GSA, Pandemic Style

GSA is moving quickly to enact several initiatives while responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Because the current state of emergency necessitates the Federal Acquisition Service to purchase medical supplies and other equipment at a fast clip, Contracting Officers have no choice but to react with a fair amount of speed and flexibility. (Federal News Network, May 1, 2020)

This includes:

  • changing policies for prompt payment and onboarding/offboarding of contractors
  • construction of the new e-commerce marketplace platform, which was paused during the first few weeks of the pandemic, is now moving forward, albeit at a much slower pace
  • monitoring other initiatives possibly impacting by the pandemic, such as Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS)
  • continuing corrective actions on Alliant 2 revised proposals
  • expanding the small business innovation research (SBIR) program, part three

Some government markets, like travel, have declined; however cleaning products and enhanced screening services have increased exponentially. (ibid)

Any questions about getting your product or service in front of government buyers? Give us a call.

Phase 2: Resistance is Futile

Although we covered this last month, it’s worth another review  as GSA moves to phase two of the MAS consolidation.

As you know, GSA is merging the Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) program contracts from 24 different schedules into one. Notices of changes to terms and conditions for current contract holders under the MAS program should be received by contract holders in the coming months.

The consolidated schedule makes it simpler for the government to make purchases and will roll out in three parts:

  1. Creation of a new contract vehicle for all future acquisitions
  2. Bring current contract holders onto the new consolidated schedule
  3. Consolidate those businesses that have multiple contracts across many schedules(Federal Times January 31, 2020)

Terms and conditions are being standardized and all current contract holders and contractors, placed on the consolidated schedule, must respond to them by July 31, 2020. (ibid)

Questions about the consolidation and how you and your contracts are affected? Give us a call.

Federal Supply Class Review

What happens when the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) and the General Services Administrations (GSA) get together to increase efficiencies and effectiveness of the national supply chain? You get the first Federal Supply Class (FSC) review in almost 50 years. (Defense Logistics Agency, October 9, 2019)

So why now, you ask? According to Alan Thomas, commissioner of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service, it is to “optimize the movement of supplies to our nation’s troops and reduce duplication in the federal supply chain.”

FSC’s review involves all 600 FSCs, or about seven million items used by federal and military consumers and categorizes them by similarity. This review will reduce redundancies and improve purchasing efficiencies as well as customer readiness and responsiveness. Checks and balances will keep both organizations compliant with principles of their original agreement. (ibid)

The 1971 Supply Management Relationship Agreement between DLA and GSA gave DLA authority over supplies within assigned FSCs used by the military regardless of their use by civil agencies. GSA manages items used by federal agencies that are commercially available. Today GSA and DLA  maintain contracts with vendors delivering directly to customers. DLA forecasts demand and then supply chain representatives, vendors and DLA Distribution ensure on-time delivery worldwide.

DLA and GSA are working side by side to put together an automated tool that categorizes FSCs for analysis. The tool will produce summary-level data on all items to ultimately determine if a change in acquisition strategy might lead to improved efficiencies and effectiveness for the government, taxpayers, and customers. Both DLA and GSA must be in agreement to transfer logistics management of any items.

“Regardless of item transfer decisions, the process and tools we’ve developed in conducting this review provide an archive of information that supports FSC management determinations beyond the simple criteria identified in the 1971 agreement,” Jay Schaeufele, GSA account manager for DLA Logistics Operation’s Whole of Government Division, said. “This information is important as we navigate government and acquisition reform initiatives and evaluate potential economic efficiencies without losing vision of DLA’a first priority to warfighter readiness. (ibid)

Jeff Thurston, director of GSA’s Office of Supply Chain Management, said: “GSA’s new business model challenges us to identify new ways to serve environments where stocking product was previously the go-to solution.” (ibid)

The Commercial Platforms Program will update how commercial products are bought by federal agencies via partnerships with commercial e-platform providers. Government agencies will access commercial platforms as part of a whole-of-government approach. This approach will give agencies visibility into online spending, thus reducing supply-chain risk while providing more time for focusing on mission-oriented acquisition.

According to Laura Stanton, deputy assistant commissioner for Category Management in GSA’s Office of Information Technology Category, “this three-year proof of concept will offer federal buyers easy access to e-marketplace providers and commercial products. Additionally, agencies will have better visibility and insight on purchasing patterns to bring one-off spending under management. The Commercial Platform’s proof of concept offers a way for agencies to access commercial platforms as part of a whole-of-government approach, strengthening GSA’s commitment to maximize the government’s buying power through economies of scale.” (ibid)

GSA and DLA are consolidating purchasing, tracking, and spending analysis while taking advantage of government-wide and best-in-class acquisition vehicles. In addition, they are working together to communicate supply chain issues such as cybersecurity, fraud, and counterfeit parts while working with the military to determine optimal shipping routing.

Will this translate into possible changes to your current contract or bid? We’re available to discuss.

Reforming the Reformers

Over the next few years, GSA will institute approximately 25 reforms to improve the federal marketplace, with a goal of easing the buying and selling process for all involved. (Federal Times, July 24, 2019)

Alan Thomas, the commissioner of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service, has named the following four initiatives as ‘cornerstones,’ bound to the success of the other ‘stones’ around them:

  1. Developing an enterprise-wide contract writing system — provides the contracting workforce “a single, core system that stores all of our data and has a set of common business processes”
  2. Managing catalog data — changing how industry systems and processes are represented to buying agencies
  3. Consolidating the Multiple Award Schedule program — occurring as we write, the current 24 multiple award schedules are merging into a single Schedule.
  4. Instituting a commercial platform initiative — an online buying platform, much like Amazon, which will allow government purchasers to order products without a contracting process. (ibid)

Many other reforms will go into effect over time. Additionally, GSA is working to make smaller improvements that make contractors and customer agencies more aware of available tools. These tools should simplify the contracting process. (ibid)

Have questions about the reforms and how they will affect the current procurement process? Give us a call.

Price Inconsistencies on Schedule 70? Nah…

GSA’s IG audit of GSA schedules in 2016 found large price discrepancies between identical items. For instance, the cost of one of Sharp’s 70-inch LED Smart TVs showed prices ranging from $1,597 to $3,000. The audit also turned up prices much lower on commercial products. In addition, from August 2014 to July 2015, most IT schedule purchases were for top-selling items priced higher than the lowest IT schedule price, completely defeating the purpose of the Schedules program. (Nextgov, May 21, 2019)

Recommendations to correct the disparities include:

  • Verify prices for identical IT schedule items by price analysis
  • Improve price protection for IT schedule reseller contracts by setting controls
  • Ensure contracting officers receive accurate and complete information around manufacturers’ commercial sales practices (ibid)

Per the review by the IG, the Federal Acquisition Service has taken “appropriate corrective actions” to address these price inconsistencies.

Questions about IT Schedule or other GSA Schedule pricing? Give us a call at 301-913-5000.