FAS Boss Talks Shop

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.

Bye Bye FPT, It’s Been Nice Knowing You

The GSA Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) has decided to discontinue the Formatted Product Tool (FPT), reverting contracts that were awarded through this process to the legacy SIP/CORs process for managing and loading catalog data into GSA Advantage! Offer submissions and modifications will continue through eOffer/eMod, without the formatted templates from FPT. This change requires a refresh to the three types of schedules listed below, and the issuance of a mass modification to remove FPT specific clauses, replacing them with the legacy versions where applicable. This will be taking place over the next several months.

This notice applies only to the following three schedules:

  • Schedule 58 I – Professional Audio/Video Telemetry/Tracking, Recording/Reproducing, and Signal Data Solutions
  • Schedule 72 – Furnishing and Floor Coverings
  • Schedule 66 – Scientific Equipment and Services

FAS saw mixed success from the user experience perspective. “Vendors participating in FPT indicated to us that the current process is cumbersome and in some cases, extremely time-consuming – especially for vendors with large catalogs. Additionally, vendors experienced frustration in the time required to address catalog data validation as a result of the FPT process.”

Vendors should review the Significant Changes Document for any potential changes to their solicitation/contract, including those not related to the FPT rollback.

Please call EZGSA at 301-913-5000 with any questions you may have.

Oh Say Can You See? Focus on the Micro-Purchase Threshold

During a recent industry day, GSA reiterated that the Portals Program will focus on transactions under the Micro-Purchase Threshold. The current draft of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act grants a GSA request to increase the Micro-Purchase threshold for purchases through approved portals to $25,000. If included  in the final draft, this will make the Portals Program the preferred vehicle for any micro-purchases. The GSA Schedules Program will remain the preferred contracting vehicle for all other commercial item procurements. GSA said this would simplify the acquisition process and address federal buying requirements (such as considering AbilityOne and designated small business contractors for procurement).

On the other hand, not all industry partners are so enthusiastic. Will this create two completely separate market places for the same services and products, at two different price barriers? Some contractors are nervous that the Portal initiative might create a different compliance structure from Multiple Award Contracts,  potentially leaving businesses with difficult decisions. The concern is that the move will create parallel systems of compliance and companies will have to weigh the cost of navigating both.

Roger Waldron, president of Coalition for Government Procurement, has an example. “If there are compliance requirements in one channel and they don’t exist in another channel, do (businesses) stay in the channel where they have compliance requirements and increase costs and lower margins? They are going to be making those kinds of business decisions ultimately.”

In response, GSA officials said they are still weighing how to design the policies for the portals and would be testing the new micropurchase threshold in a proof of concept pilot sometime next year. Jeffrey Koses of the Office of Governmentwide Policy said GSA is “still trying to determine if this is more of an [indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity] type of relationship or is this something else. It’s a fair question. I don’t know if we have all of the answers at this point.”

GSA released two RFIs about the regulations needed- one for suppliers that sell on commercial e-commerce platforms and one for commercial providers. Leave your thoughts there, or in our comments.

Mass Modification to Incorporate OLMs

Order-Level Materials Now Featured on Schedules

Image result for OLM gsa

The new GSAR incorporating OLMs into the Multiple Award Schedule program should simplify buying and selling procurement solutions through MAS.

Quick Recap: OLMs, or Order-Level Materials are supplies or services. Agencies acquire OLMs in direct support of a task or a delivery order on an existing Schedule contract or BPA. Types, quantities, and prices of OLMs are not known or established when contracts and BPAs are awarded.

What’s New: This authority adds flexibility to existing Schedules programs on other commercial IDIQ vehicles. It also saves time and money, decreases the number of new contracts, and decreases barriers posed by unanticipated needs.

Opting-in: To start providing OLMs, partners need to accept a mass modification which adds the terms and conditions to current contracts and verify subscriptions to the MAS Interact Group. When contractors opt in, they can compete for more orders and reduce additional bid and proposal costs.

The removal of some barriers to entry into the federal marketplace means that small business are better able to compete for orders.

As always, if you have questions, feel free to contact us at 301-913-5000 or admin@ezgsa.com

After-the-Hack Survival Guide

Post Breach Rules Require Password Resets

Remember that huge GSA hack? Remember how they subsequently lost all your usernames and passwords? Now it’s time to deal with the fallout.

Since then, GSA assessed “the underlying vulnerability in all of its information systems and is immediately applying stricter security measures, including more stringent password management and Multi-Factor Authentication”. The measures apply to eBuy, Advantage Spend Analysis Program (ASAP), Schedule Input Program (SIP), Reverse Auctions and 72A Reporting System accounts.

What does this mean for contractors? For 72A reporting, you’ll have to visit https://72a.gsa.gov/ to reset your password. VSC users should have received an email with links and instructions to reset your VSC password. In case it got filtered to your spam, you can find reset instructions here. System features will be inaccessible until you reset your password. GSA advises users having trouble to contact the Vendor Support Center Monday through Friday8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. EDT at 877-495-4849 or vendor.support@gsa.gov. Through tomorrow (12 June), VSC offers extended hours of 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. If this is all way too confusing for you, we are here to help at 301-913-5000 or admin@ezgsa.com.