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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

GSA officials take exception to our GWAC report: You decide

Just the other day, after the Top 100 Conference on Wednesday, I wrote a short story that reported on remarks made by Ed O’Hare, the General Services Administration’s assistant commissioner of the Office of Integrated Technology Services at the Federal Acquisition Service. He said that GSA was not going to issue any more governmentwide acquisition contracts.

Instead, GSA would use Alliant and Alliant Small Business as their primary GWACs. (That’s in the second paragraph of my story.)

The headline was: “GSA to phase out GWAC programs.” My lead paragraph: “The era of governmentwide acquisition contracts might be coming to a close at the General Services Administration.”

Reaction to the story has been mostly negative, particularly from GSA. Although the administration has not contacted me directly, Casey Kelley, Alliant program manager, issued an internal e-mail “to reassure staff that there are no plans to ‘end the GSA GWAC Era.’”
The folks at GSA can spin this anyway they choose, but I would still argue otherwise. An era in government contracting is coming to a close.

Let’s think about this. GSA is letting a stable of contracts expire: Millennia, Millennia Lite and Answer. In recent years, GSA also convinced the Commerce and Transportation departments to give up their GWAC contracts, pulling Commits and Information Technology Omnibus Procurement II under its wing.

GSA tried and failed to bring in NASA’s Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurement contract.

GSA wanted to control all governmentwide contracts, and now it is saying it only needs two, except for specific socioeconomic categories.

What O’Hare said — and what we reported — is that GSA isn’t going to issue new GWACs; it is going forward for the next 10 years with Alliant and Alliant Small Business.

So the era that is ending is the era of GSA managing — and contractors having to pursue  — multiple GWAC vehicles.

A follow-up story we posted on Thursday indicated that this is what the market wants and that GSA has been moving in this direction.

I’d take things a step further and argue that the Alliant contracts, with a total of 131 prime contracts, are replacing the expiring GWAC contracts with a schedule, not really another GWAC.

So, I’ll say it again, the GWAC era is ending.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Jun 26, 2009 at 9:53 AM

Reader Comments

Wed, Jul 1, 2009 Richard Fly Scottsdale

This seems to me to be a reactionary effort on the part of GSA. With the substantial success of SEWP and the various DoD agencies seeking their own required procurement vehicles (ie Army's ADMC-2, Air Force's NETCENTS II, etc), GSA sees this type of move as a way to ensure their own survival. While I certainly prefer the more open market approach that a broad FSS brings (with literally thousands of potential suppliers) versus a limited ID/IQ such as ADMC-2, which, with the demise of MPC, is now down to 8 vendors, customers seem to be weary of using a FSS that extends out their buying cycle. On a side note - Nick, they are taking exception to your article because you are spot-on with your assessment.

Wed, Jul 1, 2009 DC Beltway

If Obama really wants change in government -- with his highly touted reform and transparency -- then he needs to start right here. There are way too many different contracting vehicles and online reverse auction portals from GSA and others, and all they really do is eliminate competitoin and jack the bottom line cost up with their overhead. What on earth would be wrong with simply posting an item on Fedbizopps (to ensure receipt of at least 3 bids and to encourage fully open competition) and accept only Open Market bids? To ensure uniformity in the terms and conditions, all you have to do is reference FARs/DFARs which apply in the item posting (including Ts & Cs to protect against gray market items). It could all be so simple and would eliminate the massive duplication (GSA, GWACs, BPAs, etc) among contracting vehicles and methodologies. Too many times, I've watch a Contracting Officer mandate use of a particular contracting vehicle, when the item could easily be procured infinitely less expensive elsewhere.

Tue, Jun 30, 2009 Jim Washington, DC

After reading your story, perhaps a more accurate title would have been “GSA to phase out some older GWAC programs" or "GSA to consolidate GWAC programs." If a reader, who was not at the event, and who is not knowledgeable about the topic, only read the headline, he or she might inadvertently infer that all GWACs were being phased out.

Tue, Jun 30, 2009 Facts Please Beltway DC

Alliant to replace Millenia, Answer and Millenia Lite was a 2004 decision by Stephen Perry after he convened a Contract Vehicle Review Board. The reduction in the number of GSA’s IT GWACs is not new news. Since 2004 numerous specialty GWACs were sunsetted. The current group of GSA GWACs is quite small compared to nine years ago. Interestingly, over the same time period, more other-agency-managed GWACs and MACs have been awarded. GSA is managing overlap among its IT acquisition programs, but no one is managing overlap and duplication across government.

Tue, Jun 30, 2009 William Austin, Texas

GSA began using more GWAC's when it was criticized for using commercial items procedures before FAR Part 12 allowed T&M for commercial items. GSA would have never had so many GWAC's if not for that fact.

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