GSA does an about-face, reopens KC BOA channel

Bowing to pressure from a group of 8(a) vendors the General Services Administration plans to reopen the highly successful Basic Ordering Agreement program in the agency's Kansas City Mo. region and award as many as a dozen vendors six-month contracts worth up to $90 million each.

Bob Woods commissioner of GSA's Federal Telecommunications Service last week said the decision to reopen the program would help meet the interim needs of federal users while GSA prepares to award contracts under the Federal Acquisition Services for Technology program. Woods said FAST contracts should be in place by early January.

Letter Revives Deal

In a letter last month to an attorney representing the disgruntled vendors Woods said he would revive the deals with the Kansas City vendors as a transition program. "We understand that our customers have immediate requirements and that the Kansas City program vendors have the capabilities and experience to help meet those requirements now " Woods wrote to Thomas Hart an attorney with Ginsburg Feldman and Barnes Washington D.C.

He also wrote that GSA would modify the original Kansas City contracts with respect to contract type scope dollar limitations and other matters.

"The basic solution in my mind was to open the contracts up while we transitioned to the new program " Woods said last week. "It got customers back in the game it got vendors back in the game yet it has a six-month limit."

The decision to reinstate the program represents a reversal for GSA's Information Technology Integration division which terminated the program late last year. At the time ITI officials said the Kansas City staff could not accommodate the flood of orders it received and that the staff awarded BOAs non-competitively and arbitrarily.

ITI headed at the time by GSA's chief information officer Joe Thompson replaced the program with FAST a $1 billion nationwide version of the Kansas City program. At least eight 8(a) vendors working on the Kansas City program subsequently banded together to protest the sudden termination of their contracts threatening GSA with a lawsuit and enlisting the aid of members of Congress to fight the decision.

The vendors apparently have found a sympathetic ear in Woods who took over the reins at ITI last month. Woods' letter said GSA could extend each six-month contract by up to three one-month option periods but that the program would end no later than three months after the first 8(a) contracts are awarded through the FAST program.

In his letter to the vendors Woods assured them that GSA will "solicit comments from industry and from customer agencies on ways to improve the FAST program." One of the eight vendors last week said it appeared their battle with GSA had been won but refused to comment on Woods' decision until contracts were signed probably within two weeks.

Francis Jones senior manager for customer and business relations at ITI's Procurement Services Center said he and Hart planned to meet with officials from the Small Business Administration this week to get that agency's approval on a deal.

But some observers said Jones might have a hard time selling SBA on the plan. One GSA official who requested anonymity said he did not think SBA personnel would approve a contract ceiling as high as $90 million for a single vendor.

Officials at GSA's Kansas City regional offices declined comments last week.

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