In a recent interview, Alan Thomas, the Federal Acquisition Service commissioner, promises that agency customer and industry partners are helping to drive the schedules’ modernization strategy. This includes making it easier to buy products and services, such as allowing agencies to combine products and services —  order level materials (OLMs) or other direct costs (ODCs) — under one buy. Although the impact will likely not be felt until 2019, vendors and buyers can take advantage of the change today, according to Thomas. The “one buy” option requires a contract modification and special item number addition.  

Another major change is the elimination of minimum purchase thresholds, which is extremely helpful for those needing only one of an item, and not 5 or 10.

The next fiscal year is likely to see major changes to the Schedules program. Thomas said FAS will possibly consolidate schedules down to one or a smaller set of Schedule contracts, in order to make it easier for customer purchasing. This will remove the difficulty of figuring out which schedule to buy from in perceived overlaps. Thomas wants to reduce confusion for agency customers and make it less burdensome for vendors who may be managing many schedules. Implementation of this change would not take place until late 2019 or possibly 2020.

Another change Thomas is looking to implement is the reduction in the number of contractors on schedules, beginning with those who have not had any sales in two or more years. Schedule holders, be aware: sell your products/services through the Schedule and claim these on your 72(a) to ensure you aren’t on the chopping block. 

Other major changes coming to schedules revolve around transparency and fee adjustments. Thomas said vendors must be able to see what agencies are buying through RFQs or task orders so they know whether the Schedules are being utilized.  Will the new e-Buy pilot provide that transparency? Who knows. And we wonder what making the fee structure consistent across Schedules will actually ‘look’ like.

Finally, GSA and VA are trying to improve their collaboration across similar contracts. Thomas said VA is looking at the technology that GSA uses to manage its Schedule program and global supply program for more control, visibility and greater efficiencies in its micro-purchase expenditures.