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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Reader's Response: GSA's GWAC takeover not such a great idea

A reader has called me out on a comment I made in my blog yesterday about the General Services Administration taking over government-wide and agency-specific acquisition vehicles.

I wrote that “No one argued that it was a bad concept, just poor execution.”

This reader, who only left the initials JMB, said: “Most everyone in the channel thought it was a terrible idea.”

People were “holding their breaths” hoping Lurita Doan, GSA administrator in the George W. Bush administration, would not succeed.

This reader went on to say that “if you ever worked with GSA as a contract holder it is hard to ignore the slow, cumbersome mechanics of adding, deleting, updating pricing, etc., etc., with a GSA Schedule.”

According to the reader: the nimbleness, flexibility and ease of use of GSA alternatives such as NASA SEWP and NIH CIO-CS is why those non-GSA vehicles are so popular.

“In my view, GSA needs more competition not less,” this person wrote.

And I’m left here kicking myself some: because this person is absolutely right, and I knew all this. But it wasn’t top of mind. I was focused on the Air Force so this reader’s point just didn’t bubble up in my head.

I’m glad this person submitted a comment. Because it really has me wondering now if there is a tipping point. Will GSA suck in too many contracts? Will agencies ever have the ability and resources to rebuild contracting operations that can handle the load if they become unhappy with GSA?

I also wonder if this move to GSA, especially of the agency-specific, multiple-award contracts, is similar to outsourcing but just internal to government and not between government and contractor.

I’ve heard plenty of executives and agency officials say the government shouldn’t worry about IT. Moving to a managed service or cloud infrastructure shifts responsibility for IT to a contractor and frees the government to focus on the mission, they argue.

The same can be said for procurement, I guess. Other than GSA, many agencies aren’t in the procurement business so they should get out of it.

I think there is some truth to that but is there a risk of going too far? Where is that line?. Something to ponder.

So, thanks, reader "JMB." You have got me thinking.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Nov 07, 2019 at 9:55 AM

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