This week, the General Services Administration held its Federal Marketplace Industry Day, inviting stakeholders from across the procurement community to participate in a dialogue on the future of GSA’s key Federal Marketplace Initiative.
The industry day featured Administrator Emily Murphy’s Keynote address, “Reimaging the Acquisition Experience,” followed by a presentation on the key features of the Federal Marketplace Initiative by Crystal Philcox, assistant commissioner, Office of Enterprise Strategy Management.
These presentations set the stage for a day-long procurement conversation. The morning session focused on the “Future of the Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) Program” and the next steps in the MAS consolidation effort, and the Coalition was honored to participate on the panel addressing this subject. The afternoon session addressed the “Commercial Platforms Initiative: Phase II Update.”
The commercial platforms initiative implements Section 846 of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, “Procurement Through e-Commerce Portals.” Beginning this week, with the future of the MAS program, and continuing over the next two weeks, the FAR & Beyond blog will highlight the key takeaways from the industry day.
In many ways, 2018 has turned out to be the year of the GSA MAS program. GSA took a series of steps to streamline MAS processes and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the MAS program, which continues to deliver best value mission support for customer agencies through sound business opportunities for industry.
Among the best value wins for GSA’s customer agencies and industry partners were the following:
The implementation of Order Level Materials (OLMs) (otherwise known as Other Direct Costs (ODCs))
Implementation of the new Commercial Supplier Agreement (CSA)
The increases in the Micro-Purchase Threshold ($10,000) and Simplified Acquisition Threshold ($250,000), which are applicable to FAR 8.4 MAS ordering procedures, and that streamline MAS ordering
The increase in the use of MAS Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs), now accounting for more than 46 percent of MAS spending, to combine the government’s requirements, thereby enhancing its buying power when soliciting vendors to compete,
The Best-In-Class Designation for four MAS BPAs (JanSan, MRO, Identity Protection Services, and Wireless) and the government-wide Strategic Solutions for Desktops and Laptops initiative
The statutory repeal of the requirement for a “best procurement method determination” when a requiring agency is seeking to use an interagency or government-wide contract, like MAS
The statutory elimination of the requirement for a price evaluation at the MAS contract level for services priced on an hourly rate basis
Reopening Schedule 75 Office Supplies to new commercial offers
The launch of the Single Schedule Initiative (SSI), going from 24 Schedules to one schedule
Together, these achievements demonstrate the increasing relevance of, and trust in, GSA and its programs to deliver the best value for customer agencies and the American people.
With the launch of the SSI, GSA can cement these gains and continue the momentum towards MAS transformation. The initiative brings both challenges and opportunities.
First, among the key challenges, there must be unity of effort toward the strategic goal of a single schedule. Second, modernization of GSA’s customer- and contractor-facing systems will be critical to the success of SSI. GSA’s systems will need to keep pace with, if not stay ahead of, actual contract consolidation to ensure customers can find the products, services, and solutions they seek efficiently and effectively via the MAS program.
In turn, contractors must be able to update and manage their contract offerings quickly and accurately to represent their latest, best offerings. In a sense, SSI creates the environment for systems transformation in support of MAS transformation.
In addition to these major challenges, GSA will need to address:
Managing existing BPAs and orders so that individual contractors consolidating contracts across schedules do not lose access to business opportunities during the transition period
Consistency in contract negotiation, award, and management policy application and operations across centers and among contracting officers
Special Item Number rationalization that mirrors the commercial market
Implementing the “unpriced schedule” authority for services sold on a labor hour basis
Implementing OLMs across the entire program
Providing the opportunity for vendors with contracts covered by Transactional Data Reporting and the Price Reductions Clause to choose one or the other for contract administration efficiency and consistency
Eliminating the Price Reduction Clause, and, by so doing, recognizing that it is an outdated oversight mechanism, which, as a condition of doing business with the government, restricts a contractor’s ability to do business in the private sector
Exploring additional flexibilities for Evergreen contracting
Expanding training and outreach on SSI to customer agencies and industry partners
Opportunity for addressing fundamental questions surrounding e-commerce
Consolidating the schedules will bring significant benefits to the schedules program, and as Murphy noted during the Industry Day, this reform is long overdue. With a successful implementation, GSA will ensure that the schedules remain a “go-to” acquisition vehicle for both government and industry.
Next week’s blog will focus on GSA’s Commercial Platforms Initiative, which was also discussed during the Federal Marketplace Industry Day. The Commercial Platforms Initiative ultimately may have a significant impact on the schedules, as both programs will co-exist in the Federal Marketplace.
The Coalition appreciates GSA’s commitment to stakeholder outreach through this week’s Industry Day, and we look forward to continuing the dialogue on these issues and supporting GSA in its mission to deliver best value solutions to government agencies and the American taxpayer.
Roger Waldron is the president of the Coalition for Government Procurement, and host of Off the Shelf on Federal News Radio.