FSSI Wireless Frequently Asked Questions
- How does FSSI Wireless differ from using Schedule (FSS) 70 or Networx for wireless services?
- My agency needs a solution for managing its wireless services. Is FSSI Wireless a replacement for Telecommunications Expense Management Services (TEMS)?
- Can a task order extend beyond the five-year period of performance of the BPAs?
- What does an Request for Quote (RFQ) have to contain?
- Do RFQs have to be sent to all BPA holders, even if it is clear that not all the contractors’ agreements include services that meet the requirements?
- How long do I give the contractors to respond to my RFQ?
- If an FO decision is done for multiple units, can the agency order those units in smaller quantities or in a phased approach?
- Can we do an RFQ for multiple contractors, with final selection to be made on individual orders?
- Will Agencies issuing Task Order (TO) RFQs under the BPA be allowed to specify requirements that deviate from the BPA? For example, can an agency specify it wants device refresh at no charge at 12 months compared to the 20 months in the BPA?
- Are there tiered task order or agency discounts that can be addressed available through the vendors via this vehicle?
- Can FO decisions on the FSSI Wireless BPAs be protested?
- Can we purchase iPhones and iPads or other tablets off the FSSI Wireless BPAs?
- What kind of cellular phones and data devices are available on the FSSI Wireless BPAs?
- The BPAs do not include seed stock. How can I meet my requirement for seed stock?
- Are the cellular phones and data devices on the FSSI Wireless BPAs compliant with the Trade Agreements Act (TAA)?
- Can vendors offer credits for devices that have been received for recycling?
1. How does FSSI Wireless differ from using Schedule (FSS) 70 or Networx for wireless services?
FSSI Wireless is Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) on Schedule 70 SIN 132-53. The benefits of using the BPAs are:
(1) The prices are based on governmentwide volumes and should be better than an agency can get on its own.
(2) The BPAs save the agencies the time and resources to develop, award, and manage their own acquisitions. The BPAs represent the government’s requirements for the most common use cases and also support management of the contractors’ performance. For the majority of orders for standard cellular services, agencies simply identify the number of service plans, types of devices, and usage requirements and request a price quote. Once they’ve selected a contractor, their request becomes the order. GSA’s eBuy makes this process very easy; agencies also have the flexibility to conduct this process directly with the contractors.
(3) The services on the BPAs include a choice of no-cost devices to give the agency one-stop-shopping for a total solution, and the contractors can add to the devices they offer without a contract mod, which makes it easier than Networx.
(4) Furthermore, the FSSI Wireless BPAs include opportunities to increase savings through the following:
- Tiered discounts as total volume increases across the government
- Requesting additional discounts in the request for quote during the fair opportunity process
- Semi-annual rate reviews with the contractors to select more cost-effective plans
- Annual price benchmarking by GSA and the contractors to compare prices in the marketplace and reduce as mutually agreed.
2. My agency needs a solution for managing its wireless services. Is FSSI Wireless a replacement for TEMS?
The FSSI Wireless BPAs include improved data and billing reports the agency can use to manage its services. The FSSI Wireless BPAs also include an interface through which agencies can connect their “in-house” TEMS functions or systems to the contractors' commercially-available data. We have also included a TEMS component within our definition of Mobile Lifecycle & Expense Management, which is part of our Managed Mobility Program. An agency can acquire a broader or more agency-specific solution through the TEMS (or ML&EM) providers under IT Schedule 70, Special Item Number (SIN) 132-51, 52, or 53, or through the Connections Program. For more information on these options, please see www.gsa.gov/managedmobility and www.gsa.gov/connectionsii.
3. Can a task order extend beyond the five-year period of performance of the BPAs?
Yes! The contracting officer at GSA has modified the Period of Performance language (1.5 of the RFQ) with all vendors to state that "Task orders may not exceed more than 5 years beyond the term of the BPA. Task order option periods, if included at initial issuance of the task order, may be exercised after the expiration date of the BPA, but may not extend beyond five (5) years after the expiration of the BPA."
4. What does an RFQ have to contain?
At a minimum, an RFQ must include the description and quantity of supplies to be delivered or the services to be performed and the evaluation criteria upon which the evaluation will be based.
5. Do RFQs have to be sent to all BPA holders, even if it is clear that not all the contractors’ agreements include services that meet the requirements?
Preference is to submit the RFQ on eBuy to all four awardees; however, in accordance with FAR 8.405-3 (ii)(B), the Ordering Activity does not need to contact each of the multi-award BPA holders before placing an order if information is available to ensure that each BPA holder is provided fair opportunity to be considered for each order. The Ordering Activity’s CO is required to document the circumstances when restricting consideration to less than all BPA holders.
7.If an FO decision is done for multiple units, can the agency order those units in smaller quantities or in a phased approach?
The RFQ can specify the timeline for a phased approach. For total quantities that may be unknown, the agency’s RFQ could include a base requirement and options for additional quantities, if exercised.
8. Can we do an RFQ for multiple contractors, with final selection to be made on individual orders?
No. The RFQ contains the agency’s requirements for a single task order. There are no “individual orders” subsequent to that. An agency with varying requirements could consider defining multiple RFQs, each at the highest level at which the requirements are the same. For example, if coverage is most important in a geographic area, the users within that geographic area could be grouped into one RFQ.
9. Will Agencies issuing Task Order (TO) RFQs under the BPA be allowed to specify requirements that deviate from the BPA? For example, can an agency specify it wants device refresh at no charge at 12 months compared to the 20 months in the BPA?
A task order cannot deviate from the requirements, terms, or conditions of the BPA. At the task order level, the ordering agency can supplement but cannot contradict the BPA terms. For the example posed in the question: Each BPA requires the contractor to provide refresh at a specific interval for no additional charge; a task order cannot require a shorter refresh than established in the BPA unless the agency is willing to consider doing so at an additional cost. A contractor may propose a shorter refresh period in its response to a task order but is not required to do so.
In addition, the agency may state that a shorter refresh period is highly desirable and will be considered a strength in evaluating quotes.
10. Are there tiered task order or agency discounts that can be addressed, available through the vendors, via this vehicle?
Yes! Each agency should be seeking discounts at the task order level that address their particular requirements, as well as the agency's larger goals. Tiered discounts at the task order level would be dependent on the size and volume of the order, but there is nothing that prohibits agencies from structuring their CLINs accordingly. If the agency strategy is to consolidate all agreements under the FSSI while maintaining funding and obligations responsibility at the agency component level, then standardized language that the agencies can include on all task orders can bridge this requirement between orders. Some vendors are explicit about allowing for agency level pooling, and will respond with their tiered structure beyond what is called for in the particular task order. Others can choose to either comply, offer no discounts, or refuse to bid. This can be a point of consideration at the evaluation stage of the procurement.
11. Can FO decisions on the FSSI Wireless BPAs be protested?
Task orders under BPAs can be protested. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has indicated it will, and has, entertained a protest for task orders regardless of the amount. Agencies must follow FAR guidance as well as their evaluation plan.
12. Can we purchase iPhones and iPads or other tablets off the FSSI Wireless BPAs?
The FSSI Wireless BPAs include only no-cost devices that are included with the purchase of service plans. Each contractor will maintain a list of devices offered and will update the list anytime the contractor decides to add or remove a device. If a contractor offers an iPhone as a no-cost device, the agency can select it with the corresponding service plan. Note: it is likely that the no-cost devices the contractors offer will not be the higher-end or latest-release devices. Furthermore, tablets are not specified as required devices on the BPAs, and whether tablets will be offered on the BPAs is unknown at this time.
13. What kind of cellular phones and data devices are available on the FSSI Wireless BPAs?
The FSSI Wireless BPAs offer only no-cost devices that are included with the purchase of service plans. Each contractor will maintain a list of devices offered and will update the list anytime the contractor decides to add or remove a device. The ordering entity can select a device at the time of ordering a corresponding service plan. (Note: it is possible that the no-cost devices the contractors offer will not be the higher-end or latest-release devices.)
Agencies requiring devices that are not offered on the FSSI Wireless BPAs may consider purchasing them as open-market items or allowing Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) for use with the BPAs' service plans, according to agency policies. "For-cost" devices may be included on a BPA order if they are marked as “Open Market Items” (see FAR 8.402(f)). More broadly, the BPAs allow the ordering entity to use Government Furnished Equipment (GFE) devices with the BPAs' service plans, regardless of how the ordering entity acquired those GFE devices; however, the devices the agency wishes to supply for use with the BPAs' service plans must be compatible with the Contractor's network technology for the Contractor to offer their use with its service plans. GFE may be active on a pre-existing service agreement.
14. The BPAs do not include seed stock. How can I meet my requirement for seed stock?
When obtaining a new device, rather than disposing of the previously-used device, the agency may choose to retain the previously-used device for seed stock.
15. Are the cellular phones and data devices on the FSSI Wireless BPAs compliant with the Trade Agreements Act (TAA)?
Devices offered on the FSSI Wireless BPAs are excluded from TAA coverage. The GSA schedule contractor has modified the contract to include zero dollar (no-cost) service enabling devices (including, but not limited to cellular phones), bundling the devices with service. The service enabling devices are offered on an as-available basis and may or may not be domestic end product or end product of a designated country.
The devices are not available through this contract apart from ordering cellular service. Cellular service is one of several services excluded from the World Trade Organization Government Procurement Agreement and the other Free Trade Agreement executed by the United States Government. See FAR 25.401 (b). The wireless service offered under this contract has been determined by the GSA Schedule Contracting Officer to be domestic in origin. See FAR 25.402 (a)(2).
As cellular service is excluded from TAA coverage, GSA has used the group offer analysis provided by FAR 25.503 (c)(1) to determine that the value of the domestic end product exceeds 50 percent of the total proposed price of the group; therefore, the bundled cellular service and service enabling device group offer is evaluated as domestic.
16. Can vendors offer credits for devices that have been received for recycling?
Yes. However, the basis of purchase dictates the application of the credit. Credits associated with SEDs (a service component of FSSI Wireless) obtained via FSSI Wireless may yield credits toward FSSI Wireless purchases. All other device credits must be applied toward open market purchases that may be executed by the agency. The receiving agency will oversee the receipt and allocation of this credit.