Market research is defined as collecting and analyzing information on the market for a government requirement (refer to FAR 2.101). It is an essential element in acquiring commercial items and provides information to the ordering activity in understanding the requirement and what is available in the commercial marketplace.
Acquisitions begin with a description of the ordering activity’s needs, stated in terms sufficient to conduct market research. The type, extent and use of market research is determined by the availability of a commercial supply or service, the complexity of the order, its nature (whether the order is to fulfill a new or recurring requirement, an enhancement, etc.), the dollar value of the order, and the industry sector involved (refer to FAR 10.002). Both the ordering Contracting Officer and requiring activity are responsible for market research.
To perform effective market research, the ordering activity must collect and analyze information about the capabilities within the market to satisfy the agency’s need. The results of market research will determine if Schedule contracts have items available to meet an ordering activity’s needs. At the same time, market research will also indicate whether commercial sources exist that are capable of satisfying the activity’s requirement, as well as the customary commercial terms and conditions (e.g., practices of firms engaged in producing, distributing and supporting commercial items in terms of warranty, buyer financing, maintenance and packaging and the market environment). In addition, market research helps identify the most advantageous (“best”) procurement vehicle consistent with FAR 8.404 and 17.502-1(a)(2). If the value of an order exceeds $500,000, a determination and findings must be prepared by the ordering agency to ensure that use of the GSA Schedules is the best procurement approach. This includes such factors as the suitability of the vehicle, the value including potential cost savings, and the expertise to place and administer the order.
Other factors ordering activities will want to include during market research are performance standards, industry trends, price, delivery times, payment methods, trade-offs, whether there are enough small businesses that can satisfy agency requirements to allow setting-aside of the requirement, quality control methods, surveillance methods, etc. Using GSA eTools, ordering activities may perform market research, review the terms and conditions of capable Schedule contractors and perform price comparisons. Refer to Section 11, eTools.
Effective market research will ensure sustainability and environmental efficiency is considered.
Market research may be facilitated through the use of eBuy to distribute a Request for Information (RFI) to Schedule contractors. Using an RFI via eBuy may produce valuable feedback from potential Schedule contractors on how to best to tailor the acquisition and how to best utilize Schedule sources.
Market research is the cornerstone in developing acquisition strategies. Contracting Officers must identify which Schedule contractors are capable of performing the required work, as well as verifying how many Schedule contractors are interested in the opportunity. Based on this research, they may be able to determine how many are likely to respond in order to ensure that at least three quotes are received. The contracting officer must, at a minimum, review the Schedule contracts to determine which Schedule contractors are capable of performing the required work.