APTAC staff article, www.aptac-us.org
DLA Land and Maritime (L&M) in Columbus, Ohio is the largest Inventory Control Point (ICP) in the Defense Logistics Agency, managing over 1.6 million S9C (Construction) and S9E (Electronics) spare parts. Securing those parts in a timely and cost effective manner is an enormous and challenging task, but one that is essential to the missions of our service-men and -women.
Eighty-five percent of DLA’s solicitations are automated through their Internet Bid Board System, DIBBS. Vendors use the system to identify contract opportunities and submit quotes, which are then awarded via computer automation. But over time, some of the parts can become harder to acquire as manufacturers have retooled or gone out of business. When competition decreases, costs can increase or parts can become unavailable altogether. The Land and Maritime Small Business Office is continually working with other contracting specialists across the agency to identify potential new suppliers and encourage them to compete.
Most automated DIBBS solicitations call for a very specific product, often from a specific manufacturer, to ensure that the part will effectively perform exactly as needed. But occasionally a vendor can identify and provide a different product that can meet the need as effectively or even more so – or at less expense. This may be an item that is substantially the same as an incumbent requirement, but made by a different manufacturer. Or it may be a new product that performs the same function more effectively or cost-effectively. Whatever the case, the supplier may submit an Alternate Offer or Source Approval Request to have their product considered for purchase.
DLA Land and Maritime knows it can get the best value for DoD (and the American taxpayer) if it has a sufficient number of approved sources to ensure competition for as many of its requirements as possible. Consequently, agency officials have worked hard to reach out through PTACs, Manufacturing Extension Partnerships, and other organizations to small manufacturers to train them on – and encourage them to bid using – DIBBS. The APTAC/Land and Maritime sponsored DIBBS webinars (DIBBS Overview; Quoting through DIBBS; and Submitting Alternate Offers) are one example of such efforts. But they have not stopped there. They want to ensure that new suppliers have adequate opportunity to make “selling to DLA” worth their while.
So in response to supplier feedback received at industry forums and outreach events, DLA Land and Maritime has adopted a new policy in support of successful participants in its Spare Parts Breakout Program. This new contracting guidance, known as “Intent to Award to Newly Approved Sources”, establishes a preference using multiple award strategy when an alternate source has been approved through the Alternate Offer or Source Approval Request (SAR) on an item that was previously purchased noncompetitively from a sole source. This strategy involves the making of multiple awards from one solicitation that include a previously approved source and a newly approved source. Such awards will be made if, after considering the additional administrative costs and other relevant factors, it is determined to be in the Government’s best interest to do so. Solicitations seeking to make these types of awards will include a special NOTICE TO OFFERERS that describes that intent.
DLA L&M Small Business Office specialists have repeatedly expressed willingness to work with PTAC staff – and even small businesses – to answer questions and help them through the process if there is a reasonable expectation that they (the new vendor) can offer the potential for meaningful savings to the government. It can be a “win” not only for the client – and the agency – but for our men and women in uniform as well.