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  • Question

    Does the Blanket Purchase Agreement (not the BPA calls) have to be awarded competitively ? If we awarded the BPA non-competitively, and then competed the calls among all awardees, would that satisfy competition requirements under CICA/FAR ? Can I have a BPA for categories of equipment as opposed to specific pieces of equipment? The challenge is that IT hardware is changing so rapidly it would be a burden to continuously update the equipment. If it is permissible to have categories of equipment, do you have any suggestions on how we could set up a pricing model for evaluating pricing, if we competed the BPA ? I was contemplating making a sample price list of recently purchased items so I could make an apple to apple comparison bewtween the offerors proposed pricing.


    Answer

    You can issue a sole source BPA if you have a legitimate justification to do it- using FAR part 6 criteria. No, you can't do multiple sole source BPAs- there's no justification to do that. Yes, you would have to compete calls/orders under the BPA anyway- and no, that does not give you the justification to award sole source BPAs in the first place.
     
    I don't see how you could award based upon "categories" of equipment- companies could not price it and you'd be evaluating apples to camels- virtually guaranteeing you'd get protest after protest..
     
    Here's the controlling GAO decision, called "Envirosolve":
     
    BPAs are one method of simplified acquisition. FAR 13.303; see Native Res. Dev., Inc. , B-246597.2, B-246597.3, July 13, 1992, 92-2 CPD 15 at 10 n. 11. Agencies are not required to request proposals or to conduct a competition before establishing BPAs. Information Sys. Tech. Corp. , B-280013.2, Aug. 6, 1998, 98-2 CPD 36 at 3. After a BPA is established, however, otherwise applicable competition requirements still apply to all procurements under the BPA. FAR 13.303-5(a) (BPA to be used only for purchases that are otherwise authorized by law or regulation); Information Sys. Tech. Corp. , supra .

    Moreover, the existence of a BPA does not justify purchasing from only one source.
    FAR 13.303-5(c). If, for a procurement in excess of $2,500 there is an insufficient number of established BPAs to ensure maximum practicable competition, the contracting officer must solicit quotations from other sources. FAR 13.303-5(d)(1). We find that DEA's use of BPAs to fulfill its hazardous waste cleanup requirements failed to comply with applicable competition requirements in several regards. First, the choice of vendors with whom DEA established BPAs was noncompetitive and apparently based upon the personal preference of local agency personnel. solve LLC <http://www.wifcon.com/cgen/2949744.pdf> , B-294974.4, June 8, 2005)  (pdf). 

    DEA also viewed the establishment of BPAs as a form of down-select that effectively determined which vendors the agency would exclusively consider and utilize to meet its hazardous waste cleanup requirements. See OMNIPLEX World Servs. Corp., supra . Lastly, DEAs subsequent decision to noncompetitively issue purchase orders to select BPA holders was not consistent with the applicable standard--obtaining competition to the maximum extent practicable.

     

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