Restricting to a community

Restricting by Set-Aside

  • Set-asides: The government can “set a contract aside” for a particular group. If the government does this, then only companies with that set-aside can apply.
    • Example: If the government sets a contract aside for women-owned small businesses, then only companies with the woman-owned designation can bid.
  • Impact: There are roughly 800,000 registered government contracting companies and there are only tens of thousands of companies with each set aside, dramatically reducing competition.
  • Note: If you don’t qualify for a set-aside, you may sub-contract to another company which does qualify.

Restricting by Existing Contract

  • Master Services Agreements (MSA): An MSA is a framework agreement between a buyer and one or more sellers.
    • Example: Two years ago the government held a competition for companies that wanted to be on a janitorial services MSA, and 7 companies won spots under that MSA
    • The government now wants to buy cleaning services.  The government can:
      • Publish a public solicitation and anyone can bid on it
      • Publish a mini-solicitation to the 7 winners of the MSA, and only they can bid on it
  • Impact: Most MSAs have only a dozen or so companies, dramatically reducing competition.

When the Government Can Restrict to a Community

  • Setting aside: Before the government restricts competition with a set-aside, it must believe that it will get bids from at least two qualifying companies. And to do this the government:
    • Publishes a Sources Sought: A Sources Sought is a request from the government to industry requesting that companies:
      • With set-asides respond
      • Demonstrate that they can do the work requested
    • Minimum Competition: If the government gets two or more responses from companies with a set-aside, it is allowed to set that solicitation aside.
  • MSAs: If the government has an existing MSA to purchase the needed products or services, then it can simply engage the vendors on that MSA and run a “mini-competition” among them.