GSA looks to streamline buying policies

shutterstock ID: 377287183 By Rei and Motion Studio 

The General Services Administration is implementing new acquisition policies and procedures with an eye to allowing agencies to combine purchases and speed vendor negotiations, a top official said Tuesday.

Alan Thomas, commissioner of the Federal Acquisition Service at GSA said Aug. 21 that personnel are being trained on new Order Level Materials and Commercial Supplier Agreement rules. OLMs allow agencies to combine purchases. CSAs shorten negotiation processes with vendors.

A hard push to implement the new policies is coming after GSA personnel and contractors get up to speed on how OLMs and CSAs work. That preliminary work will probably take until the end of the year, with a drive to get them into action coming in 2019, Thomas said in remarks at a federal technology event hosted by FedScoop.

"It's a big lift," he told FCW in an interview after his presentation.

Additionally, said Thomas, the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act gives GSA new authorities to look at non-traditional capabilities such as the Commercial Solutions Opening procedure. The CSO, he said, sets a fast-track for vendor selection timelines, provides simplified contract terms and allows vendors to retain core intellectual property. The CSO can be used for contracts under $10 million.

GSA conducted a CSO trial, but has placed the capability under its assisted acquisition group and is working with the Air Force on a project using it, said Thomas.

In the "last several months," he said, GSA has also been mulling how to consolidate the agency's 20 separate product schedules.

"It could possibly be one schedule," Thomas said, adding that the smaller the list, the less confusing it is for agencies and the less costly for contractors to be listed.

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 or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


  • Defense
    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) reveal concept renderings for the Next NGA West (N2W) campus from the design-build team McCarthy HITT winning proposal. The entirety of the campus is anticipated to be operational in 2025.

    How NGA is tackling interoperability challenges

    Mark Munsell, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s CTO, talks about talent shortages and how the agency is working to get more unclassified data.

  • Veterans Affairs
    Veterans Affairs CIO Jim Gfrerer speaks at an Oct. 10 FCW event (Photo credit: Troy K. Schneider)

    VA's pivot to agile

    With 10 months on the job, Veterans Affairs CIO Jim Gfrerer is pushing his organization toward a culture of constant delivery.

Stay Connected


Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.