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Good morning Wifcon,

I read the FAR and my agency’s supplement until I was blue in the face, but I can’t find any guidance on order/dollar thresholds for Authorized Callers on de-centralized BPAs.

I seem to recall in my AF days that our CE folks had $25k limits.  I’m not sure if they had a special kind of warrant (Not likely as they were not 1102s), or if the CO’s authorization was enough.  Maybe they had a special-use GPC increase?

Any and all insights would be appreciated.

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Unless your agency has something in place as far as policies, you have a great deal of latitude in setting up ordering.  But some things complicate.  If you awarded a single source BPA as opposed to multiple awards, it’s simpler.  You simply state in the BPA who the ordering officials are and any respective limits.  If you have multiple BPAs, you should make the ordering official comply with competition requirements and document their actions which includes comparing quotes or prices.  Some agencies require ordering officials in that capacity to take a simplified acquisition course first.  A good practice is having COs conduct routine inspections or order placements.   If you have orders over $25K, there are publicizing implications so it’s best to stay away from that.

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1 hour ago, formerfed said:

Unless your agency has something in place as far as policies, you have a great deal of latitude in setting up ordering.  But some things complicate.  If you awarded a single source BPA as opposed to multiple awards, it’s simpler.  You simply state in the BPA who the ordering officials are and any respective limits.  If you have multiple BPAs, you should make the ordering official comply with competition requirements and document their actions which includes comparing quotes or prices.  Some agencies require ordering officials in that capacity to take a simplified acquisition course first.  A good practice is having COs conduct routine inspections or order placements.   If you have orders over $25K, there are publicizing implications so it’s best to stay away from that.

Thanks formerfed.  As far as I know, our agency guidance is silent on "authorized individuals," so I assume that means I would receive pushback if I tried to authorize an individual to place calls against my BPA.

 

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1 hour ago, Krimz said:

Thanks formerfed.  As far as I know, our agency guidance is silent on "authorized individuals," so I assume that means I would receive pushback if I tried to authorize an individual to place calls against my BPA.

 

No, that shouldn’t be the case if you authorize individuals to purchase.  In fact, that is listed in the FAR as a requirement.

 

Quote

13.303-3 Preparation of BPAs.

Prepare BPAs on the forms specified in 13.307  . Do not cite accounting and appropriation data (see 13.303-5(e)(4)).

       (a) The following terms and conditions are mandatory:

            (1)  Description of agreement. A statement that the supplier shall furnish supplies or services, described in general terms, if and when requested by the contracting officer (or the authorized representative of the contracting officer) during a specified period and within a stipulated aggregate amount, if any.

            (2)  Extent of obligation.A statement that the Government is obligated only to the extent of authorized purchases actually made under the BPA.

            (3)  Purchase limitation. A statement that specifies the dollar limitation for each individual purchase under the BPA (see 13.303-5(b)).

            (4)  Individuals authorized to purchase under the BPA. A statement that a list of individuals authorized to purchase under the BPA, identified either by title of position or by name of individual, organizational component, and the dollar limitation per purchase for each position title or individual shall be furnished to the supplier by the contracting officer.

All you need to do is establish who you want to purchase and include that in new BPA awards or modify existing BPAs to include.  You need to explain it all to contractors so they understand and make the changes bilaterally to avoid confusion.

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You’re welcome.  BPAs are very useful and are flexible.  But most agencies don’t use them to full benefit.  For example an agency can do a quick analysis of their purchases.  Then they can competitively award a few BPAs using technical/price trade offs to get best value.  All program offices to purchase directly and save, time, money, and work.

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6 hours ago, formerfed said:

If you have multiple BPAs, you should make the ordering official comply with competition requirements and document their actions which includes comparing quotes or prices.

Assuming the multiple BPAs were awarded competitively, couldn't the ordering official just rotate calls among the BPA holders?

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1 hour ago, Don Mansfield said:

Assuming the multiple BPAs were awarded competitively, couldn't the ordering official just rotate calls among the BPA holders?

Yes, they could if the BPAs were solicited and awarded that way.  Good point.  Most of the ones I’ve seen are awarded stating a procedure similar to what’s utilized in multiple award IDIQ contracts.  The solicitation states competition occurs among BPA holders when the calls/orders exceed the micro purchase threshold.

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12 hours ago, formerfed said:

Yes, they could if the BPAs were solicited and awarded that way.

I do not disagree.  As this Forum is for Beginners I thought I would add a couple of references that support the statements made as in truth the FAR is essentially silent on a strategy of competing BPA's for issuance (award) and the rotation of the calls against such BPA's.

First there is this GAO decision https://www.gao.gov/decisions/bidpro/2949746.htm 

Next there is the following thread.  Yes the reference above is included in the thread.   As a reminder many concepts and questions have already been discussed in the WIFCON Forum.   Searching the Forum itself can help answer questions as well as add substance to contemplated actions.    

 

 

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Again, since this is a beginner's forum I think it's important to be clear that the existence of a BPA, either single or multiple, has essentially no effect on the competition requirements of FAR Part 13 for each call. 

The concept of "rotating" sources likely comes from the FAR Part 13.203 which says micropurchases [including BPA calls] "shall be distributed equitably among qualified suppliers", effectively rotating them among BPA holders if there are multiple, so it is only applicable to micropurchase calls.

There has been some talk that multiple BPAs with fixed prices could allow orders under $25,000 without further competition, but I don't think that is any different from use of standing price quotations under FAR Part 13.103, so again, it appears the existence of a BPA has no effect on the competition requirements for any individual call. So establish BPAs to enable distributed ordering, establish standing terms & conditions, etc. but not to sidestep competition.

Vern Edwards said as much back in 2009 in the thread linked below: When a BPA is issued under FAR Part 13, calls against the BPA valued in excess of the micropurchase threshold are subject to the rules in FAR 13.104, esp. paragraph (d), and 13.106. See 13.303-5( c). Generally, that means that you should get three quotes for all calls at or below $25,000. If a call will be for $25,000 or less and you have enough BPAs to obtain three quotes from BPA-holders, you can seek quotes from them exclusively. If the call will exceed $25,000, then you must synopsize and consider all quotes or offers received prior to award. In short, the existence of a Part 13 BPA does not eliminate the need for competition for calls in excess of the micropurchase threshold.

 

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48 minutes ago, Witty_Username said:

Again, since this is a beginner's forum I think it's important to be clear that the existence of a BPA, either single or multiple, has essentially no effect on the competition requirements of FAR Part 13 for each call. 

The concept of "rotating" sources likely comes from the FAR Part 13.203 which says micropurchases [including BPA calls] "shall be distributed equitably among qualified suppliers", effectively rotating them among BPA holders if there are multiple, so it is only applicable to micropurchase calls.

There has been some talk that multiple BPAs with fixed prices could allow orders under $25,000 without further competition, but I don't think that is any different from use of standing price quotations under FAR Part 13.103, so again, it appears the existence of a BPA has no effect on the competition requirements for any individual call. So establish BPAs to enable distributed ordering, establish standing terms & conditions, etc. but not to sidestep competition.

Vern Edwards said as much back in 2009 in the thread linked below: When a BPA is issued under FAR Part 13, calls against the BPA valued in excess of the micropurchase threshold are subject to the rules in FAR 13.104, esp. paragraph (d), and 13.106. See 13.303-5( c). Generally, that means that you should get three quotes for all calls at or below $25,000. If a call will be for $25,000 or less and you have enough BPAs to obtain three quotes from BPA-holders, you can seek quotes from them exclusively. If the call will exceed $25,000, then you must synopsize and consider all quotes or offers received prior to award. In short, the existence of a Part 13 BPA does not eliminate the need for competition for calls in excess of the micropurchase threshold.

 

Personally, I do not understand the point of BPAs except to authorize not-warranted individuals to place calls.  Calls over $25k would have to be synopsized anyway; and under $25k you need only three quotes, for which you do not need a BPA, but can solicit oral quotes.

But then I see FAR 13.303-5(b) Purchase under BPAs which states, "

 

Quote

 

(b) Individual purchases shall not exceed the simplified acquisition threshold. However, agency regulations may establish a higher threshold consistent with the following:

           (1) The simplified acquisition threshold and the $7 million limitation for individual purchases ($13 million for purchases entered into under the authority of 12.102(f)(1)) do not apply to BPAs established in accordance with 13.303-2(c)(3).

           (2) The limitation for individual purchases for commercial item acquisitions conducted under subpart  13.5 is $7 million ($13 million for acquisitions as described in 13.500(c)).

 

So, how would you place a call up to the SAT without synopsizing to the GPE?  I don't think you can.  Does that mean you must issue a proper solicitation for a priced BPA and then evaluate vendors?  And if you're contemplating orders up to the SAT (or $7 million for commercial items), what is the benefit of a BPA over an IDIQ?  

The above questions are not directed at anyone person, but I'll be happy to hear responses.

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5 hours ago, Witty_Username said:

The concept of "rotating" sources likely comes from the FAR Part 13.203 which says micropurchases [including BPA calls] "shall be distributed equitably among qualified suppliers", effectively rotating them among BPA holders if there are multiple, so it is only applicable to micropurchase calls.

You need to read the decision Carl posted. The DEA awarded multiple BPAs on a competitive basis, then rotated calls in excess of the micro-purchase threshold among BPA holders. The GAO said that met the competition requirements of FAR part 13. This could theoretically be done for calls up to $13 million.

4 hours ago, Krimz said:

Personally, I do not understand the point of BPAs except to authorize not-warranted individuals to place calls.  Calls over $25k would have to be synopsized anyway; and under $25k you need only three quotes, for which you do not need a BPA, but can solicit oral quotes.

That's a significant benefit. The contracting office doesn't have to keep processing purchase orders.

4 hours ago, Krimz said:

So, how would you place a call up to the SAT without synopsizing to the GPE?  I don't think you can.  Does that mean you must issue a proper solicitation for a priced BPA and then evaluate vendors?  And if you're contemplating orders up to the SAT (or $7 million for commercial items), what is the benefit of a BPA over an IDIQ?

You would have to synopsize over $25k, unless there were an exception. The synopsis would have to say that "all responsible sources may submit a quotation which shall be considered by the agency." So, you'd have to have something for a vendor to respond to (like a specification or SOW). You could also say that the Government will consider established BPAs when making the award decision, so vendors with BPAs need not submit a quotation.

Awarding an IDIQ contract is not a simplified acquisition method--establishing a BPA is. So, the question should be why award an IDIQ contract when using SAP?

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I understand the benefit of authorized callers on BPAs, but my agency, so far, has not authorized callers on any of our BPAs.  Before I arrived I think none of the COs even knew you could.

If we can award calls without synopsizing, I’d say the BPA’s worth the effort.  If we have to synopsize everything above $25k, why not just synopsize and forgo the BPA?

I hadn’t seen the GAO’s DEA decision and haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but I will.  That may answer many of my questions.

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9 hours ago, Don Mansfield said:

You need to read the decision Carl posted. The DEA awarded multiple BPAs on a competitive basis, then rotated calls in excess of the micro-purchase threshold among BPA holders. The GAO said that met the competition requirements of FAR part 13.

I reread it again, and GAO seems to accept DEA's position that the original BPAs were competitively awarded so calls don't have to be (but they didn't take a hard look at the original competition because that would have required a solicitation protest). It seems like this would only be plausible if the BPAs contained fixed unit prices and the DEA was using those competitively-established fixed unit prices to place calls using the procedures they set up in the original solicitation (i.e. rotation), which was not itself subjected to scrutiny. I don't think it is clear enough to firmly establish that GAO is ok with rotation of calls above the micropurchase threshold.

I think BPAs can be a great tool where we can negotiate software licenses or other terms & conditions up front and allow distributed ordering, particularly by credit card holders. Unfortunately I think the basically accidental use of some uncompetitive historical practices (e.g. treating it like an IDIQ and establishing a single BPA then placing non-competitive calls over the MPT against it) have caused agencies to restrict their use.  By reinforcing good competitive practices we can keep this tool available for use.

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3 hours ago, Witty_Username said:

I don't think it is clear enough to firmly establish that GAO is ok with rotation of calls above the micropurchase threshold.

Fair enough, but pursuant to FAR 1.102-4(e) we may assume that it is permissible.

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3 hours ago, Witty_Username said:

I think BPAs can be a great tool where we can negotiate software licenses or other terms & conditions up front and allow distributed ordering, particularly by credit card holders. Unfortunately I think the basically accidental use of some uncompetitive historical practices (e.g. treating it like an IDIQ and establishing a single BPA then placing non-competitive calls over the MPT against it) have caused agencies to restrict their use.  By reinforcing good competitive practices we can keep this tool available for use.

If one was buying software licenses, most are on GSA Schedule so use of FAR part 8 type BPA is prudent.  If one was buying a single or a small number of known items like software items not on GSA Schedule, doing IDIQ contracts make sense instead of BPAs.

Where BPAs work well is buying groups of commodities often with many different items and evaluation upfront on everything to be purchased isn’t feasible.  A good traditional example is office supplies (before widespread online ordering).  An agency might put together an RFQ with a hypothetical shopping list and asking suppliers to quote prices.  They also ask for discounts on everything available with the RFQ notice. That discount applies to the suppliers website or published price list.  Quotes are evaluated are BPAs awarded.  Calls are placed according to the process specified in the RFQ - rotation, single source in certain instances, and non-synopsized since the original RFQ was.

That basic concept can apply with necessary revisions to many things.  It saves value processing times, better serves program offices, reduces contract office workload, results in savings through volume purchases(although spot audit checks occasionally need done), and produces administrative savings through means like use of purchase cards, consolidated invoices and payments, and file maintenance.

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30 minutes ago, formerfed said:

Calls are placed according to the process specified in the RFQ - rotation, single source in certain instances, and non-synopsized since the original RFQ was.

For calls exceeding $25,000, which exception to the synopsis requirement would apply?

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45 minutes ago, Don Mansfield said:

For calls exceeding $25,000, which exception to the synopsis requirement would apply?

I think the only exceptions at FAR 5.202 are for IDIQs or contracts.  So, technically, none of them.

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1 hour ago, Don Mansfield said:

For calls exceeding $25,000, which exception to the synopsis requirement would apply?

No exception.  The entire procurement is synopsized upfront including description of sduuplies/services, estimated values, ordering procedures, etc.

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8 minutes ago, formerfed said:

No exception.  The entire procurement is synopsized upfront including description of sduuplies/services, estimated values, ordering procedures, etc.

That’s initially what I thought myself, but then why is there an exception for TOs cut from IDIQs?  Because the IDIQ was synopsize and competed as well.

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12 minutes ago, formerfed said:

No exception.  The entire procurement is synopsized upfront including description of sduuplies/services, estimated values, ordering procedures, etc.

FAR 5.201(b)(1) states:

Quote

 

(b)(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.

 

"Contract action" is defined at FAR 5.001:

Quote

“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.

Unless you want to argue that a call is not a contract action, then a call over $25,000 under a BPA would require a synopsis.

16 minutes ago, Krimz said:

That’s initially what I thought myself, but then why is there an exception for TOs cut from IDIQs?

Because a task order is a contract action and would require a synopsis if it weren't for the exception.

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Don,

I’m saying the initial synopsis covers everything that is within the BPA scope.  The FAR 5.001 definition talks about a contract action but not including actions with the scope.  So no exception is required as long as calls fall within the published scope.

Or another way of looking at it is assume a BPA is synopsized just like any type contract that involves ordering (except perhaps requirement type).   Orders within scope aren’t synopsized so why should BPA calls that fall within the synopsis?

If someone doesn’t agree, go ahead and synopsized calls. In all likelihood, companies won’t be able to respond in time anyway.  Many seeing the synopsis likely participated in the initial BPA competition and understand.  In any event you might get a few better deals.  

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I'm confused, what is the point of synopsising a part 13 BPA call order on the GPE if only the BPA holder(s) can quote on the call order RFQ anyways? What good will it do to have a synopsis that the government intends to solicit from the BPA holder(s) when the company that does not hold that BPA can't quote on the call order RFQ anyways?

 

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2 hours ago, Sam101 said:

I'm confused, what is the point of synopsising a part 13 BPA call order on the GPE if only the BPA holder(s) can quote on the call order RFQ anyways? What good will it do to have a synopsis that the government intends to solicit from the BPA holder(s) when the company that does not hold that BPA can't quote on the call order RFQ anyways?

 

There's no exception for "it would be pointless".

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4 hours ago, Don Mansfield said:

FAR 5.201(b)(1) states:

"Contract action" is defined at FAR 5.001:

Unless you want to argue that a call is not a contract action, then a call over $25,000 under a BPA would require a synopsis.

Because a task order is a contract action and would require a synopsis if it weren't for the exception.

Right, Don.  I was making a point in response to the people who say, “calls above $25k placed against a BPA that was awarded under competitive procedures do not require synopsis.”  That’s the line I’m hearing in my office and I think formerfed mentioned it.  But, just like IDIQs, awarding a BPA competitively does not exempt $25k+ calls from synopsis. 

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