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    For example, we have 13 different licenses. For some of the licenses the period of performance starts on 9-25-2017, the others POPs starts on 3-23-2018 and 4-12-2018. We want to award a single contract in September 2017 and end all the POPs in September 2018. Any concerns regarding the bona fide needs rule?


    Answer

    In theory what you propose is achievable, but this is a multi-level question that cannot be answered in this venue. There is a long history of Government Accountability Office (GAO) decisions that involve agency subscriptions, the bona fide needs rule, and the advanced payments statute. There is not an easily discernable theory that unites them.
    In one instance the National Relations Labor Board was found in compliance with the bona fide needs rule when, in September 2006, it obligated fiscal year (FY) 2006 funds for five Web site database subscription renewals that it needed to have in place on October 1, 2006, the first day of FY 2007. Even though delivery of the renewed subscriptions would occur entirely in FY 2007 (see B-309530, 17 Sept 2007).

    In a different instance, the GAO found that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could not make an advance payment for telephonic support services because it ran afoul of the statutory prohibition against advanced payments statute, 31 USC 3324, (See B-256692, June 22, 1995).

    While there are some factual distinctions that can be raised between subscriptions and services, the timelines and funding streams that you have summarized in your question require a more detailed recitation. I highly recommend that you include your finance officer and general counsel into that conversation before you attempt to “bundle” those subscriptions, licenses, and services.
     

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