GSA makes progress with schedule consolidation.

With the start of fiscal 2020 on Oct. 1, GSA expects to launch its new consolidated schedule.

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The General Services Administration says its work to consolidate two dozen contract schedules into a single schedule is proceeding smoothly, with the agency expecting to publish a consolidated solicitation at the start of fiscal year 2020.

A GSA spokesperson told FCW the agency is set to publish its consolidated schedule on FedBizOpps on Oct. 1, completing the first phase of the consolidation project. Vendors that want to submit offers for bids won't have to look through 24 different vehicles -- only through the single schedule. Federal contracting officers won't see any immediate change in their practices.

Since last November GSA has received input from almost 600 contractors and prospective contractors on the schedule consolidation plan. According to GSA, that input has been overwhelmingly positive. An Aug. 22 post on the MAS page on GSA's Interact site said 94% of those commentators agreed the format for the new schedule was "clear" of complications, with 88% percent saying it would benefit industry and almost 88% saying federal agencies would benefit.

The schedules -- with more 10 million supply and service offerings --were constructed over years to address specific sectors but agency officials have long said that siloed approach was more confusing than helpful.

In a conference call with reporters last November announcing the consolidation, GSA Administrator Emily Murphy called the move "long overdue" in an acquisition environment in which federal buyers look to draw from multiple schedules for their projects.

Stephanie Shutt, director of the Multiple Award Schedule Program Management Office at GSA, said in June -- shortly after the agency released its request for information looking for input on the terms and conditions in the unified schedule -- she didn't expect any surprises with the initial phase of the consolidation.

The agency has explained the process to vendors and buyers over the last year via convening industry days, webinars and two separate requests for information. According to a consolidation factsheet, GSA will complete "mass modification" of contract holders' terms and conditions to move to the new schedule in first half of FY2020. The third phase, slated for the second half of fiscal 2020 will consolidate multiple contracts on the single schedule.

Alan Chvoktin, executive vice president and counsel for the Professional Services Council, sees a potential short-term difficulty in the phased transfer: the split among the existing and new contract holders entry onto the single schedule could be confusing with products and services appearing in two or three places. But Chvoktin said this was just a "quibble." Overall, he said, "it looks like it will happen."