GSA Schedule BPAs

A BPA is a simplified method of filling anticipated repetitive needs for supplies or services by establishing charge accounts with qualified vendors. A BPA reduces the need for conducting multiple individual procurements for the same types of products. Use of BPAs under GSA's Federal Supply Schedule Program is authorized under FAR 13.303-2(c)(3).

No Limits

GSA Schedule BPAs are the hottest thing going in federal procurement. They're flexible and almost limitless.

In the past, individual orders under a BPA could not exceed what was called the "maximum order limitation" (not to be confused with the "maximum order threshold"; see below). Today, agencies are not restricted by a dollar limitation when placing GSA Schedule orders. Nor are they restricted in terms of frequency. As one vendor Web site, in its marketing verbiage to federal buyers, puts it:
Order as much as you want.
Order as little as you want.
Order as often as you want.
Well said.

How the Process Works

To set up a BPA, federal buyers need to:
  • Define agency requirements,
  • Estimate quantity and delivery requirements,
  • Follow FAR 8.404 ordering procedures.
Following FAR 8.404, buyers can place orders at or below the micro- purchase threshold ($2,500) with any Schedule contractor.

Above the micro-purchase threshold, buyers conduct a "best value" analysis. They are supposed to use the GSA Advantage! online shopping service or review the catalogs or price lists of at least three Schedule vendors. The buyer may consider such factors as:
  • Special features of the supply or service required for effective program performance;
  • Trade-in considerations;
  • Probable life of the item selected as compared with that of a comparable item;
  • Warranty considerations;
  • Maintenance availability;
  • Past performance; and
  • Environmental and energy efficiency considerations.
Once the buyer completes the FAR 8.404 selection process and establishes the BPA, he places orders against the BPA as needed. No further documentation or justification is required.

Each Schedule contract has an established maximum order threshold. For orders over this dollar amount, federal buyers are expected to not only review GSA Advantage! and/or other price lists, but also seek price reductions from Schedule vendors appearing to provide the best value. A common maximum order threshold is $750,000.

Orders placed against the Schedules may be credited toward the agency's small business goals. For orders that exceed the micro-purchase threshold, agencies are expected to give preference to the items of small business concerns when two or more items at the same delivered price will satisfy the requirement.

Waving Their BPAs, Asking For Discounts

BPAs give buyers justification to seek discounts below the maximum order threshold.

But be careful if a buyer asks for a discount strictly on the basis of a BPA. The agency might promise a certain volume, but they're not contractually obligated to follow through. What can happen is that you receive the promises but not the volume, and you end up losing money. As one vendor complained, "After GSA beats us down to our best prices, agencies march in [with BPAs] for better pricing and promise their business."

What can you do?

Push for "progressive" discounting where discounts increase only when sales have reached certain predetermined levels.

Or try to avoid cash discounts altogether by offering such agency concessions as faster product delivery and longer warranty periods.

It doesn't hurt to have Level-3 merchant processing capability and a Web site that makes ordering easy.

Remember too: if you pass on a special discount to an agency offering you a BPA, you're not required to do the same for all Schedule users.

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