DATE: April 3, 2003

SUBJECT: Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR); Federal Supply Schedules Services and Blanket Purchase Agreements

SOURCE: Federal Register, April 3, 2003, Vol. 68, No. 75, page 19293

AGENCIES: Department of Defense (DOD), General Services Administration (GSA), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

ACTION: Proposed Rule

SYNOPSIS: It is proposed that FAR Subpart 8.4, Federal Supply Schedules, be amended improve the application of acquisition basics on purchases for services from Federal Supply Schedules (FSSs) and blanket purchase agreements (BPAs) and reinforce sound multiple award schedule practices in general.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Fiscal Year 2002 National Defense Authorization Act (Public Law 107-107), Section 803, Competition Requirement for Purchase of Services Pursuant to Multiple Award Contracts, directed DOD to take actions to improve its competitive procedures on FSS and other multiple award contracts. Many of those actions are the same or similar to those in this proposed rule. For more on DOD's implementation of the requirements in Section 803, see the October 25, 2002, FEDERAL CONTRACTS DISPATCH "Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS); Competition Requirements for Purchase of Services Under Multiple Award Contracts."

For more on the acquisition-related provisions of the FY 2002 National Defense Authorization Act, see the January 2, 2002, FEDERAL CONTRACTS DISPATCH "Enactment of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2002."

DATES: Comments are due on or before June 17, 2003.

ADDRESSES: Submit written comments on proposed rule to General Services Administration, FAR Secretariat (MVA), 1800 F Street, NW, Room 4035, Attn: Laurie Duarte, Washington, DC 20405. Submit e-mail comments to: farcase.1999-603@gsa.gov. Cite "FAR case 1999-603" when referring to this proposed rule.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Linda Nelson, 202-501-1900.

SUPPLEMENTAL INFORMATION: The FSS program, which is managed by GSA, provides agencies with a simplified process for obtaining commercial supplies and services at prices associated with volume buying. For most of its history, the FSS program consisted almost exclusively of products ("Federal Supply Schedules"). However, in recent years, the government has increasingly sought to acquire its services from the commercial marketplace rather than retain or develop the skills and capabilities itself. GSA has sought to facilitate broad access to service providers by adding services to the FSS. Now, services account for approximately 2/3 of the total FSS sales.

To assist its customers, GSA developed "special ordering procedures," but those procedures are buried within the FSS, and the regulations and procedures in FAR Subpart 8.4 still reflect the supplies-orientation of the FSS program as it existed years ago. Therefore, agencies have been inconsistent in adhering to certain basic acquisition requirements when buying services off the FSS, such as in their use of statements of work, effective pricing of orders, obtaining competition, and proper documentation of award decisions. The General Accounting Office (GAO), in its report GAO-01-125, Contract Management: Not Following Procedures Undermines Best Pricing Under GSA's Schedule, pointed out these deficiencies.

To significantly improve the application of acquisition basics on FSS purchases for services and reinforce the application of sound procurement practices to the FSS program generally, the FAR Council is proposing numerous amendments to FAR Subpart 8.4. The following are the most significant changes being proposed to FAR Subpart 8.4:

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Panoptic Enterprises at 703-451-5953 or by e-mail to Panoptic@FedGovContracts.com.

Copyright 2003 by Panoptic Enterprises. All Rights Reserved.

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