Tom Sweeney

It's a coming of age tale….

The difference in Government procurement vehicles

Posted by sweens on December 2, 2009


Maybe it is a good thing, but apparently I am at the point in my blogging life where I am able to take requests.  So here is one, where we can look at the different Government procurement vehicles and how they work.  I would like to focus on the following:

  1. Task-Based Informatics Professional Services (TBIPS)
    1. Standing Offer
    2. Supply Arrangement
  2. Temporary Help Services (THS)
  3. Standing Offer(s)
  4. PS Online

I would like to focus on these because they are the ones that I more commonly see in my day-to-day grind. 

1.  Task-Based Informatics Professional Services (TBIPS)

TBIPS is the newest form of procurement vehicle the Government is using and it was brought in to replace the existing procurement vehicles (THS, GOL, PS Online, etc).  While the transition to TBIPS has been rocky for many departments, more and more departments are becoming familiar with how it can be used.  TBIPS certainly appears to be the procurement vehicle of choice.  It is better then THS as its dollar maximum is much higher then THS is and it allows for a contract to have options years.  This allows an organization to bring in a resource for a length of time and takes away the need for continuing to renew the same resource over and over again.  The important thing to note about TBIPS is that each firm who is qualified under TBIPS has submitted a ceiling rate for each category and they are unable to exceed this rate.

1.a) TBIPS has two categories, the first being the Standing Offer (SO) which means that the department looking to hire a resource picks the category and then goes to the lowest priced firm and works its way up until it finds a firm who can supply the resource at their ceiling rate or lower. 

1.b) The second category is the Supply Arrangement (SA) which is where multiple firms (no less then three) are invited to compete against each other  for the same position.  Firms will bid separate resources and usually the lowest cost-per-point candidate is chosen to fill the contract.

2. Temporary Help Services (THS)

Was probably the most common procurement vehicle until TBIPS came around!  The challenge with THS is that the value of the contract can not exceed $89000 so if you have a high priced resource, $89000 does not gone a long way in keeping that resource on-site for a while.  The good thing about THS is that your rates are not set in stone and you can adjust them accordingly.  If you know of an up-coming THS requirement, you can increase or decrease your rate in order to accommodate your client or your candidate.

3. Standing Offers

They are slowly no longer being issued as TBIPS was supposed to replace them and give everyone a fair chance at filling any contract position.  How they work is that a department would issue an RFP for a supply arrangement and would pick as many firms as they felt necessary and used only those firms who qualified to select their contract resources.  It is like using the same 10 companies every time and having them compete against each other.  This allows for good relationships to be formed between the client and the firm however it could also back fire.

4. PS Online

PS Online is interesting in that candidates need to be pre-approved to be on PS Online.  Categories are defined with specific skill sets and your candidate(s) must have those particular skills in order to be deemed compliant in that category.  Only candidates who were pre-approved at the time of the requirement can be submitting and closed against any open PS Online Requirement.

I hope this helps you get a better understanding of how consulting firms procure contract resources into the Government.  It can be tricky to wrap your head around it.  I am still learning on a daily basis.

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