That’s right, the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) provide many ways for federal contracting officers to limit the competitive landscape to a few vendors and that means you never know about the requirement until after it is awarded and posted to FPDS.gov.
- “Qualified” vendors.
Most contracting officers that have been around a while know the companies that perform well, even more importantly, the ones who don’t. 76.4% of contract awards have 5 or less respondents because Contracting Officers minimize the competition by qualifying vendors before the requirement is released using:
- Past performance
- Contract Vehicle
- Subject Matter Expert Status
This is great if you are well known and have a relationship, but most qualified vendors never get included because buyers and program managers don’t even know they exist. You need to inject yourself into the conversation with the goal of proving to them that you deserve to be on the shortlist. Let them know that you can’t knock their socks off and they will be missing out on a great resource if they don’t let you to play.
2. “Choice of Two”.
The FAR states that Set-asides for socio-economic programs can be made if:
- At least two qualified small businesses are likely to submit offers
- The contract can be awarded at a fair market price
This means Contracting Officers can compete between as little as two qualified small businesses within ANY socio-economic category – WOSB, VOSB, SDVOSB, HUBZone or 8(a).
3. BPA calls and IDIQ Task Orders.
These are pre-established purchasing mechanisms where requirements are only circulated within the holders of these vehicles. In many cases, BPAs and IDIQs are single award and are used for repetitive purchases. If you have a great relationship with a contracting officer within a specific agency, you can ask him or her to execute a BPA using your best pricing. What do you have to lose?