What is a Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA)?

What is a Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA)?

A BPA, or Blanket Purchase Agreement, is a “funnel” to narrow competition to a few GSA Schedule (or VA FSS) Contractors. Per the Federal Acquisition Regulation 8.405-3 it is designed to fill the Government’s recurring needs for a Government contractor’s specific goods or services. The contractor benefits from limited competition and the Government benefits from additional discounts and less administrative effort. Government buyers need not spend time searching for appropriate sources and the streamlined competitive nature means faster turnaround times. If you look at the historical performance of GSA Schedule holders, you will note that some of the most lucrative GSA contracts rely heavily on BPA purchases.

Where to Find BPAs

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The Three Ways to Win Proposals!

The Three Ways to Win Proposals!

Yes, there are only three ways

There are only three ways to win a proposal. All the strategies and techniques you can think of, fit into these three categories. The three are fundamentally different. Understanding that gives you an advantage when it comes to figuring out the winning strategy. Most companies just muddle through, with strategies based on any one of them at any given moment. This gives you an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage by understanding the implications of how they apply to you.

If you understand which applies and when, you can present a more focused message based on strategies that are clearer.

  1. Selling what you’ve got and convincing the customer to buy it. You have to get what you have through the customer’s selection process. You search for the perfect words to turn what you’ve got into what the customer wants. Product companies generally fit into this category. You have to convince the customer that the benefits of having your company’s offering make it worth the cost and effort required to procure it. The customer has to trust your ability to deliver.
  2. Figuring out what the customer wants and selling them an offering that fulfills it. You can offer anything you can think of and deliver. You need to understand what the customer needs, so that you can become it. Tailored services and solutions generally fall into this category. You have to convince the customer that you are the best alternative to fulfill their needs. The customer has to trust your capabilities and insight.
  3. Selling on price. Price always matters, and sometimes it’s the only thing that matters. The closer what you sell is to a commodity, the more important price will become as a consideration. Everyone tries to have a low price. But having the lowest price requires effort. This is especially true for services businesses where everyone hires from the same labor pool. To sell on price you have to know just how little you can get by with. You have to convince the customer that in spite of your low price, you are still trustworthy. You have to be really good to be trustworthy at the lowest price. While difficult, it is possible. It just requires a completely different way of operating.

Muddling through and being a little of all of them will keep you from being the best. And you can’t consistently win proposals without consistently being the best. Even when the evaluation is formal and bureaucratic, like in government procurement, these forces are still in effect. They just operate in an environment with regulated acquisition procedures and written evaluation criteria. Sometimes what the customer wants most is a procedure followed. Sometimes convincing them requires following that procedure.

The key to winning is to understand what you have to convince the customer of.

The key to winning consistently is to build your organization around being that. 

You don’t just want to create branding around something that sounds positive. You want branding that supports the kind of selling you do. You don’t just want to appear trustworthy; you need to appear trustworthy in the ways that reinforce the kind of selling you do. You don’t just want the best offering; you want the best offering based on the kind of selling you do. And the kind of selling you do needs to be based on the kind of buying that your customers do.

Non-TAA Items Now Available on Federal Supply Schedules

Non-TAA Items Now Available on Federal Supply Schedules

GSA ADDS EXCEPTION TO TRADE AGREEMENTS

With COVID-19 working its way throughout our nation, industries are coming together to help combat the virus.  From first responders to support teams, everyone is working together tirelessly to help alleviate this situation, and our Government agencies have been rapidly deploying solutions in support of COVID-19 relief efforts.

The General Services Administration (GSA) is one of the many Federal agencies looking to have a tremendous impact in helping those in need.  Since President Trump declared a National Emergency on March 13, and with all 50 states under a major disaster declaration for the first time in history, GSA Schedule contract holders have the ability to be placed at the forefront of support and can effectively assist all types of government (GSA FSS eligibility).

On April 3, 2020 General Services Administration released a memorandum that allows GSA Schedule contract holders to add non-TAA (Trade Agreement Act)  items from select Federal Supply Classes (FSC) onto the Federal Supply Schedule.  This unprecedented change temporarily adds exception to the government’s Trade Agreements and Buy American Statues by allowing contractors to add non-TAA items (excluding embargo nations such as Cuba, Iran, Sudan, Burma, and North Korea per FAR subpart 25.7) to the GSA Schedule with a unique contract modification. Once awarded, State, local, and Federal government agencies alike will be able to acquire items without the need for non-availability determinations.

Only the following items from select FSCs can be added at this time:

FSC General Products Purchased Determination Applicability Begin Date Determination Applicability End Date
FSC 4240 N95 masks 4/3/2020 7/1/2020
FSC 6810 Sodium Hypochlorite (bleach) 4/3/2020 7/1/2020
FSC 6840 Disinfectants – includes cleaners, sprays, and wipes 4/3/2020 7/1/2020
FSC 7930 Cleaners – including sanitizing surface and floor cleaners 4/3/2020 7/1/2020
FSC 8520 Hand sanitizers, soaps and dispensers 4/3/2020 7/1/2020

GSA has released specific guidance and templates to use when submitting your modification.  Items will have to be removed from GSAAdvantage! and the Federal Supply Schedule contract once the applicability end date arrives

Be advised that the non-TAA exceptions are in support of COVID-19 efforts and for the predetermined Federal Supply Classes listed above.  52.225-5 Trade Agreements will still apply in all other conditions (list of TAA approved countries) and all other terms, conditions, and acquisition procedures will remain in effect.

GSA Schedule Holders Provide Needed Support During Disaster Recovery

GSA Schedule Holders Provide Needed Support During Disaster Recovery

As Florida begins to prepare for the swiftly approaching hurricane Dorian, disaster preparation and recovery by local and state government has become an increasingly relevant topic. The result of natural disasters can be devastating, and government officials are having the foresight to prepare for anticipated and unanticipated damages. If you have a GSA Schedule contract you may be wondering how to provide products or services to local and state government agencies that are in need during a natural, or man-made disaster such as hurricane Dorian.

How the Disaster Purchasing Program Works

The Department of Homeland Security allows all services and products available under GSA Schedules through the Disaster Purchasing Program, which in the event of a natural or man-made disaster, such as acts of terrorism or nuclear, biological, chemical, or radiological attack, equipment and services can be purchased by state and local governments from the GSA Schedules. This includes in preparation, response, or in recovery of declared disasters that is listed by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).The Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico have already been listed under Disaster Declarations on FEMA in the past few days due to do hurricane Dorian, and Florida is anticipated to follow suit.

State or local government institutions are defined in section 40 U.S.C § 502 (c) as “The term, ‘State or local government’ includes any State, local, regional, or tribal government, or any instrumentality thereof (including any local educational agency or institution of higher education).” This does not include contractors or grantees that may be eligible; eligibility requests can be submitted to GSA.

Authorized GSA Schedule contractors, contracts, products and services are identified with a Disaster Purchasing icon. This icon means that state and local agencies can purchase from these contractors or grantees only in event of disaster or recovery. These purchases are limited to GSA Schedule contracts and Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) only. Schedule contractors identified with the Disaster Purchasing icon have the option of accepting orders placed by state and local agencies, and they are authorized to decline an order within a five-day period. Products or services purchased under the Disaster Purchasing Program must only be used for disaster preparation, response, or recovery from declared disasters.

Do Your Provide Products and Services That Support Disaster Relief Efforts?

GSA Schedule holders that provide these services need to make sure the government knows you can offer them under the Disaster purchasing program.  If you do not have this icon, you will need to submit a modification to update your contract. If you need assistance or have additional questions, reach out to Coley GCS at [email protected] or directly at 210-402-6766 and we will ensure that the contract is primed for these conditions.

$5 Billion in New Opportunities with the VA for SDVOSBs

$5 Billion in New Opportunities with the VA for SDVOSBs

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of General Counsel overturned the VA’s previous determination that VETS First and Rule of Two did not apply to purchases under the $10,000 micropurchase threshold.  The Office of the General Counsel in fact determined that VA micropurchases also fall under the Vets First and Rule of Two, which opens up an additional $5 billion in business to Service Disabled Veteran Owned Businesses (SDVOSBs). This is especially good news for SDVOSBs that sell products, which are frequently purchased under the micropurchases program.

This follows on the case of PDS Consultants, Inc. v U.S. (Federal Circuit 2018), decided October 17, 2018.  The court determined that the Veterans Benefits, Health Care, and Information Technology Act of 2006, commonly called “VBA,” takes precedence over any other Federally established procurement requirements when applied to purchases by the VA.    

The VA Office of Legal Counsel made a determination that the court’s decision and the legislative requirements applies to all VA purchases, including those under the $10,000 micropurchase threshold.

Five weeks remain of the government’s fiscal year and during the final month many purchases using the Government Purchase Card are made. Therefore, if you haven’t already, now is time to make a final marketing push to VA customers and contracting officers.

As a Veteran-owned Small Business ourselves, Coley GCS takes great pride in our ability to assist other Veterans in selling to the VA.  Also, this legal determination opens new doors for Veteran-owned small businesses, let us know if you want our help. You can reach us via email at [email protected] or directly by phone at 210-402-6766.

Supreme Court Upholds Protection For Government Contractors In FOIA Requests

Supreme Court Upholds Protection For Government Contractors In FOIA Requests

Good news for companies receiving FOIA requests for release of information.  The Supreme Court carefully and narrowly defined what information can be deemed “confidential” and thus withheld or redacted from release.

On June 24, in a 6-2-1 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court strongly upheld the protection of Government contractor’s propriety and confidential information with respect to Freedom of Information Act requests to release such information. Since FOIA requests for proposal information are becoming a standard business practice, this strengthens protections of the incumbent or winning proposal submitter against requests. (more…)

Can You Decline GSA Schedule Orders?

Can You Decline GSA Schedule Orders?

A new email pops into your Inbox. It’s an order off through your GSA schedule directly through GSAAdvantage. Your first thought is elation – the schedule program is working!

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Should You Pursue a GSA Schedule? E-Buy Open Can Help!

Should You Pursue a GSA Schedule? E-Buy Open Can Help!

A new GSA tool to see who wins GSA Schedule bids may help you decide.

The General Services Administration (GSA) has launched a new pilot program to make eBuy award public through the Federal Business Opportunities portal at www.FBO.gov. The program will be called e-Buy Open and will run for a one-year pilot period.  (more…)

Making it Easier for Federal Agencies to Buy from GSA Schedules

Making it Easier for Federal Agencies to Buy from GSA Schedules

All Federal agencies have to abide by a variety of rules. These determine who and how agency buyers should purchase from the various procurement vehicles available (more…)

2018 Oasis on-Ramp IDIQ

2018 Oasis on-Ramp IDIQ

OASIS IDIQ Contract Unrestricted on Ramp for 2018 for Pools 2

UPDATE: Pool 6 has closed as of June 2018.

On May 9, 2018, GSA posted a pre-solicitation notice for an on-ramp for the OASIS indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) Unrestricted (UNR) 5-year contract for Pools 2, with the final solicitation being published on or about May 31, 2018.   If past history is an indication, the solicitation responses will be due 60 to 90 days from the publication of the final solicitation, with awards following in late winter to spring 2019.

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Introduction to The SBA’s Mentor-Protégé Program

Introduction to The SBA’s Mentor-Protégé Program

A Path to Government Contracting

One of the Small Business Administration’s mission is to continuously expand Federal contracting opportunities for Small Business. In 2016, they established the All Small Mentor-Protégé Program (ASMPP) to extend SBA approved mentor-protégé relationships to every small business. The program was designed to enhance the capability of the protégé firms to win Federal business utilizing the mentor company’s business development capabilities and substantive project experience. (more…)

Leverage your GSA Schedule for State & Local Government Sales

Leverage your GSA Schedule for State & Local Government Sales

You may not have considered all the ways that you can maximize the value of your GSA Schedule. Use your GSA Schedule contract to win State and Local business.  There are direct and indirect means using your GSA Schedule as the contracting vehicle to sell to State and Local Governments. In the indirect route,  you may use your GSA Schedule contract as the basis to obtain a State or Local contracting vehicle.

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Micro-Purchase Changes to Threshold Can Increase Your Government Sales

Micro-Purchase Changes to Threshold Can Increase Your Government Sales

Thanks to a recent change in the micro-purchase threshold if you sell products, training, or off-the-shelf solutions to any civilian agency (non-DoD), your competition was just significantly reduced!

Last month, as part of the  National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2018 for Fiscal Year 2018, the Micro-Purchase Threshold for Civilian agencies including GSA, purchases increased from $3,000 to $10,000.  (more…)

FAQs of GSA Advantage Order Cancellations

FAQs of GSA Advantage Order Cancellations

To be successful in the federal marketplace, you must effectively sell your company’s offerings in a highly competitive market and stand out among other contractors – just having a GSA Schedule does not guarantee sales.

Beyond sales, contractors must continue to manage the contract throughout the base period.  Successfully managing your GSA Schedules contract requires you to become knowledgeable of requirements to maintain compliance as well as be familiar with operational processes impacting your Schedule. In this post, we will discuss contractor responsibilities within GSAAdvantage! to help avoid you having to cancel orders and understand any adverse actions that your Contracting Officer may impose.

Three Reasons a Contractor Can Reject a GSA Advantage Order

Each contractor holds unique terms and conditions specific to their GSA Schedule Contract and the responsible parties must be very familiar with them.  The pricelist (I-FSS-600), items 1-26 contain pertinent information regarding a contractor’s options for cancelling an order. However, you may be able to cancel a GSAAdvantage order but only in very specific conditions.  Below are 3 Questions to ask if you meet the conditions that will allow you to cancel an order:

  • Does the order total fall outside your minimum order or above the maximum order threshold
    If a Schedule contractor is unwilling to accept an order above the maximum order threshold or from an agency or activity outside the executive branch, the order will be returned to the ordering activity within five workdays after receipt by the contractor.
  • What agency did the order come from?
    GSA Schedule contractors are obligated to accept orders placed by activities within the executive branch of the federal government. Is the customer outside the executive branch of the federal government? Then consider GSA Schedule contractors are not obligated, but are encouraged, to accept orders from agencies and activities outside the executive branch.
  • Has the order been accepted or rejected in a timely manner?
    The order is considered as “accepted” by the contractor and all provisions of the Schedule contract shall then apply if the Schedule contractor fails to return the order, or advise the ordering activity, within the specified timeframes.

If you’re outside of these conditions, you have 5 days to cancel the GSAAdvantage! order, otherwise the Purchase Order (PO) must be filled.  If you cannot sustain this order and you’re within the conditions above, you can cancel the Purchase Order (PO) with reason that these products are being removed from the GSA Schedule.

How to Avoid Having to Cancel a GSA Advantage Order:

  • Know your Contract – Read the terms and conditions of your GSA Contract and understand everything you are responsible for.
  • Stay Compliant – Make sure your modifications are up-to-date. Adding, Deleting, Economic Price Adjustments (EPA) or any administrative modifications to your schedule, should be maintained efficiently. In addition to products, make sure your point of contact and email address on GSA ebuy are accurate so you are receiving all required communications regarding orders you receive.
  • Be Proactive – Always stay in touch with your supply chain to ensure you are able to deliver on all your future orders at the price awaded. If you are offering products, make sure your vendor has not changed manufacture to a non TAA compliant country. Ensure your costs have not exceeded your list price so you can modify price or remove those items before orders come in.
  • Be Effective – If you are using a GSA Schedule management service that provides you with eCatalog support including GSAAdvantage or you have an internal team, ensure they keep your eCatalog current with new prices, deleted items or new offerings. The speed on how your team can effectively complete these tasks will keep you flexible, competitive and contribute to your success.

What is the Difference Between TXMAS and BuyBoard?

What is the Difference Between TXMAS and BuyBoard?

Many small businesses looking to grow their State and Local government sales have come to us asking, “Which is better for my business, TXMAS or BuyBoard?” The answer will vary depending on what you are offering, to whom you are trying to sell and when will you be ready to sell it. (more…)

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