Gov to English translation: In the commercial world a BPA/BOA would be called a tab, like a bar tab
What is a BPA/BOA: A BPA/BOA is an agreement between the government and a vendor that allows the government to buy products and services that they need again-and-again.
1) A guy walks up to the bar and asks to start a tab
2) He gives his credit card and asks that the bar tender cut him off at $50
3) He orders a Gin & Tonic
4) The next time he goes to the bar all the guy has to say is “one more” and the bar tender knows what to get, and how much to charge.
Easy for everyone
The difference between a BPA and a BOA: The key difference is that in the BPA award between the government and vendor the prices are set. In a BOA the prices are NOT set, but the process to figure out the price is. So for example, in a BOA for gas, the price might be set at “the average retail gas price in Virginia minus 10%.”
Example (BPA): A classic BPA could be for water bottles to a military base, or for annual termite inspections, or any other recurring, predictable, and easily priced product or service
Example (BOA): A classic BOA could be for fuel or food or any other product who’s price changes, but changes in an easily proven way.
How long do they last: BPA/BOA typically last five years
How much is spent though BPA/BOA: Each BPA/BOA has a “Ceiling” which is the most that can be spent through it, and typically the ceiling is relatively close to what the government actually ends up spending
Why you want to be on BPA/BOA: Being on one or more BPA/BOAs allows you to:
1) Pursue sales opportunities that go through BPA/BOAa: The government publishes “RFPs” that only go out to BPA/BOA members
2) Reduce competition/increase your chances of winning: Typically there are only a few companies on each BPA/BOA reducing your pool of competitors
3) Remove competition: There are single award BPA/BOA so you can effectively get sole-source awards
4) You are the easy button: Once you are on an BPA/BOA its faster and easier for the government to buy from you, so the typically will choose BPA/BOA holders over buying from the open market
5) End of year money: At the end of the fiscal year the government spends like drunk sailors, and if its easy to give you money (because you are on a BPA/BOA…) then they are more likely to send cash your way
How to get onto a BPA/BOA: BPA/BOA solicitations typically come out on SAM, and specify the application process. But the government typically only wants established credible vendors on BPA/BOAs so the application process is usually intense:
1) You need to provide reference customers
2) Have federally compliant processes and systems (e.g. DCAA, security clearances, etc)
3) Be able to deliver all the work requested under the BPA/BOA
4) Have established pricing
How the government buys through an BPA/BOA: The purchase process is basically the same as on SAM, the government releases an RFP through that BPA/BOA’s portal (or emails an RFP to the companies on that BPA/BOA), interested companies bid the work, the government chooses a winner.
1) Task orders: The “RFPs” under the BPA/BOA are called task orders
2) Market research: The government can issues an RFI/Sources Sought prior to the “RFP.”
3) set-asides: The government can set-the “RFP” aside
Which BPA/BOAs are right for you: See our class on contract research below
Why the government uses them: By pre-vetting a pool of vendors the government is able to quickly and efficiently buy from those vendors
How they differ from GWACs, Schedules, IDIQs, BOAs: If you’re a new vendor there is none, there are differences, but don’t worry about the name, figure out how your customers are buying your products and services, and then get on those contracts, whether they are BPA/BOAs, BOAs, GWACs, or GSA schedule.
But the key differences are:
1) BPA/BOAs tend to have more defined products and services
2) The largest individual purchase on a BPA/BOA is $250K (though there can be multiple purchases under one BPA/BOA)
3) BPA/BOAs tend to be for recurring needs while IDIQs and GWACs tend to be for one-off needs