BPAs blitz to top of the charts (Part 1)

The Defense Department which has been a leading advocate for large indefinitedelivery indefinitequantity procurements now appears ready to abandon the "onesizefitsall" approach in favor of smaller more flexible blanket purchase agreements based on the General Services Administration's multip

The Defense Department which has been a leading advocate for large indefinite-delivery indefinite-quantity procurements now appears ready to abandon the "one-size-fits-all" approach in favor of smaller more flexible blanket purchase agreements based on the General Services Administration's multiple-award schedule.

In the latest development the Air Force's Standard Systems Group - the IDIQ pioneer - tentatively plans to use BPAs as its primary source for computer products potentially ending its run of Desktop series of PC contracts of which Desktop V is the latest.

Col. Delbert Atkinson SSG's vice director said "The question of the hour is whether or not there will be a Desktop VI." SSG plans to ask its servicewide customer base to try to help answer that question during this week's Air Force Information Technology Conference in Montgomery Ala.

But based on feedback SSG has already received Atkinson believes the answer will be that SSG should go the BPA route for PC purchases reserving IDIQs "as a mechanism to provide services." The Air Force Electronics Systems Command Hanscom Air Force Base Mass. has bold plans to run a variety of BPAs for a wide range of computer hardware software and services and Atkinson indicated SSG will run Air Force-wide BPAs as part of this effort.

Additionally the Army which had been widely perceived as the last of the services to experiment with IDIQs appears to be taking a similar stance.

Kevin Carroll director of the Army's Communication-Electronics Command Acquisition Center-Washington (CAC-W) said that for the foreseeable future the Army "mainly" plans to use BPAs as its acquisition vehicle of choice for PCs laptops as well as "the next big project out the door " the Small Multiuser Computer-III networking acquisition.

CAC-W will use BPAs because "they are faster cheaper and you have less of a chance of a protest. You also increase your chances of success because you will be able to guarantee Grade `A' companies and products" to the users Carroll said.

The Navy blazed the trail last year when it chose to award multiple BPAs rather than compete its Tactical Advanced Computer (TAC)-4 program and has since awarded BPAs to cover a wide variety of product and service buys.

Picking Up Speed

The concept picked up momentum in March when Eleanor Spector director of procurement in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology sent out a memo identifying GSA's schedule as DOD's "preferred source of supply" and encouraged the services to take advantage of such options as BPAs.

The Navy is still far out in front of the other services. Several months ago the Navy Federal Industrial Supply Center in Philadelphia awarded a handful of BPAs for PC desktops laptops and servers in support of its Information Technology for the 21st Century program which will create a ship-to-shore computing infrastructure based largely on PCs and other standard commercial technology.

The TAC program office which awarded the Navy's first BPAs "is very satisfied with the BPA [approach]" so far said Cmdr. Phil Graham a resource manager for the Naval Information Systems Management Center.The Navy does not rule out any single procurement option Graham said. "We want the contracting officers to feel free to consider all their options and to do a business case analysis of what makes the best sense and provides the best value for their customers." The service also is concerned about such issues as the legality of "incidental" expenses - minor components of a purchase not bought off the GSA schedule - and the impact on small business.

With such concerns in mind the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research Development and Acquisition is now considering putting policy in place on BPA contracting to guide Navy procurement shops through the process.

The other services - and the contracting community - echoed the Navy's concerns.

Despite SSG's tilt toward BPAs they should not be viewed as the ideal solution for every contract or command Atkinson said. Comparing the relative merits of IDIQs and BPAs Atkinson said "Whichever we choose there will be advantages and disadvantages we will have to weigh each on a case-by-case basis."

Carroll is concerned about the competitive nature of BPAs. There have been instances where agencies have awarded BPAs to every company that bids. But doing so means the bidders in such a large field of almost-sure winners "will only cut 1 percent off their GSA price " Carroll said. To drive a better bargain in the BPA arena Carroll believes agencies need to run the buys so "you have losers.... Then companies will offer you a better price such as 10 percent off their GSA schedule."

The contracting community while appreciating the streamlined procurement that BPAs make possible has concerns about the pitfalls of the new vehicles.

"There are major benefits that accrue to the government with a Desktop V IDIQ contract " said Tom Walters Desktop V program manager for Hughes Data Systems. While BPAs can provide a more "focused" procurement for a particular site or situation a servicewide IDIQ makes it easier for the Air Force to address such issues as computer compatibility and interoperability Walters said.

Hughes and other vendors also are concerned about the services taking a decentralized approach to procurement with different shops within the service setting up its own vehicles. "When you have a centralized selection strategy like the Air Force has at [SSG] the word gets out rapidly " said Brad Mack director of Defense Programs at Government Technology Services Inc. "If it is a decentralized strategy that deludes the value of a BPA " Mack said.

Bob Dornan a Federal Sources Inc. senior vice president who has tracked federal computer buys for more than a decade has not jumped on the BPA express. "I still consider BPAs an experiment " Dornan said and "it promises instant gratification. I have some real concerns that BPAs are not the way to go in a global strategic sense."

Patrick Gallagher a computer industry consultant who during his tenure at Zenith Data Systems Corp. helped that company win and run the Desktop II Desktop IV and Desktop V contracts said "Purchasing vehicles evolve over time and I think the BPA is the next vehicle." But Gallagher cautioned that agencies need to remember that "BPAs may be easy to put down on paper but they could prove hard to manage."

NEXT STORY: NEC seeks new markets for ID tech

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.