Many small businesses are not aware that the Federal Government cannot just go out and compete for a contract to obtain supplies and services. There is a requirement that the Government must first go through the mandatory sources of supply and services before they seek supplies or services from any other source. Today, I will go over Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Part 8. FAR Part 8 covers priorities for the use of mandatory Government sources. So, let’s take a closer look at these supply sources.
Mandatory Supply Sources
The following are the mandatory supply sources in descending order of priority:
- Inventories of the requiring agency.
- Excess from other agencies
- Federal Prison Industries
- Supplies which are on the Procurement List maintained by the Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Disabled.
- Wholesale supply sources, such as stock programs of GSA, DLA, VA, and military inventory control points.
Services Mandatory Sources
Now let’s look at the mandatory sources of supply for services:
- Committee for Purchase from People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled (FAR 8.7)
Other Mandatory Sources
Now the sources that we have discussed so far are not the only mandatory sources. Agencies must satisfy the requirement for the following supplies or services through specified sources:
- Public utility services
- Printing and related supplies (FAR 8.8)
- Leased motor vehicles (FAR 8.11)
- Strategic and critical materials, like metals and ores from inventories exceeding Defense National Stockpile requirements
- Helium (FAR 8.5)
Other Supplies and Services
If an agency cannot satisfy the requirements for supplies and services from the mandatory list above, the agencies are encouraged to consider satisfying the requirements from non-mandatory companies. Examples of non-mandatory businesses include small business, veteran-owned small business, service-disabled veteran-owned small business, HUBZone small business, small disadvantaged businesses (including 8(a) participants), and women-owned small businesses.
Contracting officers must also consider Federal Supply Schedules, Governmentwide acquisition contracts, multi-agency contracts, and any other procurement instruments intended for use by multiple agencies, including blanket purchase agreements (BPAs) under Federal Supply Schedule contracts. Now for services, agencies are encouraged to consider Federal Prison Industries as well.
Next, the contracting officer can consider commercial markets including educational and non-profit institutions on the open market.
Government contractors must review FAR Part 8 for your industry. For instance, janitorial businesses may not obtain contracts because the Contracting Officer must use the Committee for The Blind and Severely Disabled first. This is especially true in large metropolitan areas. Where a janitorial business may be able to obtain a contract is in rural areas.
Furthermore, it will help you decide on which agencies to target. Reach out to the local small business specialist and talk about your capabilities. The more you know the better you can sell your products or services. So, spend the time and do your research before you start marketing to the government!
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