Letter to the editor

As a consultant who negotiates General Services Administration schedule contracts for companies with GSA, I have been closely following the proposed rules for Defense Department information technology services buys as published in the FCW article, "Rule would stifle DOD service buys."

GSA schedules are a great vehicle to procure many IT products and services, but they are not suited for every acquisition. Obviously, when responding to new rules, each trade group and government agency has an agenda to push through, but maybe it needs to look at the rules that are already in place and work them into the schedules program.

If this regulation makes sense for DOD, it should cover the entire federal government. What is so different in civilian agencies that the rules would not apply to them? Are time-and-material contracts only a bad idea for DOD?

What I find ironic is that it no one has brought up Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Part 16. It specifically addresses "policies and procedures and provides guidance for selecting a contract type appropriate to the circumstances of the acquisition." Specifically, Subpart 16.6 deals with the use of time and materials, labor hour and letter contracts.

The rules for time-and-material contracts state in part "a time-and-materials contract may be used only when it is not possible at the time of placing the contract to estimate accurately the extent or duration of work or to anticipate costs with any reasonable degree of confidence."

It further goes on to say, "A time-and-materials contract may be used (1) only after the contracting officer executes a determination and findings that no other contract type is suitable; and (2) only if the contract includes a ceiling price that the contractor exceeds at its own risk. The contracting officer shall document the contract file to justify the reasons for and amount of any subsequent change in the ceiling price."

The rules for buying from GSA schedules have changed very little in the past few years with the exception of adding information on the GSA Advantage online ordering system and the use of blanket purchase agreements. There is nothing to cover the acquisition of services within these rules, and anyone who is experienced in procuring services knows that you don't buy services the same way as product.

Perhaps all agencies should be directed to FAR Part 16 in choosing the contract type used for services under GSA schedule. A time-and-materials contract may or may not be the best way to procure services under GSA, but the guidance already exists for making the determination and documenting the findings.

Patti Reardon
President
Government Sales Consultants Inc.

WRITE US

We welcome your comments. To send a letter to the editor, use this form.

Please check out the archive of Letters to the Editor for fellow readers' comments.

Featured

  • Defense
    Soldiers from the Old Guard test the second iteration of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) capability set during an exercise at Fort Belvoir, VA in Fall 2019. Photo by Courtney Bacon

    IVAS and the future of defense acquisition

    The Army’s Integrated Visual Augmentation System has been in the works for years, but the potentially multibillion deal could mark a paradigm shift in how the Defense Department buys and leverages technology.

  • Cybersecurity
    Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas  (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lora Ratliff)

    Mayorkas announces cyber 'sprints' on ransomware, ICS, workforce

    The Homeland Security secretary announced a series of focused efforts to address issues around ransomware, critical infrastructure and the agency's workforce that will all be launched in the coming weeks.

Stay Connected