WL Gore & Assoc

Ft Benning Cancels Reverse Auction For 12,600 PMAGs

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In August US Army Mission and Installation Contracting Command at Fort Benning announced an intent to purchase 12,600 GEN M3 PMAGs from a commercial source via reverse auction.

For this solicitation, MICC End User intends to conduct an online competitive reverse auction to be facilitated by the third-party reverse auction provider, FedBid, Inc. FedBid has developed an online, anonymous, browser based application to conduct the reverse auction. An Offeror may submit a series of pricing bids, which descend in price during the specified period of time for the aforementioned reverse auction.

Reverse auctions sound like a great idea, at least for commodity items like ink pens and toilet paper. Essentially, the government outsources the buy to a third party and they host the reverse auction which sees companies compete with each other to fulfill the contract for less and less money until a winner emerges which will do it for less than anyone else. The thing is, you have to be very careful with this purchasing vehicle. Because the winner will be doing it for pennies on the dollar, there’s lots of incentive to cut corners and give the government exactly what they asked for.

Below is the description of what they intended to buy. Emphasis added is mine, to point out that just a few words give bidders an excuse to substitute the PMAGs with something else entirely, in order to underbid eveyone else.

M4 Magazine. Color preference is coyote tan, but gray/black is also considered. Fits 30 rounds of 5.56×45 ammunition. Transparent window on side to see the ammunition level. Strong and durable springs. Light polymer material. Warranty for defective items. Include shipping. PMAG 30 AR/M4 GEN M3 Window or equal., 12600, EA;

If the units at Fort Benning had received an “equivalent” when they expected PMAGs, it wouldn’t have been the first time a reverse auction has failed to deliver what the unit thought they were asking for.

Fortunately, they cancelled this purchase. The Army issued Maintenance Information (MI) Message 17-045, which authorized units to requisition GEN M3 PMAGS under NSN 1005-01-615-5169 (BLACK) and NSN 1005-01-659-7086 (COYOTE TAN) as Additional Authorization List (AAL) items. By ordering through the stock system, they’ll get exactly what they want, and at contract price.

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8 Responses to “Ft Benning Cancels Reverse Auction For 12,600 PMAGs”

  1. SShink says:

    …and why can’t hey simply buy these directly from the manufacturer?

    • Jon C. says:

      They can, as of Thursday. Hence the cancellation of these shenanigans.

      • Wake27 says:

        We could before Thursday, they just weren’t TACOM approved for use until them. We’ve had several hundred arrive in the last two weeks, but from distributors, not the manufacturer directly.

  2. 86MTN says:

    Federal Acquistion Regulation Part 6.

    • SShink says:

      I have worked in R&D for several defense manufacturers, the Gov bought stuff directly from us – what makes this different? Maybe because they were DoD contracts versus big Army?

      • 86 MTN says:

        My apologies, my response was far to sparse. There is nothing directly
        stopping the Army from purchasing from the manufacturer. That being said,
        because the end-user opted to go through the contract office the FAR, DFARS,
        and AAFARS have to be followed. The first hurdle to purchasing directly from
        the manufacturer is the requirement for full and open competition
        requirement, the contracting office cannot simply go directly to the
        manufacturer. There is also a requirement to offer justification for
        purchasing a specific brand, to avoid this the name brand or equal clause
        was used, this could be used to eliminate other brands in the technical
        evaluation phase if it cannot be shown that they are of equal quality.
        While nothing prohibits getting the magazines directly from Magpul, the
        process for doing so is arduous. There is an existing contract vehicle
        somewhere within DOD, which should have been used to purchase these via the NSN and MILSTRIP process.

        • Attack7 says:

          Ft. Benning Contracting is horrible…..knowledge of the FAR is what kills Div and below capability gap procurement and the Army as a whole continues to fail at COTs procurement solutions!

  3. Bill says:

    Well there went some horders single chance to offload their Orlite magazines at a profit.