Multiprong support comes for strategic sourcing

Legislation and a new GSA contract could bolster practices intended to amplify federal buying power.

contract signing

Efforts to get federal agencies the best deals on goods and services with strategic sourcing kicked into higher gear on July 18, as the General Services Administration and federal lawmakers vowed to further advance the cause.

GSA will issue requests for proposals for its $60 billion multiple-award One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services (OASIS) contract sometime next week, according to Martin Jennings, acting assistant commissioner at GSA's Federal Acquisition Service.

The dual OASIS RFPs would be split into one full-and-open competition and another exclusively for small businesses, Jennings said, speaking at an Association for Federal Information Resource Management event in Washington.

Jennings and almost a dozen other top GSA officials, including FAS Commissioner Thomas Sharpe, FAS Assistant Commissioner Houston Taylor and Office of Integrated Technology Services Assistant Commissioner Mary Davie, explained their growing expectations for strategic sourcing for federal acquisition at the AFFIRM conference.

Office of Federal Procurement Policy Deputy Administrator Lesley Field, who represented the Office of Management and Budget at the event, called the upcoming OASIS RFPs "an important step in a new direction."

OASIS is an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract, aiming to meet the cross-government demands for professional services. It is expected be the next-generation contract designed to address agencies' needs for management and consulting, professional engineering, logistics and finance.

OASIS is intended to complement GSA's Multiple Award Schedules program and provide agencies with more flexible full-service options. GSA expects OASIS to help the government reduce costs and expenses, improve operating efficiency and increase focus on socioeconomic contracting goals.

The show of force by multiple top GSA personnel at the AFFIRM conference is intentional, as the agency steps up its efforts to streamline and improve acquisition. Sharpe, who kept a relatively low profile in the first months after taking the FAS commissioner job, is becoming an increasingly visible proponent of strategic sourcing strategies. In a blog post on July 15 and in previous appearances around Washington in recent weeks, Sharpe said GSA has committed to help develop and launch 10 new strategic sourcing solutions by the end of fiscal 2014. In remarks to AFFIRM, Sharpe said he is "bullish" on GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini's goal of getting 17 percent of "FAS addressable" market share this year.

The agency currently has four current bulk-buying solutions that include wireless services, print management, express mail services and office supplies.

GSA officials want to show their agency can actively respond to contractors and industry when they have questions and concerns. "FAS wants to set the tone that we're moving forward on solutions," Jennings told FCW. Sharpe, Davie and the other speakers said much the same in their remarks. "The priorities for FAS are important," Sharpe said. With $520 billion allocated by the federal government last year for goods and services, he said, agencies need a centralized buyer.

Another call for more-targeted and efficient sourcing for federal government came an hour later and a few blocks away, at a Capitol Hill gathering sponsored by the bi-partisan No Labels coalition. The group's nearly 80 congressional members unveiled a package of legislation during an campaign-style rally in front of the U.S. Capitol.

The package the group issued includes a bill called the "Buy Smarter and Save Act of 2013 (H.R. 2694)," which would set goals for savings for the federal government's acquisition. It specifies a savings floor for federal agencies of $10 billion a year based on $100 billion in federal spending in fiscal 2014 and 2015 and no less than $7.5 billion based on $150 billion in spending in 2016 and 2017.

Under the bill, sponsored by Rep. Tim Griffin (R-Ariz) and also backed by Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), each agency would also have to set specific savings objectives matching the overall government target.

The measure also taps OMB to issue direction to federal agencies on savings data and metrics, as well as how to hold agencies accountable to the goals.

The bill, said the coalition, was part of its efforts to break gridlock and reduce spending in government, using what its members call a "common sense" approach. The legislative package is aimed at cutting government travel, eliminating automatic spending increases and eliminating duplicate agency programs.

Strategic sourcing for federal acquisitions is very much a part of that program, said coalition members. "Government needs to buy in volume," said Begich. "Purchasing programs should be streamlined."

A bill that would specify replacing 50 percent of federal agency travel and replace it with video teleconferencing is also part of the package. That bill, "Stay in Place, Cut the Waste Act of 2013 (H.R. 2643)," is sponsored by Reps. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Penn.) and John Barrow (D-Ga.).

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