IDIQ Contracts, BPAs, and Task Orders: “Mini Me” Isn’t just for the Movies


By now you know the basic fact about Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts in the federal IT market. They account for about half of all spending. But did you know that a significant – and growing – amount of this business is from on-going task orders, which look a lot like IDIQ contracts? Did you know that the proportion of spending going this route is likely to rise as small, individual agency IDIQ’s get more scrutiny? If your firm doesn’t understand how this works, and how to be a part of this type of business, you may not even know about great opportunities until after they’re up and running.

The most frequent example of how the government uses IDIQ’s as mini contracts unto themselves is by awarding a series of Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPA’s) via a GSA Schedule contract. An agency will award multiple BPA’s, give the program a name and even appoint a program manager. It looks a lot like an IDIQ, right? GSA, itself, most recently took this route in awarding 16 companies BPA’s for agile software development.

The largest example of this BPA-cum-contract use is the Army’s AMCOM Express program. Again, multiple contract holders, this time for services. Hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue generated each year, so much so that AMCOM Express is frequently listed among the top 25 federal IDIQ vehicles. Even though there’s speculation that AMCOM Express might cease to be schedules-based, the next best guess is that future awards will be based on another GSA contract, the OASIS IDIQ for services.

While other contract vehicles may not technically have the same BPA capabilities as a GSA Schedule, don’t let semantics fool you. Federal customers have already set-up BPA-like agreements based on government wide acquisition contracts (GWAC) or other IDIQ contracts. Whether or not rules support this activity, it is happening and you need to understand when, how and where.

Schedules-based or not, this approach to IT contracting allows buyers to move fast, eliminates the business case requirements of a GWAC or agency multiple award contracts (MAC), and reduces protest exposure. They’re less expensive to setup and oversee, as well. No wonder agencies like DHA, VA, and others will cancel new projects or let existing vehicles expire in favor of this “mini MAC” approach.

If having a presence on a GSA Schedule or other IDIQ was important before, it’s getting more important by the minute. If you’re not on a key IDIQ you may not even know about the next multi-million IT project until it’s in place. You certainly won’t be able to bid on it. Having good relationships with potential agency customers and/or intelligence is increasingly important.

So, too, are solid relationships with integrators and other primes. These companies often do have the IDIQ contracts agencies will use to create their own mini-programs. If you haven’t taken the time to visit with your partners in this category, ask about their plans, and re-demonstrate your capabilities, it is high time to do so. Make sure your firm will be part of the team for the next round of “minis.”

Federal IT acquisition is changing in lots of ways. Agencies using established contracts to set up their own mini programs is just one of the changes. Make sure you stay ahead of the curves.


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