If you haven’t watched our class on how the government buys, or our class on the various contracting mechanisms that the government can use then we recommend taking one of those first.
But the core concept is this:
- The government likes to use Master Services Agreements (MSAs) which are called Indefinite Delivery Vehicles (IDVs) or colloquially called IDIQs
- Typically there are only a few dozen companies on any given MSA (though there are a few IDV with thousands of companies)
- If you are on an IDV, and that IDV relates to the product or service that the government wants to buy
- You can advocate that the government buy through that MSA rather than releasing it publicly (e.g. on SAM.gov)
- If the government does use the MSA you are only competing with a few dozen companies rather than the hundreds of thousands of companies looking at SAM.gov
Identify your differentiators/ strengths
- Identify the IDV you are on: Keep track of which IDV you are on
- Track how each of your IDVs are being used: Keep track of:
- Which government customers like using each IDV
- The scope of each IDV (what is being purchased through it)
- The competition within each IDV
Review the upcoming acquisition
- Forecast items & Re-competing items: This is when you want to put a bug in the government’s ear about using an IDV.
- RFIs and Sources Sought: By the time an RFI or sources sought comes out the government has pretty well decided that they are going to compete the contract openly through SAM.
Why your differentiator/strength helps the government
- Price: On balance the government probably is going to spend more buying through an IDV:
- Less competition: Even the biggest IDV only has a few thousand companies, while SAM has hundreds of thousands of potential bidders, and as competition goes down prices tend to rise.
- Bigger businesses: In general the companies on IDVs are bigger and more mature which usually means that they are more expensive.
- GSA Schedule: The exception here is GSA schedule which is one of the cheapest ways for the government to buy something
- Quality: Generally a company has to have significant government sales experience before they get onto any IDVs. So if government experience is important to successfully delivering on the contract then using an IDV can improve outcome quality.
- Speed: Using an IDV tends to be much faster than using SAM:
- Fewer responses mean less time reading and reviewing proposals
- There is often less risk of delays from a bid protest when the government buys through an IDV
- All the companies were pre-screened when they applied to get on the IDV which simplifies contracting
- Administrative risk: Because all the companies on the IDV were screened during the application process the government can be fairly certain that the companies on it are administratively mature.
FedScout codes finder
SAM.gov (Data download)
SAM.gov (Individual contract checks)
List of further reading