The General Services Administration has taken the first major step in consolidating its 24 different schedules into one consolidated offering, checking off phase one of its overhaul of the Multiple Award Schedules program, and outlining deliverables for the second and final stages next year.
In phase one of the consolidation, GSA completed a review of the schedule contracts and reduced about two-thirds of the number of Special Item Numbers (SINs) as part of a move to the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS).
Phase one of the consolidation will only impact vendors who are applying for a schedule for the first time. But for phases two and three, which will take place next year, GSA is working with industry partners to ease the transition for current schedule holders.
Stephanie Shutt, director of GSA’s Multiple Awards Schedules (MAS) Program Office, said the rise of duplicative schedules led to industry partners getting onto multiple contracts in the same program and offering the same products in multiple places.
“We had 24 schedules that had been created in a siloed fashion – that as they grew, and as we grew to be more solution-based, it turned into them adding things that were on other schedules, and then it had this domino effect. Industry had to then re-arrange how they did things to fit our structure, which should never happen,” Shutt said Wednesday at an ACT-IAC event in Washington.
That sprawl of schedules, Shutt said, also resulted in a lack of consistency and an abundance of confusion.
“If you had more than one [contracting officer], if you called to ask a question, you often got very different answers, and you did not know which one was right,” she said.
The start of fiscal 2020 marked the first of many consolidation deadlines. GSA on Oct. 1 released a new solicitation for the schedule consolidation with a simplified format, streamlined terms and conditions and new categories and SINs.
As part of phase one, GSA also went through more than 900 SINs and reduced them to 300 SINs for the new contract vehicle, and created a methodology for creating new SIN based on NAICs codes.
“If there is a one-to-one relationship and no other SIN is using that NAICS code, that SIN number and the NAICS code will be exactly the same,” Shutt said, adding that this new format will make it easier for contractors to offer products, services, and solutions, and for agency partners to find them.
Likewise, categories in the contract will match the categories established by the Office of Management and Budget. There are some deviations, like for musical instruments. As a result, the new consolidated contract will include miscellaneous categories for the handful of SINs that don’t have a place in other categories.
“For some reason, there’s really not a category for musical instruments. OMB wasn’t thinking about that when they put things together,” Shutt said.
Vendors applying for a schedule for the first time are already feeling the effects of the consolidation, but agency contracting won’t see the biggest changes until next summer, Shutt said, when changes impact GSA’s eBuy and eLibrary platforms.
By the end of this quarter, GSA will complete work on phase two, which includes creating a mass modification — or refresh of the terms and conditions — for current schedule contract holders. The mass modification will include an update to the base terms and conditions for solicitations.
Phase three, which Shutt said should wrap before the end of July 2020, will require current schedule contract holders with more than one active contract to think about how they would like to consolidate their contracts.
“For example, are you a professional services company that happens to have IT? Are you an IT company that happens to have professional services? You will know what the intent of your company is, and we’re basically going to be asking you to tell us which contract you need to keep and which contracts you would willing to cancel, and when that end date will be,” she said.