Can the Government (contracting agency) request offers from 8a vendors and pick the low based on price (given there is good past performance indicators and all other circumstances are the same) if it is less than the dollar threshold for competing 8 (a) requirements (reference FAR 19.805-1 (a) (2))?
Response: Competing 8a under the threshold is fairly optional. I don’t see why you could not do a competitive 8a set-aside using sealed-bid or if necessary LPTA. Make sure you have SBA buy-in on whatever decision you make and take a look at the guidance below.
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13 CFR 124.506(c) has some specific guidance for competing 8a below the threshold:
(c) Competition below thresholds. The AA/BD, on a nondelegable basis, may approve a request from a procuring activity to compete a requirement that is below the applicable competitive threshold amount among eligible Participants.
(1) This authority will be used primarily when technical competitions are appropriate or when a large number of potential awardees exist.
(2) The AA/BD may consider whether the procuring activity has made and will continue to make available a significant number of its contracts to the 8(a) BD program on a noncompetitive basis.
(3) The AA/BD may deny a request if the procuring activity previously offered the requirement to the 8(a) BD program on a noncompetitive basis and the request is made following the inability of the procuring activity and the potential sole source awardee to reach an agreement on price or some other material term or condition.