BPA contractors

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BPA Contractors

What is a government BPA?

Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) is a supplemental contract to an existing GSA contract, designed to simplify the method of filling anticipated repetitive government procurement of supplies or services. Having a BPA contract helps contractors increase their revenue stream and become preferred vendors, with one or more government agencies.

What is a BPA contract?

A BPA contract is a GSA Schedule contract that implies simplified BPA procurement.

Specifically, several BPA advantages are:

  • Faster procurement with quicker turnaround thanks to streamlined purchase mechanisms
  • Low or no minimum orders with the minimum threshold of $25 and no processing fee
  • Federal buyers can use the GSA SmartPay card to purchase items quickly

For a vendor, though, the main advantage of Blanket Purchase Agreements is that the holder of a GSA FSSI BPA contract goes straight to the “shortlist” of federal agencies. This means that you (if you are a BPA contractor) will be a preferred source of purchase. And there are other benefits too.

BPA contractors benefits:

  • Last year, BPA contracts produced a total of $400 million ~ in sales
  • BPA contract can either be for one or for many products, that are usually discounted from the regular contract price
  • The product proposed for BPA must be on the bidding vendor’s GSA contract
  • Government promises to buy large quantities, at locked prices, for a number of years (1, 4 or 5), with options to renew
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    BPA price

    BPA contracts are hard to find and even harder to win for many reasons. For example, an item may not be on contract, no one is watching eBuy or FBO, the price is not competitive, etc. That is why being a BPA contractor can be extremely profitable for business; of course, as long as you can secure a BPA Contract.

    Knowing about the BPA opportunity is only the beginning, and once you decide to bid, you will need to prepare a complete offer proposal. The ability to prepare a complete, clean and competitive offer will put you at an advantage of getting an award. Price Reporter’s expertise and knowledge will help you increase your chances of getting BPA contracts and end up with your brand new GSA Blanket Purchase Agreement established.

    What is FSSI by GSA

    Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative (FSSI) is a special type of BPA contract which offers an extraordinary opportunity for GSA Contract suppliers.

    FSSI is a massive opportunity for GSA suppliers in specific industries to become “Priority Vendors” for all Government Agencies.

    Governmentwide schedule BPAs

    Currently, GSA offers FSSI governmentwide BPA for companies in the following industries:

    • Office supplies (OS4)
    • Janitorial and Sanitation supplies (JanSan)
    • Building Maintenance and Operations (BMO)
    • Wireless
    • Domestic Delivery Service
    • Maintenance, Repair, and Operations (MRO)

    FSSI GSA

    What does FSSI do for your company? Essentially, it makes suppliers in specific schedules “first call” mandatory vendors for the top buying agencies of the United States Government. For example, in 2018, 15 FSSI OS3 contractors sold over $70 million combined. Imagine how being a preferred FSSI BPA vendor would change your business?

    As rewarding as the FSSI can be, navigating the process that is necessary to become an FSSI Contract holder is daunting. First there is the pre-qualification, then offer preparation, submission negotiation and award. Vendors must also make sure that the offer is complete, and compliant. Price Reporter has been successful with FSSI awards and management over the years, and we can help your company as well.

    Find out more about securing business with the United States Government.
    Contact us today at 201.567.6646 or provide a few details below and we can schedule a free, one-hour consultation.

    Schedule BPAs – What are they?

    Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) is an “add-on” to the already awarded GSA Schedule contract. The purpose of the BPA is to simplify procurement of repetitive needs: various office supplies, software licenses, maintenance and repair services, and so on. This way, the government agency gets what it needs faster and more streamlined, without the need to preliminary coordinate such procurements with the vendor. On the other hand, a BPA contract is also beneficial for vendors, as it guarantees the constant flow of sales from the federal sources.

    Governmentwide Schedule BPAs

    Governmentwide BPAs are available to all federal agencies alike. The purpose of this type of BPA is to consolidate the same recurring needs in several categories available to all government agencies.

    Here is the complete list of governmentwide BPAs:

    • Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative BPAs
      • Wireless FSSI
      • Janitorial and Sanitation Supplies
      • Maintenance, Repair, and Operations
    • IT and Services
      • Identity Protection Services
      • Salesforce
      • Software Purchase Agreements (formerly SmartBUY)
        • Software agreements
        • Database management software agreements
        • Enterprise Management Software (EMS) Agreements
        • Information Assurance software agreements
    • Travel, Transportation, and Logistics
      • Emergency Lodging
      • Long Term Lodging

    How are Schedule BPAs Different?

    How are Schedule BPAs different from the traditional ones? The “normal” Blanket Purchase Agreements are regulated by the Federal Acquisition Regulations Part 13, whereas the same FAR Part 13 does not apply for GSA BPAs, which means that Schedule BPAs are not the subject to Simplified Acquisition Procedures. Instead, Schedule BPAs are regulated by FAR 8.405-3. 

    So, what does it mean in layman’s terms? This means that government agencies are ordered to give preference to multiple-award Schedule BPAs over single-award BPAs. And that’s the main difference. Both vendors and federal agencies win from using Schedule BPAs first.

    The main advantages of GSA Schedule BPAs over traditional Blanket Purchase Agreements are lower costs, faster order completion, lower administrative costs, and better control over the process.

    Establishing Schedule BPAs

    Here is what you need to know about the process of establishing Blanket Purchase Agreements.

    When a federal buyer establishes a Schedule BPA, it follows FAR 8.405-3 as we said above. The procedure requires the buyer to solicit at and receive quotes from at least three vendors. With that minimum required choice, the buyer can seek further price reductions or make the final selection before establishing a Schedule BPA based on quality or performance terms.

    Generally, federal buyers are not allowed to purchase from just one source. But if this happens – this situation is specifically called “sole source solicitation” – the FAR 8.405-6 clause comes into force. The buyer then needs to justify the limited choice. For instance, a specific brand can be chosen only if the government explicitly needs this particular brand only. And the buyer must explain why.

    Terms and Conditions

    Established GSA Schedule Blanket Purchase Agreements inherit all terms and conditions of the parent GSA Schedule contract. There cannot be any changes in the terms and conditions within the BPA that contradict the main contract. And conflicting clauses are resolved in favor of the main Schedule contract. However, if the BPA contains clauses or provisions that actually improve terms and conditions of the contract (i.e. provide faster delivery or lower rates), such clauses can be accepted. In case of any doubts or conflicts, please contact the GSA contracting officer.

    Single-Award BPA Approval

    Single-Award BPA is a Blanket Purchase Agreement awarded to only one contractor. A viable procurement option in the past, now single-award BPAs are only of limited use. The GSA specifically recommends federal buyers to give preference to multi-award BPAs when it comes to orders above a certain threshold. Single-award BPAs are only awarded for one year, with four consequent one-year options.

    Additionally, if the estimated value of the order exceeds $112 Million including options, such a single-award BPA may not be awarded without the direct approval by the head of the agency. Specifically, a single-award BPA can only be approved if the products and services under the BPA are so integrally related to each other, that sharing the entire BPA between multiple contractors is either impossible or unreasonable.

    While single-award BPAs are still cost-effective in some cases, multi-award BPAs get approved more often today.

    Time Limitations

    For multiple-award BPAs the time limitation is 5 years. However, according to FAR 8.405-3(d)(1) in some cases this limitation may be exceeded to “meet program requirements”.

    The time limitation for a single-award BPA is one year, with four optional prolongations up to 5 years in total.

    A curious question arises when a BPA is to be awarded to a Schedule contractor, but its current GSA Schedule contract is about to end before the end of the BPA. What is the course of actions in this case? 

    The Schedule Contract FAR clause 52.216-22(d) states that “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.”

    Put this simply, if your main Schedule contract expires, you still can (and must) finish orders placed within the BPA.

    Importantly, aside from time limitations, vendors have to take care of compliance of the GSA Schedule BPA with the GSA’s requirements. Specifically, every year a federal buyer should review the Schedule BPA and make sure the underlying GSA contract is still in effect, and the contractor’s services and products still represent the best value. Also, federal buyers will annually check if there are some price reductions that can be applied to the BPA.

    BPA Set Asides

    Just like other types of GSA Schedule agreements, BPAs are often set aside for certain categories of small businesses, namely:

    • 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 BPA set asides are still the subject to the terms of FAR 8.405-3. Note that setting aside a BPA for the above categories does not necessarily mean that such small business will be awarded. The socioeconomic status of small businesses is taken into consideration when identifying potential competition for a BPA award. And the buying agency should set aside at least one small business in each socioeconomic category, if available. Other small businesses are subjects to review and market research, as always.

    Open Market Items

    Can you sell to federal agencies open market items that are not within the scope of your existing Schedule BPA? 

    Turns out, yes, you can. On the discretion of a federal buyer (see FAR 8.402(f)), it can ask a GSA contract holder to include non-Schedule items, but only if the following specific conditions are met:

    • 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.
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      Frequently Asked Questions
      What is a GSA BPA?

      A blanket purchase agreement (BPA) is a simplified acquisition method that government agencies use to fill anticipated repetitive needs for supplies or services. Essentially, BPAs are like “charge accounts” set up with trusted suppliers.

      While almost everyone knows that BPA stands for Blanket Purchase Agreement, much fewer people really understand what it is. Put this simply: a blanket purchase agreement allows the government to automatically place an order under the established BPA, to quickly refill an ongoing need for recurrent supplies, or receive products and services within multiple delivery dates. Examples of such are office, sanitation, and janitorial supplies, software, and so on.

      What does BPA mean in government contracting?

      A BPA is a more advanced way to do business with government where the quantity and the delivery is more certain than with a standard GSA or DLA contract where the quantity and the delivery is indefinite (IDIQ). The BPA is just a way to simplify common purchasing thru a more organized channel, where both government and contractor know what to expect from one another.

      The main elements of a BPA are:

      Administrative part – explaining about contractor and their past performance supporting the requirements set by the government language.

      Technical proposal – providing clear evidence of contractors’ capability to follow all the posted rules;

      Price Proposal – offer of product or service for a set price with specified discounts in return for promise of volume and other guaranties made by the government to those who win the bid – “BPA Contract Award”.

      There are two types of BPAs, traditional and GSA Schedule BPAs. In this article we’ll be focusing on traditional BPAs — i.e., those that exist outside of GSA Schedule contracting.

      The Blanket Purchase Agreement mechanism allows federal buyers to minimize administrative workload required to purchase recurrent supplies . The ordering process within BPAs is greatly simplified and streamlined, allowing the federal agencies to just do their work without the need to waste time on unnecessary bureaucracy and contract documents review, while saving time and taxpayers’ money.

      What is the difference between a BPA and a contract?

      A BPA is an agreement, not a contract; each Call must be funded. … On the other hand, an IDIQ is a type of contract in which the exact date of delivery or the exact quantity or a combination of both, is not specified at the time the contract is executed.

      The main difference is that Blanket Purchase Agreement is an agreement, not exactly a contract. You see, a contract implies certain obligations of both sides. While the BPA does not require a buyer to place an order under BPA or to fund it. In fact, the blanket purchase agreement merely states that one party of the agreement can arbitrarily place orders and the other party should do its best to deliver what’s ordered under the terms and conditions, for the price both parties have agreed beforehand.

      How does a BPA work?

      Whenever a need arises during procurement for some supplies or services, on a recurrent basis, a BPA may be established under any existing Schedule contract. The type and category of the Schedule do not matter. All requirements to the contract and to the contractor remain the same. This includes warranty, past performance and past experience evaluation, delivery terms, prices etc.

      The buyer establishes a BPA in accordance with FAR 8.405-3. At least three contractors must be selected to receive quotes from. The BPA clauses cannot alter, modify or contradict to terms and conditions of the source GSA Schedule contract. However, the federal buyer can add new conditions to the BPA. The common additions in the BPA include the frequency of ordering, discounts, additional requirements not specified in the main contract, delivery locations, and lead time.

      After the BPA is established, further purchases made under this BPA become much simpler and faster for both the contractor and the federal agency. The “minimum documentation” principle greatly reduces the administrative burden for both sides. Specifically, a contracting officer should provide the following bare minimum of information:

      • Schedule contract to which the BPA is awarded
      • Description of products or services ordered
      • Prices
      • Justification for a limited-source BPA if applicable. Normally, the buyer must give preference to Multiple-Award BPAs whenever possible. However, sometimes fewer contractors are able to perform the work or are qualified for it. In such cases, a single-award BPA greater than $100 million must be justified as stated in FAR 8.405-6.
      • Documentation for the product
      • Basis for the award decision

      Importantly, the duration of blanket purchase agreements cannot exceed 5 years, but it may exceed the duration of the contract as long as there are available prolongation options for the contract. Another thing worth mentioning and remembering is that a contracting officer may (and generally should) periodically review the BPA for compliance and determine whether it continuously offers the best value.

      What is a contract vehicle definition?

      A contract vehicle is a method, by which the government can purchase goods and products, and a way for companies to sell products and services to the government. Examples of contract vehicles are:

      • GSA Schedule contract
      • MAS Schedule contract, where the company is a subcontractor of some other GSA contract holder
      • Blanket Purchase Agreement
      • Set-aside contract
      • etc.