FAR councils propose change to contract-bundling rule

FAR councils propose change to contract-bundling rule

The Federal Acquisition Regulation councils on Friday issued a proposed rule to curtail the bundling of contracts by agencies.

The change would implement the Office of Management and Budget's recommendations for increasing federal contracting opportunities for small businesses by unbundling contracts where possible and mitigating the effects of bundling when it is necessary. The Small Business Administration has issued a companion rule amending its regulations.

Agencies use bundling to consolidate two or more contracts for goods or services that previously were provided under separate contracts. A bundled contract is unlikely to be won by a small business, SBA officials have contended repeatedly.

According to an October OMB report, for every 100 bundled contracts, 106 individual contracts are no longer available to small businesses, and that for every $100 awarded on a bundled contract, there is a $33 decrease in contract dollars awarded to small businesses.

SBA said the proposed change would affect approximately $3 billion in orders placed against Federal Supply Service schedule and governmentwide acquisition contracts.

The proposed rule would:

  • Require contract bundling reviews for task and delivery orders placed against multiple-award contracts

  • Set reviews for proposed acquisitions based on agency-specific dollar thresholds, set between $2 million and $7 million

  • Demand that agencies work a small-business specialist for acquisitions above the thresholds

  • Strengthen compliance with subcontracting plans if bundling is justified.

  • The change is 'based on the findings of the General Accounting Office that agency oversight of large-business compliance with subcontracting plans has been inconsistent,' according to a civilian and defense FAR council statement accompanying the proposed rule. 'This proposed change contemplates a more systemic review of an agency's general oversight' and its individual assessments of compliance between contractor and subcontracting plan as well as its individual assessment of contractor subcontracting plan compliance to facilitate greater consistency in agency oversight in the future.'

    GSA will accept comments on the proposed rule until April 1. The comments can be sent via e-mail to farcase.2002-029@gsa.gov.

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