Commercial Items

Third Party Procurement

Frequently Asked Questions

Q = Question; A = Answer

Q. What is the definition of an off-the-shelf commercial item? The BPPM appears to say the solicitation can't have specifications for the purchased item to be off-the-shelf. If that's correct, then if a transit agency buys a tire off the rack, it's an off-the-shelf item. But if the agency says they want 10 tires, it's not off-the-shelf, because now there's a specification (quantity of 10). Is this correct? We're getting questions about off-the-shelf items we can't answer.

A. An item's classification as a "commercial item" or "off the shelf commercial item" is not affected by the quantity of the item being procured, nor by the fact that the purchase order includes a performance specification for the item.

The definition of "commercial item" or “off the shelf commercial item," as those terms are used in Federal contracting, may be found in the Federal Acquisition Regulations. The Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) define “commercial items” and “commercially available off-the-shelf items” as shown below.

“Commercial item” means—
“Commercially available off-the-shelf (COTS) item—”

(Posted: November, 2013)