New acquisition chief plots changes to GSA schedules

FAS commissioner developing plans for schedules, Web 2.0 features and GSA Advantage overhaul

New Federal Acquisition Service Commissioner Steve Kempf has concluded that his organization’s services have matured and are ready for some changes.

In an July 15 interview, Kempf said that several systems and features that are part of the Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) program--which offers roughly 11 million products and services--need to be re-energized.

Kempf added that the GSA Advantage! Web site, an online shopping center for those items, also has some mature technologies. The site was running before Amazon.com, Kempf said, and now needs to be refreshed. He has said in fiscal 2011, GSA Advantage! will be using Web 2.0 features and enhanced search capabilities, as well as direct links to company shipment tracking Web sites and other GSA contracting vehicles. The site also will have more ways to help agencies find environmentally friendly products, such as search and identification features.


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In the same way, FAS needs to update its process for awarding MAS contracts, according to Kempf. GSA is looking at an upgraded enterprise acquisition solution as the next step for each of FAS’ contracting areas. It’s a completely automated system, from researching the market for a product or service through until the contract is closed out. The tools will help FAS’ employees work more efficiently in awarding and then managing contracts, Kempf said.

In the next couple of weeks, Kempf will be rolling out some overall strategic changes to the MAS program. The new strategy will show where FAS is heading and its approach in getting there, Kempf said.

FAS has worked through problems with its systems and operations, he said. For instance, FAS officials have been working on employing some of the recommendations from the Multiple Award Schedule Advisory Panel, which submitted a report in January on ways to improve the MAS program.

The strategic plan also heeds the Obama administration’s priorities, such as transparency and awarding “the right kinds of contracts,” he said.

The administration has pushed agencies to avoid the types of contracts that can carry more risk with them, such as cost-reimbursement, sole-source and time-and-materials contracts. Officials want the government to award contracts that have a fixed price from the outset.

The strategy going forward “will largely be in context of this administration, GSA’s current thinking and then finally where FAS wants to take the Schedules program,” he said.

General Services Administration Administrator Martha Johnson named Kempf FAS commissioner on July 13, after serving as acting commissioner for more than three months.

 

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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