QUESTION & ANSWER
Corrections Contractor Editor Addresses Federal Contracting Officials
Correction Contractor editor, Joseph Summerill, recently addressed a group of 700 contracting officials at the "Government‑wide Competitive Sourcing Conference"sponsored by the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) and the Procurement Executive Counsel (PEC). PEC is an interagency council consisting of procurement executives in the Executive Branch established to provide a senior level forum for monitoring and improving the Federal Acquisition System.
The conference focused on how the government can better utilize commercial activities to achieve the most cost effective and efficient method of acquisition. Angela B. Styles, OFPP Administrator, noted in her opening remarks that President Bush has identified competitive sourcing as one of his five management objectives towards making the government more effective. Through competitive sourcing, the government utilizes commercial activities to achieve the most cost effective and efficient method of acquisition. Administrator Styles explained that competitive sourcing "is especially important in the aftermath of September 11th, as the effective use and management of the taxpayers' money is put to use defending America and serving the American people."
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GAO Rules that BOP Can Use "Other Than Full and Open Competition" for FRP
The General Accounting Office recently denied a protest challenging the Federal Bureau of Prisons's decision to utilize a request for proposals (RFP) which limited competition for unusual urgent and compelling reasons. This protest decision discusses the extent to which an agency must plan in advance. and the appropriate use of " other than full and open competition"to procure community correction services.
The protest involves an RFP for a half-way house in the Nashville, Tennessee area. The initial RFP was issued on August 1, 2000, with performance to start September 1, 2001. Three offers, including one from the incumbent, were received and evaluated by BOP, which eventually selected the incumbent for award. The other two offerors protested BOP's decision and BOP amended the solicitation. However, still needing community correction services, BOP issued an interim RFP with a one-year performance period. In a written Justification and Approval (J&A), BOP justified its decision to limit competition upon an "unusual and compelling urgency." More specifically, BOP deemed the interim requirement " urgent" because the original contract was set to expire. Accordingly, BOP issued the interim RFT with a on-year performance period in order to provide the agency with sufficient time to prepare for and conduct a full and open competition to meet its long‑term needs.
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INS Wins GOA Protest Regarding Blanket Purchase Agreements
On February 8, 2002, the General Accounting Office (GAO) denied a protest involving the award of a blanket purchase agreement (BPA) by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). In the matter of Uniband, Inc., GAO upheld INS’s determination that its awardee’s quote was “reasonable and realistic”and that its discussions with the protestor were meaningful and sufficient.
The basis for this protest began with INS’s request for quotations (RFQ) for the BPA. The RFQ was for services relating to INS’s non-immigration information system and its student/school system. The services to be provided included those necessary to transfer the data for these systems. The award was to be made under the General Services Administration Federal Supply Schedule under the information and technology schedule. The RFQ stated that INS would evaluate each vendor’s price for “price reasonableness” and “price realism.” It also provided intricate instructions on the preparation of quotes, including pricing tables and full descriptions for these tables.
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QUESTION & ANSWER
House Judiciary Votes to Phase Out UNICOR
Q. Now that the House Judiciary Committee has approved legislation phasing out UNICOR, what is the next step for the legislation?
A. On April 24, 2002, the United States House Judiciary Committee, by a voice vote, reported HR 1577 with amendments to the full House of Representatives for consideration. This legislation, better known as the "Federal Prison Industries Competition in Contracting Act of 2001," was introduced by Representative Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) on April 24, 2001 and has approximately 131 cosponsors. (See Corrections Contractor September/October 2001 Edition). A companion bill, S 1295, was introduced in the United States Senate by Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) on August 1, 2001.
If signed into law, HR 1577 would eliminate UNICOR's mandatory source status within five years. The legislation would also require UNICOR to use competitive procedures when selling products to both civilian and defense agencies, and allow the contracting agency to determine if UNICOR's price is a "fair market price." The legislation would also require UNICOR to provide alternative opportunities for federal inmates to receive job training. UNICOR would also be required to increase vocational and remedial educational opportunities for federal inmates and to host workshops to assist federal inmates on learning new employment skills. Finally, the legislation requires UNICOR to adhere to federal occupational, health and safety standards concerning its industrial operations.
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