GSA rolls out faster access to IT schedule

Denise Turner Roth.

GSA Administrator Denise Turner Roth announced moves to make federal contracting more welcoming to small businesses.

General Services Administration officials are hoping to draw new, innovative vendors to the IT Schedule 70 contract by streamlining what has been a complicated entry process.

The issue is crucial. About 80 percent of the agency's 19,000 Multiple Award Schedules contractors are small companies, and they represent 36 percent of sales. According to GSA, $40 billion flows through the MAS contracts annually.

GSA began looking for help to make the changes last fall in a request for information posted on an April 6 call with reporters, GSA Administrator Denise Turner Roth said the goal of the "Making It Easier" initiative is to offer a shorter, more straightforward process for small businesses, companies that are new to the federal market and federal IT buyers. Officials are making the changes in response to concerns that the time and resources required to join a multiple-award contract effectively block small companies from participating.

Available through the agency's Schedule 70 portal, FASt Lane cuts the time it takes to get new IT suppliers onto the schedule from 110 days to 45 days. It also makes changes to current contracts in a day or two, rather than 10 or 15 days, Roth said.

Another initiative -- the IT Schedule 70 Startup Springboard -- offers a more intense, upfront review of the technological capabilities and management of potential vendors in place of the current two-year professional experience requirement. The review process recognizes that new companies might have innovative technology but not a deep history. However, Roth said the review process would not erode the high standards expected by Schedule 70 buyers.

In the RFI released last September, GSA had asked for industry input on potentially getting rid of the two-year minimum for corporate experience in favor of allowing vendors to provide a description of their experience and documentation of the companies' financial status.

Roth also unveiled an IT Schedule 70 Plain Language Roadmap that explains the offer process for new vendors in clear and simple terms, and a standardized welcome package that seeks to eliminate inconsistent and outdated guidance.

She said the changes would spread across the agency's other MAS contracts within a month.

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, 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 [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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