Memo addresses 'fair opportunity' guidelines

An Office of Federal Procurement Policy memorandum issued last week aims to simplify the purchasing process on multiple-award, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity product contracts.

The memo, drafted by OFPP administrator Steven Kelman, noted that some agencies may be creating an "unnecessary burden" when awarding delivery orders on IDIQ product contracts.

"We understand that some agencies are interpreting the 'fair opportunity to be considered' language in FAR 16.505(b) as requiring them to compete each order, even though they already may have information available to determine which awardee offers the best value and price for the government," the memo said.

The memo appears to address problems that have arisen on the Air Force's Integration for Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (IC4I) program, a $929 million product and services buy that has been plagued by a turgid procurement process for competing individual task orders, according to industry vendors. IC4I is being modified to adopt a more streamlined proc-ess, apparently incorporating ideas spelled out in Kelman's memo.

The memo stated that agencies can satisfy the fair-opportunity language by comparing price information that agencies typically maintain on price sheets or electronic bulletin boards. He said negotiations with individual awardees on a multiple-award contract are unnecessary, "unless the contracting officer believes that the information provided on the price sheets is insufficient to make an award in the best interest of the government."

The Kelman memo was addressed to senior agency procurement executives and Colleen Preston, deputy undersecretary of Defense for acquisition reform. The memo coincides with the peak of the federal government's purchasing cycle and the rise of such multiple-award product buys as the Air Force's Desktop V and IC4I pacts.

"We feel the ultimate end user will clearly benefit from this action," said Joe Draham, vice president of market development for military systems at Electronic Data Systems Corp. He said streamlining post-award competitions could help reduce the time it takes to get products into the hands of users.

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