When an agency acquires manufactured products or supplies, the agency need not set aside the solicitation for small businesses under the FAR’s “rule of two” unless the agency has a reasonable expectation of receiving offers from small businesses offering the products of two or more small manufacturers.
A recent GAO bid protest decision highlights a little-known provision of the FAR, which provides that the “rule of two” does not apply to acquisitions for manufactured products over $150,000 where two or more small business nonmanufacturers are likely to submit offers, but the small business nonmanufacturers will not offer the products of two or more small business manufacturers.
GAO’s decision in Latvian Connection, LLC, B-412701 (Apr. 22, 2016) involved an Air Force solicitation for the acquisition of fitness equipment for gyms at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. The anticipated dollar value of the contract exceeded $150,000.
Before issuing the solicitation, the Air Force conducted market research to determine whether to set aside the acquisition. The Air Force’s market research included online research (such as reviewing the SBA’s Dynamic Small Business Search system) and the issuance of a Sources Sought. The Air Force also reviewed the history of prior solicitations for similar gym equipment.
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