Blanket Purchase Agreements
A GSA Schedule BPA is an agreement established by a government buyer with a Schedule contractor to fill repetitive needs for supplies or services (FAR 8.405-3). BPAs make it easier for the contractor and buyer to fill recurring needs with the customer's specific requirements in mind, while using the buyer's full buying power by taking advantage of quantity discounts, saving administrative time, and reducing paperwork. BPAs are beneficial for:
Buyers reduce administrative burden by eliminating repetitive activities such as searching for sources and needing to prepare new, complete requests for quote for each Schedule order.
Buyers can use streamlined ordering procedures that allow for quicker turnarounds on orders that use unique terms and conditions (that do not conflict with the underlying Schedule contract) and eliminate repetitive, individual orders. This also reduces administrative costs and saves time.
FAR 8.405-3 gives preference to establishing multiple-award BPAs. After the BPAs are established, each order is competed among all BPA holders to ensure that fair opportunity is afforded to all.
Schedule BPAs do not require the obligation of funds. Funds are obligated when orders are placed against a BPA.
Agencies may establish agency-wide BPAs, which allows the entire agency to reap the benefits and cost-savings of leveraging agency-wide requirements.
A multi-agency BPA is also permitted if the BPA owner identifies the participating agencies and their estimated requirements when the BPA is established.
Schedule BPAs: At your service
- Governmentwide Schedule BPAs
- How are Schedule BPAs Different?
- Establishing Schedule BPAs
- BPA Set Asides
- Open Market Items
Governmentwide Schedule BPAs
GSA manages several BPAs that are available to all Federal agencies. These BPAs were established to consolidate a specific need identified across government agencies.
- Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative BPAs
- IT and Services
- Travel, Transportation, and Logistics
How are Schedule BPAs Different?
The difference between "traditional" Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) and BPAs established under the GSA Schedules Program is that "traditional" BPAs are subject to the requirements of FAR Part 13. FAR Part 13 does not apply to GSA Schedule BPAs except for FAR 13.303-2(c), which states that "BPAs may be established with GSA Federal Supply Schedule contractors...," FAR 8.405-3 states that ordering activities may establish BPAs under any Schedule contract to fill recurring needs.
Consider the advantages of using GSA Schedules: cost, time and administrative effort savings, plus flexibility, transparency and control of the procurement.
Starting with these advantages, consider whether to establish BPAs – and how many BPAs to establish - and assess various factors specific to the agency, but including:
- The scope and complexity of the requirement(s);
- The frequency/total number of expected requirements to be placed under the BPA(s) – including all intended users/ordering activities;
- The benefits of ongoing competition and the need to periodically compare multiple technical approaches or prices;
- The administrative cost of BPAs vs. the ability to establish and use ordering procedures that are even quicker and further simplified from new Schedule ordering procedures; and
- The technical qualifications of the available Schedule contractor(s).
Best Procurement Approach Determination and Schedule BPAs
FAR 17.5, Interagency Acquisition, requires agencies to prepare a Determination of Best Procurement Approach when using another agency's contract. This requirement applies to Schedule orders that exceed $550,000 in value, and includes orders against Schedule BPAs.
Establishing Schedule BPAs
When establishing single or multiple-award Schedule BPAs, a buyer must follow the procedures outlined in FAR 8.405-3. The result is that the buyer generally solicits at least, and receives quotes from, three sources and seeks price reductions before establishing a GSA Schedule BPA.
If the buyer only solicits one source (i.e., a "sole source"), the ordering activity must justify its action according to FAR 8.405-6, Limited Sources Justification and Approval. In establishing a sole source" BPA, the buyer has restricted consideration of the number of contractors who could receive both the BPA and the resultant orders. Therefore, they buyer must comply with the limited sources and approval requirements of FAR 8.405-6 at the time of the BPA award.
Terms and Conditions
When establishing a Schedule BPA, all terms and conditions of the Schedule contract flow down to the BPA. Buyers cannot alter or tailor Schedule contract terms and conditions, but may add agency level and local terms and conditions that do not conflict with the Schedule contract terms and conditions.
Provisions and clauses commonly added address such topics as organizational conflicts of interest and approval of subcontractors or key personnel. Other order level considerations may include faster delivery times, and price discounts.
When there is a question about whether additional GSA Schedule BPA terms conflict with the GSA Schedule contract, the buyer should contact the GSA contracting officer.
Single-Award BPA Approval
No single-award BPA with an estimated value exceeding $112 Million, including any options, may be awarded unless the head of the agency determines in writing that:
- The orders expected under the BPA are so integrally related that only a single source can reasonably perform the work;
- The BPA provides for only firm-fixed price orders, which include:
- Products or services (specific tasks to be performed) with prices established in the BPA; and
- Only one source is qualified and capable of performing the work at a reasonable price to the Government, or it is necessary in the public interest to award the BPA to a single source for exceptional circumstances.
Multiple-AwardBPAs should not exceed five years in length, but may do so to meet program requirements (FAR 8.405-3(d)(1)).
A single-award BPA must not exceed one year in duration, but may have up to four one-year options.
A Schedule contractor may be awarded a BPA that extends beyond the current term of its Schedule contract (or a BPA that contains options that extend beyond the current Schedule contract term) if there areoption periods left on the Schedule contract that, if exercised, cover the BPA's period of performance, including any option(s).
Any order issued (including its order options) against an existing BPA before the BPA expires will have its own Period of Performance (including order options). It shall be completed (including any order options) according to the Schedule Contract FAR clause 52.216-22(d), which states,
"Any order issued during the effective period of this contract and not completed within that period shall be completed by the contractor within the time specified in the order. The contract shall govern the contractor's and government's rights and obligations with respect to that order to the same extent as if the order were completed during the contract's effective period, provided that the contractor shall not be required to make any deliveries under this contract after the completion of customer order, including options, 60 months following the expiration of the basic contract ordering period."
When an buyer establishes a BPA against a GSA Schedule contract, orders placed under the BPA meet Competition in Contracting Act of 1984 (CICA) requirements for full and open competition when the GSA Schedule BPA ordering procedures are followed at 8.405-3(c).
The buyer shall conduct an annual review of the GSA Schedule BPA to determine whether:
- The underlying Schedule contract is still in effect
- The BPA still represents the best value
- Estimated quantities/amounts have been exceeded and additional price reductions can be obtained.
The buyer will document the results of its review.
BPA Set Asides
At the discretion of the buyer, BPAs may be set aside for the following types of small businesses:
- Small businesses
- 8(a) firms (agencies must work with SBA to complete the offer and acceptance process)
- HUBZone small businesses
- Service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses
- Economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses
- Women-owned small businesses eligible under the Women-Owned Small Business Program
The procedures in 8.405-3 must be followed for BPA set asides. Market research will provide information on whether three or more Schedule holders within one of the stated categories of small businesses can provide the required products and/or services.
Alternatively, ordering activities may consider socioeconomic status when identifying contractors for consideration or competition for award of an order or BPA. At a minimum, ordering activities should consider, if available, at least one small business, veteran-owned small business, service disabled veteran-owned small business, HUBZone small business, women-owned small business, or small disadvantaged business Schedule contractor (FAR 8.405-5).
If a BPA is set aside for other types of small businesses, file documentation must include market research conducted along with Schedules considered for award.
Order Set-Asides Under Non Set-Aside BPA
If multiple-award BPAs are established without the use of set-asides, orders under those BPAs may be set-aside as long as proper notice was given at the time of the BPA awards that the ordering activity may, at its discretion, conduct set-aides. When placing set-aside orders against BPAs, ordering activities should adhere to the following guidance:
When setting -aside orders against BPAs, we have the following guidance:
- Existing multiple-award BPAs, or BPAs that were established without prior notification to prospective BPA-holders that orders may be set-aside under the BPAs, should not have set-aside orders. Procedures for placing orders against BPAs come from FAR 8.405-3(c) and require that the ordering activity give "fair opportunity" to all BPA holders.
- Newly-established multiple-award BPAs may use order set-asides where:
- The BPA RFQ clearly states that the buyer/s may determine to set-aside task or delivery orders, as described in the ordering procedures contained in the BPA's Request for Quotations and according to FAR 8.405-3(c)(2); and
- There is enough competition among BPA holders so that the resulting task or delivery orders fully comply with the above cited regulatory requirements. The easiest way to comply with these requirements is to establish a more than adequate number of BPAs to cover the breadth and depth of expected task order delivery orders, and at least three sources will be viable competitors for each task or delivery order; or
- The buyer has properly documented restricting consideration in accordance with the requirements of FAR 8.405-6, and generated a Limited Sources Justification.
Open Market Items
Under the terms of GSA Schedule contracts, contractors have the ability to submit requests to add supplies or services that are within scope to their existing contracts. Thus, buyers may contact Schedule contractors to ask that open-market items that are within scope be added to their GSA Schedule contracts.
Open-market items are also known as incidental items, non-contract items, non-Schedule items, and items not within the scope of the contractor's Schedule and cannot be added to the contract. In accordance with FAR 8.402(f), for administrative convenience, a buying contracting officer may add items not on the GSA Schedule contract—i.e., open market items—to a GSA Schedule BPA or an individual task or delivery order only if:
- All applicable acquisition regulations pertaining to the purchase of the items not on the GSA Schedule contract have been followed (e.g., publicizing (FAR Part 5), competition requirements (FAR Part 6), acquisition of commercial items (FAR Part 12), contracting methods (FAR Parts 13, 14, and 15), and small business programs (FAR Part 19));
- The buying contracting officer has determined the prices for the items not on the GSA Schedule contract are fair and reasonable;
- The items are clearly labeled on the order as items not on the GSA Schedule contract; and
- All clauses applicable to items not on the GSA Schedule contract are included in the order.