Interagency contracts worry GSA

Interagency contracting and agency-specific contract vehicles will be obstacles to the General Services Administration's success in the coming years, agency officials said in their strategy plan for the coming five years.

GSA predicts that pressures to make the acquisition process more responsive will force the agency to change how it operates. Moreover, GSA needs to learn about its customers, according to its recently released Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2007-2012.

Interagency contracts have flooded the government's procurement community, and agencies have set up enterprisewide contracts, such as the Homeland Security Department's Enterprise Acquisition Gateway for Leading Edge Solutions (EAGLE) contract. The various avenues give agencies more tailored options to get what they need.

And the growing number of interagency contracts worries the Office of Federal Procurement Policy. Early this year, OFPP found 200 agencywide, 41 multiagency and 12 governmentwide acquisition contracts (GWACs).

OFPP officials have said they will issue a step-by-step guide for the acquisition process, outlining agencies' roles and responsibilities on a contract or agreement.

'Everybody is using [contracts] more,' said Paul Denett, OFPP administrator, in an interview July 31. 'The numbers are up. More dollars are being spent through these various vehicles, be they GWACs or agencywide contracts or even agency-specific ones.'

Denett's staff provided him with a draft last month on interagency contracting, and OFPP is working to put it in final form, he said.

One of GSA's strategies in the next five years is to adapt its business models and relationships to meet emerging demands. GSA plans to address diverse customer needs with more vigorous business cases. It will also improve business processes.

'Achieving financial health in all business models and programs is essential,' the strategy states.

As information technology advances and becomes more important, GSA wants to be a leader in the field.

'Just as there has been a remarkable evolution in technology, so too has GSA changed to accommodate a federal marketplace that has become increasingly complex,' David Bibb, GSA's deputy administrator, said at the GSA/Integrated Technology Service's 2007 Network Services Conference in Denver.

GSA recognizes that it must be prepared to deliver what customers need, particularly with the dynamically changing IT industry and constraints on agencies' budgets.

'Our goal, clearly stated, is excellence in the business of government,' Bibb said.

To reach that goal, GSA intends to increase its focus on strategic accounts and customers. It wants to understand purchasing patterns.

'The challenge in the future will be organizing internal business units by function and by specialized knowledge and skills, and ensuring coordination,' the strategy plan states.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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