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The NASA SEWP FAQs have the following question and response:

Quote

Are BPAs/Blanket Purchase Agreements allowed on SEWP?

SEWP does not have a structure available that is identical to Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs). 

The response goes on to state that "Delivery Orders with Options (DOWOs)" are permissible and provide some of the same features as a BPA. "DOWO" seems to be a NASA-coined term, whereby an initial delivery order contains terms allowing subsequent orders against the same quote. NASA states that the DOWO procedure can be compliant with FAR 16.505(b), then goes on to state the steps for setting one up. (The response does not give the sense that it was written by a government contracts person.)

  1. Does anybody know what the quoted response might mean?
     
  2. It seems to me that in order for the DOWO concept to comply with 16.505(b), you would need either quantity options or a "logical follow-on" exception to fair opportunity. The fact that NASA's explanation of DOWO mentions neither of these seems to be an oversight. Am I missing something?
     
  3. Can anybody speak generally about whether awarding a BPA against a non-FSS IDIQ is permissible under the FAR? (Put the merits of doing so aside.) 

Thanks.

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A lot of views for no response... In general SEWP doesn't really allow many of these anymore, they push Agencies to an Agency Catalog (which has even less info on the FAQ)if the requirement is less defined. I'm sure they still happen, but SEWP pushes the Catalog and multiple award , not a DOWO. 

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I just reviewed the Request for Agency Catalog (RFAC) option you mentioned. Information regarding the process is very vague.

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If you are on the government side, they will answer all of your questions if you contact them. If you are industry, they may not be as forthcoming... 

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I don't know a lot about the SEWP agency catalogs, but my last Agency did establish some. My understanding is that they are a lot like FAR Part 8 BPA's. There is a competition amongst SEWP contract holders up front to establish an agency catalog. Based on that competition, an agency catalog is then created for those specific products. The catalog may contain several contractors who offer that product, with their prices, or it may only contain one contractor. From that point on, any requirement the Agency has for a product in the catalog can be restricted to only those contractors who have an agency catalog for the product. I'm not clear about how SEWP does this within the confines of FAR Part 16 however. If there are multiple contractors for the catalog, the order is competed amongst those contractors. If there is only one contractor in the catalog, then no competition occurs.

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20 minutes ago, jtolli said:

If there is only one contractor in the catalog, then no competition occurs.

I've not seen a one-contractor option for this, at least not recently, maybe because of the Motorola decision.   It is not a BPA and doesn't have all the features of a BPA.   It does temporarily create a smaller subset of qualified SEWP vendors for a defined and limited batch of in-scope products/services and to that end can help streamline procurements while driving to lower baseline prices.  

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39 minutes ago, jtolli said:

I'm not clear about how SEWP does this within the confines of FAR Part 16 however. If there are multiple contractors for the catalog, the order is competed amongst those contractors. If there is only one contractor in the catalog, then no competition occurs.

14 minutes ago, jayandstacey said:

I've not seen a one-contractor option for this, at least not recently, maybe because of the Motorola decision.   It is not a BPA and doesn't have all the features of a BPA.

So what are the mechanics and particulars of setting this up? What features of a BPA doesn't it have? Is there a SEWP manual I can get my hands on that discusses this? 

The reason I started this topic and I'm asking these questions is because I'm reviewing a file that was awarded a year ago. It is a single-award "Agency Catalog/BPA" for VMWare with a total estimated value of $75M and nothing obligated or guaranteed up front. The Acquisition Plan references just about every FAR Part under the sun (confusion reigned) and there is nothing in the RFQ indicating a unique process.

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I found this PowerPoint from NASA, which sort of explains things beginning on pg. 20. It seems that there is no award document that comes from the Agency Catalog process. Rather, once a winner (or winners) is determined, the contractor and NASA are notified and they work out the details on the back end. Once the catalog is ready in SEWP, then the agency places orders. 

For those who have done this, is this basically correct?

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20 hours ago, FrankJon said:

What features of a BPA doesn't it have?

Well, it can't be as broad in scope as a BPA could be.   It needs defined requirements, such as an agency's Approved Products List.  It also must be bid; it can't just be negotiated.   Years ago I set up a BPA for "2% off all GSA orders" against a particular GSA Schedule, as negotiated (not competitively awarded).  That's not possible with an Agency Catalog.  

Additionally, FSS contracts (and thus BPAs) can be teamed between contractors, and can be utilized by state & local governments.   While these benefits aren't specific to BPAs, they do make a BPA a very different tool from an Agency Catalog.

20 hours ago, FrankJon said:

because I'm reviewing a file that was awarded a year ago.

To what end?  Have you reached out to NASA? 

20 hours ago, FrankJon said:

It is a single-award "Agency Catalog/BPA"

It's an Agency Catalog, not a /BPA.  

On 5/1/2018 at 10:26 AM, FrankJon said:

Can anybody speak generally about whether awarding a BPA against a non-FSS IDIQ is permissible under the FAR? (Put the merits of doing so aside.)

Going back to the earlier question - 

No one is awarding a BPA against a non-FSS IDIQ.   However, I do believe there are times where doing so makes good sense.   The IDIQs in this space are generally large (many awardees) and sliced one particular way; usually, by small business status, like with SEWP, but sometimes by technology scope.  However, these slices don't always meet Government needs.    If a buyer has particular, justified, cross-cutting needs (for instance, for vendors with a 24/7 help desk, or for vendors that are certified a certain way, or even just to get lower prices with some companies with some relevant past performance) - wouldn't it make sense to allow the Government to narrow the IDIQ field one time and use that for future fair opportunities and purchases?    Not forever, and not for everything...but to a limited scope.  

My opinion is that certain types of IDIQs should have the same BPA capabilities (and restrictions) as FSS contracts.  Or something very close.  Or that BPAs should be reigned in a little bit.  

20 hours ago, FrankJon said:

The Acquisition Plan references just about every FAR Part under the sun (confusion reigned) and there is nothing in the RFQ indicating a unique process.

You're making accusations of confusion and lack of process - yet seeking to understand SEWP's Agency Catalog.   You may be right...I don't have the Plan you reference.  The claim just seems premature.  

20 hours ago, FrankJon said:

For those who have done this, is this basically correct?

Basically.  But the process and options have changed and the slides are a year old.   You'll want to work with NASA.  

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57 minutes ago, jayandstacey said:

Well, it can't be as broad in scope as a BPA could be.   It needs defined requirements, such as an agency's Approved Products List.  It also must be bid; it can't just be negotiated.   Years ago I set up a BPA for "2% off all GSA orders" against a particular GSA Schedule, as negotiated (not competitively awarded).  That's not possible with an Agency Catalog.  

I see the scope distinction that you're discussing as being necessitated by the structure of SEWP vs. FSS (dynamic catalogs vs standing catalogs). (As an aside, I hope your noncompetitve FSS BPA was below the SAT.)

57 minutes ago, jayandstacey said:

To what end?  Have you reached out to NASA?

Quality review. Not yet. May not need to for my purposes.

57 minutes ago, jayandstacey said:

It's an Agency Catalog, not a /BPA.

Yes, as I've learned from this discussion. Nevertheless, that's what the CO calls it.

57 minutes ago, jayandstacey said:

You're making accusations of confusion and lack of process - yet seeking to understand SEWP's Agency Catalog.   You may be right...I don't have the Plan you reference.  The claim just seems premature.  

What do I need to know about Agency Catalogs to know that if competitive FAR procedures outside of 16.5 are being referenced for a GWAC order, the CO is confused?

57 minutes ago, jayandstacey said:

No one is awarding a BPA against a non-FSS IDIQ.   However, I do believe there are times where doing so makes good sense.

My question goes to the permissibility of doing so. BPAs are expressly permitted under 8.4 and 13, but would this preclude establishing a BPA when using other procedures such as 16.5? You say you like the idea for practical reasons, and I think I agree. But have you considered whether you have the authority to do so?

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1 hour ago, FrankJon said:

(As an aside, I hope your noncompetitve FSS BPA was below the SAT.)

Hmmm...I don't recall.   It was about 15 years ago.  

1 hour ago, FrankJon said:

Nevertheless, that's what the CO calls it.

I hear ya.  Whenever I hear someone say "BPA" i have to stop and ask:  Do you mean ANY agreement to to do blanket buys?   Or a kind of subset to an IDIQ?  Or a BPA as an FSS construct?    I've heard it used as a synonym to "contract".

1 hour ago, FrankJon said:

You say you like the idea for practical reasons, and I think I agree. But have you considered whether you have the authority to do so?

I'm just an entity on an internet forum with no authority at all  :)   It is simply an adjustment I'd make to the rules, if I were able to adjust the rules.   

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