GSA hopes OASIS dries up duplication

Some changes to contracting could save the government a substantial amount of money -- if GSA is right about the potential of a planned new set of contracts called OASIS.

Could a new set of contract vehicles be the best way to cut duplication in government programs? The General Services Administration is trying to answer that question.

As budget pressures intensify and the threat of sequestration looms, GSA’s procurement office has seen new challenges emerge alongside higher expectations of the acquisition community, said Jeffrey Koses, director of the Office of Acquisition Operations of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service,

“The reality is that we’re dealing with a $16 trillion federal debt and the prospect of sequestration and agencies facing significant budget cuts and buyouts happening across government,” said Koses, who spoke at an event on the future of multiple award contracting held July 18 by the Coalition for Government Procurement.

Part of that new reality is the temporary GSA hiring freeze that Acting Administrator Dan Tangherlini issued this week, along with suspending 85 percent of senior executive bonuses through fiscal 2013. Additionally, the agency recently offered its second round of buyouts, with the possibility of a third one.

“Even as we’re dealing with that, the expectations are that procurement has to play a greater role in deficit reduction,” Koses said. “Part of that is agencies looking for greater insight and understanding of their spend in professional services and product arena as well.”

Duplication in acquisition and agencies having multiple contracts with the same firm contributes to price variability, Koses said, and that adds to the total cost. GSA has thus seen a growing need for complex integrated professional services solutions.

After reviewing its various challenges, FAS identified three major areas that could help overcome the obstacles, one of them being the creation of One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services – better known as OASIS. The next-generation vehicle is designed to address agencies' needs for professional service requirements in areas including management and consulting, professional engineering, and logistics and finance.

GSA has yet to released a request for proposal for OASIS but the draft RFPs are expected to be ready later this summer, with the final RFP coming in the winter, according to Washington Technology.

The concept is for OASIS to be a family of vehicles, Koses said. “Something that meets the needs of our agencies across a host of professional service disciplines,” he explained. “OASIS is not a [Governmentwide Acquisition Contract]; it’s not intended to be an IT vehicle. GSA has some tremendous GWACs out there; they operate extremely well.”

On the heels of agency conversations, GSA FAS this week met with various industry partners to get their insight on OASIS. The consensus is that OASIS should be thought of as a two-vehicle, one-program approach. “Right now, that is our thought; we’re giving very serious focus to OASIS and OASIS Small, similar in many ways to the Alliant concept but with a single program office managing both vehicles,” Koses said.

The purpose for a new integrated professional services vehicle is to complement the GSA schedules, not replace them, Koses stressed. About half of government’s professional services spending in 2010 was on the cost-reimbursement contracts. As such, OASIS is designed for all contract types and variations.

OASIS will help agencies deal with the cost of duplication and get a better handle on their spending, and recognize the pressures they’re under, Koses said.

“If we see 20 [or] 30 agencies building a vehicle, we’re talking about probably hundreds of millions of dollars in expense to set up to have all these agencies run this type of vehicle,” he said. “We believe it’s core to GSA’s mission to centralize that, to build a vehicle across the federal government.”

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