What is it? A contract vehicle (includes a GSA schedule) is the government’s method of streamlining how they buy goods and services. Instead of soliciting offers for goods or services by releasing a Request for Proposal (RFP) or similar, the government pre-approves companies that can provide the items needed. The agencies enter into a agreement with these firms that allows the government to purchase them over a set time period and for a set price. There are several forms, but a high-level review of some common ones are:
Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity Contracts (IDIQs)
IDIQs allow the government to purchase items under contract when needed and in amounts, as needed. They can be awarded to multiple or a single vendor and are restricted to use within the awarding agency or partner agencies – meaning they can only be used by those authorized. IDIQ’s have on-ramp periods and once the period is closed, new contractors can’t enter. These contracts typically expire in 3-5 years.
Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs)
Meaning agencies “government-wide” can buy products or services from this vehicle. A GSA schedule or Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) is a long-term GWAC, renewable up to 20 years. Agencies can use to buy total IT solutions, including both products and services and pretty much anything else under a GSA schedule.
Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPA)
A BPA is a simplified method of filling anticipated repetitive needs for open market supplies and services below the Simplified Acquisition Threshold, which is currently $250,000. Good for those contractors looking for the smaller contract opportunities.
When timing and quantities needed are uncertain, a contracting vehicle is a good way for agencies to pull from a list of pre-approved vendors. Of course, there are times when a contract vehicle won’t work and a new solicitation is needed. However trends show the government looks to these vehicles more often than not to meet its procurement needs. Finally, it may be a fit for you as you look for ways to decrease the number of competitors. What we covered here is just a sampling. Contact us to learn more about contract vehicles and business development strategies.