GSA's 5 steps to directing customer traffic

General Services Administration officials intend to build a more flexible Multiple Award Schedules program by directing suppliers to those schedules contracts that customers are most often using to buy. In a Federal Register notice, officials July 23 laid out a tentative five-step plan on how this new Demand-Based Model will work to improve the Schedules.

GSA is instituting the Demand Based Model to align its resources with areas of greatest need. Officials can direct attention to those areas where demand is increasing, and, on the other hand, they can pull resources away from areas where demand has fallen off.

First, GSA plans to assess each product and service in its schedules program from the standpoint of demand, existing sources, and the sales under contracts. They also intend to look at changing market dynamics as well as socio-economic data.

Based on that assessment, officials will decide whether to keep sales for an item open continuously for an entire schedule or only certain items. On the other hand, they may decide to close the schedule temporarily.

Officials will publish its decision regarding the affected schedule or items on the Federal Business Opportunities website. They will publish each temporary closure at least a month before it takes effect.

When schedules are closed, GSA won’t accept new offers, unless a company’s contract option period is ending and it needs to submit a new offer for a new contract. For those existing contracts, GSA will process the new offers for schedules contracts and modification requests to add items to exiting contracts the same way as it has been.

Officials will further assess temporarily closed schedules every so often. A schedule would be opened to new orders at least once every three years, if not more often.

GSA released the tentative plan to get feedback from the acquisition community, before it's planned to go into effect Sept. 21. Officials want to make sure they have the best operations in place without causing havoc to industry and agencies.

Steve Kempf, commissioner of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service, told the House Small Business Committee in June that the program is offering too much, including some products and services -- such as typewriters -- that are no longer necessary.

“The MAS program is perpetually open to qualified new offers, and, while vibrant markets exist in some of the schedules, we have reached the point of saturation in others,” he said.

Over the last several years, the number of companies seeking schedules contracts has roughly doubled and the volume of contract modifications has roughly tripled. Some of the growth is from new services and products; too much of it isn’t, he said.

GSA expects the Demand-Based Model to help even out the contracts in the program. “This measured approach will create a more effective environment for managing the Schedules program,” GSA wrote in the notice.

GSA is making these changes to improve their operations for getting agencies the necessary items, while keeping costs under control. They also want to help small businesses.

The Schedules program will be a streamlined acquisition program with fewer duplicative contracts. GSA will also better administer contracts and increase its support for customer agencies.

According to officials, these efficient operations and pricing power will restore the program’s value to agencies.

Officials wrote that they recognize the need for a “a supplier base more focused on providing innovative solutions to address the procurement needs of the government, especially under these current fiscal challenges.”

About the Author

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

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