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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Can a $10B contract really save the government money?

Our sister publication, FCW, covered a conference yesterday where a General Services Administration official talked about the role acquisition can play in reducing government spending.

Jeffrey Koses, director of the Office of Acquisition Operations at GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service, said that duplication in acquisition increases costs and leads to price variability.

I don’t doubt it, but I urge you to read Camille Tuutti’s story and help me understand what is going on.

GSA says there are too many contracts. That’s probably true. But the agency’s answer is to create another contract vehicle -- One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services or OASIS. (Gotta love those contract names.)

OASIS will be a $12 billion, 10-year contract for professional services such as management and consulting, professional engineering and logistics and finance.

The strategy for OASIS sounds very similar to the Alliant program for IT services. There will be a full and open contract and a small business program. A single program office will manage both vehicles.

But this is the head scratcher number for me: To streamline and lower costs, GSA is creating a large vehicle that likely will have scores of companies as primes. What about the schedules, particularly the MOBIS schedule?

Do we really need another large vehicle that contractors will spend months, if not years, and millions of dollars bidding on? And of course, there will be protests which will delay the expected benefits of OASIS by years.

OASIS might be more efficient, but shouldn't there be solid plans to close or cancel other contracts?

At the same time, GSA has a hiring freeze in place and is considering a third round of buyouts to clear out personnel.

That’s another head scratcher. Don’t you want to hang on to experienced procurement people when you are trying to use procurements as a tool for saving money?

I’m sure I’m being unfair to GSA, but I’ve had too many conversations with executives who complain that the procurement process is broken, that contract officers don’t communicate with program managers, and that the government’s historic deficiency in writing requirements is only getting worse.

Perhaps the answer is to fix what we’ve got before we build something new.

But read Camille’s story and then tell me what I’m missing.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Jul 19, 2012 at 9:52 AM

Reader Comments

Mon, Jul 30, 2012 Tony DC

ELiminate GSA completely. Let the agencies procure for themselves. The debate in a contracting office over whether to go GSA or on our own adds weeks and gets snarled by the SBA.

Wed, Jul 25, 2012 Pat

The first problem with the Schedules program is that you have 2 choices - Firm Fixed Price and T&M. If you have a requirement that you can't FFP, then you're stuck with T&M. And we all know how the Powers That Be feel about T&M. The second problem is the limit on materials. If you know you'll need, say, repair parts but can't predict what and how many, you're limited to $3K over the life of the contract. Or else you are doing a separate procurement each time to buy the parts - costing time and effort. OASIS is supposed to resolve those issues. So why not get rid of Schedules? Because the Schedules program is a good entry point for lots of companies - esp those without the financial history to qualify for bidding cost-plus work.

Sun, Jul 22, 2012 voodkokk


Sat, Jul 21, 2012 Michael Forsgren, CFCM

The GSA has identified a critical capability gap in their Federal Supply Schedules (FSSs), and that is competive pricing in the pro services niche markets. Previous commenter hit the nail on the head: often it is about getting the best prices at the time of contract award. Well, in this budget climate I'll take five or ten years of today's competitive pricing, not escalated dot-com era prices like those available on the GSA FSSs. DoD COs buying pro services often wonder (aloud, in source selection briefings) if those were even competed properly. I fear this "complement the GSA Schedules" strategy will only lead to a failure to close the gap if they rely on those historical prices when performing the OASIS contracts' price analyses. Then at award, yes, if they don't follow through and terminate the GSA FSSs offering the undermining higher-priced pro services they are failing to strategize properly.

Fri, Jul 20, 2012 Gargantua

Not too hard to fathom. GSA, ever interested in the help of near-monopoly power, would simply like to crush the competition. Agencies tend to do their own thing when GSA services and vehicles and prices are nothing special--the present period. Agencies just love the scheds because GSA is distant after awards. GSA folks are worried that there is not enough moolah to support their positions, so why not corner the market, by sweet talk or bludgeoning? I say, again, that all the stakeholders in fed acq just love all the dysfunction and inefficiency because it creates a lot of jobs. That is the raison d'être of OASIS. Dan T should examine such forays by his people and shut some of them down and slim down the minions who just don't contribute enough to federal acquisition well being.

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