When is a GSA Schedule "pre-competed"?

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Until recently, our unit has operated on the following received wisdom. Micro-procurements below $2500 could take place with no competitive process whatsoever; just cut the order. Between $2500 and $25,000, we're obligated to make some showing that the price the government is paying is competitive; typically, we get three bids. For purchases above $25,000, we're required to use a government contract such as a GSA Schedule. (Because of peculiarities of the federal judiciary, our authority above $50,000 is even more stringently limited; but that's not what my question is about.)

Until recently, we've believed that we need make no competitive showing whatsoever as long as we buy from a GSA Schedule. The theory is that the compeitition has already been conducted by someone, and we can simply place orders based on that. But recently our procurement gurus in Washington have said 'taint necessarily so. Some GSA Schedules fit that picture because they've been "pre-competed." But other GSA Schedules allow vendors to add products to Schedules without sufficient competitive process to sanctify our use of the Schedule; we're supposed to treat those like an open-market buy, competing them against other Schedules (or maybe against open-market pricing, though we're not allowed to buy open-market over $25K.)

We've asked how we can tell when it's necessary to go through this process and when we can simply cut the order, and we've been told: "Just compete them all." Begging the question: what are the !~@#~!# schedules for!

My real question, of course, is how to tell if a GSA Schedule wears the halo of pre-competition. Of course, it's convenient to be able to skip the competitive process, but there's more at stake than that: it's sometimes impossible to find more than one GSA Schedule price for some products.

Any thoughts?

-- Steve Sibelman (stephen_sibelman@ord.uscourts.gov), October 05, 1999


Your first two paragraphs describe the way we procure from the 092000 fund in the Western District of Pennsylvania. For the 51140X Fund, we get bids from three GSA contracts if purchase is between $25,000 and $50,000.

-- James A. Drach (James Drach@pawd.uscourts.gov), October 07, 1999.

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