IDIQ CAN’T GET OUT OF THE PROTEST GATE? TIME TO TAKE A NEW LOOK AT BOA’S
The IDIQ contracting landscape is littered with protests and delays. Although these vehicles work well once they’re up and running, it increasingly takes longer and longer to get to that point because of protests. The situation may not get any better with two major GSA IDIQ procurements on the horizon. Contractors and their customers should be prepared with acquisition alternatives to ensure that important missions continue to be supported. One acquisition tool that may deserve a fresh look is the Basic Ordering Agreement (BOA). The FAR defines a BOA as “a written instrument of understanding, negotiated between an agency, contracting activity, or contracting office and a contractor.” BOA’s contain terms and conditions, a scope of products or services to be provided, and discuss how pricing may be negotiated, but do not contain BOA-level pricing themselves. Like IDIQ’s, BOA’s do not commit the government to making a purchase, but rather provide frameworks through which future acquisitions can be made. Another similarity with IDIQ’s is that a BOA “may be used to expedite contracting for uncertain requirements for supplies or services when specific items, quantities, and prices are not known at the time the agreement is executed, but a substantial number of requirements for the type of supplies or services covered by the agreement are anticipated to be purchased from the contractor.” BOA’s are not formal contracts or acquisition actions. This limits the ability to protest the formation of a BOA, a key factor in delaying IDIQ programs. Once awarded, contracting officers must provide fair opportunity for any BOA holder to bid on an actual opportunity and there are no dollar limits on BOA task order protests as there are with most IDIQ buys. BOA’s have traditionally seen more use in DOD acquisition, but contractors may want to consider discussing this acquisition option with any potential government customer, especially if a desired IDIQ vehicle is delayed.