A government-wide acquisition contract (GWAC) is one form of interagency acquisition – the process by which one agency uses the contracts and/or contracting services of other agencies to obtain supplies and services.
Interagency acquisitions typically involve two government agencies: the requesting agency, which is the agency with the requirement, and the servicing agency which provides acquisition support, administers contracts for other agencies’ direct use, or both. In some cases, more than one servicing agency may be involved in an assisted acquisition.
Requesting agencies benefit from the capabilities or expertise of the servicing agency and the efficiencies and economies associated with leveraging resources and requirements. Servicing agencies benefit from the improved pricing and terms and conditions they can negotiate when consolidating, in a justified manner, other agencies’ needs with their own and among requesting agencies.
Interagency acquisitions are commonly conducted through indefinite delivery vehicles (IDVs), such as task and delivery order contracts. The structure of these vehicles is well-suited to the efficiencies and economies that agencies seek through interagency acquisitions. IDVs permit the issuance of orders for the performance of tasks or the delivery of supplies against prepositioned contracts and agreements during the term of the vehicle. The IDVs used most frequently to support interagency acquisitions are multiple award schedules (MAS), government-wide acquisition contracts (GWACs), and multi-agency contracts (MACs).
Types of Interagency Acquisitions
There are two types of interagency acquisitions: direct acquisitions and assisted acquisitions.
- In a direct acquisition, the requesting agency places an order directly against the servicing agency’s IDV. The servicing agency manages the IDV but does not participate in the placement of an order.
- In an assisted acquisition, the servicing agency and requesting agency enter into an interagency agreement pursuant to which the servicing agency performs acquisition activities on the requesting agency’s behalf, such as awarding a contract, task order, or delivery order. In many assisted acquisitions, the servicing agency also manages the IDV against which orders are placed. For example, the General Services Administration’s Federal Acquisition Service will typically place orders against a MAS contract or a GWAC on behalf of its requesting agencies. Sometimes, a servicing agency may find that another agency’s IDV can better serve the requesting agency’s needs, in which case two servicing agencies would be involved in the interagency acquisition.
A variety of laws authorize interagency acquisitions. The Economy Act, 31 U.S.C. 1535, provides general authority to undertake interagency acquisitions that is available to agencies when more specific statutory authority does not exist.
An increasing number of interagency acquisitions are falling outside the Economy Act because many of interagency contract vehicles that are widely used today, such as the MAS and GWACs, are not governed by the Economy Act. Instead, these vehicles are governed by more specific statutory authority. For example, the MAS is governed by Title III of the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949 (41 U.S.C. 251, et seq.) and Title 40 U.S.C. 501, Services for Executive Agencies. GWACs are authorized by section 5112(e) of the Clinger-Cohen Act (40 U.S.C. 11302(e)).
As a general matter, laws and regulations give agencies the discretion to determine whether to use an interagency acquisition.
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) says direct acquisitions from GSA’s GWACs are “in the best interest of the government” in its June 2008 memo, Guidance for Improving the Management and Use of Interagency Acquisitions. OMB designated GSA as the Executive Agent for GSA-issued GWACs under the Clinger-Cohen Act.
The Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) also asks agencies to look to interagency contracts like GWACs first for efficiencies and cost savings in its September 2011 memo, Development, Review and Approval of Business Cases for Certain Interagency and Agency-Specific Acquisitions.
The Department of Defense issued a memo on July 14, 2011 encouraging the use of 8(a) STARS II, Alliant Small Business, and VETS to meet DoD’s small business contracting and information technology needs. Read the July 14, 2011 memo.
The Department of Navy issued a memo on April 23, 2012 emphasizing the mandatory use of the GSA Alliant/Alliant Small Business for the acquisition of IT development and support services. Read the April 23, 2012 memo.
The Office of the Secretary of Defense issued a memo on August 16, 2012, stating that the Department of Defense acquisition community is to maximize the use of all available authorities to acquire products and services from small businesses. Read the August 16, 2012 memo.
Using an Indefinite Delivery Vehicle
Before placing an order directly against another agency’s IDV, the requesting agency’s contracting officer, or other official designated in accordance with agency procedure, should ensure that an interagency acquisition is in the best interest of the government, taking into account factors such as:
- Suitability – whether the IDV that would be used can satisfy the agency’s schedule, performance, and delivery requirements, including any statutory, regulatory, and policy requirements.
- Value – whether the IDV’s pricing, including vehicle access fees (sometimes referred to as an “industrial funding fee”), is fair and reasonable and comparable to what the agency is likely to secure by creating its own contract, and structured to allow the agency to obtain the best value for its needs.
- Expertise – whether the agency’s contracting office personnel have the appropriate experience and training to properly place an order on a timely basis, take advantage of beneficial features, such as discounts, and effectively administer the order.
GWACs were put in place by the General Services Administration to enable federal agencies to buy cost-effective and innovative solutions for information technology (IT) requirements.
GWACs provide access to IT solutions such as systems design, software engineering, information assurance, and enterprise architecture solutions. Small business set-aside GWACs also provide socioeconomic credit.
GSA promotes the use of GWACs by promoting a number of potential benefits, including:
- Premier IT service providers – Access to exceptionally qualified IT service providers enabling innovative solutions at competitive prices.
- Worldwide IT solutions – GSA GWACs can be used to develop IT solutions anywhere in the world.
- Access to ancillary support – GWACs facilitate a total integrated solution on a single task order by providing access to ancillary support, such as products and services that are integral and necessary to an IT effort.
- Savings in time and money through streamlined contracting – GWACs are pre-competed contracts offering a full range of contract types (all types of fixed-price, cost-reimbursement, labor-hour, and time-and-materials) making procurement planning easier. GWAC task orders can be issued in considerably less time than conventional open market procurements.
- Scope compatibility reviews – At no cost to the agency, GSA promises to determine whether an agency’s requirement is within scope of a GWAC within two to five business days.
- Support from Assisted Acquisition Services – GSA’s Assisted Acquisition Services can provide optional contracting, project management, and financial management expertise and support.
The Interagency Contract Directory (ICD) is a central repository of Indefinite Delivery Vehicles (IDV) awarded by federal agencies. The ICD assists in strategic sourcing and identifying existing contract vehicles (including those awarded to small businesses).
The “GWAC Dashboard” is located at: http://www.gsa.gov/portal/category/103435. This is an interactive tool that allows GWAC stakeholders to view and segment GWAC information to make better business decisions. Users have the ability to explore GWAC data by contract family, federal agency, and industry partner as well as build customized reports for download.