate competition. Yet, I see the function activated for numerous non-competitive actions on FBO... Some vendors might mistakenly think that registering as an interested vendor in some way challenges the intended sole source action. It does not, but merely displays interest.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm an old guy with a bad memory,

but I think the requirement to register with FBO in order to be listed as an interested vendor goes back at least 5, maybe 10 years.

PBK,

if you want to do a sole source, and the rationale is weak sauce, you could unduly restrict competition by limiting access to information for anyone but your preferred source. Fewer chances of a protest.

Or,

if there is a history of improper collusion among bidders on a requirement,

not telling bidders who their competition is could help.

Otherwise, go ahead and open the door up to competition, if you believe competition is good.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some contract writing programs that some agencies use do not give the contract specialist the option on whether or not to have the check boxes available. This is why you may see them on sole source acquisitions. The system simply has the boxes available on all postings.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Greetings all.

If your system won't let you decide whether or not to make the check boxes available to vendors, then shame on you/us... :-} it is meant to be a decision point, for the buyer.

There is a reason the buyer is to be able to decide if they (interested party boxes) are available.

Remember, being an interested vendor is NOT the same thing as being an interested party. i.e. Checking the box does not make one an interested party.

My point was that if you are announcing an intended sole source, the contractor(s) need to do more than check the interested party box on FBO. They have to contact the buying agency to express their position - i.e. they can do the work, etc. I think having the interested party box active on a sole source announcement is just straight up confusing. If it is a sole source announcement, the interested PARTIES need to know how to challenge the proposed sole source action.

Thinks for responding.

Happy Trails! - BR549Dewey

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...