Q. Our agency is in the process of implementing a Bus Stop Improvement Schedule. The City hired an architect (via a competitive process) to develop a Master Plan and Design Guidelines. The Master Plan/Design Guidelines have been completed and adopted by Council. In this Master Plan the architect identified esthetic guidelines and recommended the brand names for the bus stop amenities (shelter, type of bench and trash receptacle).
We recently learned that these items are available from the GSA schedule. I received the GSA contract. We did a cost/price analysis and determined that it would be to our benefit to purchase these brand name items from the GSA contract versus going out for bid (brand name or approved equal). Does FTA allow procurements from GSA contract?
A. FTA does not restrict procurements by grantees from GSA schedule contracts. However, Congress has not opened all of the GSA supply schedules to grantees. At the present time, State and local governments are authorized to purchase from GSA’s Schedule 70 - Information Technology contracts. Therefore, State and local government grantees are authorized to purchase IT equipment directly from the vendors on GSA Schedule 70, without having to conduct a separate competitive procurement.
In addition, Congress has authorized State and local government entities to use any GSA Federal Supply Schedule to acquire property and services in advance of a major disaster declared by the President of the United States, as well as in the aftermath of an emergency event. The State or local government is then responsible for ensuring that the property or services acquired will be used for recovery. More information about major disaster and emergency recovery acquisition is available at GSA’s Web site. (Revised: July 9, 2009)
Q. l7 firms have been identified as providing a Risk Management System; with one having a GSA schedule and an additional three being rated A by a consultant firm. The grading system was A through D. I, being the contract specialist, believe the best value would be to solicit using the RFP process and weeding out the technically unacceptable. There are others who want to use the GSA holder, which in my opinion is restricting competition and not obtaining the best value for the agency. What is your opinion and is there something in the Best Value Manual, which address such a scenario?
A. We would agree with you that the best possible outcome in choosing a contractor would be through a competitive RFP process, rather than selecting a contractor that is the only one on the GSA schedule, and thus excluding other capable firms that might very well offer you a better value outcome considering both technical capabilities and price. There is nothing in the FTA Best Practices Procurement Manual that addresses the scenario you describe. (Posted: August, 2013)
Q. When a Grantee uses FTA funds, over $100K, to purchase parts/equipment off the GSA Federal Supply Schedules, are FTA's DBE and Buy America requirements applicable to this procurement?
A. The requirements related to Buy America and DBE would apply to any contracts above $100,000 awarded by a FTA grantee through the Federal GSA schedules. The use of a GSA schedule as a procurement method would not affect other applicable laws and regulations. (Posted: November, 2014)
Q. I have a follow-up question about the purchase of office furniture using FTA funds in the event that the final cost of the furniture exceeds $100,000.00. I know we are unable to purchase using GSA, but it is my understanding that if the vendor providing the quote to GSA were to sign a purchase agreement or other similar document that contains all the federal requirements we would be able to move forward with that agency under the existing GSA contract without conducting a new competitive procurement process. Is this correct? Also, can we use GSA for the purchase of information technology? Thanks in advance for your guidance.
A. FTA Circular 4220.1F, Chapter V paragraph 6 discusses the use of GSA Supply Schedules by grantees. It specifically authorizes the acquisition of IT technology, but no other type of acquisition is authorized. Thus the grantee cannot acquire furniture from the GSA schedules, and will have to conduct a new competitive (advertised) procurement for the furniture. Paragraph 6. d. also requires grantees to seek offers from at least three sources on the GSA IT Schedule in order to fulfill FTA competition requirements. (Posted: December, 2014)
Q. If a Transit Agency has existing technology (hardware/software) in place and wants to expand its use of those products, and they are available to be purchased by means of a GSA Schedule vendor, are there any restrictions prohibiting 'Match Existing' purchases so that continuity is maintained?
Background Information: I often find situations where Operations Dept. has need of additional equipment and they don't want to change to a different product, or go through an RFP process when they just want to use the same products on new buses, but purchasing departments are sometimes reluctant or hesitant in utilizing the GSA Schedule. I think that it is mostly a lack of familiarity.
A. FTA allows procurements by grantees from GSA schedule contracts. However, Congress has not opened all of the GSA supply schedules to grantees. At the present time, State and local governments are authorized to purchase from GSA’s Schedule 70 - Information Technology contracts. Therefore, State and local government grantees are authorized to purchase IT equipment directly from the vendors on GSA Schedule 70, without having to conduct a separate competitive procurement.
If a grantee wishes to choose equipment from a single source and not allow or consider equipment offered by other vendors, the grantee must process a sole source justification through official management channels within the grantee agency, explaining why only one brand can meet the grantee's operational requirements. The best possible outcome in choosing a contractor would be through a competitive RFP process, rather than selecting a contractor that is the only one on the GSA schedule, and thus excluding other capable firms that might very well offer a better value outcome considering both technical capabilities and price. (Posted: November, 2015)