GSA Shares Marketplace Vision at Industry Day

Published: December 12, 2018

Acquisition ReformAcquisition WorkforceGSA

On December 12th, GSA held an in-person and virtual event for industry to discuss plans for the Federal Marketplace Strategy and Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) Consolidation Program.

It may be safe to say that these are exciting times for GSA’s federal acquisition offerings. At least industry seems to think so, given the sold out in-person attendance (even after GSA switched to a larger venue) and the nearly 900 persons that virtually attended the December 12th event. At the industry day, the agency spent time describing its vision for the Federal Marketplace Strategy and provided details on the recently announced initiative called the Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) Consolidation Program. Note, the afternoon portion of the event entailed another Federal Marketplace Strategy initiative: the Commercial Platform. The session provided a Phase II update on the initiative which will not be discussed in this particular writing.

Federal Marketplace Strategy

At the onset of the event, GSA Administrator, Emily Murphy, emphasized the agency’s desire to transform the federal government’s buying space. GSA has been utilizing technologies, she said, such as data analytics to find better solutions for its customers, allow ease to vendors providing offerings and help link and examine several cross-agency programs. Three programs have been produced as a result: Federal Marketplace, Strategic Leasing and Shared Services. The Federal Marketplace Strategy consists of 30 initiatives alone, stated Murphy, which includes consolidating the current 24 GSA Schedules into a single schedule. Other initiatives will involve improving contract writing, reforming E-buy, implementing e-commerce platforms, transitioning the tasks of 1102 folks from data entry to data analytics and reducing duplication.

The Federal Marketplace Strategy will tackle three platforms, as described by GSA’s Assistant Commissioner for the Office of Enterprise Strategy Management, Crystal Philcox:

  • Policy. By turning to legislation and policy reform, GSA hopes to promote government-wide contracts and remove outdated reporting practices. Additionally, from a policy standpoint, the agency hopes to increase competition at the task order level, modeling IDIQ practices.
  • Process. GSA is undergoing several pilots to improve its internal delivery process including: the E-buy Open Pilot to increase transparency and release post-award information on FBO; the INFORM Pilot to improve post-award conversations; and the Robotic Processing Automation to automate various scripts in the FAS process such as pre-negotiation products.
  • Technology. Through technology innovation, GSA plans to produce user-friendly systems in areas such as contract writing and catalog management. FAS Commissioner Alan Thomas stated at the end of the program that the procurement activities surrounding the contract writing initiative will be seen in FY 2019 while action under catalog management will be seen in the latter half of FY 2019.

MAS Consolidation

Director of the MAS Program Management Office, Stephanie Shutt, described the consolidation of schedules will be handled in three phases:

  • Phase 1: This will consist of developing the new schedule by reviewing current terms and conditions, identifying existing duplicate Special Item Numbers (SIN) and creating a new solicitation for the single offering. Phase 1 completion is anticipated by the end of FY 2019 with the new system offering.
  • Phase 2: Beginning January 2020, mass modifications for all existing contracting holders will take place by updating terms and conditions. Contracts will retain current schedule contract numbers and schedule vendors will be able to begin selecting applicable SINs on previously separate schedules.
  • Phase 3: The rest of 2020 will be spent by GSA trying to figure out how to consolidate the rest of the existing contracts. The agency will plan to allow contracts near expiration to simply expire. Shutt stated that the consolidation will likely be a five year process in order to finalize consolidation, particularly with period of performances under certain BPAs.

In addition, Shutt explained that under the consolidated schedule, no product will be listed under more than one category and vendors will be able to search by product or service under the consolidated schedule versus having to first choose a schedule. The categories under the new schedule will be listed by “real titles,” with brief descriptions of each provided to customers. Qualitative purchasing and Transactional Data Reporting will also be done according to specific categories under the single schedule. Earlier in the morning, Administrator Murphy stated that the GSA will be moving away from SINS and more towards NAICS in terms of small business to ensure their presence on the consolidated schedule. In the interim, Director Shutt stated that as of right now, business will proceed as usual and new prospects should continue to apply to the current schedules.

Industry Input

GSA has stated that it will keep industry abreast with requests for input regarding the categories and subcategories of the consolidated schedule on their Interact website. In addition, the event hosted a panel of speakers from across industry to provide recommendations on the consolidation process. Recurring advice included to:

  • Ensure consistency in the administration and process of the consolidation
  • Eliminate the outdated Price Reduction Clause
  • Lower GSA Schedule fee of 7.5% to remain competitive with other government-wide vehicles
  • Provide extensive training to the GSA contracting workforce so that instructions are both received and understood
  • Consolidate SINs
  • Continue outreach and seeking assistance to support schedule vendors