Step 7 involves considering obtaining an interagency contract vehicles. The most popular contract vehicle is the Federal Supply Schedule (FSS). The major benefit for getting an FSS schedule or any other contract vehicles is that it streamlines the procurement process and the in the case of the FSS, contracting officers only needs telephone quotes to award a federal contract. The companies with contracting vehicles are pre qualified to do business with the government. The company that has an FSS or other interagency contract vehicles has pre-negotiated for their prices, terms and conditions. These contract vehicles are a license to hunt and require a marketing plan to target the agency contracting offices (Download: See Sample Target Agency Contracting Office Report #2) who buy the company’s products and services. A federal marketing plan will ensure the opportunity to get a government contract. (Download: Sample FMP #1).

The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) defines an interagency or multi-agency contract as a task order or delivery-order contract by one agency for use by other agencies to obtain supplies and services, consistent with the Economic Act of 1932. These types of contracts are classified as indefinite order-indefinite delivery contracts. In FY 2004, the Federal Procurement Data Center (FPDS) reported that interagency contract spend was $142 Billion and non-interagency contract spend was $210 Billion. The Congressional Research Service in their report title Interagency Contracting: An overview of Federal Procurement and Appropriations Law states “Interagency contracting can occur under several different statutory authorities, including (1) the Economy Act of 1932; (2) the Information Technology Management Reform Act of 1996, also known as the Clinger-Cohen Act, authorizing government-wide acquisition contracts (GWACs); (3) the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949, as amended by the Office of Federal Procurement Policy Act of 1974, underlying the Federal Supply Schedules (FSS), also known as the General Services Administration (GSA) Schedules or Multiple Award Schedules (MAS); and (4) the Government Management Reform Act and other authorities creating franchise funds and interagency assisting entities. Unlike multi-agency contracts, GWACs and the FSS, franchise funds and interagency assisting entities are not themselves contracting vehicles, but they play a prominent role in interagency contracting”.

Multi-Agency Contracts, Government Acquisition Contracts (GWACs), GSA schedule, and Enterprise-wide Contract Vehicles are discussed in this document.

Multi-Agency contracts that are governed by the Economy Act require a written Determination and Finding (D&F) document approved by its contracting officer or by an authorized official. The established ordering procedures includes include: a) customer agency submits a requirements package, including necessary funding and fees, to the host agency contracting officer; b) the host agency contracting officer requests price/cost and technical proposals from contractors in the program; c) customer and contracting officer evaluate proposals and make a best value determination; d) the host agency contracting officer awards a task/delivery order to the winning vendor; and e) the order is jointly administered by the host agency contracting officer and the customer agency’s technical managers. The solicitation and evaluation of proposals for task/delivery orders must be consistent with the fair opportunity requirement of FAR 16.505(b)(1).

Government wide Acquisition Contracts (“GWACs”) are a subset of multi-agency contracts. However, unlike non-GWAC multi-agency contracts, they are not subject to the requirements and limitations of the Economy Act. The FAR defines a GWAC as–A task-order or delivery-order contract for information technology established by one agency for Government wide use that is operated— (1) By an executive agent designated by the Office of Management and Budget (2) Under a delegation of procurement authority issued by the General Services Administration (GSA). The total volume of assisted acquisitions by GWAC in FY 2009 was $2.9 Billion.

The General Services Administration (GSA) manages Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) contracts, also known as Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) contracts. Under MAS/FSS including Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs), contracts are awarded to multiple companies supplying comparable products and services at pre-negotiated prices, terms and conditions. Federal contracting officers and other authorized users order directly from the company. Contracting officers may conduct set-asides using MAS/FSS contracts.

The ordering procedures for FSS purchases include: a.) Order is within the micro-purchase threshold ($3000) – There is no need to solicit offers from a specific number of Schedule contractors for supplies & services not priced at hourly rates. Agencies are encouraged to distribute orders among eligible contractors. For services priced at hourly rates, there is no need to solicit offers from a specific number of Schedule contractors, but agencies should attempt to distribute orders among eligible contractors; b.) For orders above the mirco-purchase, but threshold but below maximum order threshold-purchase threshold – The order must be placed with the contractor that can provide the best value. Before placing the order, the ordering agency must consider reasonably available information about the goods or services by surveying at least three Schedule contractors. When the order includes brand name specifications, the ordering agency must post a Request for Quotations (RFQ), along with the justification required under 48 C.F.R. § 8.405-6. For services priced at hourly rates – The ordering agency must develop a statement of work (SOW) and provide a Request for Quotations (RFQ), including this SOW and evaluation criteria, to at least three Schedule contractors offering services meeting the agency’s needs, requesting that these contractors submit firm fixed prices to perform the services in the SOW;

For orders above maximum order threshold – The ordering agency must seek a further price reduction from the vendor. Before doing this, agency must review price lists from additional Schedule contractors; seek price reductions from those considered best value; and place the order with the contractor that provides best value. The agency must also document: the contracts considered; the contractor from whom the purchase was made; the goods or services purchased; and the amount paid. For services priced at hourly rates-The ordering agency must provide the RFQ to an “appropriate number” of additional Schedule contractors offering services that could meet the agency needs, with the “appropriate number” being determined by the complexity, scope and value of the requirement, as well as findings from market research. The agency must then seek price reductions from these contractors. . The GSA has prepared a matrix (download: PSC Matrix for Active GSA Schedules and GSA GWACs) containing corresponding NAICS and PSC codes with GSA schedules in order to help companies select the right schedule.

The application process for the MAS/FSS schedule includes an evaluation process completed by Open Ratings for Dunn and Bradstreet. Open Ratings conducts survey of your designated customers. Results (see sample report) from the Open Ratings survey indicate where the company’s performance ratings falls in comparison to rated companies in your SIC/NAICS group. The Open Rating report is a good marketing tool. Many federal purchases are, in fact, orders made against MAS/FSS contracts. As of October 2006, of the 17,862 Schedule contracts, about 81 percent were awarded to small businesses. Small business received 37.6 percent or $13.2 billion of the $35.1 billion As of FY 2010 Active MAS contracts were 19,612 of which 79.75 % were small business. Congress has expanded the use of FSS by authorizing state and local governments to purchase goods and services from it in certain circumstances. Some state governments have created their own version of the FSS. Many companies can prequalify for the state FSS if they have a GSA MAS/FSS.

Enterprise-wide contract vehicles are intra-agency Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quaintly (IDIQ) established specifically for use by an agency’s departments. The SeaPort-e program administered by Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) is an example of this type of contract vehicle. SeaPort-e is the Navy’s electronic platform for acquiring support services in 22 functional areas including Engineering, Financial Management, and Program Management.  The Seaport-e contract vehicle has over 1300 companies. The Navy estimates that over $5 Billion worth of contracts will be placed on Seaport-e in FY13.

The benefits of obtaining a contract vehicle are 1) Government contractor is prequalified to do business with government agency; 2) Purchasing process is streamline and 3) In most cases contracting officer only needs three quotes to comply with ordering procedures. A marketing plan that includes list of target agency contracting offices and a call log will position the company to get government contracts without competing in the open market.