Acquisition

GSA official promises vendors "proactively business-friendly" approach under Trump

government industry dialog 

The General Services Administration is considering changes to transactional data reporting rules to make them more palatable to vendors, said the agency's third in command.

The agency will shift mandatory rules for contractors to a voluntary basis, said Jack St. John, GSA's chief of staff in a speech to the Coalition for Government Procurement's spring training conference on May 11.

"On the most basic level, I want you to know we're committed to be proactively business friendly -- which means streamlining the acquisition process, reducing regulatory burdens while keeping good policies in place," St. John said.

"For example, transactional data reporting.  I know this is an important issue for coalition members. I want you to know that we are listening and are in the process of making changes," he said.

The rules require government contractors provide data about the transactions they made through the GSA's schedule and government-wide acquisition contracts. The rules were meant to help smooth the reporting requirements for contractors under other regulations. However, contractors reported significant concerns over how data was being interpreted by GSA.

"We're going to re-examine the burdens and benefits of TDR. As we do so, we want and need your input," he told the group.

St. John has been on the job for about a month and a half, having been appointed by President Donald Trump as the agency's chief of staff in late March, after serving as senior policy advisor there since mid-January.

The remarks on TDR were welcomed by some audience members as a sign the administration was working to address some regulatory clutter.

Bill Gormley, president of the Gormley Group, said the "fresh set of eyes" on the reporting rules "is a clear signal there will be a reduction in hurdles to getting on [GSA's] schedules."

St. John, also noted he helped with President Trump's regulatory reform executive order, which had a section on re-evaluating the burdens federal rules place on contractors.

"We are going to re-examine whether there are better ways to protect the taxpayers' interests, while supporting business growth to the greatest extent possible," he said.

As part of that effort, the GSA's Making It Easier initiative will play a key role.

Launched in 2016 under the Obama Administration, the initiative was aimed at helping startups, small businesses and other suppliers do business with the government.

St. John said the Trump administration will put its own stamp on the effort.

"However, as this White House proceeds with such efforts, please keep in mind my description of the Trump administration as proactively business friendly," St. John said. "So, although MIE was initiated earlier, please view our new approach through this lens."

The work to abridge multiple awards schedules will continue, he said, as will programs such as the Start Up springboard and FASTLane, which lowered the barriers faced by start-ups and companies offering much-needed IT innovations by bringing their expertise through IT Schedule 70.

More work will commence to simplify contracts, particularly the swelling Professional Services Schedule solicitation, according to St. John.

Additionally, GSA will also keep moving forward with more efforts to keep industry in the loop, with more industry days, increased solicitation lead times, more requests for information, responsiveness to general inquiries, debriefings and insight into long-term acquisition strategy, St. John said.

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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