Fox outlines plans for FSS

A top official at the General Services Administration's Federal Supply Service (FSS) is planning changes to make the service more efficient.

Neal Fox, assistant commissioner for commercial acquisition at the FSS, said he wants to enhance the staff members' flexibility so that they can work on multiple contract vehicles, and he also wants to make it easier for vendors to make changes to their GSA listings.

The changes are especially important because FSS became responsible for many of the governmentwide acquisition contracts (GWACs) that had been under GSA's Federal Technology Service (FTS) prior to the January realignment of the two services.

"A lot of our processes need to be improved," Fox said this morning at a seminar sponsored by the Northern Virginia Technology Council. "The process of obtaining a GSA schedule contract is way too burdensome, and the modification process is as well," he said.

GSA's contract officers are overburdened, Fox added. "They have upwards of 80 contract vehicles per contract officer they're dealing with. That's way too many."

In an interview following his speech, Fox explained his two immediate priorities:

* Train staff members to work on several contract vehicles. The training will enable employees to be allocated as needed depending on the workload. The training would affect employees who have been with FSS all along and those who transferred from FTS.

* Allow vendors to upgrade their listings on contract vehicles without requiring approval of the changes. This would affect instances in which pricing terms don't change.

Fox, who left the Air Force and joined GSA in July 2002, has some other ideas too, but he said they are "not ready for prime time." He hopes to implement the first two ideas before the end of the fiscal year.

FSS staff members' workload is only going to grow with recently published rules that will allow state and local governments to use GSA's schedules system, Fox predicted.

"State and local governments want to see the companies they're used to dealing with," so small companies that have only a regional business will be trying to get on the schedules, he said.

Meanwhile, Fox serves on the six-member Contract Vehicle Review Board, which held its first meeting Feb. 2. The board's task is to examine the GWACs with an eye toward eliminating redundancies.

"We are not in any hurry to get rid of the GWAC process. Some of them could go away when we find there are overlaps," he said. "I would be disappointed if we lost a lot of those vehicles."

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