GSA must standardize schedules, group says

The General Services Administration needs to standardize its schedules process, improve employee training and use existing technology and Web tools to get business on schedules within 30 days, according to a letter from the Coalition for Government Procurement.

The coalition sent its recommendations to GSA Administrator Lurita Doan after she asked the industry group to give her suggestions for improvements last month.

Inconsistent policies slow the process and make it significantly more difficult for businesses pursuing more than one schedule to manage each contract, the coalition wrote in its letter, dated June 30.

“Streamlining these policies so that one consistent policy is once again followed can help reduce this frustration while bringing transparency and speed to the negotiation process,” according to the letter.

Doan intends to speed the schedules process so that businesses can earn a spot on a basic GSA schedule within 30 days. To do that, Doan needs “every good idea I can get,” she said June 6 at the coalition’s Spring Conference.

The coalition recommended that GSA automate the negotiation process.

The agency must create systems that allow prospective contractors to determine whether they should seek a schedule contract. It should publish online a list of information that companies must provide to get a schedule contract, according to the letter. Submitting complete offers can reduce the time it takes to negotiate each offer.

The coalition wrote that GSA should use technology to restore programs such as E-Offer and Quick Mod.

“These initiatives were promising, but failed due to lack of adequate training and buy-in among some contracting professionals as well as concerns over regulatory compliance,” the letter states.

Doan’s motive for the 30-day schedule process is in line with her belief that “the customer is king, and if you are not providing that service, you don’t have that repeat business that gives you sustainability,” she said.

The decreasing number of employees in the agency’s acquisition centers because of retirements and an agencywide hiring freeze hinders GSA. The freeze, the coalition wrote, has worsened the situation.

Inadequate training also hampers employees, the coalition wrote. Training must encourage contract professionals to use the latest schedule policies and technology.

GSA should eliminate specific schedules so each company applies for one master schedule, the letter states.

A lack of leadership causes many existing problems, the coalition wrote.

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