a) Aside from stating that the price is fair and reasonable based on GSA pricing, can we also use open market pricing as a comparison, or is that apples and oranges?
: The answer provided is based only on the question asked and I will walk you through the FAR to provide your answer.
FAR 8.404(d) Pricing. (DEVIATION) Supplies offered on the schedule are listed at fixed prices. Services offered on the schedule are priced either at hourly rates, or at a fixed price for performance of a specific task (e.g., installation, maintenance, and repair). GSA has determined the prices of supplies and fixed-price services, and rates for services offered at hourly rates, to be fair and reasonable for the purpose of establishing the schedule contract. GSA's determination does not relieve the ordering activity contracting officer from the responsibility of making a determination of fair and reasonable pricing for individual orders, BPAs, and orders under BPAs, using the proposal analysis techniques at 15.404-1. The complexity and circumstances of each acquisition should determine the level of detail of the analysis required.
FAR 15.404-1(a) General. The objective of proposal analysis is to ensure that the final agreed-to price is fair and reasonable.
(1) The contracting officer is responsible for evaluating the reasonableness of the offered prices. The analytical techniques and procedures described in this section may be used, singly or in combination with others, to ensure that the final price is fair and reasonable. The complexity and circumstances of each acquisition should determine the level of detail of the analysis required.
(2) Price analysis shall be used when certified cost or pricing data are not required (see paragraph (b) of this subsection and 15.404-3).
FAR 15.404-1 (b) (2) The Government may use various price analysis techniques and procedures to ensure a fair and reasonable price. Examples of such techniques include, but are not limited to the following:
(i) Comparison of proposed prices received in response to the solicitation. Normally, adequate price competition establishes a fair and reasonable price (see 15.403-1(c)(1)(I)).
(ii) Comparison of proposed prices to historical prices paid, whether by the Government or other than the Government, for the same or similar items. This method may be used for commercial items including those “of a type” or requiring minor modifications.
(A) The prior price must be a valid basis for comparison. If there has been a significant time lapse between the last acquisition and the present one, if the terms and conditions of the acquisition are significantly different, or if the reasonableness of the prior price is uncertain, then the prior price may not be a valid basis for comparison.
(B) The prior price must be adjusted to account for materially differing terms and conditions, quantities and market and economic factors. For similar items, the contracting officer must also adjust the prior price to account for material differences between the similar item and the item being procured.
(C) Expert technical advice should be obtained when analyzing similar items, or commercial items that are “of a type” or requiring minor modifications, to ascertain the magnitude of changes required and to assist in pricing the required changes.
(iii) Use of parametric estimating methods/application of rough yardsticks (such as dollars per pound or per horsepower, or other units) to highlight significant inconsistencies that warrant additional pricing inquiry.
(iv) Comparison with competitive published price lists, published market prices of commodities, similar indexes, and discount or rebate arrangements.
(v) Comparison of proposed prices with independent Government cost estimates.
(vi) Comparison of proposed prices with prices obtained through market research for the same or similar items.
(vii) Analysis of data other than certified cost or pricing data (as defined at 2.101) provided by the offeror.
(3) The first two techniques at 15.404-1(b)(2) are the preferred techniques. However, if the contracting officer determines that information on competitive proposed prices or previous contract prices is not available or is insufficient to determine that the price is fair and reasonable, the contracting officer may use any of the remaining techniques as appropriate to the circumstances applicable to the acquisition.
So you can see from FAR 15.404-1(b)(2) it is okay for you to do the price comparison you asked about in your question.