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ERS

Teaming Agreements & Competition

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Gosh I hate to sound completely in the dark but, here goes....

We are the prime contractor awaiting the drop of a government request for proposal that we know is coming. Our turnaround time for response will be short! Our project person wants to locate an organization to team up with; us being the prime them the subcontractor and wants to find this organization before the proposal drops. This is not a sole source situation. If it were my problem would be solved.

My question is, with having to fulfill competition requirements (competing to the best of our ability) how do I get around not issuing a competitive solicitation in order to find this organization to partner with?

My initial thought was issuing a Request for Information or performing Market Research of some sort in order to at least be able to justify at some level in our proposal why we chose them and that we compared rates through our RFI / Market Research process.

I get the feeling I'm way off here, and I don't pretend to know a GREAT deal about teaming agreements since I have not issued one in a very long time. The proposal we submit has to speak to our procurement and selection process and cost/price justifications regarding all subcontracted items and I'm not sure how to do that unless we issue a competitive solicitation and choose this organization through that process.

Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated. I'm open to receiving phone calls also.

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I have been looking into this and what I have gathered from my readings is that you may not have to do a competitive solicitation if you are teaming up with someone, is that correct?

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My question is, with having to fulfill competition requirements (competing to the best of our ability) how do I get around not issuing a competitive solicitation in order to find this organization to partner with?

What competition requirements?

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I don't want to give specific advice not knowing your particular situation, customer, type of work, etc. But I can offer my own experience as both a Federal prime and a subcontractor to other primes.

We enter into multiple teaming agreements with other firms for most of our large pursuits (competitive or not). These teaming agreements are signed off long before RFPs are issued by the agency - usually at least a year in advance on a significant procurement. We write our proposals explaining why we chose the various firms as our teammates - for the benefits they bring to the team - and how that will help us provide the best value, best solution, best price, whatever to the Government customer and how we reviewed the subcontractor proposals and chose the one that was most advantageous (which may or may not be about the price).

By selecting good partners to team with and engaging in appropriate and meaningful negotiations with those teammates -- you are competing to the best of your ability, in my opinion. (And if that's the exact language from your Prime, that's pretty poor language anyway - and besides, I thought you didn't have a contract, you're waiting for an RFP to come out?. I'd like to hear more about this language regarding "competition requirements.")

I have not heard of any customer taking exception to this - non-competitive teaming agreements between firms is a pretty standard practice in my experience.

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Our prime contract states that we have to compete to the best of our ability for the most part.

You have a prime contract or are you competing to win a contract?

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Thanks for the information k & subk_mgr. The situation is that we already have a prime contract with this agency. The agency is going to issue a competitive solicitation for some work; work we happend to perform for them in our last prime contract which ended not too long ago and was not included in our new one. If awarded this work, it would be added to our current prime contract by a contract modifictaion. This is the reason I can reference the competition requirements of the prime contract as it relates to subcontracting. We are in the process of selecting a company (not through competition) to partner with for this upcoming solicitation. I understand that I will need to speak to our selection of a partner and the justification for using Other than Full and Open Competition to do so. Can either of you (k&subk_mgr or Don) direct me to where I can learn more about teaming agreements?

I'm a little concerned by some of the comments above regarding entering into teaming agreements with other firms long before an RFP comes out, even a year. Really? How do you do that without knowing what's in the RFP?

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Thanks for the information k & subk_mgr. The situation is that we already have a prime contract with this agency. The agency is going to issue a competitive solicitation for some work; work we happend to perform for them in our last prime contract which ended not too long ago and was not included in our new one. If awarded this work, it would be added to our current prime contract by a contract modifictaion. This is the reason I can reference the competition requirements of the prime contract as it relates to subcontracting. We are in the process of selecting a company (not through competition) to partner with for this upcoming solicitation. I understand that I will need to speak to our selection of a partner and the justification for using Other than Full and Open Competition to do so. Can either of you (k&subk_mgr or Don) direct me to where I can learn more about teaming agreements?

I'm a little concerned by some of the comments above regarding entering into teaming agreements with other firms long before an RFP comes out, even a year. Really? How do you do that without knowing what's in the RFP?

ERS,

What makes you think that you must use competition to select your subcontractors? Is it the Competition in Subcontracting clause (FAR 52.244-5)? That's not much of a requirement. Read paragraph (a):

"(a) The Contractor shall select subcontractors (including suppliers) on a competitive basis to the maximum practical extent consistent with the objectives and requirements of the contract."

[italics added].

There's a heck of a lot of wiggle room there. Also, if you're a contractor you shouldn't be worried about a "justification for using Other than Full and Open Competition." CICA does not apply to you. You should be thankful for that.

Contractor team arrangements are covered in FAR 9.6.

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I think Don answered your questions well about competition and guidance on Teaming Agreements in the FAR.

As to your question about how you enter Teaming Agreements long prior to the RFP --

I work for a large organization with many business development people and they use their connections to develop advance intel on upcoming procurements - frequently long in advance of RFPs or draft RFPs being issued by agencies. Many activities are continuations of services previously performed by another contractor, so there's often a lot of information out there, if you just know where to look (I do mostly services work these days).

If you don't work for a firm that has these resources, I understand that you would have a more difficult time doing that, but that's what the big players do. If you waited until the RFP was issued to develop your strategy and teammates, you would basically be dead in the water at that point because all the other firms would be far ahead of you.

So the answer to that is really about what resources your firm has and what kind of intel you are able to develop. That's a "real-world" answer to how you do it so far in advance.

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You would need to issue them a request for proposal before issuing a teaming agreement correct? In order to establish scope of work and cost/price??

Thanks,

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You would need to issue them a request for proposal before issuing a teaming agreement correct? In order to establish scope of work and cost/price??

Thanks,

ERS - No, we do not issue any RFPs at this stage. Again, I can only speak to how my firm manages teaming agreements and depending on the variables as I discussed previously, my experience may or may not help you in your situation. But we do not issue RFPs when we're negotiating teaming agreements. Depending on the situation, the teaming agreement may have a very clear statement about what the teammate will be doing related to the proposed work or in some cases, it's more vague. Even without a Government RFP, we usually have a pretty clear idea about what the work will entail and know the teammate's strengths as they pertain to the work. Cost/price do not normally enter into things at this early stage, although sometimes we may negotiate a workshare for the teammate that's acceptable to both sides (obviously when I'm on the receiving end of a teaming agreement, I want a big workshare and when I'm the giver of the teaming agreement, I want to keep it as small as possible)! :D

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Thanks. You have been a tremendous help. I thought about it after I posted and kind of put 2 and 2 together. I think I am just over thinking the teaming arrangement scenario and my lack of practice and experience at it makes me anxious and maybe not thinking very clearly on the logics of it all. I really do appreciate your advice and information, you have been very kind.

One last thing; what would you suggest if the RFP has just dropped, enter into a teaming arrangement or not? I mean at this point I have to Request a Proposal also. Here's another thing, the contracting office issuing the RFP is going to be looking to see if we sought competition when selecting our proposed Subcontractors, if we didn't which we don't intend to, it sure would be better if I could speak to them as team member, which really has been our intent all along.

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