Contract duplication remains a challenge in the government marketplace. The challenge with contract duplication is not the number of GSA Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) contracts, which reflects the depth and breadth of the commercial marketplace. The real issue is a procurement environment where individual companies are required to hold multiple contracts for the same or similar services. Each time a major new IDIQ contract pops up, firms feel compelled to compete for a contract in fear of being frozen out of a segment of the federal marketplace. It is not a healthy situation. Duplicative contracts unnecessarily increase Government and industry bid and proposal, overhead, and contract administration costs. Indeed, firms are often compelled to create duplicative contract management structures in order to manage multiple contracts for the same or similar services. Moreover, duplicative contracts reduce the government’s opportunities to leverage requirements across the enterprise and reduce industry’s ability to lower costs through economies of scale.
For those who think that contract duplication is not a real concern, I submit for your consideration the current draft of Request for Proposals (RFP) No. HSSS01-11-R-1001 issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The draft RFP seeks tactical communications commodities and services for DHS and its 22 organizational components. It appears that the tactical communications commodities and services being sought are currently available on GSA Information Technology (IT) Schedule 70 and/or other GSA government wide IT contracts.
Apparently DHS may also believe that the telecommunications commodities and services are available on IT Schedule 70. The draft RFP makes repeated references to an offeror’s GSA catalog or schedule. For example, the draft RFP instructs offerors to provide discounts off their GSA schedule contracts and/or commercial catalogs and states in part that using GSA schedule pricing for the RFP’s Dynamic Pricing Model evaluation tool is “the preferred method over commercial catalog pricing.” See Paragraph L.4, Volume 2 – Pricing and Dynamic Pricing Model, at RFP page 84.
The emphasis on seeking discounts from GSA schedule contracts begs the question: Why not compete the requirement under the GSA schedules and establish multiple BPAs and/or issue individual delivery/task orders? Indeed, the Coalition maintains that before establishing any new enterprise-wide IDIQ contract, agencies should be required to fully document and explain why existing contracts do not meet their needs. Here, DHS may have sound reasons for not using the GSA schedules. Perhaps the RFP’s scope of products and services exceeds that of the GSA schedules and/or included other unique requirements below the scope of the GSA schedules.
Finally, the draft RFP instructs offerors to “Consider DHS to be your ‘most favored’ customer.” Id. at RFP page 85. This is a very interesting directive. Although the Price Reduction Clause (PRC) exempts price reductions to federal agencies, the RFP’s focus on GSA schedule pricing combined with the directive that DHS be the “most favored” customer could undermine the very basis upon which an offeror’s GSA schedule contract pricing was negotiated. Further, to the extent an offeror agrees that DHS is the most favored customer, some in government may construe that agreement as a waiver of the PRC’s exemption for price reductions to federal agencies. In light of the effects of contract duplications in federal acquisition, The Coalition will be studying the costs involved in contract duplication and looks forward to engaging with Government and industry on this issue.