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Posted a SAT solicitation for 30 days on GSA's eBuy for a commercial item.   In the end, I only received one quote from a qualified vendor.   Am I required to re-post the solicitation, perhaps outside of GSA eBuy where more vendors might offer the service, given the limited response?   If I move forward with this vendor, is it considered sole source and does it require sole source justification?  

Thank you.  

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If you know or have some idea of what a commercial item can be purchased for and the single quote is higher, would you make an offer and negotiate? A quote isn’t an offer. 

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11 hours ago, GABE said:

If the requirement is under the SAT, no, you're not required.  I would however "Survey" pricing from two other FSS sources and execute the order.

So, if you know that it can be purchased for less than the quote, would you make an offer and negotiate? A quote isn’t an offer.

Buyers negotiate. Clerks process orders. My advice to beginners is to be a buyer.

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On 1/21/2020 at 4:03 PM, Daniel.Fox said:

 If I move forward with this vendor, is it considered sole source and does it require sole source justification?  

No. A Limited Source J&A (FAR 8), Single-Source J&A (FAR 13) and Sole-Source J&A (All others) are part of Acquisition Planning (AP) and are created/approved in support of your Market Research (MR) and acquisition strategy. 

Let me ask you, if you planned for only one responsible vendor (any of the three J&As listed above), would you be required to go back and change everything in your AP?

On 1/21/2020 at 4:03 PM, Daniel.Fox said:

Am I required to re-post the solicitation, perhaps outside of GSA eBuy where more vendors might offer the service, given the limited response?  

MR has already spelled out why you are utilizing these competition procedures.

Can you find the price to be Fair and Reasonable? FAR gives many more avenues other than competition to determine this. If so, why waste time re-competing something that cost the taxpayers more time/money if the government (in turn society (DOD/VA/EPA/etc.)) has what is needed to complete its stated mission ready now?

On 4/14/2020 at 7:45 PM, GABE said:

I would however "Survey" pricing from two other FSS sources and execute the order.

FSS pricing is a good compass, but you need to make sure someone is buying things at that price from them. A lot of pricing on schedule contracts is not F&R as people don't buy from them. Having an FSS contract, in and of itself, doesn't make the price F&R. 

On 4/15/2020 at 7:33 AM, joel hoffman said:

So, if you know that it can be purchased for less than the quote, would you make an offer and negotiate? A quote isn’t an offer.

Buyers negotiate. Clerks process orders. My advice to beginners is to be a buyer.

Joel, good advice. Here to learn is a good start. 

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15 hours ago, Constricting Officer said:

FSS pricing is a good compass, but you need to make sure someone is buying things at that price from them. A lot of pricing on schedule contracts is not F&R as people don't buy from them. Having an FSS contract, in and of itself, doesn't make the price F&R. 

The above statement is not correct as fair and reasonable or not is not an absolute under GSA FSS contracts.  It depends.   And in this case the OP has not stated whether a Statement of Work was required.

FAR 8.404(d) "  Pricing. Supplies offered on the schedule are listed at fixed prices. Services offered on the schedule are priced either at hourly rates, or at a fixed price for performance of a specific task (e.g., installation, maintenance, and repair). GSA has already determined the prices of supplies and fixed-price services, and rates for services offered at hourly rates, under schedule contracts to be fair and reasonable. Therefore, ordering activities are not required to make a separate determination of fair and reasonable pricing, except for a price evaluation as required by 8.405-2(d). By placing an order against a schedule contract using the procedures in 8.405, the ordering activity has concluded that the order represents the best value (as defined in FAR 2.101) and results in the lowest overall cost alternative (considering price, special features, administrative costs, etc.) to meet the Government’s needs. Although GSA has already negotiated fair and reasonable pricing, ordering activities may seek additional discounts before placing an order (see 8.405-4).

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6 hours ago, C Culham said:

By placing an order against a schedule contract using the procedures in 8.405, the ordering activity has concluded that the order represents the best value (as defined in FAR 2.101) and results in the lowest overall cost alternative (considering price, special features, administrative costs, etc.) to meet the Government’s needs. Although GSA has already negotiated fair and reasonable pricing, ordering activities may seek additional discounts before placing an order (see 8.405-4).

C Culham, are you saying that my error is confusing F&R with Best Value?

Example:

Three schedule holders (SH) provide janitorial services. These services are provided at the price/per hour as follows:

 - SH # 1 - $20 HR

 - SH # 2 - $25 HR

 - SH # 3 - $30 HR

I, as the ordering activity, need 10 HRS of janitorial services and received the quotes below with no additional discount offered:

- SH # 1 Quote - $200

- SH # 2 Quote - $250 

- SH # 3 Quote - $300 

Even though all three quotes are considered F&R, I choose # 1, as it represent the best value to the government. 

Please advise if I missed your point. Always learning.

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Constricting officer,

I believe Carl’s question and definitely a concern of mine is what you said - “ a lot of pricing on schedule contracts is not F&R”

Quote

FSS pricing is a good compass, but you need to make sure someone is buying things at that price from them. A lot of pricing on schedule contracts is not F&R as people don't buy from them. Having an FSS contract, in and of itself, doesn't make the price F&R. 

Tell us how you came to that conclusion because it contradicts GSA policy and their CO decisions in making the awards.  See Carl’s quoted highlights in bold

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15 hours ago, Retreadfed said:

Those in or dealing with DoD should be familiar with this gem https://www.acq.osd.mil/dpap/policy/policyvault/USA001004-14-DPAP.pdf

 

On 4/15/2020 at 6:33 AM, joel hoffman said:

So, if you know that it can be purchased for less than the quote, would you make an offer and negotiate? A quote isn’t an offer.

Buyers negotiate. Clerks process orders. My advice to beginners is to be a buyer.

I worked with a Korean American contract negotiator in Saudi Arabia for the Corps of Engineers back in the mid 80’s. All of our contractors were foreign, primarily from Korea, Taiwan, Philippines, Middle East, etc. Mr. Chong used to say that Americans are gullible, that they accept prices at face value. He said that Koreans and many other Asians negotiate for every purchase, even for a loaf of bread. Thus, our contractors never proposed the lowest price they were willing to accept.

Years before then, I was City Engineer in a city in Wisconsin. Our City purchasing agent, a friend of mine, always negotiated prices for materials, supplies and equipment (other than what acquisitions were bid). He told me that he could get better deals by negotiating.

Years later, in various conversations with several medium and large construction contractors, each one told me that they seldom offered their lowest prices in initial, best value source selection pricing. This was, in part, due to subcontractor pricing. They also stressed that the times allowed for pricing construction contracts were generally too rushed to be able to refine their own pricing and pricing of subcontracts.

When I shop at Hardware stores and other supply houses, I generally ask for a discount or price match, if available. Many companies will offer discounts for veterans and military members. Others will price match, if you can find a better price. 

Retreadfed’s link to DoD policy and other DoD policy directives essentially say that KO’s should use good business judgement and not simply take for granted that the FSS prices are the best deals available because GSA declared that they are “fair and reasonable”. 

Thats why I said that “buyers negotiate”. Clerks write up orders.

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Joel,

I have tried to make the point with colleagues that we have a choice between being a professional or being a clerk.  It seems that as time passes, more and more contracting officers are choosing to be clerks.  I regret this shift, and the winds that seem to blow in that direction.  But just because the wind is blowing in a certain direction doesn't mean that every sailor needs to go in that direction -- a experienced sailor can competently sail into the wind.

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4 minutes ago, ji20874 said:

Joel,

I have tried to make the point with colleagues that we have a choice between being a professional or being a clerk.  It seems that as time passes, more and more contracting officers are choosing to be clerks.  I regret this shift, and the winds that seem to blow in that direction.  But just because the wind is blowing in a certain direction doesn't mean that every sailor needs to go in that direction -- a experienced sailor can competently sail into the wind.

Right on, ji. Happy Sails! joel

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16 hours ago, Constricting Officer said:

C Culham, are you saying that my error is confusing F&R with Best Value?

@formerfed expressed my concern with your statement.  I do note that "best value" in the context of the FAR is a source selection approach.  Using GSA FSS is one such  approach where further best value techniques can be used.  Fair and reasonable is arriving at prices fair and reasonable to all parties.

Fair and reasonable is most likely what @joel hoffman and @ji20874 are trying to address but honestly their discussion is lost in the arena of GSA FSS pricing in my view.  I whole heatedly agree with attempting to get further discounts but I disagree with the analogy of clerical work they are trying to weave in.   Hell it is their very own current or past agencies that set up IDIQs (remember that is what a GSA FSS is for government wide use) and demand their use because they say they have done what is necessary to get fair and reasonable pricing.  Good lord you can not have it both ways.   By my view it just suggests a bias against GSA FSS.  My view as a taxpayer (an analogy that @joel hoffman likes to use) is this - if GSA already went to the effort to get good pricing, get good warranties, get good guarantees and set up a vehicle that allows me to not have to go through the bureaucratic stuff of advertising, source selection, etc. etc. is that not "best value" approach?   And as such is not leaving the fair and reasonable to someone else's judgement okay?   

I also want to emphasize that my above statements are based on the sideboards of GSA FSS pursuant to the FAR.   Remember the rules of engagement for GSA FSS change depending on whether the needs is a supply or service without statement of work, service or supply with statement of work or BPA as the vehicle is defined within FAR 8.4. 

My advice to the OP is read FAR 8.4, understand its nuances as a  source selection approach, utilize it to its upmost and move on.   You are not a clerk for doing so you are a professional because you found the best approach for the need you have in hand.   GSA FSS may not be the end all in the next need you have but it darn has its place in world of source selection approaches. 

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GSA didn’t go to much effort to get “good pricing”. Plus they allow users to request discounts for specific purchases. One respondent advises just to process the order. 

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Just now, joel hoffman said:

GSA didn’t go to much effort to get “good pricing”.

OKay I'll agree bad use of a term on my part.  Not "good pricing" but darn sure "fair and reasonable" or are you saying that GSA CO's that award GSA FSS contracts are doing so without making a determination of fair and reasonable pricing?   If so what  is your reference to defend this statement?  Hopefully you are not implying the GSA CO's are just doing clerical work!

 

Just now, joel hoffman said:

Plus they allow users to request discounts for specific purchases.

Already said this so thanks for repeating.

 

Just now, joel hoffman said:

One respondent advises just to process the order. 

And the OP should rightly do so if the service need is below the SAT and does not require a SOW.  But how do we and you know?  Further the OP specifically said they used GSA eBuy so are you saying that is not adequate market pricing within the arena of GSA FSS?   So drifting off into discussions of finding other sources, getting further quotes, discussion of clerical work etc. is quite frankly lost on me and is back to a concern we all dealt with in this Forum not too long ago.  Everyone jumping in to suggest an approach without adequate information and with responses that have no reference.

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Carl, I was responding to Gabe and advised beginners to negotiate.

Especially if they know if the item or service could be or has been acquired somewhere for less.

It can be as simple as making a phone call. Unfortunately, many people these days are adverse to orally communicating. If so, they are probably very adept at chats, texting or emails.

 

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58 minutes ago, joel hoffman said:

Unfortunately, many people these days are adverse to orally communicating. If so, they are probably very adept at chats, texting or emails. . They should be good at on-line sourcing and pricing techniques.

One source: I was a member of a recent Project Development Team on a major ~$800 million project for a new Western regional headquarters facility for an Army Agency. The Agency provided in-depth project planning data to develop performance design criteria. The data included very detailed research on the demographics of both the current and expected future workforce, including ages, sex, tendencies, needs, desires, work patterns, personality types, work station and meeting needs, interactions with others, etc. (At one point, the agency was requesting that all restrooms be designed and designated as uni-sex). 

Edit: It just occurred to me that this agency could probably easily practice social distancing with a full workforce of hundreds of employees performing their jobs in the main facility. 

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On 1/21/2020 at 4:03 PM, Daniel.Fox said:

Posted a SAT solicitation for 30 days on GSA's eBuy for a commercial item.   In the end, I only received one quote from a qualified vendor.   Am I required to re-post the solicitation, perhaps outside of GSA eBuy where more vendors might offer the service, given the limited response?   If I move forward with this vendor, is it considered sole source and does it require sole source justification?  

Thank you.  

Here is what my office typically does in this common scenario.

Re-Post: No, but you can if you want to.

Sole Source: No.

Negotiate: Depends.

Probably do have to type up a brief written determination explaining why this isn't a de facto sole source.  Its in FAR 8.405-1/2/3. Like brief - a paragraph is usually sufficient.

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16 hours ago, formerfed said:

I believe Carl’s question and definitely a concern of mine is what you said - “ a lot of pricing on schedule contracts is not F&R”

Tell us how you came to that conclusion because it contradicts GSA policy and their CO decisions in making the awards.

If going against the below and using poor judgement on the use of "F&R" v. "Best Value," you have apologies:

FAR 8.404 (d) - " . . . GSA has already determined the prices of supplies and fixed-price services, and rates for services offered at hourly rates, under schedule contracts to be fair and reasonable.  . . "

That being said, most COs are of the impression if pricing is tied to a GSA schedule contract it is in the best interest (and therefore the Best Value) of the taxpayer, the customer (VA) and the consumer (veteran). This is not the case all the time and I think we all agree on that. 

As far as the GSA CO's F&R determination, I do believe they are making the correct determination at the time of award. If I take that determination at face value 3.5 years later it's possible isn't valid. If I was buying fuel from a contract that was awarded in DEC - 2019, that F&R is no longer any valid today. 

Stepping away from FAR, one definition of a FAIR AND REASONABLE PRICE is "The price fair to both parties with all things considered." (https://thelawdictionary.org/fair-and-reasonable-price/). What one CO determines as F&R others will not. 

Technically you'll are right that FAR/GSA Policy says it. 

Doesn't make it logical. That's why the DOD and several other agencies (including mine) has a policy in place that requires COs to determine GSA FSS pricing to be F&R prior to issuing orders. 

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Lots of criticism exists about GSA Schedule pricing all across the government.  Actually once you know the context of what GSA CS/COs are faced with, they do a pretty good job.  Let take an offer from a manufacturer for supplies (widgets).  The GSA schedule solicitation requires extensive pricing data including commercial price lists and lots of certifications.  Pricing information includes discounts from various classes of customers.  Those classes include distributors, dealers, large reseller networks (think Walmart, Best Buy, and Target), OEMs, educational institutions, etc.  GSC CO negotiation objectives include seeking discounts equal too or more favorable than the best customer.

There are obvious exceptions and COs take all that into consideration.  One big limiting factor is the government usually doesn’t order in bulk with minimum order sizes like Walmart.  Instead Schedules allow things like an agency may order one widget at a time, FOB destination, with required support and maintenance.  Walmart may have to buy 1,000 at a time all shipped to a single location.  Ever buy something from Walmart and need technical support?  Also many customer engage in establishing strategic alliances with the manufacturers promising guarantees in buying.  But considering the various data, which includes supporting invoices and sales data to various customers, GSA COs shoot to pricing similar to most favored customer but allowing for rational exceptions. 

So COs negotiate and make awards with all this taken into consideration.  Prices might be based on assumptions that the typical agency order is for 10 widgets at a time.  But GSA tells agencies to seek discounts, especially when the known quantity is greater. 

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Just now, Constricting Officer said:

Doesn't make it logical. That's why the DOD and several other agencies (including mine) has policy in place that requires COs to determine GSA FSS pricing to be F&R prior to issuing orders. 

I will agree with your full post to a degree but as I said  "in the DOD and several other agencies (including mine) has policy" that is not logical either.  From both my "professional" view and that of a taxpayer DoD and the others aren't logical in my view as the extra bureaucratic effort is not accounted for in the whole of what is more cost effective (if you don't mind me throwing that in now!).  Or more to the point does your agency make you do a separate fair and reasonable determination on every task/delivery order issued under your own agency IDIQs?  No need to answer but I hope you get my point in what is intended to make life easier in the acquisition world gets twisted the other way.

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Schedule contract prices are fair and reasonable.  The FAR says so.  The FAR also says we can ask for additional discounts before placing any order, says we can ask for a price reduction at any time before placing an order, and mandates that we ask for a price reduction when the order will exceed the simplified acquisition threshold.

The FAR also says we may place an order against a schedule contract only when the order represents the best value and results in the lowest overall cost alternative to meet the Government needs. 

A "professional" contracting officer will be willing to ask for discounts/price reductions.  A "clerk" contracting officer will do his or her best to avoid asking.

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21 minutes ago, C Culham said:

 From both my "professional" view and that of a taxpayer DoD and the others aren't logical in my view as the extra bureaucratic effort is not accounted for in the whole of what is more cost effective (if you don't mind me throwing that in now!). 

Agree 100% and will add that almost every hoop we are required to jump through makes just about as much since. Guess that's why we get paid the (GOVERMENT) big bucks . . . 

7 minutes ago, ji20874 said:

A "professional" contracting officer will be willing to ask for discounts/price reductions.  A "clerk" contracting officer will do his or her best to avoid asking.

We could add and remove many parts of this job in that statement all day, but I digress. 

Below is a link to a GAO report in 2016 about the amount of orders placed with and without asking for the required discount. About 35.5% did not. 

https://www.gao.gov/modules/ereport/handler.php?1=1&path=/ereport/GAO-16-375SP/data_center_savings/General_government/19._Federal_Supply_Schedules

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