What Contracting and Accounting Rules Govern Federal Government Contracts?
The Federal government utilizes a variety of different contract types depending on what it is buying, what funding is available, what the needs are and other factors. The trend is towards longer commitments and increased flexibility. Anyone considering selling to the Federal Government MUST register in www.SAM.gov
For micro purchases, under $3,000 (and in some cases up to $25,000 if the product or services is on a GSA contract), a credit card is the preferred method of purchase.
Requirements under $150,000 are set aside for small business. Requirements over $3,000 and under $150,000 may be issued on a Request for Quotation (RFQ).
More formal requirements with an estimated value exceeding $150,000 are issued on an Invitation for Bid (IFB, sealed bidding) or on a Request for Proposal (RFP, negotiated procurement). Some of these requirements are issued as Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) projects. They may result in a number of contracts being awarded from the same requirement. The contract awardees may then compete for individual requirements throughout the year and individual delivery orders are issued to the lowest bidder. IDIQs normal have a base contract year and 3 or 4 option years.
Many federal agencies are sending their supply requirements to a Reverse Auction website called FedBid. FedBid, Inc. is a privately held company based in Vienna, Virginia that helps government agencies purchase commodities such as computer products, security gear and office supplies through a dynamic reverse-auction marketplace. To access this website, register at http://www.fedbid.com/
The Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) Part 16 provides detailed information on contract types used by the Federal government. Refer to http://www.acquisition.gov/far/current/html/FARTOCP16.html
The General Services Administration (GSA) uses a contracting vehicle referred to as a GSA Schedules (also referred to as Multiple Award Schedules and Federal Supply Schedules). A schedule creates a long- term, government-wide contract with a commercial firm. More information on GSA schedules is available at http://www.gsa.gov/schedules