Do I have to buy that bolt from GSA Global Supply or can I buy it from Ace Hardware. Is there any part of the FAR that allows me to forgo the use of mandatory sources based on the cost of an item?
While GSA Global Supply is not a Mandatory supply source under FAR 8.4, it is listed under FAR 8.002 under “Priorities for use of Government supply sources.” because it is a “Wholesale supply sources such as stock programs of the General Services Administration” listed under FAR 8.002. So while GSA Global Supply isn’t specifically listed by name, it is considered a “stock program.” This puts it above “commercial sources” (Ace Hardware) at FAR 8.002 for purchase priority for items of supply.
The webpage: http://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/103940 is from GSA. It addresses frequently asked questions about GSA Global supply and provides FAR references to back up the answers. The first two FAQ’s there answer your specific question and are provided below. However I’d suggest you check the webpage to insure that the responses haven’t changed.
[Start of GSA FAQ’s]
What is GSA Global Supply?
Open full Question Details
GSA Global Supply is a federal program administered by the General Services Administration. While Global Supply does work with commercial suppliers to develop its product line, it is a governmental program. It is not a mandatory source.
Customer base: GSA Global Supply provides common-use items such as office supplies, tools, computer products, and safety equipment to federal customers, civilian and military, around the world. There are approximately 400,000 products available to federal users through a variety of ordering mechanisms (i.e., phone, fax, online, FEDSTRIP/MILSTRIP).
For a few well-defined purchasing needs, such as wildland firefighting, state and local agencies can order from GSA Global Supply as well.
How is GSA Global Supply referenced in the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR)?
In FAR 8.002, Priorities for Use of Government Supplies, GSA Global Supply is identified as a wholesale supply source (v) and should be referenced as a priority when Federal and Military agencies are purchasing supplies. FAR 8.002 indicates:
"8.002 Priorities for use of Government supply sources.
(a) Except as required by 8.003, or as otherwise provided by law, agencies shall satisfy requirements for supplies and services from or through the sources and publications listed below in descending order of priority--
(i) Agency inventories;
(ii) Excess from other agencies (see Subpart 8.1);
(iii) Federal Prison Industries, Inc. (see Subpart 8.6);
(iv) Supplies that are on the Procurement List maintained by the Committee for Purchase from People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled (see Subpart 8.7);
(v) Wholesale supply sources such as stock programs of the General Services Administration* (GSA) [see 41 CFR 101-26.3], the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) [see 41 CFR 101-26.6], the Department of Veterans Affairs [see 41 CFR 101-26.704], and military inventory control points; (vi) Mandatory Federal Supply Schedules (see Subpart 8.4);
(vii) Optional use Federal Supply Schedules (see Subpart 8.4);
(viii) Commercial sources (including educational and nonprofit institutions."
* Under a 1971 Agreement, GSA and DLA agreed to divide responsibilities for a wide range of products in the National Supply System. DLA assumed primary responsibility for items that were deemed "military" in nature and GSA assumed responsibility for "civilian" items like office supplies and hand tools.
Finally, note that FAR Subpart 8.4 "is not applicable to orders placed through the GSA Global Supply System." FAR Subpart 8.4 deals with use of GSA Multiple Award Schedules, not GSA Global Supply. [end of GSA FAQ]
So you have to purchase from GSA Global Supply or some other “wholesale supply source” prior to using a “commercial source” (Ace Hardware) in accordance with FAR 8.002 (a). However if the items of supply are available from “agency inventory,” excess from other agencies, Federal Prison Industries (FPI), or on the “Procurement List” you would purchase the item from those supply sources prior to using either GSA Global supply or a “commercial source” (Ace Hardware), but GSA Global supply is “ahead” of Ace Hardware at FAR 8.002 (a).