BPA Frequently Asked Questions
FAQ: "Blanket Purchase Agreement"
- What is the difference between "traditional" Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) and BPAs established under the GSA Schedules Program in accordance with Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) 8.405-3?
- How should an agency decide whether to establish GSA Schedule BPAs?
- Do the requirements of FAR 17.502 to execute a "best Procurement Approach Determination" apply to GSA Schedule BPAs?
- When an ordering activity establishes a BPA against a GSA Schedule contract, do orders placed under the BPA meet Competition in Contracting Act of 1984 (CICA) requirements for full and open competition?
- Can BPAs be set aside for small businesses?
- Can orders under BPAs be set aside for small businesses?
- Some ordering activities are issuing GSA Schedule BPAs for millions of dollars. Is there a dollar amount too large for GSA Schedule BPA procedures? Is there a limit on the dollar value of an order placed against a BPA?
- Can agencies join together to establish GSA Schedule BPAs?
- In establishing a GSA Schedule BPA, is there a requirement to solicit more than one source, or can the GSA Schedule BPA be negotiated with one specific GSA Schedule contractor?
- What "information, other than cost or pricing data," does GSA require from potential contractors prior to the establishment of a GSA Schedule contract? If cost or pricing information is used as the basis for award of a GSA Schedule contract, do ordering activities need this information to establish GSA Schedule BPAs?
- If our office issues a GSA Schedule BPA, can our ordering activities/field offices also have ordering authority?
- When establishing a GSA Schedule BPA, can the scope of the GSA Schedule contract be modified to accommodate the special needs of the ordering activity?
- When establishing a GSA Schedule BPA, can an ordering activity add or modify terms and conditions of the GSA Schedule contract? For example, if the GSA Schedule contract has a delivery time of 60 days from receipt of order, but the ordering activity needs delivery in 30 days, can the ordering activity require a 30 day time frame for delivery?
- If we need additional supplies or services not offered on GSA Schedule contracts, can we add such supplies or services to our GSA Schedule BPA, or do we submit a request to the GSA contracting officers?
- Does GSA need to approve any BPAs that ordering activities establish with GSA Schedule contractors?
- Is there a time limit on the length of a BPA established under a GSA Schedule contract?
- When a BPA is established under a Contractor Team Arrangement (CTA), can the team leader report the Industrial Funding Fee (IFF) for the entire team?
Blanket Purchase Agreement
1. What is the difference between "traditional" Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) and BPAs established under the GSA Schedules Program in accordance with Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) 8.405-3?
Although the objective of both "traditional" BPAs and GSA Schedule BPAs (also known as Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) BPAs) is to fill anticipated repetitive needs for supplies and services, "traditional" BPAs are subject to the requirements of FAR Part 13 whereas, with the exception of FAR 13.303-2(c), which states that "BPAs may be established with GSA Federal Supply Schedule contractors...," FAR Part 13 does not apply to GSA Schedule BPAs. FAR 8.405-3 states that ordering activities may establish BPAs under any Schedule contract to fill recurring needs.
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2. How should an agency decide whether to establish GSA Schedule BPAs?
The factors to consider and advantages of establishing a Schedule BPA begin with the advantages of using GSA Schedules. These include cost, time and administrative effort savings, plus flexibility, transparency and control of the procurement and are presented in detail in the MAS Value Proposition. With these advantages for the use of GSA Schedules as a starting point, the agency’s consideration of whether to establish BPAs – and how many BPAs to establish - to address its recurring needs should involve assessment of various factors specific to the agency, but including:
- The scope and complexity of the requirement(s);
- The frequency/total number of expected requirements to be placed under the BPA(s) – including all intended users/ordering activities;
- The benefits of on-going competition and the need to periodically compare multiple technical approaches or prices;
- The administrative cost of BPAs vs. the ability to establish and use ordering procedures that are even quicker and further simplified from new Schedule ordering procedures; and
- The technical qualifications of the available Schedule contractor(s).
3. Do the requirements of FAR 17.502 to execute a "Best Procurement Approach Determination" apply to GSA Schedule BPAs?
No. That requirement applies only to GSA Schedule orders that exceed $500,000 in value. However, note that when an individual order issued under a GSA Schedule BPA exceeds $500,000, the Best Procurement Approach Determination IS required the same as if the order had been issued directly against the underlying Schedule contract. But also note that administrative, cost and time that are afforded by use of GSA Schedules and Schedule BPAs will often readily support an affirmative Best Procurement Approach Determination.
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4. When an ordering activity establishes a BPA against a GSA Schedule contract, do orders placed under the BPA meet Competition in Contracting Act of 1984 (CICA) requirements for full and open competition?
Yes. In accordance with FAR 6.102(d)(3), use of the GSA Schedules Program is considered a "competitive procedure" under CICA when the GSA Schedule ordering procedures are followed—i.e., the Ordering Procedures for Supplies, and Services Not Requiring a Statement of Work (FAR 8.405-1) or the Ordering Procedures for Services Requiring a Statement of Work (FAR 8.405-2). However, note that these provisions define procedures for enhancing the competition pursuant to the Duncan Hunter Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009 (Pub. Law 110-417).
In general, at least 3 sources are to receive fair consideration for orders placed under BPAs (except single-award BPAs) when the value of the order exceeds the micro-purchase threshold. If the value of the order exceeds the simplified acquisition threshold, at least 3 quotes from Schedule contractors who could meet the requirements should be received. If these general standards have not been met, the contracting officer must document the circumstances, including an approved limited source justification if applicable or other facts that demonstrate the adequacy of the ordering agency’s attempt to meet the competitiveness standard (FAR 8.405-1(g) and FAR 8.405-2(e)).
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5. Can BPAs be set aside for small businesses?
Yes. BPAs can be set aside for all of the types of small businesses listed in FAR Part 19.000(a)(3), at the discretion of the ordering activity contracting officer. This includes small businesses, 8(a) concerns, HUBZone small businesses, service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses, economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses, and women-owned small businesses made eligible under the Women-Owned Small Business Program. Ordering procedures in FAR 8.405-1, -2, and -3 must still be followed, along with ensuring small business program eligibility as set forth in FAR Part 19.
If a BPA is set aside for other types of small businesses, file documentation must include market research conducted along with Schedules considered for award. Be sure to notice the requirements in FAQ 6 below, regarding a single-award BPA in excess of $103 million.
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The intent of Section 1331 of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 was to make available set-asides to the Multiple Award Schedules Program at all levels: orders, BPAs, and orders against BPAs. So the short answer is “yes,” agencies can set-aside orders against non-set-aside Schedule BPAs.
However, when setting-aside orders against BPAs, we have the following guidance for ordering activities:
- Existing multiple-award BPAs, or BPAs that were established without prior notification to prospective BPA-holders that orders may be set-aside under the BPAs, should not have set-aside orders. Procedures for placing orders against BPAs come from FAR 8.405-3(c) and require that the ordering activity give “fair opportunity” to all BPA holders. While Section 1331 provided set-aside authority “notwithstanding fair opportunity requirements,” it would be inappropriate to restrict the competition on existing BPAs, or on any non-set-aside BPAs where use of Section 1331 authority at the order level was not specified, and prospective BPA-holders were not notified prior to the BPAs being established.
- Newly-established multiple-award BPAs may use order set-asides where:
a) The BPA RFQ clearly states that the ordering activity may determine to set-aside task or delivery orders, as described in the ordering procedures contained in the BPA’s Request for Quotations and in accordance with FAR 8.405-3(c)(2); and
b) There is sufficient competition among BPA holders so that the resulting task or delivery orders are in full compliance with the above cited regulatory requirements. The easiest way to comply with these requirements is to establish a more than adequate number of BPAs to cover the breadth and depth of expected task order delivery orders, and at least 3 sources will be viable competitors for each task or delivery order.
c) the ordering activity has properly documented restricting consideration in accordance with the requirements of FAR 8.405-6, and generated a Limited Sources Justification.
7. Some ordering activities are issuing GSA Schedule BPAs for millions of dollars. Is there a dollar amount too large for GSA Schedule BPA procedures? Is there a limit on the dollar value of an order placed against a BPA?
The monetary limitation of a GSA Schedule BPA is determined by the underlying competition conducted by the ordering activity when establishing the BPA. The procedures outlined in FAR 8.405-3 apply to the establishment of a GSA Schedule BPA. Based on the potential volume of orders under the BPA, ordering activities may be able to obtain greater discounts, regardless of the size of individual orders.
However, no single-award BPA with an estimated value exceeding $103 million, including any options, may be awarded unless the head of the agency determines in writing that:
- The orders expected under the BPA are so integrally related that only a single source can reasonably perform the work;
- The BPA provides for only firm-fixed price orders, which include:
- Products with prices established in the BPA, or services with prices established in the BPA for specific tasks to be performed; and
- Only one course is qualified and capable of performing the work at a reasonable price to the Government, or it is necessary in the public interest to award the BPA to a single source for exceptional circumstances.
The requirement for a determination for a single-award BPA greater than $103 million is in addition to any applicable requirement for a limited-source justification at 8.405-6. However, the two documents may be combined into one document.
The ordering activity with cognizance of a BPA shall conduct an annual review of the GSA Schedule BPA to determine whether:
- The underlying Schedule contract is still in effect;
- The BPA still represents the best value; and
- Estimated quantities/amounts have been exceeded and additional price reductions can be obtained.
The ordering activity will document the results of its review. If the BPA is a single-award BPA, prior to exercising any option period of the BPA, the contracting officer's determination to exercise the option, including the results of this annual review, must be approved by the agency's Competition Advocate.
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8. Can agencies join together to establish GSA Schedule BPAs?
Yes. In an effort to obtain better discounts, multiple agencies may combine their requirements and establish a multi-agency BPA against a GSA Schedule contract. The multi-agency BPA must identify the participating agencies and their estimated requirements at the time the BPA is established (FAR 8.405-3(a)(4)).
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9. In establishing a GSA Schedule BPA, is there a requirement to solicit more than one source, or can the GSA Schedule BPA be negotiated with one specific GSA Schedule contractor?
When establishing single or multiple GSA Schedule BPAs, an ordering activity must follow the procedures outlined in FAR 8.405-3. The end result of following these procedures is that the ordering activity generally solicits a minimum of, but often more than, three sources and seeks price reductions prior to establishing a GSA Schedule BPA.
If the ordering activity only solicits one source (i.e., a "sole source"), the ordering activity must justify its action in accordance with FAR 8.405-6, Limited Sources Justification and Approval. In establishing a "sole source" BPA, the ordering activity has restricted consideration of the number of contractors who could receive both the BPA and the resultant orders to fewer than those prescribed by the Schedule ordering procedures and, therefore, must comply with the limited sources and approval requirements of FAR 8.405-6.
Note: For DoD offices and non-DoD activities establishing BPAs for supplies and services on behalf of DoD the requirement to comply with the additional requirements under Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) 208.405-70 are met via compliance with the current requirements of FAR 8.405.
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10. What "information other than cost or pricing data" does GSA require from potential contractors prior to the establishment of a GSA Schedule contract? If cost or pricing information is used as the basis for award of a GSA Schedule contract, do ordering activities need this information to establish GSA Schedule BPAs?
GSA evaluates GSA Schedule offers in accordance with the procedures in FAR Parts 12 and 38, as well as the General Services Administration Acquisition Manual (GSAM).
Prior to the award of a GSA Schedule contract, GSA contracting officers determine that the prices of supplies, fixed-price services, and rates for services offered at hourly rates are fair and reasonable. To assure these prices are reasonable, GSA contracting officers compare the prices or discounts that a company offers the government with the prices or discounts that the company offers to its own commercial customers. This negotiation objective is commonly known as "most favored customer" pricing.
Since GSA has already determined that prices under GSA Schedule contracts are fair and reasonable, ordering activities do not need to make a separate determination of fair and reasonable pricing, except, in accordance with FAR 8.405-2(d), when considering the level of effort and the mix of labor in a task order.
Thus, ordering activities do not need to obtain "cost or pricing data" or "information other than cost or pricing data" to establish a GSA Schedule BPA. The Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act (FASA) sets forth the policy that discourages agencies from obtaining cost or pricing data when a commercial item is being acquired.
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11. If our office issues a GSA Schedule BPA, can our ordering activities/field offices also have ordering authority?
Yes. A GSA Schedule BPA can be set up so that the agency's ordering activities/field offices may place orders under the GSA Schedule BPA directly with the GSA Schedule contractor. In order for these ordering activities/field offices to participate in the GSA Schedule BPA, the GSA Schedule BPA must list the authorized users and corresponding points of contact (FAR 8.405-3(b)(1)).
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12. When establishing a GSA Schedule BPA, can the scope of the GSA Schedule contract be modified to accommodate the special needs of the ordering activity?
No. The alteration or tailoring of GSA Schedule contract terms and conditions, which has implication to the scope of the underlying contract, is strictly prohibited. Such tailoring constitutes cardinal changes in the contractual relationship, and may violate the Competition in Contracting Act of 1984 (CICA). When there is a question about whether additional GSA Schedule BPA terms and conditions conflict with the scope of the GSA Schedule contract, the ordering activity should contact the assigned GSA contracting officer.
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13. When establishing a GSA Schedule BPA, can an ordering activity add or modify terms and conditions of the GSA Schedule contract? For example, if the GSA Schedule contract has a delivery time of 60 days from receipt of order, but the ordering activity needs delivery in 30 days, can the ordering activity require a 30 day timeframe for delivery?
Generally, the alteration or tailoring of GSA Schedule contract terms and conditions to meet the needs of individual procurements, is not permitted. In the case of delivery times, GSA Schedule contracts provide for various expedited delivery terms. An ordering activity may find that the GSA Schedule contracts already contain the expedited delivery it requires, or the ordering activity may contact GSA Schedule contractors to request the desired delivery time.
Clarifying clauses and special requirements can be added to BPAs, providing such additions do not conflict with the terms and conditions of the GSA Schedule contract. Provisions and clauses commonly added address such topics as organizational conflicts of interest and approval of subcontractors or key personnel. When there is a question about whether additional GSA Schedule BPA terms conflict with the GSA Schedule contract, the ordering activity should contact the assigned GSA contracting officer.
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14. If we need additional supplies or services not offered on GSA Schedule contracts, can we add such supplies or services to our GSA Schedule BPA, or do we submit a request to the GSA contracting officers?
Under the terms of GSA Schedule contracts, contractors have the ability to submit requests to add supplies or service that are within scope to their existing contracts. Thus, ordering activities may contact GSA Schedule contractors to request that open market items which are within scope be added to their GSA Schedule contracts.
Open market items are also known as incidental items, non-contract items, non-Schedule items, and items not on a GSA Schedule contract. In accordance with FAR 8.402(f), for administrative convenience, an ordering activity contracting officer may add items not on the GSA Schedule contract—i.e., open market items—to a GSA Schedule BPA or an individual task or delivery order only if:
- All applicable acquisition regulations pertaining to the purchase of the items not on the GSA Schedule contract have been followed (e.g., publicizing (FAR Part 5), competition requirements (FAR Part 6), acquisition of commercial items (FAR Part 12), contracting methods (FAR Parts 13, 14, and 15), and small business programs (FAR Part 19));
- The ordering activity contracting officer has determined the prices for the items not on the GSA Schedule contract are fair and reasonable;
- The items are clearly labeled on the order as items not on the GSA Schedule contract; and
- All clauses applicable to items not on the GSA Schedule contract are included in the order.
15. Does GSA need to approve any BPAs that ordering activities establish with GSA Schedule contractors?
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16. Is there a time limit on the length of a BPA established under a GSA Schedule contract?
Yes. A multiple-award GSA Schedule BPA should not exceed five years in length, but may do so to meet program requirements (FAR 8.405-3(d)(1)). A single-award GSA Schedule BPA must not exceed one year in duration, but may have up to four one-year options. A Schedule contractor may be awarded a BPA that extends beyond the current term of its GSA Schedule contract (or a BPA that contains options that extend beyond the current Schedule contract term), so long as there are option periods in the GSA Schedule contract that, if exercised, will cover the BPA's period of performance, including any BPA option(s).
An ordering activity that establishes a BPA shall conduct an annual review to determine, among other factors, whether the Schedule contract, upon which the BPA was established, is still in effect, and whether the BPA still represents the best value. Prior to exercising any option under a single-award BPA, this determination must be approved by the agency Competition Advocate.
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17. When a BPA is established under a Contractor Team Arrangement (CTA), can the team leader report the Industrial Funding Fee (IFF) for the entire team?
No. In accordance with the terms and conditions of each GSA Schedule contract, each team member must report its own GSA Schedule sales and IFF.
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