Latest Indefinite Delivery Vehicles (IDV) Trends
The General Services Administration (GSA) has been leading a major Indefinite Delivery Vehicles (IDV) transformation effort through its Federal Marketplace Initiative (FMP). It’s a long-term, multi-year initiative to deliver a fully-reimagined, end-to-end experience designed to facilitate better, faster mission-driven government acquisitions.
Importantly, GSA is consolidating 24 multiple award schedules into one. It’s unclear yet what it will look like. This consolidation will likely be a 5-year process, and moving existing contract holders to the new schedule will likely begin in January 2020. If you are thinking about getting a GSA schedule, don’t wait. You should continue with business as usual and not wait for the GSA to get caught up as it consolidates the schedules.
Other GSA IDV Trends
GSA is also reforming eBuy, and is even piloting posting past opportunities with the solicitations and statements of work on FBO. This has been our huge pet peeve with GSA and other IDVs as they have kept all procurements behind an iron curtain, for the initiated only. It was harmful for teaming purposes and for market research and analysis. We’re glad that we should see greater transparency and hope other IDIQs will follow suit.
Additionally, Congress passed a new law that now allows unpriced proposals for IDIQs, so that price competition takes place on task orders. This law removes the necessity to provide a pricing list or ceiling rates to qualify you to get on the vehicle. This has many implications on business development.
This does make your job easier when bidding on IDIQs (fewer volumes to submit) and gives you greater flexibility on task order. However, it also makes price analysis a bit tougher as you won’t have price schedules for your competitors to review in your price-to-win exercises.
Overall we regard this as a positive change because that price and labor rate analysis data point is not that valuable in comparison with the benefits you would get.
There are more trends we will discuss in the future, but in the meantime, here is a refresher on IDVs.
What are the Indefinite Delivery Vehicles (IDV)?
For service contracts (and some products), the government has shifted almost entirely towards IDVs. They are often synonymous with the Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts. However, IDV as a term also includes agreements like Basic Purchasing Agreements (BPA) and Basic Ordering Agreements (BPA), not only contracts.
“Indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contracts provide for an indefinite quantity of services for a fixed time. They are used when GSA can’t determine, above a specified minimum, the precise quantities of supplies or services that the government will require during the contract period. IDIQs help streamline the contract process and speed service delivery.” – GSA, How to Sell to the Government
What Exactly is an IDV, and How Does it Help Your Small Business Compete?
Think of the IDVs like a bus. When you submit your first proposal, you’re submitting a bid for the right to be on the bus. All of the “task orders” and “delivery orders” are the various seats on the bus.
When you win the right to be on the bus, you’re standing in the crowded center of the bus with everyone else. Then you start competing for the various seats available. You can only get money when you win a “task order”, “call order,” or “delivery order”.
[Insert picture of a bus with people standing and some sitting]
Caption: Winning an IDV is like winning a spot on a bus. You get paid when you compete for and win the task orders(individual seats on the bus).
Competition on an IDV can be fierce. You’ll find it’s limited because you’re only competing against the other companies who made it on the bus. Everyone else is standing outside missing out on the opportunity.
Even under the same vehicle, there are different color buses. The IDV might separate large businesses from small, and targets the different small business socioeconomic categories.
If you haven’t earned the right to ride on the bus, you can’t even see the task and delivery orders. You can only view the different task and delivery orders on a password-protected portal. So if you don’t have an account, you can’t see what’s available to bid on. They don’t even reveal past issuances on that IDV. This makes it difficult to conduct a capture effort.
Types of Federal Indefinite Delivery Vehicles
Even the GSA has schedules which you can consider a type of vehicle. Some of the other IDVs include:
- ID/IQ: An enterprise-wide acquisition contract that has a minimum value associated with it. It provides for an indefinite quantity of supplies or services for a defined period of time, usually 5 or 10-year base period.
- Federal Supply Schedule: A GSA schedule contracting office issues a solicitation to schedule holders it has selected. Using this schedule, federal agencies can purchase common commercial supplies and services at fixed prices for a certain amount of time.
- Government-Wide Acquisition Contract (GWAC): A task or delivery order for information technology. One agency establishes it for government-wide use.
- Basic Ordering Agreement: A written agreement negotiated between an agency or contracting office and a contractor. This isn’t a contract between the parties. It does contain a specific description of the expected supplies and/or services, and methods for pricing and delivering future orders.
- Blanket Purchase Agreement: An easy way to fulfill requirements that the government anticipates will reoccur, on the basis of a GSA schedule. BPAs are essentially charge accounts that ordering offices create with federal contractors to easily place orders. Small BPAs are a way to get at specific contracting dollars in different agencies.
IDVs are generally categorized into two categories: single agency and multi-agency. Understanding this helps you gauge the difficulty in competing on the vehicle. With single agency IDVs, like some basic ordering agreements, the customer is usually known and it’s much easier to market to them. You can create unique and specific task order proposals and perform targeted capture.
With multiple agency IDVs, like GWACs, you are dealing with many customers. You’ll need to prioritize the top two or three agencies that use the vehicle and focus on them.
A Final Note About Competing on Government IDVs
First, you need to have a refined capture and proposal process in place in order to get task order awards. A typical 30-45 day proposal process is like driving a horse buggy compared to fast-turnaround task order proposals. You might only have 5-14 days to write a proposal. We compare writing task order proposals to driving a Ferrari – it requires certain fluency with proposal preparation.
If you’ve never driven a fast sports car on a racetrack, it becomes apparent by the first turn that you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. Task order proposals are limited by time and page count. So you need to master normal proposals first before you take on that challenge.
If your company is ready to take on more IDVs and beat your competition on task order proposals, you’ll want to take a look at our IDIQ and Task Orders Proposal Training course.