GSA looks to streamline buying policies

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


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