ECS IIIFAQs by 7Tu3e5

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									ECS III – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What products and services are offered on the ECS III contract lots?

    The ECS III contract offers computer hardware and software that allows government
    users the ability to configure systems for their specific needs. This includes sources for
    network and telecommunications equipment, scientific research workstations, and
    related warranty, maintenance, and support services. ECS III products and services are
    divided into the following six Lots:
           Lot 1: Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) desktop, laptop and handheld
            computing devices (including peripherals), workstations, software and
            networking equipment
           Lot 2: Commercial telecommunications equipment items related to telephony
            (including, but not limited, to network routers, switches, repeaters and cabling)
           Lot 3: Scientific research workstations, and other electronic devices and
            systems
           Lot 4: Software (including operating systems)
           Lot 5: Warranty and maintenance services
           Lot 6: Support services

2. Are all the products and services on the ECS III contract commercial?

    Yes. All products and services on the ECS III contract are commercially available and all
    applicable clauses are already included in the ECS III master contract. You may include
    additional agency specific clause(s) at the time of processing your order in the RFQ
    System.

3. Can you explain warranty and maintenance?

    Lot 5 provides customers with items such as technical support, repairs, software
    upgrades, hardware (firmware) updates and replacement. These products are generally
    purchased for a term of 1, 3 or 5 years. Customers may purchase extended warranties
    and maintenance plans from ECS III even if they purchased their original warranty
    elsewhere. (Software licenses, unless otherwise described by the manufacturer, are
    typically offered in Lot 1 or Lot 4.)

4. Is there a percentage limitation on maintenance?

    No. There is no percentage limitation for maintenance on the ECS III contract.

5. What are some examples of Lot 5 warranty and maintenance items?

    Some examples of Lot 5 items are:
      Onsite and send-in damage/component repair such as Cisco’s SMARTnet Service

      Helpdesk support for software or hardware including telecommunications (Usually
       conducted by phone; some offer online help as well.)

      Extended warranties for software or hardware such as the AppleCare Protection
       Plan

      Software maintenance updates such as Oracle’s “My Oracle Support” or Microsoft’s
       “Windows Update”. (Updates might be downloaded or automatically pushed to
       your computer by the software company.)

      Preventive maintenance for hardware. (Might include cleaning or replacing
       parts/cables/wires/connections/power supplies etc.)

6. Can we buy warranty or support extensions from ECS III if we purchased the original
   through some other means?

   Yes. You can purchase warranties and maintenance plans even if the original warranty
   was purchased elsewhere.

7. Can you explain Lot 6 support services?

   Lot 6 provides customers with items such as hardware and software installation,
   training, software and hardware configuration and integration, equipment leasing,
   subscription service and IT assessments for a fixed price. (Direct labor rates, such as,
   Developer per hour rates and categories, such as “Travel” or “Project Manager”, are
   outside the scope of ECS III.)

8. What are some examples of Lot 6 items?

   Some examples of Lot 6 items include:

      Install MS SQL-Server Administrator software and train staff on usage

      Maintenance and tech support on leased printers

      Install servers, racks/enclosures and network cabling in a data centers

      Install telecommunication in an office building

      Install IT video conferencing equipment and cabling. This does not include any
       furniture that is not designed specifically for use with a computer. Furniture is
       outside the scope of the contract

      Subscription based Technical Support, such as security “network intrusion/hacking”
       monitoring services
       Subscription based software where users can access a database service on-line

       Training on Oracle Financials software

       Integrate SAP software with Sharepoint on a computer network

       Build servers/computer workstations to custom configurations and integrate with
        existing network. (In this example, the customer identifies the components and the
        vendor assembles the machine. The vendor may install and configure any software
        that is required. The vendor then connects the cables and tests to make sure it all
        works with their network.)

       Perform an assessment of an organization's IT infrastructure


9. Do I have to purchase a commodity to purchase the service or can I just buy the service?

    You may purchase services alone.

10. Can we use ECS III to build a data center?

    You can use ECS III to purchase/install/configure all the computer systems, cabling,
    elevated flooring, racks/enclosures, software, etc.. However, the following are not in
    scope and will not be considered: construction or modification of building structures,
    electrical wiring, plumbing, HVAC equipment, etc. (Those services are not considered
    Information Technology as defined in FAR 2.101.)

11. Can we lease IT equipment through ECS III?

    Yes. Lot 6 services include leasing services. Personal computers, network servers,
    telecommunications equipment and printers are just a few of the items that can be
    leased on ECS III.

12. Can we use ECS III for professional services or travel expenses?

    ECS III is a fixed price contract. Professional service categories such as developer,
    engineer, or training services that are billed at an hourly rate are not allowed. If the
    service can be packaged and delivered at one fixed price, including any development,
    engineering or training services that might be involved, then it is allowable.

    Likewise, if a service can be delivered at a fixed price, including any travel involved, it is
    allowable. However, travel expenses alone cannot be purchased and the cost of travel
    cannot be added to the price of the original line item.

13. What are the benefits of using the ECS III Request for Quote (RFQ) System?
    The ECS III Request for Quotes (RFQ) System provides an expedited ordering process
    that allows you to quickly upload the specifications/requirements and supporting
    documentation for your RFQ. Responses from qualified contract holders can be
    received in as little as three days of RFQ submission.

    Additionally, the system’s built-in processes assists you in meeting FAR ordering
    requirements, including Fair Opportunity to be Considered (FAR 16.505). The RFQ
    System supports your documentation needs. Key documentation is printable for
    keeping a record in your official files. Step-by-step instructions are available on the
    NITAAC website under RFQ System training.

14. How do I place an order on the ECS III contract?

    The ECS III RFQ System was designed with ease of use in mind. Basically, you upload a
    list of the items you want to purchase (specifications/requirements) into the RFQ
    System and the system notifies all qualified ECS III Contract Holders that you have
    requested a quote. Contract holder quotes are delivered back to you via the RFQ
    System. Once the RFQ has closed and you have made your selection, you make the
    award according to normal business processes. The RFQ System Training on the NITAAC
    website walks you through the process of submitting and viewing quotes, selecting the
    winning vendor and sending notification of award decision.

15. Can I elect to close my RFQ in 1 day?

    Yes. You may elect to close your RFQ in 1 day. However, leaving an RFQ open for less
    than three days may result in no bids received. NITAAC recommends leaving the RFQ
    open for at least 3 days.

16. What documentation do I need to print and keep for my official delivery order file?

    It is important to document your ordering process and the ECS III E-Ordering System can
    help make documentation easier. Using your browser menu, or the print button
    provided, you can print the necessary documentation for your official delivery order file.
    To be compliant with FAR documentation requirements, you should print the following
    items from the ECS III E-Ordering System:

           A copy of the RFQ (and other supporting documentation)

           A justification to the fair opportunity process (if applicable)

           A best value determination if not awarding based on lowest price

           The quote from the chosen vendor

17. Is the fee a separate line item?

    Yes. The NITAAC Contract Access Fee is listed as a separate line item on the vendor’s
    quotes. The fee for the ECS III contract is .05% capped at $10,000.
18. Is the $10,000 cap for the entire order (including option years) or is it for each separate
    delivery order?

    The contract access fee is capped at $10,000 for each individual delivery order,
    modification or exercise of an option. For example

    Example #1: A delivery order for $3M will have a CAF of $10,000
    Example #2: A base plus an option year delivery order. Base amount is $2M and has a
    CAF of $10,000. Option year is $1.5M and has a CAF of $7,500.

19. What does Section 508 Compliance mean?

    In 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act to require Federal agencies to make
    their electronic and information technology (EIT) accessible to people with disabilities.

    Section 508 was enacted to eliminate barriers in information technology, to make
    available new opportunities for people with disabilities, and to encourage development
    of technologies that will help achieve these goals. The law applies to all Federal agencies
    when they develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology.

    Under Section 508, agencies must give disabled employees and members of the public
    access to information that is comparable to the access available to others. Visit
    http://www.section508.gov for more information and to access the “Buy Accessible
    Wizard”.

20. Are all items on ECS III 508 compliant?

    Items offered under the ECS III contract comply with Federal Information Technology
    Accessibility standards as required by Section 508. However, it is the COTRs or CORs
    responsibility for verifying that any item (for example software) developed for their
    agency is 508 Compliant as part of their user acceptance testing.

21. If I don’t get any responses to an RFQ, is it ok to call the vendors, ask why, and see if
    they could please respond?

    Yes. Vendors may be contacted as long as you have provided an opportunity to all
    eligible contract holders to review and respond to the requirement. This opportunity
    can be easily given to all contract holders through the use of the RFQ System.

22. How long does a saved order stay in the system?

    Completed orders remain in the system for the life of the ECS III contract.

23. Can I use Dell specs to do brand name or equal or would I need generic specs?

    FAR Subpart 11.104(b) states “brand name or equal purchase descriptions must include,
    in addition to the brand name, a general description of those salient physical, functional,
    or performance characteristics of the brand name item that an “equal” item must meet
    to be acceptable for award. Use brand name or equal descriptions when the salient
    characteristics are firm requirements.”

24. Can I ship to multiple locations for one order?

    Yes. You may have items shipped to multiple locations as long as the locations are
    identified in the solicitation/requirements document.

25. What is a reverse auction?

    By selecting the Reverse Auction option, your RFQ is automatically posted as a
    solicitation on FedBid’s Buyer Driven Online Marketplace, competed against the ECS III
    contractors in the Lots(s) you choose. The contractors will document a legally binding
    bid and be ranked from lowest to highest price. The contractors can see if they are
    “leading” (have the lowest price) or “lagging” (do not have the lowest price) in real time,
    giving you the best possible market value for your requirement. While bids are ranked
    by price, it is up to the buyer to choose the best value to their agency. You do not
    necessarily have to choose from the lowest price. Feel free to visit www.fedbid.com for
    further information.

26. How long does it take to add items to the ECS III contract?

    NITAAC’s innovative E-TIMS tech refresh process allows our contract holders to add
    items to the contract in as little as 2 hours.

27. Can I make changes to an RFQ after submission?

    Yes. Changes to an RFQ can be made anytime prior to closing. If you elect to amend an
    RFQ within 24 hours of the closing date and time, the RFQ System will automatically
    extend the closing of the RFQ by 24 hours.

28. Do I need a justification if I only get one quote?

    No. You only need to provide a “fair opportunity” to all eligible contract holders to
    review and respond, which is accomplished simply by using NITAAC’s RFQ System.

29. What do I do after my RFQ closes and I have selected the vendor I want?

    Create your Purchase/Delivery Order in your contract writing system by using the
    winning contractor’s ECS III contract number. (NIH customers utilizing the NBS PRISM
    system will use the PRISM document number.)


    After award, return to the RFQ System and select the winning quote by clicking the
    Vendor Quote Details link for the desired vendor and click the Select this Quote button
    to complete the order.
    The Delivery Order Confirmation page will appear and will provide you with an ECS III
    Tracking number. For your convenience, a copy of the delivery order can be uploaded
    into the RFQ System to keep track of all completed orders using the ECS III contract.

30. If my order is under $3,000, can I use any vendor directly?

    Yes. You may use the RFQ System to submit your RFQ to the vendor of your choice if
    the requirement is a micro purchase (under $3,000).

31. Are vendors allowed to sell us refurbished products? Can we tell them we don’t want
    those types of items?

    Vendors cannot sell refurbished products. All equipment and software sold under this
    contract, by statute, must be new. You can tell them that prototype, beta test products,
    discontinued, announced discontinued, used, refurbished, remanufactured, or
    reconditioned products are not acceptable.

32. Who can use the ECS III E-Ordering System?

    Any Federal Government employee involved in the procurement of IT products and
    related services can use the ECS III E-Ordering System.

33. What is EPEAT? Gold, Silver, Bronze Environmental Standard

    EPEAT is a system that helps purchasers evaluate, compare and select electronic
    products based on their environmental attributes. The system currently covers desktop
    and laptop computers, thin clients, workstations and monitors. For more information
    on EPEAT environmental standards please visit www.epeat.net.

34. Does ECS III offer Trade Agreement Act compliant products and services?

    Yes. All contract holders on the ECS III contract are U.S. based companies and all
    services they offer are considered Trade Agreement Act (TAA) compliant. These
    contract holders also offer many TAA compliant products. However, some products sold
    by these companies are not TAA compliant. From FAR 25.4, Trade Agreements: If your
    order/requirement is equal to or exceeds the WTO GPA threshold of $203,000, you
    must acquire only U.S.-made or designated country end products or U.S. or designated
    country services, unless offers for such end products or services are either not received
    or are insufficient to fulfill the requirements. (Note: The Buy America Act does not
    apply to commercial information technology products as are offered by this contract.)

    For orders/requirements that meet the WTO GPA threshold:

           The following clauses should be included in your solicitation and contracts:
            52.225-5, Trade Agreements, and 52.225-6, Trade Agreements Certificate. (See
            FAR Subpart 25.11, Solicitation Provisions and Contract Clauses)
           Unless otherwise specified in your agencies regulations, FAR Subpart 25.5,
            Evaluating Foreign Offers – Supply Contracts provides the steps to follow to
            evaluate the offers received.


35. Does the ECS III RFQ system help me to determine which items are Trade Act Agreement
    compliant?

    Yes. The system allows you to request Trade Agreement Act (TAA) compliance
    information from the quoting ECS III contract holder by checking a box on the Create
    RFQ page. The contract holder must then indicate on their quote whether or not each
    CLIN is TAA compliant.

36. Can I purchase items that are not Trade Act Agreement compliant?

    Yes. Sometimes a comparable product that fits your requirement is not manufactured
    domestically or by any of the countries with which the Government has a Free Trade
    Agreement. Non-TAA compliant items may be purchased through this contract for
    orders/requirements exceeding the WTO GPA threshold (currently $203,000).
    However, the Federal Government must comply with Trade Agreements Act (19 U.S.C.
    2512) and FAR Subpart 25.4, Trade Agreements, in making any award. This means that
    you must document the reason for your decision. FAR Subpart 25.5, Evaluating Foreign
    Offers – Supply Contracts, provides guidance for evaluating offers and making an award
    determination.

37. Does ECS III allow customers to set-aside their requirement for a small business?

    Yes. ECS III is an Indefinite-Delivery Contract and allows small business set-asides. From
    FAR Subpart 16.505(b)(2)(i)(F): “In accordance with section 1331 of Public Law 111-240
    (15 U.S.C. 644(r)), contracting officers may, at their discretion, set aside orders for any
    of the small business concerns identified in 19.000(a)(3). When setting aside orders for
    small business concerns, the specific small business program eligibility requirements
    identified in part 19 apply. “

38. Do I need to ensure fair opportunity for a small business set-aside?

    Yes. Before setting aside an acquisition, the contracting officer shall determine if there
    is a reasonable expectation of obtaining offers from two or more responsible small
    business concerns that are competitive in terms of market prices, quality, and delivery.
    Our RFQ System automatically shows you the number of contract holders capable of
    responding to your small business requirement when you create your RFQ. (For more
    information see FAR Subpart 19.502-2.)

								
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