The General Services Administration unveiled a new vision for its Federal Acquisition Service on Nov. 2, 2010, complete with lofty expectations that the agency can secure a significantly larger slice of the government procurement marketplace.
For the past several years, GSA’s primary acquisition vehicle, the multiple awards schedule contracts, have experienced modest 2 percent to 3 percent sales growth. But FAS Commissioner Steve Kempf told the Coalition for Government Procurement, an industry trade group, the agency is ready to “think bigger” and more boldly.
In fiscal 2010, FAS programs accounted for $52 billion in annual sales, including $46 billion from the multiple awards schedules, representing nearly 10 percent of all federal contract spending. About 35 percent of those sales went to small businesses, with an increasing amount going toward the growing financial services and logistics market.
And while Kempf declined to announce a target sales figure for fiscal 2011, he made it clear he expects the schedules to take a step forward, even with a likely decline in overall federal contract spending,
“My vision for the FAS is that 10 years from now, [its] tools will be the platform for the business of government,” he said. “It is time to think bigger and deliver bigger results.”
The commissioner said the increase in sales will stem, in part, from making the schedules more user-friendly. For example, the agency has nearly finished a long-term effort to process and manage all schedule offers electronically. The Enterprise Acquisition Solution will provide GSA with the capability to post schedule contracts’ terms and conditions on the agency’s e-Library, making it easier for customers to place orders, Kempf said.
In fiscal 2009, 27 percent of all MAS offers were processed electronically, and that figure rose in fiscal 2010 to 44 percent. When the EAS tool is completely rolled out by the end of the year, Kempf said, electronic contracting “will be the only way.”
FAS also is beefing up the size of its workforce, having hired 200 additional workers between July and September to fill outstanding vacancies. With many GSA employees set to retire, the agency said it is still hiring more to round out its ranks.
Other FAS changes set to roll out in coming months include:
- A new rule, expected to be published in the Federal Acquisition Regulation in early 2011 that will increase transparency in MAS orders worth more than $150,000 by requiring fair notice to all schedule holders, or at least three quotes. Justifications also would be required for high-risk contract actions days after an award.
- A new tool to allow the agency to immediately post revised pricing data online after it awards new offers or modifications. Contracting officers will be able to use the price comparison tool to evaluate and negotiate schedule prices. The new functionality will be piloted across three schedules — scientific equipment and services, financial, and business solutions — next summer.
- New blanket purchase agreements, modeled after the recent governmentwide office supplies contract, for printers and copiers and for handheld electronic devices.
But the advancements do not come without a price for some vendors. GSA recently shut down Schedule 75, the agency’s primary vehicle for office supplies, for two years to clear a path for its new blanket purchase agreement. Schedule 75 had been a major disappointment in recent years, with more than 200 contractors — almost a third of its vendors — experiencing no sales during the last two years.
“From GSA’s perspective,” Kempf said, “we need to concentrate our resources where we can stretch the taxpayer’s dollar as far as potentially possible, especially in a time of historic budget deficits.”
— by Robert Brodsky – GovExec.com – November 2, 2010