FTA Approval of Sole Source Procurements

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Q. The Norwich Clean Cities is listed in our program management plan's organization chart as a part of our Program Working Group.  They have been a key to the setup of this grant and have partnered with us every step of the way.  We would like to continue using them for report writing and information investigation as well as in the key areas they specialize in.  We will be using the third party contracting requirements to guide us.  The problem arises in whether or not we would have to put all work out to bid or if this group falls into the Sole Source category.  Circular 4220.1F, Ch. VI, Section 3.i.(1)(e)1 provides that “when FTA awards a grant agreement or enters into a cooperative agreement with a consortium, joint venture, team, or partnership, or provides FTA assistance for a research project in which FTA has approved the participation of a particular firm or combination of firms in the project work, the grant agreement or cooperative agreement constitutes approval of those arrangements. In such cases, FTA expects the recipient to use competition, as feasible, to select other participants in the project.”

In our situation we are the grantee and we have presented a management plan with "partners" to make a committee that sets and reviews milestones, key purchases, etc.  Would that make for a sole source?  Is a procurement even necessary under certain cost limits?

A. We understand that your grant application identified the specific individuals that would be part of the Clean Cities Group doing the planning work under the grant.  We would think that you could rely on FTA's approval of the grant application as being FTA's approval of the individuals named in the application.  However, we would recommend you submit this interpretation to your regional FTA grant manager for concurrence before you make contract awards. (Reviewed: June 2010)

 

Q. When considering the dollar limits for the type of procurements, is it the total amount paid to a person, group or firm or the amount for that particular job.  An example would we are looking for a group or firm to aid in the BRT aspect of the grant.  This is worth $50,000.  That could fall under small purchase procedures.  Now there is the route selection at $25,000 and vehicle bid proposal for $25,000. The same firm is best qualified for each one and has the lowest price.  Combined this hits the $100,000 mark for a RFP/RFQ to be used.  Since they are individual parts of our program can they be looked at as individual costs and go small purchases?  Or because it is something that one firm can do all of do we have to RFP?  Especially since it may be most other firms would only be able to do one or two of the things and we would be driving them out of the procurements process with that type of spec.

A. The decision as to how to compete various tasks should be based upon obtaining adequate competitive proposals and not whether one firm could possibly do all the work.  If the tasks were fundamentally different technical disciplines then we would compete them as separate procurements. (Reviewed: June 2010)

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