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.

Hard Shutdown

Shutdown? Shut up!

Since Saturday, the United States government has been closed, shut down, unplugged (etc.), including the General Services Administration (GSA) and FAS. Right now, GSA is deferring to 4220.1K ADM, the Order which dictates “Operations in the Absence of Appropriations.”

What does this mean for our clients? Unfortunately, if you currently hold a GSA Schedule, you will not see any work done on your contract modifications and will not receive any government payments. Work for government agencies under the GSA Schedule must be halted during this time unless it is of mission critical importance (you will have been notified if this is you). Companies with proposals into GSA will be in a holding pattern for now, whether they are recently submitted and being triaged to the correct Contracting Officer, under administrative review, in negotiations, or awaiting final award.

“GSA’s role as an aggregator of large numbers of government assets and a supplier of critical tools, equipment, and supplies to other Federal agencies requires that GSA retain adequate staffing under a lapse in appropriations in order to protect Federal property under GSA’s custody and control and to continue to provide critical support to other Federal agencies’ exempt and excepted activities necessary for the protection of life and Federal property.”

In other words, GSA is mostly shut down. Buildings remain open for maintenance, power, and cleaning in a reduced capacity. Small crews are also being kept around to ensure protection of GSA assets and property, and to support other essential Federal agencies. GSA is held more responsible than other agencies to maintain their regular tasks. Think of it as a GSA skeleton crew. When the shutdown is over, GSA will update plans, decide what to do about missed events, and catch up with all the work piling up right now.

We are hopeful this shutdown ends soon. Stay vigilant, folks!

Is eOffer Easier?

eOffer’s New Look

eOffer recently gave the website a makeover for section 508 compliance. Section 508 requires that all federal agencies ensure that persons with disabilities have comparable access to electronic material. This means larger type, more intuitive website mapping, and a more accessible user interface.

Don’t get too excited though: eOffer’s interface still isn’t quite caught up with the times. Only small portions of navigational areas are responsive, headers are cramped, much of the type is still small, and mobile is another beast entirely, although a slightly prettier one than in the past.

To check out the new “look and feel” for yourself, head over to  https://eoffer.gsa.gov/

DoD eMall is dead. Long Live FedMall!

Same function, different name. We welcome FedMall to the land of commerce, contracting, and commercial-off-the-shelf federal purchasing.

With this new site, government buyers experience a more user-friendly interface, enhanced search functions, and easy comparability of similar products.

Contractors must complete a familiar process, very similar to what was required of eMall. This includes having an authentication certificate (CAC card, PIV card, etc.); your CAGE code; active SAM registration; and your contract number. The contract number represents your existing GSA Schedule or other Long Term Agreement or Blanket Purchase Agreement. Office supply providers are the one exception to this — they simply upload their products.

To begin the process of being listed on FedMall, go to https://www.suppliers.fedmall.mil. For more information, you can review the Quick Start Guide or contact us here at EZGSA (301-913-5000).

Summer Slow Down

As we pass Memorial Day, the unofficial start to summer, it’s helpful to remember that your GSA Contracting Officer (CO) will most likely have a vacation coming up, just like you.

If you know that an important RFP release is imminent, which will require modifications to your Schedule, we strongly suggest you begin working on the mod requirements now. Time-sensitive changes can bring showers of stress to your lazy summer days, especially if you find out that your CO has just left for a three-week vacation/training on the day you submit. To ensure smooth sailing, give your CO a heads-up about the upcoming mods in advance; ask the CO when s/he expects to be out and how you can avoid lengthy delays of a modification.

Being pro-active now can save you the pain of a lightning strike in mid-July! If you need help with a modification or have further questions, contact your EZGSA proposal specialist at 301-913-5000 or email us today.