The last year has been a tough one for the General Services Administration’s Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) program. The Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) – the GSA agency charged with administering the MAS program – has struggled to re-invent itself and its contracting vehicles in order to ensure they both stay relevant in an increasingly competitive federal marketplace. The byproduct of this struggle has been mostly negative for Schedule vendors.
In an effort to demonstrate the value its contracts bring to federal customers, FAS has pursued an unrelenting crusade aimed at reducing prices at all costs. It is no longer enough for a vendor to give the Government a great deal vis-à-vis its commercial customers (a determination historically made through a “vertical pricing” analysis). Now vendors also must charge less than their competitors – a determination made through a “horizontal pricing” analysis. While FAS contracting officers are supposed to consider factors that may explain a price differential as part of their price evaluation, in practice, COs pay little heed to such “trifles.” The concept of value rarely enters into the equation any more.
Time and again, vendors are told to lower prices or remove products from their Schedule because another vendor offers the same product at a lower price. So what that the other vendor offers no customer service, no phone support, no warranty, and is run by two guys out of a garage in Glenwood. Price is king, and that’s all FAS seems to care about nowadays. (We mean no disrespect to the good people of Glenwood by the way. We just couldn’t resist the alliteration.)
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