GSA expands on O'Hare's GWACs comments

Ed O'Hare, assistant commissioner of the Office of Integrated Technology Services at GSA's Federal Acquisition Service, was quoted on June 24 saying that the agency would manage far fewer governmentwide acquisition contracts, or GWACs. Except for Alliant, Alliant SB, and a few GWACS geared to disadvantaged groups,  he said, “we’re going to let them all just expire naturally.”  

After his comments were reported on FCW.com and its sister site, WashingtonTechnology.com, GSA officials complained that the story was inaccurate and many visitors to the sites posted comments.

Federal Computer Week's acquisition editor, Matthew Weigelt, subsequently asked O'Hare to clarify and expand upon his comments, made during a panel discussion at the Washington Technology Top 100 Conference.

We sent the questions below to O'Hare, but a GSA public affairs official Robert Lesino said O'Hare was not available for an interview. Lesino sent these replies without specifying if they are O'Hare's actual words.
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FCW:  During the panel discussion, you said GSA would let GWACs expire, except for Alliant and Alliant SB and other socio-economic GWACs. What is your thinking behind the statement?

GSA:  Alliant, as our next-generation enterprise GWAC, can provide what is currently provided by Millennia, Millennia Lite and ANSWER, [GSA's other key GWAC], in terms of contract scope, and it has been our strategy to replace these contracts with Alliant. ANSWER, Millennia and Millennia Lite can accept task orders up to their individual expiration dates and the awarded tasks can be for as long as five years. So these contract vehicles will continue to be administered by GSA for some time.

I was also answering the panel question, "What is a possible future federal marketplace?" For cost considerations, having a different approach that may in the future look like a hybrid of GWAC and schedules is a possibility.  Many factors would need to be addressed to move in this direction, including legislative, regulatory and contractual issues, putting any potential of this happening far into the future. The reorganization of FSS and FTS into FAS and the award of new ITS contracts created the need for a more internal focus over the past couple of years. We've successfully completed the reorganization process, and our new contract awards, and are now re-energized and focused on making our new and existing contract vehicles even more successful.

FCW: GSA actively took over or tried to take over other agencies’ GWACs, such as Commerce’s COMMITS and NASA’s SEWP, several years ago. What does the paring down of GWACs to just a few say about changes in GSA’s view of the contracting market?

GSA: On the panel, I talked about the benefits of Alliant and Alliant SB. We think that the current GWACs portfolio provides our customers with what is needed to meet their requirements and therefore see no need to extend or replace Millennia, Millennia Lite and ANSWER at this time. We support our GWACs portfolio and will consider the possible addition of other GWACs in the future to continue to meet the needs of our customer agencies.  

FCW: What does the future for contracting look like with a minimal number of GWACs?

GSA: We don't think about GWACs in terms of "how many" but instead on how well do they meet our customer agency needs. Inefficiencies and redundancies benefit no one, and part of my job is to look at where we can gain efficiencies.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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Reader comments

Wed, Jul 8, 2009 KJ Silver Spring

There is so much bad information on GWACs out there, and it's not just reporters who ought to know before they write. The ignorance pervades industry and even Contract Officers in government. A few simple facts: 1) There are not "hundreds of GWACs." There are fewer than fifteen. Most will naturally expire soon and that is OK! Alliant and Alliant SB cover the IT services scope comprehensively and they have ten years left! 2) For a government CO to run Alliant or Alliant SB acquisitions requires only a delegation of procurement authority. GSA needs no further involvement. 3) These GWACs are for every agency. The agencies do not need to create and operate their own. An alert OMB would have stopped that proliferation early. 4) The recent proliferation of IDIQs serves some bureaucratic ambitions, but it certainly does not serve the taxpayer as it plainly runs up costs. Accompanying policies also force government PMs into monopoly situations. This also runs up costs. It disappoints to see that GSA has not the leadership to make its own easy and strong case for their GWACs. So who is served by the trashing of GSA GWACs and the proliferation of IDIQs? And why does 1005 seem to want to repeat their inaccurate and incoherent messages?

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