When procuring wireless services for cellular phones, is it appropriate for a non-GPC holder or Contract Specialist/Officer to post the solicitation on NETCOM WEM or should this have been handled by a Contract Specialist? Do you know of any references materials for NETCOM WEM; website: https://portal.army.mil/apps/WEM
Agreements are covered in FAR Subpart 16.7. FAR 16.701 -- Scope, "This subpart prescribes policies and procedures for establishing and using basic agreements and basic ordering agreements. (See Subpart 13.303 for blanket purchase agreements (BPA’s)."
In FAR 13.303 -- Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs), I found some information that may be of interest to your situation. FAR 13.303(a) states "A blanket purchase agreement (BPA) is a simplified method of filling anticipated repetitive needs for supplies or services by establishing “charge accounts’’ with qualified sources of supply (see Subpart 16.7 for additional coverage of agreements).
(b) BPAs should be established for use by an organization responsible for providing supplies for its own operations or for other offices, installations, projects, or functions. Such organizations, for example, may be organized supply points, separate independent or detached field parties, or one-person posts or activities."
An important first step, unless you are already familiar with the NextGen Wirless BPA ordering procedures, would be to contact NETCOM.Army.Mil to request information about their ordering procedures. I was able to locate the following contact information from the NETCOM.Army.Mil website:
Public Affairs Officer
Mr. Gordon Van Vleet
Commercial: (520) 538-8609
Public Affairs Specialist
Mr. Eric Hortin
Commercial: (520) 538-2374
FAR 13.303-5 covers purchases under BPAs, and there's nothing in there to indicate only the Contracting officer may request the quotations (RFQ) from BPA holders. However, it does say in paragraph d), "If, for a particular purchase greater than the micro-purchase threshold, there is an insufficient number of BPAs to ensure maximum practicable competition, the contracting officer shall -- (1) Solicit quotations from other sources (see 13.105) and make the purchase as appropriate..." According to FAR 13.104(b), "...consider using solicitation of at least three sources to promote competition to the maximum extent practicable." From my reading, it appears no further synopsizing would be required based on the information you've provided if at least three different BPA vendors provided quotations.
While the FAR doesn't mention anything about who must post an RFQ under a BPA, I thought it was interesting that in FAR 13.303-3 -- Preparation of BPAs, Individuals other than the contracting officer can be authorized to make purchases under the BPA so long as "...a statement with a list of individuals authorized to purchase under the BPA, identified either by title of position or by name of individual, organizational component, and the dollar limitation per purchase for each position title or individual shall be furnished to the supplier by the contracting officer." Once again, I suggest contacting NETCOM.Army.Mil to determine if decentralized ordering is permitted for the NextGen Wireless BPAs.
So how does the FAR define an "authorized individual"? According to FAR 13.001, an “Authorized individual” means a person who has been granted authority, in accordance with agency procedures, to acquire supplies and services in accordance with this part. Also, FAR 13.003(g) states, "Authorized individuals shall make purchases in the simplified manner that is most suitable, efficient, and economical based on the circumstances of each acquisition." This last reference makes it abundantly clear that the entire purpose for simplified purchases made under a BPA is to provide maximum practicable flexibility to the purchaser in order to enhance efficiency and economy. Therefore, I don't think it would make much difference whether the RFQ was posted by the customer or the Contracting Officer. Moreover, I'm even less concerned about who posted the RFQ since the competitive quotes that were received in response to the RFQ were then provided to the Contracting office to issue the order (assuming of course that the award process used by your organization does not conflict with NETCOM's ordering procedures).
Finally, FAR 13004 (a) states, "A quotation is not an offer and, consequently, cannot be accepted by the Government to form a binding contract. Therefore, issuance by the Government of an order in response to a supplier’s quotation does not establish a contract. The order is an offer by the Government to the supplier to buy certain supplies or services upon specified terms and conditions. A contract is established when the supplier accepts the offer." Since the Government is the one making an offer when the Contracting Officer issued the order, there's no concern here with the customer inadvertently binding the government.
Bottom line: I would not be too overly concerned about the customer requesting and receiving quotes from existing BPAs as long as the contracting office was kept in the loop. Under most circumstances, according to FAR 5.102(a)(3), "The contracting officer must ensure that solicitations transmitted using electronic commerce are forwarded to the GPE to satisfy the requirements of paragraph (a)(1) of this section." At the very least by keeping Contracting informed, they will be able to ensure synopsizing requirements have been met in accordance with FAR Part 5. I also recommend contacting Army NETCOM to ensure their procedures are being followed when placing orders against their BPAs. Also, if you haven't coordinated with your legal counsel with respect to the ratification, I would advise you do that.