Acquisition council releases bundling rule

Final rule

As the federal acquisition community issued a final rule on the dos and don'ts of contract bundling, an industry-sponsored report highlighted the approach as a top priority for procurement professionals and small businesses.

Bundling has long been a concern in federal acquisitions, because many small businesses fear being shut out when several small contracts are consolidated into a larger one. The rule announced today by the Federal Acquisition Regulation Council is the final result of a strategy first outlined by the Bush administration in October 2002 to increase small-business participation in federal contracts.

The new regulation mandates increased oversight, justification and reporting for contract bundling and expands the definition to include popular contract vehicles such as the General Services Administration's Federal Supply Schedule.

And the Industry Advisory Council's Small Business Shared Interest Group released a new report this week based on a survey of federal acquisition officials and small-business professionals that found that contract bundling topped the priorities of both sides.

Other concerns from the viewpoint of federal officials included reporting on the use of small businesses, subcontracting, the complexity of the small and disadvantaged business goals, and a lack of resources to handle those issues.

Small-business professionals highlighted the lack of an effective federal monitoring system for small-business usage and the failure of agencies and prime contractors to meet mandated goals.

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