MAS consolidation: Opportunities in the FAS engine room

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.

Multiple award schedule consolidation is all about breaking down barriers, eliminating stovepipes, and streamlining procurement processes. For this reason, the General Services Administration is to be commended for this important contracting effort to bring efficiency to government contracting.

As the largest commercial item contract, accounting for over $30 billion in annual purchases by the federal government, MAS consolidation is the centerpiece of GSA’s Federal Marketplace Strategy

To date, MAS consolidation has focused on addressing procurement processes, the MAS solicitations, and resulting contracts. In Phase 1, the Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) reviewed and rationalized hundreds of MAS clauses and issued a single, updated MAS solicitation that replaced the 24 pre-existing solicitations. As part of the new solicitation, FAS also consolidated the Special Item Numbers (SINs) from approximately 900 down to just over 300. In Phase 2, FAS issued a mass modification to current MAS contractors implementing the consolidated set of MAS clauses and new SIN structure. In Phase 3, FAS continues working with MAS contractors with multiple contracts to merge those contracts into a single contract with the updated terms and conditions.

Consolidating the MAS solicitation and contracts will increase customer agency access to best value commercial products, services, and solutions. In turn, this effort will translate into increased competition and business opportunities for MAS contractors seeking to support customer agency missions. It is important to note that GSA has recognized that to effectively communicate and fully leverage the benefits of MAS consolidation, FAS’s IT systems — both internal and external facing — must be modernized. To this end, it is gratifying to see FAS moving forward with modernizing its electronic catalog, GSA Advantage, and associated systems. Indeed, modernizing its IT systems is the surest way to ensure the benefits of MAS consolidation adhere to customer agencies, contractors, and FAS’ acquisition workforce.

Significantly, MAS Consolidation provides another wonderful opportunity to improve FAS management and operations. It sets the stage for a top-down review of FAS to reduce duplication, eliminate unnecessary organizational stovepipes, leverage resources, and increase efficiencies.

At an operational level, too often FAS’ industry partners see inconsistent approaches to, and interpretations of, procurement policies, including pricing negotiations and End User License Agreements. MAS consolidation provides the platform to address these “procurement policy stovepipes” across the acquisition centers and among contracting officers. Further, a top-down review would serve as a catalyst to enhance FAS management’s ability to focus on strategic and market-driven opportunities to enhance customer agency mission support. Simply put, MAS consolidation provides GSA’s Federal Marketplace Strategy with the golden opportunity to review, reinvent, and reform the FAS organization’s management and operations.

As always, the Coalition for Government Procurement looks forward to engaging with GSA and all stakeholders across the procurement community on the benefits and opportunities of MAS consolidation.

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