Rule would require BPA competition

Proposed rule

A proposed rule published last week would require agencies to solicit at least three bids when ordering services or establishing blanket purchase agreements (BPAs) under the General Services Administration's Federal Supply Service (FSS) schedule system.

The new rule would require agencies to consider at least three schedule providers when purchasing goods or fixed-price services, and to send a statement of work to at least three providers when trying to order services priced at hourly rates.

In either case, if the agency is trying to establish BPAs, it must also consider additional providers, although the proposal does not specify how many.

Under current rules, agencies can purchase services under BPAs even if they have only one such agreement and the prices aren't fixed, said Chip Mather, senior vice president of Acquisition Solutions Inc. "If the only way you can price it is by getting a quote from the vendor, then you [should] have to get competition," he said.

The proposed changes to the Federal Acquisition Regulation are an effort to close that loophole, said Neal Fox, GSA's assistant commissioner for commercial acquisition at FSS. "We want the agreements to be established using the appropriate amount of competition," he said.

However, Fox said he does not believe there is any widespread problem with uncompeted BPAs.

Public comments on the proposed rule are due by June 17.

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