GSA ponders next generation of services contracts

Editor’s Note: The story was edited to show the correct percentage growth of the government’s professional services contracts. 

General Services Administration officials are trying to identify the next generation of contracts for expensive, complex professional services, a growing part of agencies' spending.

Agency officials want input on an idea for an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract called “Integrations.” They are designing Integrations to offer professional services across the multiple disciplines, such as program management and consulting services, logistics, financial services, and professional engineering services, according to a notice from GSA released July 6 on the Federal Business Opportunities website. Read the notice.

Related coverage:

Obama targets the money in support services 

15 percent cut in 15 months in these 15 services

Agencies have been upping their use of professional services contracts in recent years. In fiscal 2003, the government spent $33.8 billion on these types of services. In fiscal 2010, they spent $79.5 billion, a 135 percent increase in seven years, according to GSA’s figures.

GSA said agencies need creative financial options to accomplish their work, as well as efficient operations and sound strategic performance metrics.

In looking at orders through the years, GSA said the requirements for professional services often include ancillary IT services and a need for flexibility in terms of ordering options.

Officials are designing Integrations to have an IT component. Integrations is likely to let agencies use a cost-reimbursement approach to ordering as well. Agencies generally know the requirements for the professional services they are buying but some areas are difficult to specify or even quantify, according GSA. So officials envision Integrations to allow for a variety of task order types, including cost-reimbursement orders.

However, those circumstances in which an agency doesn't know a specific requirement elevate risk and raise costs for the government. Nevertheless, the risks might be controlled through particularly strategies, GSA said. For Integrations, GSA wants quality assurance surveillance plans and performance metrics to look at cost-savings and business process improvements.

Meanwhile, senior Obama administration officials announced on July 7 that they want a 15-percent decrease in the use of management support services, particularly professional services contracts, by fiscal 2012. Officials want to cut $6 billion from the $40 billion spent in fiscal 2010 in a group of 15 service codes. Read the specifics.

Dan Gordon, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, said on July 7 that agencies need to find areas where they can cut back on their use of support services.

“But where you need the services, you need to find ways to buy smarter,” Gordon said.

About the Author

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


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