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Federal government appraisal contract work: where to find it and how to get it.

Would you like to appraise a lighthouse or maybe an old military base? How about appraising a former post office or courthouse? The federal government has all of these properties and much more, including basic office and warehouse facilities. Federal entities require appraisals for diverse uses-acquisition, eminent domain, lease, exchange and auction-and of full- and partial-interest estates. I have tried to find out the number of appraisals the federal government consumes in an average year, but since there are so many federal departments, agencies, and administrations ordering appraisals, neither the contracting officers nor the Federal Business Opportunities representatives I have spoken with know of any one tracking site.

FedBizOpps

The Federal Business Opportunities Web site called FedBizOpps (www.FedBizOpps.gov) is the common site used by all federal entities contracting work. By law, all federal contracts over $25,000 must be posted on this Web site.

A recent check of the FedBizOpps site showed seven pending appraisal solicitations out for bid. Now that may not seem like a lot; however, many of them are for multiple appraisals. Also, the appraisal solicitations are frequently for multiyear periods, such as five years, and some have extension options. Often a federal entity does not know exactly how many appraisal assignments it will have or when they will be needed. In order to meet their expected future demands for contract appraisers who are qualified to do the assignments, some entities award contracts for "Indefinite Delivery and Indefinite Quantity" (IDIQ) over a period of time. Some contracts are "Blanket Purchase Agreements" (BPAs), which are established for a period of years and sometimes include option years. With these IDIQ or BPA contracts, a federal entity can bid to a preestablished group of qualified appraisers when the need arises for an appraisal assignment as described in the contract.

On the FedBizOpps Web site recently, one of the active solicitations was for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), which was requesting quotes for real estate appraisal services throughout Illinois. According to that posting, NRCS is expecting a need for 15 appraisals in 11 counties in Illinois for conservation easements under the Wetlands Reserve Program. The NRCS had similar contracts in other states as well as a contract for Technical Review Services. On this particular day, NRCS had numerous offerings, which were more rural in nature. However, a look back through listings on FedBizOpps, showed other sources of federal appraisal contracts in the past year or two, including the following:

* General Services Administration, Public Buildings Service

* General Services Administration (GSA), Physical Capital Asset Management Division

* Department of Housing and Urban Development

* Department of Agriculture, Rural Development

* Department of Agriculture, Forest Service

* Department of Agriculture, Farm Service Agency

* Department of State, Office of Logistics Management

* Department of the Air Force

* U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

The GSA is one of the more active users of appraisal services since it provides procurement services for numerous other federal government departments and agencies, including buying, selling, and leasing real estate across the country and in territories. To give you some idea of how much real estate GSA alone needs appraised, I pulled a summary from one of the recent solicitations it advertised. In November 2005, GSA's Physical Capital Asset Management Division sought information for a potential nationwide and U.S. Territories (11 regional offices) IDIQ contract for appraisal firms that specialize in the field of real estate appraisal and consulting services. Following is the summary GSA used to describe the range of appraisal skills required of the appraiser/firm:
 The company must be proficient in valuing the following
 property types: A. GSA's Portfolio: General Purchase--Office,
 warehouse; Vacant Land--Rural or urban; Special
 Purpose-Courthouse, post office, historic properties,
 border stations, labs; Mixed use--office/courthouse/retail;
 Facilities--Multiple building complexes that may be
 unique or complex in nature. B. Disposition Properties:
 Vacant Land--rural and urban improved parcels typically
 unzoned with multiple potential uses and complex
 features; General Purchase Property--Office Buildings,
 warehouses, industrial, commercial, retail, and residential
 properties; Former Government Buildings--Courthouses,
 post office, and federal buildings; Special
 Purpose Facilities--Hospitals, large housing complexes,
 golf courses, historic properties, military installations,
 aviation-related facilities, defense manufacturing plants,
 complex industrial facilities, environmentally impacted
 properties, maritime properties, lighthouses, right-of-ways,
 rail spurs, partial interests (air rights, water rights,
 easements, etc.) and other properties that are unique or
 complex in nature. (1)


Bids

Since all federal contracts over $25,000 must be advertised in FedBizOpps, sooner or later federal entities are likely to solicit bids there. Some of the contracts run for multiple years so they do not come up for bid very often. Although not required to do so, some federal entities also use FedBizOpps for contracts lower than $25,000. For appraisal work under the $25,000 threshold, you will need to contact the entity directly to see how they award the assignments. A step-by-step process for finding solicitations on FedBizOpps is shown in Table 1.

Although any vendor may bid, vendors must register with Central Contracting Registration (CCR) before they are eligible to be awarded a contract. You may register on the CCR Web site at www.ccr.gov. To register on CCR, you will need your bank information, taxpayer ID, and a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number provided by Dun & Bradstreet. There is a link to Dun & Bradstreet in the CCR online registration process; you also may contact Dun & Bradstreet at 866-705-5711 to obtain a DUNS number.

When you view solicitations in FedBizOpps, you will notice many contracts are set aside for small businesses. The Small Business Administration provides financial, technical, and management assistance to help Americans start, run, and grow their businesses. To ensure that a fair percentage of government contracts and purchases are awarded to small businesses, the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) describes the process and requirements for set-aside contracts on its Web site at www.acqnet.gov/far/. A vendor only needs to input business information in one database (CCR), which will then automatically populate the SBA database. According to the CCR Web site, if you are interested in receiving Small Disadvantaged Business, HUBZone, or 8(a) certifications, you will need to refer separately to SBA to complete that process. (2)

Standards

Regardless of the dollar amount of a contract, government agencies share a common thread promulgated by the Federal Acquisition Regulation to conduct business with integrity, fairness, openness, and fulfill public policy objectives. Driving the federal government acquisition process is the concept of "Best Value" According to FAR 2.101,
 "Best Value" means the expected outcome of an acquisition
 that, in the Government's estimation, provides the
 greatest overall benefit in response to the requirement.


Best value may be, but is not always, the lowest price or the highest-ranked technical proposal. Often it is achieved by a combination of price and non-price factors and how the interests of the government are best realized.

In addition to conforming to the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice, much of the appraisal work required by the federal government must conform to the Uniform Appraisal Standards for Federal Land Acquisitions. Because of its rather lengthy name, these standards are commonly referred to simply as the "Yellow Book" due to its yellow cover. The Yellow Book is a complex set of guidelines and requirements written by the Interagency Land Acquisition Conference and published by the Appraisal Institute. You can obtain this document through the Appraisal Institute Web site at www.appraisalinstitute.org/ecom/publications, or the Department of Justice Web site at www.usdoj.gov/enrd/land-ack/Land_acquisition.html. The Appraisal Institute and the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers offer Yellow Book classes. (3) In addition to the Yellow Book regulations, often agency-specific regulations apply when doing federal government work.

Conclusion

Doing work for the federal government does require a learning curve, but could be worth the time and effort. Since all federal contracts over $25,000 must be advertised in FedBizOpps, sooner or later federal entities are likely to solicit bids there. When one thinks about all the real estate owned by the federal government, the appraisal opportunities are limitless.

This article is the individual work of the author and does not represent the views of her employer.

(1.) FedBizOpps Solicitation No. GS-OOP-06-CYD-0012, Posted November 4, 2005.

(2.) Descriptions of these programs can be found at http://www.sba.gov/sdb/; http://www.sba.gov/hubzone; and http://sba.gov/8abd.

(3.) Some federal agencies may require appraisers to have completed a course on the Yellow Book before the agency will award a contract.

Kathleen M. Holmes, MAI, is the Arizona Lead Appraiser for the Department of Interior, Appraisal Services Directorate, managing a program and reviewing appraisals used for acquisitions, disposals, rights-of-way, and exchanges of federal land. Her 20-year appraisal career includes working in private practice commercial firms, and positions as senior review appraiser, valuation manager, and state chief appraiser for several large national banks. Holmes has been appointed to the Arizona State Land Department Board of Appeals by two governors and twice approved by the Arizona Senate. She holds a real estate broker's license and is a member of Lambda Alpha International. Holmes serves on the Appraisal Institute's Valuation in the Government Sector Shared Interest Group. She holds a B.S. in business administration, with a specialization in real estate, from Arizona State University. Contact: katmholmes@aol.com
Table 1 Finding Solicitations on FedBizOpps

1. From the opening page of http://www.FedBizOpps.gov,
 Click on the "go" box of Find Business Opportunities
 in the left-hand pane.

2. Scroll down the page to the box labeled Search by
 NAICS Code towards the bottom of the page.

3. Scroll down in the NAICS box to code 531--REAL
 ESTATE and Click on this line to highlight it.

4. Click on the FILTER NAIC box immediately below the
 NAICS box.

5. Scroll down to the box labeled FILTERED NAIC, and in
 this box Scroll down to code 531320 Offices of Real
 Estate Appraisals. Click on this code to highlight it.

6. Scroll to bottom of page and Click on Start Search
 box.

7. Look for the new solicitations mixed in with the
 listings of modifications (changes to synopses) and
 amendments (changes to solicitations).

From there you're on your own! Good Luck!
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Title Annotation:notes and issues
Author:Holmes, Kathleen M.
Publication:Appraisal Journal
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2006
Words:1702
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