The next steps in schedules consolidation – towards frictionless, best value acquisition

This month marked a major milestone for the Federal Supply Schedule program as the General Services Administration and FSS contractors entered the third and fin...

This column was originally published on Roger Waldron’s blog at The Coalition for Government Procurement and was republished here with permission from the author.

This month marked a major milestone for the Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) program as the General Services Administration and FSS contractors entered the third and final phase of Schedules Consolidation.

Phase 1 saw the creation of a single schedule solicitation; reconciliation of clauses, terms and conditions; the reduction/elimination of duplicative Special Item Numbers; the issuance of the new, single solicitation for new offers; and closure of the old solicitations. Phase 2 saw the issuance of and acceptance of a mass modification updating current FSS contracts with the consolidated terms and conditions.

Phase 3 will focus on those schedule contractors with multiple contracts. GSA will be working with these contractors to modify and consolidate their multiple contracts into a single contract. As we look to the future, Schedules consolidation provides the foundation for continued enhancements to the program in the drive to increase access to the commercial market and best value solutions for customer agencies. This blog begins a series of discussions focusing on targeted enhancements to the program for the American people and customer agencies.

The next step in schedules transformation

The Federal Acquisition Service (FAS), and its Schedules Program Management Office (PMO), should be commended for their transparent, flexible, and thoughtful approach to the consolidation effort. With the advent of Phase 3, FAS and its industry partners can begin to focus on the next steps in enhancing the FSS program, building a frictionless, best value acquisition platform.

Central to this effort will be Section 876, Increasing Competition at the Task Order Level, of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019. Section 876 enhances competition and access to the commercial market by authorizing multi-award IDIQ contracts for services where the pricing and value are determined through competition for specific customer agency requirements, rather than requiring price negotiation up front, i.e. at the contract level. Through this approach, Section 876 will serve as a powerful tool in the toolbox to increase competition, innovation, and value through the FSS program. It will reduce barriers to entry for small businesses, allowing them to bring new capabilities directly to the federal market, and it will allow all businesses to meet customer agency needs through streamlined competition at the task order level.

Coincidentally, this week marks the two-year anniversary of Section 876 becoming law. In what can only be described as a moment of serendipity, this week, GSA issued an “Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” (ANPR) regarding the implementation of Section 876 for the FSS program. The ANPR seeks “public comments that can be used to assist in the implementation of Section 876 … for the Federal Supply Schedule program.” The ANPR includes a series of questions to the public regarding the interpretation and interplay of Section 876 with current contract structures and requirements, pre-exiting statutes, the Federal Acquisition Regulation, and the General Services Acquisition Regulation. Comments on the ANPR are due to GSA on Sept. 18, 2020. The Coalition will be submitting comments.

The issuance of the ANPR is a positive step towards reducing a significant barrier to entry to the FSS program. Moreover, Section 876 provides a sound platform for the overall review of FSS pricing policies, including the outdated, anti-competitive Price Reduction Clause (PRC). As the PRC is tied to contract level pricing, dialogue around implementation of Section 876 will shine additional light on the burdensome administrative and compliance costs associated with the PRC.

In sum, Section 876 is the very embodiment of Office of Federal Procurement Policy Administrator Michael Wooten’s vision of a frictionless procurement system. Coalition members look forward to working with GSA and all stakeholders on the implementation of Section 876 for the FSS program.

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