DOD competition measure could go governmentwide

A special panel created under the Services Acquisition Reform Act is recommending that Section 803, a Defense Department rule pertaining to services procurement, be applied governmentwide.

The rule requires DOD agencies issuing services task orders worth more than $100,000 to seek a broad range of competition. When using the General Services Administration schedule contracts, DOD agencies may choose to alert all companies on the contract and give them a chance to bid, or they may opt to alert fewer companies. If they choose the latter option, DOD agencies must inform enough companies to receive at least three bids.

Civilian agencies have to alert only three potential bidders on a GSA schedule to satisfy competition requirements, said Alan Chvotkin, senior vice president of the Professional Services Council.

The council was cautious about Section 803 when it was first enacted for DOD in 2002, but it was not as burdensome as the organization had feared, Chvotkin said. Although PSC does not believe it is necessary to apply the measure governmentwide, "we wouldn't strongly oppose it," he said.

"Ironically, this can make schedule procurements more competitive than open-market procurements that allow the government to proceed even if only one response is received," said Larry Allen, executive vice president of the Coalition for Government Procurement. "There is nothing magical about getting three quotes in one area."

Emily Murphy, GSA's chief acquisition officer, said the agency has been contemplating a similar move.

"It’s confusing to have two different sets of rules in place," she said, speaking earlier this week at FCW Events’ itsGov conference. "If 803 is good and really encourages competition, we need to explore applying it governmentwide.”

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