OFPP puts future of GWACs in doubt

The future of NASA's Scientific and Engineering Workstation Procurement (SEWP) III — and other governmentwide acquisition contracts (GWACs) — is cloudier than ever now that the Government Accountability Office has placed those inter-agency contracts on its high-risk list.

Office of Federal Procurement Policy Administrator David Safavian plans to take a hard look at the GWAC program.

"As part of the renewal process, we plan to evaluate whether these vehicles are effectively aligned to bring the agency's programmatic or contracting expertise to bear on high-priority management initiatives," Safavian said in a statement last week. "We also plan to continue to monitor if good contracting practices are in place in light of the GAO's recent designation of interagency contracting on the high-risk list."

NASA's SEWP program manager, Joanne Woytek, said she is not concerned that SEWP could lose its GWAC status. Authorization and status reports must be done every year, she said.

"Integrity is one of SEWP's strong points," she said. "Any issues that come up, we deal with them immediately."

"We see no reason" why SEWP III won't be followed with a new GWAC when it expires, she added.

CDW Government officials said they would be surprised if SEWP lost its GWAC status, because its five largest orders have come from outside NASA.

The Defense, Transportation, Labor, Interior and Army departments are the contract's biggest users, said Kathy Marcheselli, CDW-G's SEWP program manager. "I think there'd be a lot of upset agencies if the GWAC designation went away," she added.

Others praised the program and said they saw little reason to change it.

Safavian "has been clear in his statements on what he feels to be an overproliferation of [GWACs], particularly those operated by franchise-fund operations, and this is something that I think he is going to be taking a look at throughout his tenure," said Larry Allen, executive vice president of the Coalition for Government Procurement.

Angela Styles, former OFPP administrator, said shifting SEWP to the General Services Administration, which would likely take over SEWP's role, confounds her. "If I see a trend, it's that the new OFPP administrator [wants] to consolidate more at GSA," she said. "Is GSA equipped to handle that appropriately? That doesn't seem to make a lot of sense if GSA is the agency that seems to have most of the problems."

Several agencies must improve their contract management programs to ensure that they are getting the best value for their costs, according to the GAO report on high-risk programs issued in January.

GAO officials singled out DOD, NASA and the Energy Department for special attention among agencies.

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