Acquisition

GSA Schedule tools expanding

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The General Services Administration's efforts to provide federal buyers with better data is seeing results over the last six months and continues to expand, according to the head of the agency's Federal Acquisition Service.

FAS Commissioner Tom Sharpe wrote in a June 22 blog post that efforts to transform the agency's venerable Multiple Awards Schedule (MAS) program are taking hold, with some GSA regional managers saying some of the "wiggle room" in schedule pricing is being winnowed out.

In the six months since his last report, GSA's work on MAS has enhanced cycle times, made more "actionable" data available to inform government buyers and moved to address pricing variabilities across the schedules programs in its effort to create a more horizontal pricing model for goods and services.

But that growth has not been without challenges, Sharpe noted, especially price variability across MAS, along with the absence of consistent use of universal product codes and manufacturer part numbers. He said the agency is collecting existing UPCs to make it easier for government buyers to find and compare products and prices on GSA schedules. "Giving our contracting professionals better tools and access to more data is crucial to both the success of the MAS program and its ability to deliver to our customers and industry partners an adaptable and competitive best-in-class contract solution," he wrote.

Some of those additional tools include its Contract Award Labor Category (CALC) tool, which lets users conduct market research and compare schedule prices on professional service labor categories. The agency, said Sharpe, has also opened up its electronic request for quote/request for proposal system that allows government buyers to request information, find sources and prepare RFQs/RFPs online for millions of services and products offered through MAS and GSA Technology Contracts.

The agency on June 23 released an eBuy Open tool it said will further help the federal acquisition community leverage best practices and lessons learned for market research.

The tool helps buyers quickly search open, closed and canceled RFQs from fiscal 2014 forward, showing which agencies are requesting what products and services from the schedules program, Cynthia Schell, director of the Common Acquisition Platform Governance Division, wrote in a June 23 blog post.

The deeper dive into the acquisition data, Schell said, can unearth detailed information, including how other buyers draft their documents to get the best quotes from industry, and when specific products and services are purchased.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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