The Navy scales back BPA plans

Concerned with an increasing number of broadly scoped procurement vehicles the Navy recently scaled back what industry vendors had viewed as a large and strategic systems and services buy.

The Tactical Advanced Computer-Enterprise Solutions program will establish blanket purchase agreements with as many as six vendors to provide on a task-order basis bundled products and services from the vendors' General Services Administration schedule contracts.

At one time the TAC program office anticipated opening TAC-Enterprise Solutions to all the Defense Department offices and divisions giving DOD organizations a quick venue for buying bundled solutions and likely ensuring vendors bid volume-based prices. Industry observers had put the potential value of the program at several hundred million dollars.

However citing a need to avert a "misunderstanding" by vendors about business opportunities at the Navy the Naval Information Systems Management Center directed the TAC program office to limit the BPA to use by Navy shipboard customers and other members of the amphibious readiness group and carrier battle group.

NISMC was concerned that numerous broad procurement vehicles would dilute the perceived value of the individual contracts in the eyes of bidding vendors eventually leading to less-competitive pricing.

"We are trying to make sure we don't have a proliferation of vehicles that results in the vendors being confused and responding with GSA schedule prices" rather than more deeply discounted prices said NISMC commander Rear Adm. Stephen I. Johnson.

Specifically the Navy and some suppliers have been concerned about maintaining the viability of programs such as Navy PC LAN+ which was awarded to Electronic Data Systems Corp. last year and the Navy's forthcoming Information Technology Support Services BPA program and the telecommunications-oriented Voice Video and Data indefinite-delivery indefinite-quantity contract. The ITSS and Vivid procurements address requirements of base-level customers rather than tactical computer users.

The TAC program office was not available for comment. However before the decision to restrict TAC-Enterprise Solutions the TAC office - and industry vendors - had viewed this newest vehicle as an important component of the Navy's contracting strategy.

During the past six months or so the Navy has awarded BPAs for notebook computers PCs and workstations. What is missing is the ability to bring together commodity products to develop specific solutions.

Under the new BPA contractors would respond to statements of work with proposals that include engineering and integration solutions with hardware and software available on the GSA schedule or wherever possible existing BPAs.

Vendors and the Navy are concerned about this missing component. When customers buy products for a project "who takes responsibility for that solution?" a vendor asked.

For now Navy customers can use the existing Supermini II contract. The Navy this month decided to cancel the Supermini recompete in favor of using BPAs or other DOD contracts.

The Navy expects BPAs and IDIQ contracts to remain viable options in the future. If contractors put the right products and prices in place their contracts will be used Johnson said.

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