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CHIPS Articles: DON IT Umbrella Program FAQs

DON IT Umbrella Program FAQs
By CHIPS Magazine - April-June 2006
1. How do I use the Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) in the Umbrella Program? My contracting officer said we need to compete, even though I point out that BPAs have been pre-competed?

The contracts and BPAs under the Umbrella Program can be used like any other ordering vehicle of the same type. Most of the BPAs were awarded based on an applicable GSA Schedule so ordering is the same as any GSA order. As such, policies indicate that a number of pricing quotes should be reviewed, and there are multiple methods of obtaining pricing, e.g., review of GSA Schedules, formal quotes, etc.

Not all of the BPAs were competitively awarded and, in those cases, competition in the truest sense is necessary. One should always follow the policies and guidelines established by local contracting offices.

2. My contracting shop says that we can't use the Umbrella Program because all the vendors are big companies, and we have to use small business firms?

Not all of the Umbrella Program vendors are large businesses. There are many small business vendors. Go to the ITEC-Direct Web site at http://www.itec-direct.navy.mil, and click on the Small Business Showcase under the Features list for assistance.

3. How do you pick the products or product lines that are offered?

Products or solutions are chosen based on an identified requirement, which can be an existing installed base (for which there is a maintenance requirement), a standard product selection or where a future requirement has been identified. Requirements are gathered from DoD.

4. How do you pick the vendors that are in the Umbrella Program?

Vendors are selected using various methods, competition, the sales model of the original equipment manufacturer, e.g., direct sales, reseller or distributor models, etc.

5. I have noticed that sometimes the BPA prices are not cheaper than GSA prices, or I am not happy with my quote because I have found my items to be cheaper using other vehicles. Who should I call?

We would like you to provide feedback to the Umbrella Program primary point of contact for the vehicle. We can use this information in our research or future discussions with vendors. However, keep in mind that you may not be comparing apples to apples when looking at pricing.

The vehicle terms and conditions should also be reviewed because they are a significant factor in pricing. For example, the Enterprise Software Initiative (ESI) has terms that allow transferability within the user base. In this way, software which is no longer needed by the purchasing organization can be shared with other organizations within the DON or DoD. The DoD and DON can reap substantial cost avoidance savings by sharing assets within its organizations. Software asset management is something that DoD is very interested in, and our terms and conditions allow that tracking.

In other cases, maybe the warranty period is longer than a lower priced product vendor. There can be many details that influence price, and it is best to understand those by talking with the cognizant project manager.

6. What guidance or regulations exist for using ESI vehicles?

In addition to each service component's implementing guidance and policy, the Defense Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) Subpart 208.74 provides policy and procedural guidance. In addition, the recent reissue of the Defense Acquisition System Policy (DoD 5000 series) mandates the leveraging of, and coordination with, the DoD Enterprise Software Initiative when the use of commercial IT is considered viable. Finally, relevant provisions of the DoD Chief Information Officer Guidance and Policy Memorandum of July 26, 2000, may also be incorporated into software directives and instructions.

7. Who can my contracting officer contact for DFARS compliance information?</p>

Contracting officers can always contact the procuring contracting officer or project manager identified on the Umbrella Program Web site or in the body of the contract or BPA.

8. What if I have a requirement for software that is not on the ESI list of "Designated Software," but I think it is a good candidate for a DoD-wide Enterprise Software Agreement?

You can either contact a DoD ESI Working Group member (703- 602-0980, ext. 169 or 703-607-5658) or submit your recommendation via the ESI Web site at http://www.esi.mil/.

You may be contacted for additional information, and if the ESI Working Group concurs with your recommendation, you may be asked to help identify requirements and participate in the acquisition process.

Web sites to remember:

ITEC Direct: http://www.itec-direct.navy.mil
ESI: http://www.esi.mil
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CHIPS is an official U.S. Navy website sponsored by the Department of the Navy (DON) Chief Information Officer, the Department of Defense Enterprise Software Initiative (ESI) and the DON's ESI Software Product Manager Team at Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific.

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