GSA job security could increase with schedules revisions
General Services Administration employees worried about their jobs as the agency plans to close off or shut down some of the contracts can relax. Experts say that the jobs should be safe as GSA shifts resources from obsolete or overbooked schedules contracts to more active ones that need more personnel.
The adoption of the Demand Based Model is intended to allow the agency to align its resources with areas of greatest need. Some areas of business important in the past, are dying away, such as typewriter and photographic equipment sales. Other contracts may have more vendors than the market needs.
With the changes, GSA employees may be able to relax in their jobs, particularly those employees whose work was drying up as sales waned, said Hope Lane, an expert on GSA’s schedules and partner at Aronson and Company. While the prospect of seeing contracts dropped or frozen might cause anxiety over job security, the reality is that GSA will need more employees at the contracting centers where businesses has increased. As a result, the agency’s proposed Demand Based Model can lead to securer jobs, Lane said.
“The MAS program is perpetually open to qualified new offers and while vibrant markets exist in some of the schedules, we have reached the point of saturation in others,” Steve Kempf, commissioner of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service, said June 7 in written testimony before the House Small Business Committee’s Contracting and Workforce Subcommittee.
Larry Allen, president of the Allen Federal Business Partners, told the subcommittee that GSA’s resource issue is a primary motivating factor behind closing a schedule or at least closing off a schedule to new contractors.
“The agency is confronting a serious staffing shortage of qualified contracting professionals,” he told the subcommittee.
He said at least one GSA schedule office has publicly said that new offers may wait a year or more before officials can consider an award. Other offices can take nearly as long to process new offers, or even modifications from existing contract holders. Lane said she has seen delays of six to eight months to process orders.
“Allocating of GSA contract professionals to more heavily used schedule areas will hopefully make headway in the incredible backlog,” Lane said.
GSA officials need the flexibility to bring resources from other parts of the agency to ensure that its flagship program continues to meet customer needs, Allen said.
While rebalancing its resources, GSA has to accustom the transferred employees to the new products they will deal with, Lane said. Dealing in IT services is completely different than buying general products, even though they are under similar contracting regulations. Without training, the new help may not be that much of a help.
“Contracting officers may try to do things the same way they’ve always done it, but it doesn’t always translate,” she said.
Matthew Weigelt is a former FCW senior writer who covered acquisition and procurement.