Procurement councils set rules for buying services

The Civilian and Defense acquisition councils today finalized the way agencies should buy services from schedules.

The long-awaited final rule comes 15 months to the day since the councils issued a proposed rule to establish a specific set of procedures for ordering services off the General Service Administration's Federal Supply Service schedule and the Veterans Affairs Department's medical supply schedules.

Previously, agencies used a part of the Federal Acquisition Regulations for weapons systems and services, said David Drabkin, GSA's deputy associate administrator for acquisition policy, at a recent conference.

Drabkin said this new rule will govern how agencies buy services, which accounted for more than 60 percent of the $321 billion agencies spent on procurement in fiscal 2003.

The policy clarifies the responsibilities of the ordering agency and the contracting agency. The contracting agency must provide information about their agency's regulations, while the ordering agency must also provide information their agency's rules, the councils said.

The new rule requires all orders under FSS to have an acquisition plan and, if it the work is worth more than $2,000 and not for the performance of a specific task such as installation or maintenance, agencies are required to issue a statement of work.

Agencies also should request that contractors submit firm-fixed price quotes to perform the service in the statement of work. This will help limit the number of time and materials type contracts agencies use.

Finally, the rule offers some procedures for blanket purchase agreements. The councils said they should not exceed five years unless there is a specific need.

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