Guidance coming on FSS services
- By Diane Frank
- Dec 03, 2000
Two years after information technology services became available to agencies
on the General Services Administration's Federal Supply Service schedule
contracts, GSA is moving to provide regulatory guidance on how to buy those
Overall sales on the FSS schedule have grown in the past four years
as agencies have taken advantage of the easy buying process the schedule
allows. Government information technology services purchased from the FSS
schedule have increased from $1.2 billion in fiscal 1998 — when they were
added — to $4.4 billion in fiscal 2000.
But now the General Accounting Office is urging GSA and the Office of
Federal Procurement Policy to develop buying guidance for IT services to
match the guidance in place for IT products.
"The Federal Acquisition Regulation does not indicate that special procedures
should be used to order certain types of services, and does not describe
those procedures and when they should be used," wrote David Cooper, GAO
director of acquisition and sourcing management in a November report.
Through the FAR Council, GSA and OFPP have developed a draft rule that
would revise the regulation to include the ordering procedures for services.
Following the GAO report, the agencies are pushing to make the draft rule
become final as soon as possible, according to a letter from Kenneth Oscar,
acting deputy administrator of OFPP.
The GAO report followed a review of four Defense Department contracting
offices that revealed an overall lack of understanding of how to procure
IT services via the FSS schedule. GAO's review of 22 IT services buys from
DOD — totaling more than $112 million — found that in 17 cases contracting
officers did not follow GSA and FAR procedures.
The call for guidance has been a long time coming, said Chip Mather, senior
vice president of Acquisition Solutions Inc., a federal contracting consulting
GSA and OFPP have offered some guidance since 1998 to cover services
buys, but in many cases the advice is inconsistent, and there is still nothing
in the FAR that specifically applies to services, Mather said. The fact
that GAO determined that most DOD contracting officers "got it wrong...
should be a wake-up call that there needs to be some guidance and it needs
to be in the FAR," he said.
GSA also will step up its outreach programs to educate contracting officers
and program managers about the requirements for managing service orders
on the schedules, Carolyn Alston, FSS' deputy assistant commissioner for
acquisition, wrote in a response to the report.