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Perform Effective Market Research with GSA Acquisition e-Tools

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1 Perform Effective Market Research with GSA Acquisition e-Tools
U.S. General Services Administration Perform Effective Market Research with GSA Acquisition e-Tools Note to presenter – script provided as resource only, for audience to obtain CLP you need only to speak to information contained on screen, so please feel free to customize/augment/change script suggestion as you see fit. Welcome to GSA’s first eTools training designed by and for Contracting Professionals. During the next 90 minutes we will demonstrate best practices for using all of GSA’s procurement eTools: GSA Advantage, eLibrary and eBuy and how these eTools relate to the GSA schedules program. This knowledge will help to build the market research component of your agency’s skill set while continuing to keep procurements within full FAR compliance. We will frequently site information from the accompanying Desk Reference Guide which we encourage you to read and utilize as it provides excellent detailed information on procurement best practices. THIS IS an advanced training, designed to show how these three eTools work together and demonstrate how when used together, streamline market research time while increasing effectiveness and FAR compliance. The training assumes a basic working familiarity with GSA’s three (3) market research eTools. In-depth tutorials on each eTools - GSAadvantage/eLibrary and eBuy - are available at each website or better yet simply ask your local CSD for that type of class or group training and they will be happy to host an on site training session at your office location. Charles Lee Kathryn Pamiroyan Liz Belenis Slater GSA Training Conference and Expo May 10-12, 2011

2 Agenda GSA Schedules Overview GSA e-Tools and Market Research Best Practices Resources for the Procurement Community We start with how the GSA establishes Multiple Award Schedule contracts and also include a brief reminder of the contracting options within an MAS – very useful background information that helps you to use these contracts to accomplish your mission. After our brief background review we will explore the most efficient market research methods when using our three e-tools GSAadvantage, eLibrary and eBuy to query the MAS world.

3 GSA Schedule Basics Grouping of similar or comparable supplies and/or services GSA competitively awarded IDIQ Fixed Price Contracts More than 18,600 contracts in place 80% awarded to small business concerns – Agency gets socio-economic credit, except 8(a) KEY POINT: A Schedule is a grouping of similar or comparable supplies and/or services, each schedule is then broken down into sub categories otherwise known as Special Item Numbers (SIN’s) or category. Under each schedule contracts are awarded to multiple vendors at varying prices, which are a reflection of their commercial sales practices and determined by GSA to be fair and reasonable. The collecting and grouping of similar providing vendor types is completed in order to ensure competition and to enhance Best Value Determinations by authorized ordering activities. ** Refer audience to Schedules Desktop Guide to view complete list of schedules. Within each schedule there are subcategories or SIN’s. These Special Item Numbers that are even more specific in purpose or function. These are all priced IDIQ contracts and orders can be awarded as FFP, T & M or Labor Hour. Performance based solutions and order awards are encouraged. Small business goals credit is given via schedule except for 8(a) at this time. Section 13, page 68

4 KEY POINT: Similar to open market competition, to attain a GSA schedule contract, a vendor must first submit an offer in response to the applicable GSA schedule solicitation posted on FEDBIZOPPS. Contracting Officers determine whether prices are fair and reasonable by completing a comparison of price and non-price factors that a company offers the government with those that the company offers to commercial customers. This negotiation is commonly known as “most favored customer” (MFC) pricing. In order to make this comparison, GSA requires offerors to disclose either their MFC discount practices or all information regarding their commercial and non-commercial pricing and discounting practices. All responses will be submitted electronically at eOffer / eMod, a secure, interactive environment that simplifies the entire solicitation process for contractors and prospective contractors from offer submission to contract modification. GSA CO’s determine our contractors to be responsible by checking past performance, financials, etc. and vendors agree to a commercial set of terms and conditions. EACH CUSTOMER USING a schedule may add their own terms and conditions unique to the specific procurement or Agency requirements. All FAR requirements such as socio-economic, subcontracting, etc. have been met when GSA MAS contracts are awarded.

5 Priorities for Use of the GSA Schedules Program
Supplies Agency inventories Excess from other agencies Federal Prison Industries AbilityOne agencies Wholesale stock programs (GSA/DLA/VA) Mandatory Multiple Award Schedules Optional-use Multiple Award Schedules Commercial sources Services AbilityOne agencies Mandatory Multiple Award Schedules Optional-use Multiple Award Schedules Federal Prison Industries or Commercial sources As a reminder, FAR Part 8 establishes these guidelines and orders of priority (8.002 )when we need to obtain products and services. FAR Part 8 also establishes that during the a acquisition planning process, COs should be referring and commenting on these priorities and making decisions as appropriate. The key point that we would like to make here is that the FAR clearly intends that we all consider GSA MAS contracts before we go through all the time and effort to create new contracts, which brings us to the heart of today’s training session. FAR (b) Consider required sources of supplies or services Section 1, pages 9-10

6 Key Features Evergreen Contracts Price Reductions New Technology
Blanket Purchase Agreements Contractor Team Arrangements Options on Orders Open Market Items Evergreen Contracts: (5-year base period + three 5-year options) Evergreen options serve as a mechanism for customers to maintain contractual relationships with quality Schedule contractors performing at levels that meet or exceed performance expectations. Contractors who are performing positively and doing the minimum amount of business (GSA requires that a Schedules contractor have $25,000 in sales in the first two years as a contractor and $25,000 annually thereafter), GSA will extend contract option years. We attempt to exercise those options at least 30 days in advance of prior base period expiration date. Price Reductions: All initially negotiated pricing has been determined to be “fair and reasonable” Most Favored Customer (MFC) Pricing. GSA seeks to establish a MFC Pricing Relationship for the life of the contract. The Negotiation goal is equal to or better than MFC. Contractors actively monitor changes to their commercial sales practices because changes may have an affect on the MAS contract pricing MAS Price Reductions Clause - if the contractor lowers the MFC pricing, then the contractor must notify GSA and lower their MAS contract prices in equal proportion New Technology: A contractor’s ability to easily delete old and add new products at any time, gives our customers access to the latest technology via contract modifications. Additions completed through E-Mod system. Blanket Purchase Agreements: BPAs can help you make repetitive procurements with ease and efficiency. For a complete discussion of BPAs, including FAR references and guidance for establishing both single and multiple BPAs, please refer to Section 9 of the desk reference guide. Contractor Team Arrangements (CTA): HOW THEY WORK – customer identifies requirement, contractor submits contractor team solution, customer makes best value decision – can obtain many products, services and/or cross schedules. BASIC GUIDELINES – Schedule contractor, terms and conditions, payment information, etc. is incorporated into the CTA. ONE TASK ORDER and ONE INVOICE. A positive examples of this are often seen in product sales that require ancillary construction/installation services. Options: Options may be included on orders placed against GSA Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) contracts, provided that the options are clearly stated in the requirement and are evaluated as part of the ordering activity's best value determination. Such options may be exercised on GSA Schedule contract orders, provided that: • Funds are available; • The requirement covered by the option fulfills an existing government need; • Prior to exercising an option, the ordering activity ensures that it is still in the government's best interest; i.e., that the option is the most advantageous method of fulfilling the government's need, price and other factors considered; and • The options do not extend beyond the period of the Schedule contract, including option year periods. Open Market Items: In accordance with FAR 8.402(f), for administrative convenience, an ordering activity contracting officer may add items not on the GSA Schedule (Multiple Award Schedule) contract—i.e., open market items—to a GSA Schedule Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) or an individual task or delivery order only if—   All applicable acquisition regulations pertaining to the purchase of the items not on the GSA Schedule contract have been followed (e.g., publicizing (FAR Part 5), competition requirements (FAR Part 6), acquisition of commercial items (FAR Part 12), contracting methods (FAR Parts 13, 14, and 15), and small business programs (FAR Part 19)); The ordering activity contracting officer has determined the prices for the items not on the GSA Schedule contract are fair and reasonable; The items are clearly labeled on the order as items not on the GSA Schedule contract; and All clauses applicable to items not on the GSA Schedule contract are included in the order. BPA - Section 9 CTA - Section OPT- Section OMI – Section 8

7 Multiple Award Schedules
A flexible fit when procuring: Commercial Products GSA Schedule Contracts offer Commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) products and services falling within the descriptions of the Schedules. Combined, the GSA Schedules are a comprehensive, categorical offering of almost every product and service available.  Schedule orders can be awarded as FFP, T & M or Labor Hour, however, they cannot be awarded as Cost Reimbursement contracts. Key Point: Breadth is far more than most realize, extending from office supplies to Rocket Science. (schedule 871 (PES) professional engineering services. ** Refer audience to Schedules Desktop Guide to view complete list of schedules. Highlight a couple examples, potentials follow. GSA Schedules are used to procure a vast array of simple and complex services to include: Aerospace Engineering (871) Pre-Engineered Buildings Environmental Study and Remediation Services Security Services Complete Facility Maintenance There are, however a few products and services that are restricted from the Schedules Program. Currently firearms and ammunition, as well as nuclear/radioactive waste remediation, construction, A/E services services are not allowed on the GSA Schedule. Construction (FAR 2.101) Architect/Engineer Contracts (FAR and -4) : performance or approval by a registered or licensed architect or engineer Cost-Reimbursement Type (FAR 16.3) Commercial Services Section 13, page 68

8 PRODUCTS & SIMPLE SERVICES
Ordering Procedures PRODUCTS & SIMPLE SERVICES FAR Ordering Procedures for Supplies and Services Not Requiring a Statement of Work FAR Ordering Procedures for Services Requiring a Statement of Work SERVICES Schedules meet CICA (Competition in Contracting Requirements) as long as FAR Ordering procedures are followed. Remember the intent is to obtain a sufficient number of quotes to make a best value decision with minimal documentation. DoD Customers—remember that eBuy RFQs satisfy your Section 803 requirement, which relates to fair opportunity for contractors and the expectation that multiple valid quotes will be received. For all other federal agencies, Section 863 is a new law that will mirror to the DoD Section 803 requirement and eBuy RFQs will satisfy this new mandate as well. Section 3

9 Sole/Limited Source FAR 6.302 Other Than Full and Open Competition
FAR Limited Sources Justification and Approval – Limited sources justification and approval. (a) Orders placed under Federal Supply Schedules are exempt from the requirements in Part 6. However, an ordering activity must justify its action when restricting consideration— (1) Of schedule contractors to fewer than required in or ; or (2) To an item peculiar to one manufacturer (e.g., a particular brand name, product, or a feature of a product, peculiar to one manufacturer). A brand name item, whether available on one or more schedule contracts, is an item peculiar to one manufacturer. Brand name specifications shall not be used unless the particular brand name, product, or feature is essential to the Government’s requirements, and market research indicates other companies’ similar products, or products lacking the particular feature, do not meet, or cannot be modified to meet, the agency’s need. (b) Circumstances that may justify restriction cited in paragraph (a)(1) of this subsection include— (1) Only one source is capable of responding due to the unique or specialized nature of the work; (2) The new work is a logical follow-on to an original Federal Supply Schedule order provided that the original order was placed in accordance with the applicable Federal Supply Schedule ordering procedures. The original order must not have been previously issued under sole source or limited source procedures; (3) An urgent and compelling need exists, and following the ordering procedures would result in unacceptable delays. (c) Ordering activities shall procure such requirements only if the need to do so is justified in writing and approved at the levels specified in paragraphs (f) and (h) of this subsection. (d) Except as provided in paragraph (e) of this subsection, when an order contains brand name specifications, the ordering activity shall post the following information along with the Request for Quotation (RFQ) to e-Buy (http://www.ebuy.gsa.gov) : (1) For proposed orders exceeding $25,000, but not exceeding the simplified acquisition threshold, the documentation required by paragraph (f) of this subsection. (2) For proposed orders exceeding the simplified acquisition threshold, the justification required by paragraph (g) of this subsection. (e) The posting requirement of paragraph (d) of this subsection does not apply when— (1) Disclosure would compromise the national security (e.g., would result in disclosure of classified information) or create other security risks. The fact that access to classified matter may be necessary to submit a proposal or perform the contract does not, in itself, justify use of this exception; (2) The nature of the file (e.g., size, format) does not make it cost-effective or practicable for contracting officers to provide access through e-Buy; or (3) The agency’s senior procurement executive makes a written determination that access through e-Buy is not in the Government’s interest. (f) Orders exceeding the micro-purchase threshold, but not exceeding the simplified acquisition threshold as defined in For proposed orders exceeding the micro-purchase threshold, but not exceeding the simplified acquisition threshold, the ordering activity contracting officer shall document the circumstances when restricting consideration. (g) Orders exceeding the simplified acquisition threshold. (1) For proposed orders exceeding the simplified acquisition threshold, the requiring activity shall assist the ordering activity contracting officer in the preparation of the justification. The justification shall cite that the acquisition is conducted under the authority of the Multiple Award Schedule Program (see 8.401). (2) As a minimum, each justification shall include the following information: (i) Identification of the agency and the contracting activity, and specific identification of the document as a “Limited Source Justification.” (ii) Nature and/or description of the action being approved. (iii) A description of the supplies or services required to meet the agency's needs (including the estimated value). (iv) Identification of the justification rationale (see (a) and (b)) and, if applicable, a demonstration of the proposed contractor's unique qualifications to provide the required supply or service. (v) A determination by the ordering activity contracting officer that the order represents the best value consistent with 8.404(d). (vi) A description of the market research conducted among schedule holders and the results or a statement of the reason market research was not conducted. (vii) Any other facts supporting the justification. (viii) A statement of the actions, if any, the agency may take to remove or overcome any barriers that led to the restricted consideration before any subsequent acquisition for the supplies or services is made. (ix) The ordering activity contracting officer's certification that the justification is accurate and complete to the best of the contracting officer's knowledge and belief. (x) Evidence that any supporting data that is the responsibility of technical or requirements personnel (e.g., verifying the Government's minimum needs or requirements or other rationale for limited sources) and which form a basis for the justification have been certified as complete and accurate by the technical or requirements personnel. Section 3

10 RFQ Development and Issuance
Without a SOW Schedule contract supplies (products) and fixed-price services for a specific task. Threshold Considerations (FAR/DFAR) What Does the Government Think is Important for Award? (Evaluation Factors) Ordering activities shall use the procedures in Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) when ordering where a Statement of Work (SOW) is not required — e.g., installation, maintenance, and repair. Note: Ordering activities shall use the procedures in FAR , Ordering Procedures for Services Requiring a Statement of Work (SOW), when ordering Schedule contract services priced at hourly rates. When ordering supplies or services exceeding the simplified acquisition threshold using Department of Defense (DoD) funds, ordering activities shall follow the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS). The DFARS has been amended to implement Section 803 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2002 (Public Law ) for the acquisition of services, and to establish similar policy for the acquisition of supplies. DoD offices and non DoD activities placing orders on behalf of DoD, including orders under Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs), should refer to DFARS for additional information regarding ordering procedures and documentation requirements. Orders at, or below, the micro-purchase threshold The ordering activity may place orders with any GSA Schedule contractor that can meet the agency's needs. The ordering activity should attempt to distribute orders among Schedule contractors. Orders exceeding the micro-purchase threshold, but not exceeding the maximum order threshold Note: Each Schedule contract has a maximum order threshold, which will vary by special item number. The maximum order threshold represents the point where, given the dollar value of the potential order, the ordering activity shall seek a price reduction. To ensure a best value determination is made, as required by FAR 8.404(d), the ordering activity shall: Survey at least three Schedule contractors through the online shopping service GSA Advantage!® or review the catalogs or pricelists of at least three Schedule contractors, and seek additional price reductions where appropriate; Select the best value; and Place the order directly with the Schedule contractor. When an order contains brand name specifications, the ordering activity shall post the Request for Quotation (RFQ) along with the justification or documentation required by FAR to eBuy. When determining "best value," the ordering activity may consider, among other factors, the following: Price, including any additional price reductions offered; Past performance; Special features of the supply or service required for effective program performance; Trade-in considerations; Probable life of the item selected compared with that of a comparable item; Warranty considerations; Maintenance availability; Environmental and energy efficiency considerations; Delivery terms; and Socioeconomic status.

11 RFQ Development and Issuance
With a SOW Schedule contract services priced at hourly rates SOW Library: Threshold Considerations (FAR/DFAR) What Does the Government Think is Important for Award? (Evaluation Factors) Ordering activities shall use the procedures in Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) when ordering Schedule contract services priced at hourly rates. The applicable services will be identified in Schedule publications and contractors' Schedule pricelists. Note: Ordering activities shall use the procedures in FAR , Ordering Procedures for Supplies, and Services Not Requiring a Statement of Work (SOW), when ordering Schedule contract supplies (products) and fixed-price services for a specific task, where a Statement of Work is not required — e.g., installation, maintenance, and repair. When ordering supplies or services, exceeding the simplified acquisition threshold using Department of Defense (DoD) funds, ordering activities shall follow the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS). The DFARS has been amended to implement Section 803 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2002 (Public Law ) for the acquisition of services, and to establish similar policy for the acquisition of supplies. DoD offices and non-DoD activities placing orders on behalf of DoD, including orders under Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs), should refer to DFARS for additional information regarding ordering procedures and documentation requirements. Prepare a Request for Quotation (RFQ) that includes: »A Statement of Work. To the maximum extent practicable, agency requirements shall be performance-based statements. All SOWs shall include the work to be performed, the location of the work, the period of performance, the deliverable schedule, the applicable performance standards, and any special requirements (e.g., security clearances, travel, and special knowledge). »The evaluation criteria (e.g., project plan for performing the task, price, experience, and past performance). A firm-fixed price order shall be requested, unless the ordering activity makes a determination that it is not possible at the time of placing the order to estimate accurately the extent or duration of the work, or to anticipate cost with any reasonable degree of confidence. When such a determination is made, a labor-hour or time-and-materials quotation may be requested. The firm-fixed price of the order should also include any travel costs or other direct charges related to performance of the services ordered, unless the order provides for reimbursement of travel costs at the rates provided in the Federal Travel or Joint Travel Regulations. A ceiling price must be established for labor-hour and time-and-materials orders. Ordering activities may consider socioeconomic status when identifying contractors for consideration or competition for award of an order or a Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA). At a minimum, ordering activities should consider, if available, at least one small business, veteran-owned small business, service-disabled veteran-owned small business, HUBZone small business, women-owned small business, or small disadvantaged business Schedule contractor. GSA Advantage!® and GSA eLibrary (formerly Schedules e-Library) contain information on small business representations of Schedule contractors. »A requirement for pricing information that ties the offered prices to the Schedule contract prices and seeks additional price reductions where appropriate. Transmit the RFQ to GSA Schedule Contractors The RFQ may be posted to eBuy, GSA's electronic RFQ system. »Orders at, or below, the micro-purchase threshold. The ordering activity may place orders with any GSA Schedule contractor that can meet the agency's needs. The ordering activity should attempt to distribute orders among Schedule contractors. »Orders exceeding the micro-purchase threshold, but not exceeding the maximum order threshold. The ordering activity shall provide the RFQ (including the SOW and evaluation criteria) to at least three Schedule contractors that offer services that meet the agency's needs. The ordering activity should request that contractors submit firm-fixed prices to perform the services identified in the SOW. Note: Each Schedule contract has a maximum order threshold, which will vary by special item number. The maximum order threshold represents the point where, given the dollar value of the potential order, the ordering activity shall seek a price reduction. »Orders exceeding the maximum order threshold or when establishing a BPA. In addition to meeting the requirements, above, for orders exceeding the micro-purchase threshold, but not exceeding the maximum order threshold, the ordering activity shall — Provide the RFQ (including the SOW and evaluation criteria) to an appropriate number of additional Schedule contractors that offer services that will meet the needs of the ordering activity. When determining the appropriate number of additional Schedule contractors, the ordering activity may consider the complexity, scope, and estimated value of the requirement, and the market search results. Seek price reductions. »Distribution of the RFQ. The ordering activity shall provide the RFQ (including the SOW and the evaluation criteria) to any Schedule contractor that requests a copy.

12 Evaluation of Quotes Selection and Award
Best Value Continuum: From price predominates (Low-Price Technically Acceptable) to technical/past performance predominates Socioeconomic Considerations Evaluate Responses and Place the Order or Establish the BPA The ordering activity shall evaluate all responses received using the evaluation criteria in the RFQ. GSA has already determined that the hourly rates for services contained in the Schedule contractor's pricelist are fair and reasonable. However, the ordering activity is responsible for considering the level of effort and the mix of labor proposed to perform a specific task being ordered, and for determining that the total firm-fixed price or ceiling price is fair and reasonable. The ordering activity should then place the order, or establish the BPA, with the Schedule contractor that represents the best value (see FAR 8.404(d)). After award, the ordering activity should provide timely notification to unsuccessful offerors. If an unsuccessful offeror requests information on an award that was based on factors other than price alone, a brief explanation of the basis for the award shall be provided. When determining "best value," the ordering activity may consider, among other factors, the following: Price, including any additional price reductions offered; Past performance; Special features of the supply or service required for effective program performance; Trade-in considerations; Probable life of the item selected compared with that of a comparable item; Warranty considerations; Maintenance availability; Environmental and energy efficiency considerations; Delivery terms; and Socioeconomic status. At a minimum, the ordering activity shall document: The Schedule contracts considered, noting the contractor from which the service was purchased; A description of the service purchased; The amount paid; If applicable, the circumstances and rationale for restricting consideration of Schedule contractors to fewer than required in these ordering procedures (see FAR ); The evaluation methodology used in selecting the contractor to receive the order; The rationale for any tradeoffs in making the selection; The fair and reasonable price determination; and If applicable, the rationale for using other than a firm-fixed price order or a performance-based order.

13 How to Get Local Vendors Under Contract
In a recent survey of over 6,000 contracting officers the number #1 reason COs did not use the GSA schedules was their “preferred or favorite” contractor was not under schedule. We at GSA will go out of our way to work with new or incumbent contractors to add them to our schedules in order to support customers. If you would like to see a successful, responsive, local vendor under GSA contract - please refer them to the above website. In addition please consider directing companies you know to either your local area Procurement Technical Assistance Center, where procurement professionals are available to assist local area vendors with the process of becoming State or Federal Contractors at little or no cost or to the GSA website where vendors can take a self paced course through GSA’s Center of Acquisition Excellence on How to Become a Contractor and proceed on a self-directed path from there. NOTE: Processing times to award a GSA MAS contract varies widely and is dependent upon the quality of the incoming proposal, the complexity of the proposal, work in process, etc.

14 GSA e-Tools and Market Research Best Practices
GSA Advantage!® GSA eLibrary eBuy Schedules Program Perform effective market research by using these GSA e-Tools together!

15 Market Research Identify salient characteristics and sustainability requirements Understand requirement completely Ask form, fit and function questions When discussing best practices - it is important to remember that these best practices have been developed through listening to hundreds of customers voice common pitfalls in searching Advantage - using GSA eTools. These best practices have been developed to aid you in avoiding frustration when using GSA's eTools systems. (We could discuss some common pitfalls...or just leave at that) Before we can begin our MARKET RESEARCH we must have a firm grasp of our agency or end user requirements. To gain strong clarity and a thorough understanding of our requirement: We ask the FORM/FIT and FUNCTION Questions for products- It’s Form, what should it look like, It’s Fit , is there a specific size for example, and It’s Function, what does this product/service do or need to provide. For Services – we ash the WHO/WHAT/WHEN/WHERE and HOW questions… The answers to these type of questions are the least amount of information any procurement official needs prior to beginning any sound market research. This information must be developed prior to market research for best efficiency. When we ask the above questions we are determining what are the commodity or services “salient” characteristics. Salient means: REMARKABLE, NOTABLE, PROMINENT, STRIKING, CONSPICUOUS Lets begin by looking at a simple example…

16 Market Research making a Schedule the very best fit
Customize a Schedule Research the Contract T&C’s Add augmenting, non-conflicting clauses Charles Speaks to this slide – the placement of this slide seems awkward…

17 Using GSA Schedules – Finding Contract Clauses and Terms/Conditions
Software License By utilizing GSA Schedule eLibrary, GSA provides acquisition professionals with easily accessible, up to the minute contract and contractor information with direct links to GSA’s contracts general terms and conditions AS WELL AS our contractors SPECIFIC terms and conditions all within a few clicks of the mouse. There is a wealth of information to jump from on the Schedule eLibrary home page and let me just point to a few areas: Within the search bar you can – search by contractor name and easily verify if a company is a GSA MAS holder use descriptive searches …a best practice is to use “common laymen’s terms” use the alphabetical listing of all contractors or the category guide NOTE: The key is not to get frustrated, today’s searches take nanoseconds compared to what it used to take! Quickly walking through an example – let search for….

18 Using GSA Schedules – Finding Contract Clauses and Terms/Conditions
We find the Schedule we are looking for “70”…clicking on the PRIMARY Schedule number itself PLEASE BE AWARE – these descriptions are intended to provide a general idea of the category – they are not intended nor can we include every available commodity / service in the description.

19 Using GSA Schedules – Finding Contract Clauses and Terms/Conditions
We see two “portals” – both will lead us to the contract clauses. The first is an entry to our “CONTRACTS ON LINE” website – where the GSA terms and conditions of the solicitations reside – these clauses make up 99% of the GSA general terms and conditions of the vendors within this schedules contract.

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25 Practical Market Research Example: Copier/Printer/Scanner
Contracting Office Questions Standard or common terminology Environmental preference? Color? Network? Speed Resolution Customer Answers Multifunction machine, All-in-one, Copier/Printer/Scanner Energy Star Yes 25 ppm 1200 DPI (dots per inch) It’s Monday morning and the first request to hit our desk is for a Multifunction Copy/Print/Scan Machine. Our end user has been very well trained and has provided us with many salient characteristic’s of what they need this machine to do as well as some common names for the machine. We see the machine can be called a multifunction machine, All-in-one or Copier/Print/Scanner Since it is electric we know we want it to be Energy Star, the user would like machine to have color capability, hook to a network, print 25 ppm, and have a resolutions of 1200 dots per inch. As we have a firm grasp of the salient characteristics our customer is looking for we begin our market research.

26 Multifunction machine
We take one of our common terminology names for machine and type Multifunction Machine into PRODUCTS search box in Advantage. By using the products category search we have smartly narrowed our search to include only products, not services.

27 color Our Multifunction Search results brings up roughly 4300 matches for multifunction machines, that is a pretty wide net – and so I move to refine search by my next salient characteristic – COLOR. I type color into refine search bar.

28 The refinement of the search to include color has brought search results for multifunction machines to Scrolling through product matches I see quite a few different manufacturers and price points. My next salient characteristic was Energy Star Compliant – I look over to the left and see Green/Special Feature Category and select Energy Star Compliant item. This refinement brings my search results for multi-function machines to 543 matches.

29 25 ppm 1200 dpi I now add in two other desired salient features
25 ppm ( 25 pages per minute) 1200 dpi ( 1200 dots per inch) Let’s see what we get from here.

30 From here – you have all the information needed at fingertips to make best value determination.

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32 Best Practices: What did we learn from this example?
Fully define your requirement before beginning market research. Search using “salient characteristics” Is “adequate competition” met by using GSA Advantage? Streamline and save time by making the purchase, as no further action may be necessary! We truly believe that strong market research is the cornerstone of acquisition excellence and have learned that you are most successful at market research from simple to complex projects if you have a crystal clear grasp of the end objectives which really boil down to salient characteristic’s….in the end what do I need this product to do… This search example highlighted the importance of identifying salient characteristics prior to beginning market research – this allows you to efficiently and effectively use the GSA Advantage search engine to maximum efficiency. We encourage as a best practice utilizing various commercial terms when beginning market research to cast the widest net possible prior to drilling down for salient characteristics – you want to start with the biggest universe possible. Advantage is an excellent tool for price comparisons of commodities and may be the only market research tool you need for simple commercial acquisitions.

33 Practical Market Research Example: 50 Office Chairs
Contracting Office Questions Standard or common terminology Environmental preference? Sizes Other Characteristics Customer Answers Chair, Office Chair, Task Chair Yes, if possible 10 mid back average 40 mid back wide body Adjustable arms/height Warranty and 24hr Maintenance Moving on to a commodity and service requirement clearly above the micropurchase limit, this is where the beauty of the MAS program comes to light. Again we make sure our customer has adequately and appropriately described to us what they are looking for, and from the screen we understand customer is seeking a quantity of 10 Mid Back Office /Task Chairs – Average Fit 40 Mid Back Office /Task Chairs – Wide Body Fit Chairs need to have adjustable arms and height, environmental features preferred and must come with warranty and 24 hour maintenance. As again we are pretty clear on what our customer is looking for we begin our market research.

34 We have three common terms for our requirement –
Chair Office Chair Task Chair There are probably many more terms we could use, Desk Chair for example. For demonstration we are going to begin our search by casting widest net possible and search for Chair. This search term provides us with close to 7K matches for chairs and 1650 matches for executive searting.

35 For demonstration purposes – we also do a search for Task Chairs and find very similar search results.

36 We do a third open search for office chair and come up with a few less search matches.
We have found that it is a best practices to begin our initial search with the terminology that yielded the largest search results – this is what we call casting the widest net possible – we believe the wider net affords more opportunity for greatest competition and search results. If you know your salient characteristics – you will be able to get strong search results which meet your criteria in just a few clicks.

37 We decide to begin with the largest search match – cast the widest net!
Give yourself the best opportunity to find what you need, to give small businesses the biggest opportunity to be seen….

38 We refine our search by 1 – adjustable height 2 – adjustable arms 3 – mid back 4 – Big & Tall (our salient characteristics) Do we need to go further… not really, GSA advantage has shown us our contractors have what we are looking for… not it is time for us to find the Schedule SIN that corresponds to what we are looking for including 24 hr. maintenance and warranty and to either send out an RFI or RFQ.

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40 By clicking on the contractor for each chair you are able to view warranty included for each contract. Next we go to eLibrary to research our maintenance component of the requirement.

41 chair In eLibrary – there are many ways to search for an item, the easiest being to use the main search bar and type common term for either product or service. Here we type in Chair…

42 In eLibrary, there is not a refine feature, so you will need to do a visual refinement and scroll through category matches until you locate the product groupings/categories which best match your requirements. We see here that category is a very strong potential match for our chair requirements.

43 Potential Categories It is always good to have a file going for each requirement, and I just jot category down on my file for later use.

44 From here – as we cannot easily identify what companies offer maintenance services under their contract for the 24 hour maintenance requirement – a best practice suggestion would be to go out on eBuy with an RFI to identify contractors whom cover this service for your location under contract. To move from eLibrary to eBuy, just select eBuy link at top of screen. But first, let’s review best practice suggestion for when to use an RFI vs RFQ

45 RFI vs. RFQ: Best Practices and Conditions for Use
Used for market research purposes and for the exchange of information with industry prior to the receipt of proposals One means of obtaining and collecting information about capabilities within the market to satisfy contract needs Helps determine if adequate competition exists RFQ Known competition exists. Precise specifications exist. Selection criteria have been developed. In accordance with FAR, all responses received must be reviewed. What are the differences between an RFI and RFQ? An RFI (similar to a sources sought on FBO except only GSA schedule holders see it) can help you gather information – on potential vendor sources, pricing, availability, alternative strategies (companies may respond with ideas you had not thought of) and by utilizing the RFI feature you will be able to determine if there is adequate competition available for your procurement through the GSA Schedules program by the number of positive responses/sources identified received. GSA believes the RFI to be a “Best Practice” it facilitates market research as it may produce valuable feedback from potential Schedule vendors on how to best tailor the acquisition and how to best utilize Schedule sources. An RFQ is appropriate when you are very familiar with your requirement and have knowledge that competition requirements will be met/exceeded within the MAS program. Please note for a successful RFQ you can’t provide too much information. Ebuy allows attachment of any file type, as many as necessary, as long as each individual file is 5MB or less in size.

46 711 18 8.405-6 Limited sources justification and approval.
(a) Orders placed under Federal Supply Schedules are exempt from the requirements in Part 6. However, an ordering activity must justify its action when restricting consideration— (1) Of schedule contractors to fewer than required in or ; or (2) To an item peculiar to one manufacturer (e.g., a particular brand name, product, or a feature of a product, peculiar to one manufacturer). A brand name item, whether available on one or more schedule contracts, is an item peculiar to one manufacturer. Brand name specifications shall not be used unless the particular brand name, product, or feature is essential to the Government’s requirements, and market research indicates other companies’ similar products, or products lacking the particular feature, do not meet, or cannot be modified to meet, the agency’s needs. (b) Circumstances that may justify restriction cited in paragraph (a)(1) of this subsection include— (1) Only one source is capable of responding due to the unique or specialized nature of the work; (2) The new work is a logical follow-on to an original Federal Supply Schedule order provided that the original order was placed in accordance with the applicable Federal Supply Schedule ordering procedures. The original order must not have been previously issued under sole source or limited source procedures; (3) An urgent and compelling need exists, and following the ordering procedures would result in unacceptable delays. (c) Ordering activities shall procure such requirements only if the need to do so is justified in writing and approved at the levels specified in paragraphs (f) and (h) of this subsection. (d) Except as provided in paragraph (e) of this subsection, when an order contains brand name specifications, the ordering activity shall post the following information along with the Request for Quotation (RFQ) to e-Buy (http://www.ebuy.gsa.gov): (1) For proposed orders exceeding $25,000, but not exceeding the simplified acquisition threshold, the documentation required by paragraph (f) of this subsection. (2) For proposed orders exceeding the simplified acquisition threshold, the justification required

47 In this scenario, it makes the most sense for us to send out an RFI for our chairs with the corresponding service requirement. Within eBuy, the template allows us to post either RFQ’s or RFI’s with relative ease. If you have never used the RFI feature, it is one of our standard best practices for market research. The first step is to select the desired category, which we do here through the selection of category

48 As we are creating an RFI and not an RFQ, we have absolutely no worry in how many vendors we select for a response.

49 This screen just is a caution screen to verify and confirm that eBuy RFI/RFQ will be sent to high number of contractors.

50 eBuy has a system feature of suggesting alternative categories that may be useful to include in RFI or RFQ. Let’s take a moment to review the suggested category of Office Products contained under category We select the suggested category, and that brings up sub-categories for review.

51 We select the sub-category of Office Furnishings.

52 And again, select box to send RFI to all vendors covered under this category. We truly believing in our best practice of casting the widest net for market research. We will receive the caution screen again, and choose to proceed – the next screen will be the template for our RFQ or RFI.

53 By selecting the box, seeking sources or information only – the RFQ template has now been turned into an RFI – seeking sources only, although the system still refers to it as an RFQ. Please be certain to check this box if you are seeking information only from vendors and not quotes. You will then proceed through completing the eBuy requirements template.

54 eBuy Results Less than three responses?
We may have situations where competition is limited, but before we make that determination, we need to review our RFI/RFQ. An often found real life scenario is the situation where we find competition within the schedule program limited, the procurement professional has received less than three RFQ responses/sources, it is a best practice take a second look at our RFI/RFQ posted requirements, asking ourselves the following questions ( proceed to next screen and read)

55 eBuy RFI/RFQ Review If the answer to any of the following questions is “yes,” competition may be unnecessarily limited. Is the SOW narrowly defined with overly restrictive specifications or performance standards? Is the order written in such a way as to create a continuous arrangement with the same contractor? Is it a brand name or equivalent? (Refer to >For Customers – Ordering from Schedules> Use of Brand Name Specifications at If a procurement professional answered yes to any of above question, the best practice would be to revisit the RFQ, modify and re-post it on eBuy.

56 eBuy RFI/RFQ Review If answers to all preceding questions were “no:”
We have met our competition requirements. Determination & Finding (D&F) When fewer than three responses are received - the contracting officer may place the order if it did not result in more quotes provided the contracting professional determines in writing, that no additional contractors who can fulfill the requirement could be identified despite reasonable efforts to do so. Matter of “Due Diligence”

57 Best Practices: What did we learn from this example?
Fully define your requirement before beginning market research. Try various standard terminology searches. Begin with the most search matches – “cast the widest net.” Use GSAadvantage, eLibrary and eBuy together to maximize your market research. This search example highlighted the importance of identifying salient characteristics prior to beginning market research – this allows you to efficiently and effectively use the GSA Advantage search engine to maximum efficiency. We encourage as a best practice utilizing various commercial terms when beginning market research to cast the widest net possible prior to drilling down for salient characteristics – you want to start with the biggest universe possible. Advantage is an excellent tool for price comparisons of commodities and may be the only market research tool you need for simple commercial acquisitions.

58 Practical Market Research Example: environmental impact statement
Contracting Office Questions What are the standard commercial terms for the requirement? Location? Previous experience w/ agency Customer Answers Environmental Impact Study “EIS” California Navy Agency has requirement to perform Environmental Impact Study at Naval Base in Southern CA.

59 The updated version of Advantage
The updated version of Advantage! Is an excellent place to begin market research on services. In the past – our best practice suggestion was to proceed directly to eLibrary to begin market research, but as our eTools are enhanced our best practices evolve as well. Best practice for searching for services on Advantage is to select the Services category at top left of homepage.

60 And within those service offerings select environmental services.
From there we will refine our search to EIS

61 EIS Our search results for EIS within environmental services yield a strong starting point for market research – Advantage has searched through all of the vendors providing environmental services contract files to match desired search criteria. This is a vast improvement over past system capabilities of just matching vendors to service categories. There are close to 1200 vendor catalogs which meet our current search criteria.

62 California We now add a location – California to our search criteria, we are seeking vendors who provide EIS services and are either in CA, or mention work they have done within CA. This narrows our criteria matches to 157 catalogs. We have one final search criteria, we want to see vendors who provide information for work they have done with the Navy.

63 Navy This last refinement brings our criteria matches to 15 vendor catalogs down from close to 1200 in just a few clicks. If we had further criteria we could refine further, or begin our visual market research from here.

64 The next best step in continuing with market research for this requirement is to select the link which takes you to specific Contractor Information .

65 From this screen, you will want to clink on the blue box to view this contractor’s GSA Catalog to learn more about their product and service offerings, pricing, term’s and conditions.

66 Review of the Contractor Terms and Conditions, Pricelist, Catalogs, Service Offerings are all critical components of solid market research. This particular vendor has a 75 page capabilities statement.

67 To view all of the contractor’s which meet our search criteria – we can select all contractors from refine categories options on the left side of screen, and review each contractor listing – or we could move to eBuy with a RFI request for more detailed information on our specific project and request that the vendors provide us with detailed information of their work on similar type projects. This step truly increased the strength of our market research.

68 Or…we have a solid list of 15 vendor contacts who have done EIS work, are in or /have done work in CA and have done work for the Navy. For some this is a solid start to market research and they may consider themselves ready to issue an RFQ in eBuy .

69 899-1 From our earlier market research we know service category for Environmental Impact Study falls under We put that category into the main search bar on eBuy.

70 This brings us to category where we can double check – that this is indeed category we desire.

71 Follow eBuy template from here – selecting either RFI option, and sending to many vendors – or from this page selecting the 15 vendors who met our Advantage search criteria.

72 Best Practices: What did we learn from this example?
Begin with a broad services “category” search (cast the widest net) Searching by location and prior experience is possible via Advantage Use Contractor Catalog’s in Advantage to continue market research Use Advantage/eLibrary and eBuy together to strengthen and streamline your market research! Presenter reads and discusses screen.

73 Best Practices: What did we learn from this example?
Again, use broad terminology when searching to cast the widest net, then refine. Issue a Request for Information (RFI) using e-Buy to uncover the “most technically acceptable” contractors. Imperative to scroll through all category matches when reviewing search results in eLibrary. Use of RFI best practice and let’s vendors provide agencies with tremendous market research information.

74 Additional GSA Acquisition Solutions
gsaglobalsupply.gsa.gov Additional GSA Acquisition Solutions GSA Global Supply Network and Telecommunication Services Contracts Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs) GSA Global Supply  GSA Global Supply is the first source for your ongoing or fiscal year-end supply buying needs – supplies delivered locally and globally. Because GSA is a federal agency, when you order from GSA Global Supply you are submitting a simple requisition for product fulfillment, not conducting a complex procurement. This means that you do not have to send your requirement to multiple sources for comparison. GSA Global Supply accepts government purchase cards, purchase orders, 1348s, MIPRs and most any ordering/purchasing document. GWACs are multiple-award, indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (MA/IDIQ) contracts that help agencies meet their technology requirements through a customizable, solutions-based approach. Hardware, software, and services can be purchased as a total technology solution. Task orders placed against GWACs may be customized to meet the full range of IT service solutions, including, but not limited to: Systems/Product/Service integration; Systems operation and management; Software/Information Systems engineering and management; Cybersecurity; Network management/telecommunications; and Web-enabled solutions. GWACs: (8a STARS, Alliant, Alliant Small Business, COMMITS NexGen, Millennia Lite and VETS) Network Services contracts: offer government agencies the best and most current telecommunications services and products. Services cover worldwide, wide-area and local services SATCOM-II SATCOM-II provides end-to-end satellite solutions - under multiple award, indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ), fixed-price contracts. Telecommunications Expense Management System (TEMS) Your agency may save as much as 26% on wireless costs with TEMS. CONNECTIONS Agencies use this one-stop-shop for telecommunications infrastructure solutions focused on the building or campus environment. Local Telecommunications Services Agencies can acquire local telephone services through GSA's Local Telecommunications Contracts, which provide telecommunications services within certain geographic areas at discounted rates. Future COMSATCOM Services Acquisition (FCSA) FCSA will provide departments and agencies with a full range of Commercial Satellite Communications (COMSATCOM) solutions.

75 Additional GSA Resources for the Procurement Community
GSA MAS Program GSAadvantage.gov – includes links to eLibrary & eBuy GSA eLibrary includes Contracts on Line Services Ordering Solutions – Avoiding MAS confusion (Blog designed to assist Federal Contracting Officers using GSA’s MAS program to order services) Business Partner Network (BPN) - a single source for vendor data for the Federal Government. Lastly, We have provided you a list of resources designed to assist the Federal Contracting/Procurement community. We want to take a moment to specifically point out “Services Ordering Solutions – Avoiding MAS Confusion” and BPN.GOV

76 GSA Customer Service Directors http://www.gsa.gov/csd
Customer Services are located worldwide to assist both Civilian and DOD procurement officials with finding the products and services needed within regulations that support their agency missions. Please visit to locate the Customer Service Director serving your local area.

77 Perform Effective Market Research with GSA Acquisition e-Tools
Questions? We have appreciated being with you all today and have some extra time available for questions. So how did we do? We hope we: - refreshed your general knowledge of the MAS program emphasized the importance of excellent “market research” and demonstrated the market research power of GSA’s eTools!!! Thank you for your time, attention and thoughtful questions.


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