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Don Mansfield

Multiple award preference

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FAR 16.504( c )(1)(i) states:

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Except for indefinite-quantity contracts for advisory and assistance services as provided in paragraph (c)(2) of this section, the contracting officer must, to the maximum extent practicable, give preference to making multiple awards of indefinite-quantity contracts under a single solicitation for the same or similar supplies or services to two or more sources.

Assume I issue a single solicitation for an IDIQ contract with multiple line items. The line items are for similar services. When I award, I make a single award for each line item (e.g., Offeror A gets CLIN 0001, offeror B gets CLIN 0002, etc.). Haven't I made multiple awards of indefinite-quantity contracts under a single solicitation for similar services to two or more sources?

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Seems consistent with the FAR 2.101 definition of “Multiple-award contract”. See item 3 below:

“Multiple-award contract” means a contract that is—

(1) A Multiple Award Schedule contract issued by GSA (e.g., GSA Schedule Contract) or agencies granted Multiple Award Schedule contract authority by GSA (e.g., Department of Veterans Affairs) as described in FAR part 38;

(2) A multiple-award task-order or delivery-order contract issued in accordance with FAR subpart 16.5, including Governmentwide acquisition contracts; or

(3) Any other indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract entered into with two or more sources pursuant to the same solicitation.

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No. You have a single source for each line item (same or similar services). 

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Joel:

Why not?

I think most people would share your view, but is that interpretation based on the rules as written?

I think the answer to the Don's question is yes. I don't think many offices would allow anyone to do it though.

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Guest Vern Edwards
11 hours ago, Don Mansfield said:

Assume I issue a single solicitation for an IDIQ contract with multiple line items. The line items are for similar services. When I award, I make a single award for each line item (e.g., Offeror A gets CLIN 0001, offeror B gets CLIN 0002, etc.). Haven't I made multiple awards of indefinite-quantity contracts under a single solicitation for similar services to two or more sources?

Don:

The key sentence in that quote is "The [different] line items are for similar services." What do you mean by that?

I presume that the policy goal behind 16.504(c)(1)(i) is to have competition for each specific requirement.

You're with DOD. Under DOD rules, each CLIN must be "separately identifiable" and have its own specification or statement of work. You can have only one specification or statement of work for each line item. DFARS 204.7103-1(a)(2). You can have different contractors offering different products or services under the same line item as long as both products or services satisfy the same specification or statement of work. That's what "same or similar" means. That would allow competition within a line item. What you're asking is whether, for a given requirement, you can get competition among line items, instead of within line items.

The answer to your question depends on whether you can have competition for a given requirement by contractors offering different products or services under different line items with different specifications or statements of work. In other words, can you have competition among line items?  If so, then the answer to your question is yes. If not, then the answer is no.

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I believe the intent of the quoted passage is to promote/allow competition among the IDIQ holders.  As your proposed scenario doesn't allow for competition, and at best allows for rotating sources (assuming needs vary among the CLINs), it doesn't meet that measure.

While your proposed action may meet the written rule, it doesn't meet the intent and that's why Jamaal's correct in assuming most offices wouldn't allow it.

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Yes, I could imagine such a set up working quite well on a large BOS contract for example, with IDIQ line items for certain over and above facility repair work such as roofing, HVAC, fire protection, elevators, security systems, etc.  It might make sense to put all them under a single solicitation, and then make multiple awards for the various items of work whether single or multiple offerors get awarded contracts for specific CLINs.   

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10 hours ago, Jamaal Valentine said:

Joel:

Why not?

I think most people would share your view, but is that interpretation based on the rules as written?

I think the answer to the Don's question is yes. I don't think many offices would allow anyone to do it though.

Why not? Because it often takes more expertise and common sense than a simpleton habit or approach of reading the FAR one line at a time.  One must apply more intelligence and effort than a simple literal reading of isolated sentences  

The Federal Acquisition Streamling Act of 1994 established the preference for multiple award ID/IQ contracts to simplify and promote competition in ID/IQ contracting (independent of the GSA Part 8 programs) among other purposes. I believe it also discussed the fair opportunity competition requirements.  

Here is but one of many sites that you can read beyond the literal definition of multiple award ID/IQ 

https://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/best_practices_multi_award/

I also know that agencies have often reserved the right to award a stand alone contract (e.g., C-Type vs. D-Type) for severable items to one or more firms; that is award of part of the effort to one firm and other parts to one or more other firms.   I think that this was done to discourage unbalanced bidding practices. However, that is not what is meant by preference for multiple award ID/IQ contracting, per se, here.

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Guest Vern Edwards
33 minutes ago, joel hoffman said:

Because it often takes more expertise and common sense than a simpleton habit or approach of reading the FAR one line at a time.  One must apply more intelligence and effort than a simple literal reading of isolated sentences  

Tell 'em, Joel!

That should be painted above the door of every contracting office and should appear at the top of the Forum page.

However, imagine an IDIQ task order contract for "calibration." CLIN 0001 is for Method A and CLIN 0002 is for Method B. The methods are different. Different process specifications. Either method will work and would be acceptable, although one might work better than the other in a given situation, albeit at higher cost, depending on the situation. You could award one contract for CLIN 0001 and another for CLIN 0002 and then let the contractors compete for each cleaning job by proposing their own method, arguing why their method would be better, and offering competitive prices for the task.

Voila! Competition among line items. I think that approach would satisfy FAR 16.504(c)(1)(i) and the underlying policy goal.

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2 hours ago, Vern Edwards said:

Don:

The key sentence in that quote is "The [different] line items are for similar services." What do you mean by that?

For example, multiple line items requiring installation of onboard communication systems for different ships. Each installation is a distinct line item.

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Guest Vern Edwards

So each ship installation is a separate line item.

I think that in that instance you'd have to have multiple awards for each line item in order to satisfy the regulation. I don't think you could say that you have a multiple award IDIQ contract if you have only one contractor per line item in that instance.

A thought: if you award one contract per CLIN, each for one job, then you don't have an IDIQ contact. You have several indefinite-delivery definite-quantity contracts. If the contract clauses reflect IDDQ, then you don't need multiple awards.

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1 hour ago, Vern Edwards said:

Tell 'em, Joel!

That should be painted above the door of every contracting office and should appear at the top of the Forum page.

However, imagine an IDIQ task order contract for "calibration." CLIN 0001 is for Method A and CLIN 0002 is for Method B. The methods are different. Different process specifications. Either method will work and would be acceptable, although one might work better than the other in a given situation, albeit at higher cost, depending on the situation. You could award one contract for CLIN 0001 and another for CLIN 0002 and then let the contractors compete for each cleaning job by proposing their own method, arguing why their method would be better, and offering competitive prices for the task.

Voila! Competition among line items. I think that approach would satisfy FAR 16.504(c)(1)(i) and the underlying policy goal.

I think so, too as long as competing alternative approaches are allowed during the contract - to the extent possible.  There might even be valid exceptions. 

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4 hours ago, Vern Edwards said:

A thought: if you award one contract per CLIN, each for one job, then you don't have an IDIQ contact. You have several indefinite-delivery definite-quantity contracts. If the contract clauses reflect IDDQ, then you don't need multiple awards.

The actual work would still need to be defined after award, so IDDQ would not suffice.

Volume I, Chapter 4, of the Contract Pricing Reference Guides distinguishes between "Multiple Awards for Different Line Items" and "Multiple Awards for the Same Line Item." What I described in my original post would be the former. I think that what I described would be "multiple awards of indefinite-quantity contracts under a single solicitation for similar services to two or more sources", but not necessarily in the context of FAR 16.504( c ).

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10 hours ago, joel hoffman said:

Because it often takes more expertise and common sense than a simpleton habit or approach of reading the FAR one line at a time.  One must apply more intelligence and effort than a simple literal reading of isolated sentences

I agree, which is why I solicited additional information to support your assertion, to Don's original question, that it is single source for each line item.

Keep in mind - The original post wasn't about the quality or even the soundness of an approach. It was a simple binary choice, yes or no, question.

Your answer of "No." was responsive, but it seemed more synthetic than analytic. In fact, in your following post you seem to have reversed positions -- believing it is possible to have multiple awards with competition among line items.

The remainder of your post provides your belief and listed some best practices, but didn't identify underlying policy goals that support your position -- let alone anything definitive or authoritative.

I'm glad you highlighted critical thinking ... We desperately need it! However, we also need people to present evidence that rules as written mean something different than what can be gathered from reading them as-written. If we present compelling evidence, individuals can determine the validity of the argument.

I understand, sometimes this isn't possible and we have to rely on a persuasive or convincing argument based on experience, opinion, beliefs, point-of-view, etc.

Thanks for the response and all of your long-standing contributions.

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Guest Vern Edwards
7 hours ago, Don Mansfield said:

The actual work would still need to be defined after award, so IDDQ would not suffice.

It's not the definition of the work that makes for IDIQ or IDDQ. It's the quantity. If each CLIN is for one ship, then each CLIN is a quantity of one. A definite quantity, unless I misunderstand what you meant. And who cares what the Contract Pricing Reference Guides say?

Are you in Rio?

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19 hours ago, Jamaal Valentine said:

I agree, which is why I solicited additional information to support your assertion, to Don's original question, that it is single source for each line item.

Keep in mind - The original post wasn't about the quality or even the soundness of an approach. It was a simple binary choice, yes or no, question.

Your answer of "No." was responsive, but it seemed more synthetic than analytic. In fact, in your following post you seem to have reversed positions -- believing it is possible to have multiple awards with competition among line items.

The remainder of your post provides your belief and listed some best practices, but didn't identify underlying policy goals that support your position -- let alone anything definitive or authoritative.

I'm glad you highlighted critical thinking ... We desperately need it! However, we also need people to present evidence that rules as written mean something different than what can be gathered from reading them as-written. If we present compelling evidence, individuals can determine the validity of the argument.

I understand, sometimes this isn't possible and we have to rely on a persuasive or convincing argument based on experience, opinion, beliefs, point-of-view, etc.

Thanks for the response and all of your long-standing contributions.

Jamaal, I said no because, as originally framed, the government would be simply awarding contracts for separate line items to each contractor from one solicitation. There was no explanation that delivery or task orders would be competed between the base contract holders, only that there would be multiple base contract awards from one solicitation. 

Vern later introduced a scenario where the separate line items would be distinct, yet related because they represent alternate approaches, products or solutions. Any one of them could be acceptable alternatives under one delivery or task order.  If the government will normally be issuing task orders that provide competition among the various contract holders, I think that this would meet the definition of a multiple award ID/IQ. 

As for the underlying basis, I think that the link I provided explains the background, policy and concept of MUltiple Award ID/IQs pretty well. A simple Google search provided all sorts of discussion well beyond the literal language in the FAR. 

 

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Often, reading and interpreting an individual sentence, phrase, paragraph, etc., in the FAR literally, without any other knowledge or proper context, can be compared with a similar reading of the Bible. It's like a literal reading and interpretation of  of a Chapter or verse in the Bible on your own, with little or no knowledge of the context, authorship, history, intended audience, customs of the people involved, original language, etc.  Some examples of that are the terms "brother", "love" and "saints".  

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A lot of people say "It's Greek to me!"  Couldn't resist😜

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