GSA

GSA makes the case for schedule consolidation

The rising complexity of professional services is what drove the General Services Administration to introduce its plan in September to revamp their schedules by consolidating them.

“The government’s acquisition needs have shifted from products to services over the past 20 years,” said Tiffany Hixson, GSA's federal acquisition service regional administrator. She was speaking at Deltek's 2014 FedFocus event on Thursday.

The shift presents a challenge because “the way we buy under schedules is still pretty product-focused. I don’t think that we’ve really evolved those contract vehicles to address to unique requirements of services,” she said.

With that switch from products to services, and especially in today’s environment of fiscal frustration, the complexity of contracts has increased, making acquisition more difficult, and sometimes resulting in a failure to meet the mission requirement, Hixson said.

“We may get the contract awarded, there may be services that are provided, but we’re really not meeting that mission objective,” she added.

The challenges don’t stop there. Specifying requirements remains an issue for agencies and contractors alike; “We tend to go from being very restrictive or being so vague that you don’t understand what it is that the agency is trying to achieve through that particular contract.”

But GSA is working to change that.

The agency’s three goals now, as outlined in Hixson’s presentation, are to improve services acquisition by leveraging buying power and spend knowledge, reducing acquisition costs and better management of the industrial base. Schedule consolidation is a road to these ends.

This makes complete sense when you break down the numbers. Over 4,500 professional services contracts across eight schedules, Hixson said. The scopes frequently overlap, and for contracting officers trying to buy a complex solution, they get nervous about how to compete this across multiple schedules in a way that is going to deliver the solution they need, Hixson said.

“We’ve got over 530 contractors today who hold more than one professional services schedule, particularly our large business partners. That means that they’ve got eight contracts that we price eight different ways, that we exercise options on at eight different times and then are audited at eight different times. That is a lot of work,” she said.

By consolidating contracts, GSA can achieve improved contract visibility, increased program efficiency and reduced administrative costs.

For the sake of cooperation, GSA has been using its Interact.gsa.gov website as a way to communicate with industry and explain its plans to get industry feedback on how to get through this initiative, Hixson said.

The schedules that GSA is looking to consolidate are: Consolidated (00CORP), MOBIS (874), PES (871), FABS (520), AIMS (541), LOGWORLD (874V), Environmental (899) and Language (738II).

About the Author

Mark Hoover is a senior staff writer with Washington Technology. You can contact him at mhoover@washingtontechnology.com, or connect with him on Twitter at @mhooverWT.

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