Plan afoot to allow credit for GSA schedule purchases

The General Services Administration the Small Business Administration and the Office of Federal Procurement Policy are working together on a plan that would allow agencies to obtain credit toward their small-business goals by purchasing from Federal Supply Service schedule contracts.

Currently agencies cannot count some $4 billion that they spend on products purchased from the schedules - including information technology - to meet goals set for buying from small or small disadvantaged businesses (SDBs). But as agencies buy more from the schedules through blanket purchase agreements in particular some want credit for using these contracts to meet their socioeconomic goals.

Second-Round Acceptance?

Most of the agencies seem to favor the idea which GSA had once proposed without success according to Ida Ustad GSA's deputy associate administrator for acquisition policy. But Robert Paccione the deputy associate administrator for government contracting with SBA expressed concern that some agencies "might not want to get involved and go along with it."

Small businesses have begun to complain that they are losing contracting opportunities to BPAs and schedule purchases generally because new procurement rules make such buys easier. But Paccione said that because the proposed change deals only with how purchases are accounted for it probably would not influence how much business agencies do with small firms.

Ustad said there are no regulations prohibiting the practice but that SBA has never instructed agencies on how to count schedule purchases when calculating how much money they will spend buying from small firms and SDBs. "SBA would have to make the change in the instructions they give to the agencies " she said.

Paccione said such changes would be minimal and that GSA needs to set up a mechanism to track the dollars that agencies spend with these companies. Another issue Paccione said needs to be resolved is what happens if agencies do not want to count those dollars.

Ustad said the Defense Department had raised some concerns about how counting schedule purchases would affect its "overall performance" on small-business contracting. Officials in the Defense Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization were not in the office Friday and could not be reached for comment. Although Ustad said she expects some procedures to be in place by Oct. 1 so that agencies can start counting their small-business schedule purchases in the next fiscal year Paccione said there is not a specific timetable for reaching a decision.

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