By Global Services on Thursday December 13, 2018
On November 27, 2018 the General Services Administration (GSA) announced the agency’s plan to consolidate their 24 separate GSA Schedules into one single Schedule for products and services. The Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) Program changes are inspired by initiatives set forth by Emily Murphy, GSA Administrator, to modernize the GSA workforce, increase accessibility for Small Businesses (SBs), and increase efficiency for government clients. Since the announcement in late November, GSA has been hard pressed to release further statements regarding these changes, however, the agency’s silence was broken today during the 2018 Federal Marketplace Industry Day.
On December 12, 2018, on her one-year work anniversary, Murphy, kicks off the event with a powerful statement: “GSA is READY to modernize, simplify, and, frankly, make it easier to do business with the government through this Schedules transformation.” In doing so, Murphy acknowledged that these changes will require plans to leverage the existing workforce and encourage inter-departmental collaboration and industry feedback.
Stephanie Shutt, Director of the MAS Program Management Office took her seat at a discussion panel alongside Betsy Cerulo of AdNet/AccountNet, Inc., Larry Allen of Allen Federal Business Partners, LLC, Julia Conti of CGI Federal, Allen Chvotkin of the Professional Services Council, and Roger Waldron of The Coalition for Government Procurement. Throughout the panel, the experts discussed the triumphs and shortcomings of GSA’s MAS Program, as well as advice for successful consolidation. We have outlined the major points of this discussion below:
With $31B spent through the MAS Program, Cerulo stressed the value of the MAS Program to small businesses and its ability to streamline the procurement process for industry and government. The vast majority of vendors on the MAS Program are indeed, small businesses. Following in praise, Waldron applauded GSA for “educating agencies on how to leverage their requirements, meet their requirements, and use Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs).” As a result of informational materials and activities provided by GSA, 46% of Schedules spending is through BPAs.
While there are many positives to the existing MAS Program, Cerulo highlighted one of the unfortunate elements – inconsistent feedback. Cerulo shared a bad experience she had when trying to obtain a Professional Services Schedule (PSS) for her company in 2017. After waiting months without prompt updates, Cerulo was informed that her submission was stuck in the system. In response, a Contracting Officer (CO) encouraged her to resubmit. The submission was rejected for expired materials. Cerulo noted that, as a small business, “feedback is valuable, money-wise,” and pushed for a communication reform in the agency. Playing off of Cerulo’s experience, both Conti and Allen brought attention to problems with the MAS Program including redundancies, unnecessarily burdensome requirements, a lagging online platform, and Price Reduction Clauses that hindered efficiency.
The criticism of redundancy in the MAS Program was echoed by Waldron, who strongly advised that GSA include a reform of Special Item Numbers (SINs). “Don’t be SIN-ful,” he joked, “there are A LOT of SINs and duplication of SINs; [GSA] should consolidate SINs to make them look more like the commercial market.”
The Future of Multiple Awards Schedule
“We intend to be active participants for this consolidation;” said Chvotkin, offering the last round of advice. “As the agency looks across their GSA reforms and other GSA Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts, they should keep in mind how this new consolidation schedule compares to vehicles that have been determined best-in-class.”
The panel at today’s event represented how industry and procurement Subject Matter Expert (SME) feedback was key to making the MAS Consolidation a success, and how GSA was treating it as such. The fact that GSA is listening to their customer base and considering feedback from every angle makes us optimistic for these future changes.
GSA’s MAS Program Consolidation Plan:
Phase One: Develop New Schedule:
- Create a new solicitation for the single schedule
- Review every term and condition
- Map duplicate SINs across the current solicitations
- Use Category Management to better organize offerings
- Release new schedule and close existing schedules to new offerors
Phase Two: Mass Modifications:
- Complete mass modifications for all existing contract holders (simply to update terms and conditions)
- Contracts retain current schedule contract number
- Vendors may select SINs that were previously on separate schedules
Phase Three: Multiple Contract Consolidation:
- Consolidate multiple contracts into a single contract for those vendors.
Despite these sweeping changes, GSA made it clear that the agency is still considering feedback from industry regarding the Schedule Consolidation, and the final product will not be adopted until 2020. As a result, Shutt advises vendors and agencies alike to “please go ahead and do business as usual.”
If your company needs assistance navigating GSA’s MAS Program, please contact our experts today!