A busy 2020 for GSA
- By Mark Rockwell
- Dec 20, 2019
During the first three months of the New Year, the General Services Administration will have its hands full as some of its most ambitious projects move ahead.
In the first quarter of the 2020 calendar year, the agency is slated to test a small conceptual version of its Amazon-like e-commerce portal, push out solicitations to vendors about its buying schedule awards consolidation and begin throttling continued agency customer use of its old telecommunications contracts in favor of its next-generation vehicle.
It will also continue to get control of a bumpy transition from the FedBizOpps contract information site to the new beta.SAM.gov. portal.
The agency has been working to push its dozens of buying schedules into a single schedule with a simplified format, streamlined terms and conditions, and new categories and Special Item Numbers. The new format, said GSA, simplifies the way contractors offer products and services and makes it easier for agencies to find those products and services.
The agency completed the first step of the project in October, when it published the consolidated schedule.
The next step is in the beginning of the New Year, as the agency sends out "Mass Modifications" to hundreds of vendors in January that will update contract terms and conditions under the new consolidated schedule.
However, one part of the consolidation was a migration from the GSA's FBO.gov site to the beta.SAM.gov.
The agency closed the FBO site in November.
Several legacy websites, including System for Award Management, the Federal Procurement Data System, federal domestic assistance grants catalog, past performance databases, federal and contract performance systems nd others are being moved to the beta.SAM site to simplify its acquisition contract opportunity and award listings, as well as manage federal grant programs.
Soon after the beta.SAM.gov site transition users complained loudly, saying they were having issues searching for new opportunities and had lost some functionality in their searches. GSA has responded with some guidance on how to use the new site, but given the complexities of the transition, the agency will probably be working out the knots into the new year.
The first months of the New Year could also bring the next important phase of GSA's effort to create an online buying portal for federal agencies similar to Amazon's consumer service.
In mid-November, the agency issued a request for proposals to potential vendors for a "proof of concept" for its e-marketplace portal. The solicitation looked to e-commerce providers to implement a business-to-business portal for federal buyers.
The agency has said it expects the concept portal to begin in "early 2020."
The agency is currently involved in discussions with potential concept providers about the solicitation. GSA officials haven't been specific about the exact date of the concept's start, but have said the project has been moving ahead on schedule.
The November draft solicitation wasn't much of a surprise to anyone who has been following GSA's engagement on the platform. The plan is for multiple vendors to win awards for the proof-of-concept to supply e-commerce platforms for a one-year term with four option years. The e-commerce platform permits a vendor to sell its own products along with those of other vendors and will feature general purpose goods that users of government purchase cards can buy.
In just over three months, at the end of March, the GSA plans to begin limiting use of its old workhorse telecommunications contracts, such as Networx, to agencies that haven't issued task order for its Enterprise Infrastructure Solution contract.
Laura Stanton, GSA deputy assistant commissioner, Category Management, said in mid-November that the deadline was a "key moment for EIS," said. "GSA remains focused on getting those [agency EIS] awards done by March 31, 2020" to ensure agencies can focus on moving their operations to EIS in the remaining three years GSA's current telecom contracts — Networx and local service agreements, she said at an agency EIS conference in mid-November.
EIS vendors, too, are expecting a busy early 2020, as agencies step up solicitations for the contract. Some industry officials speculated in late 2019 that there could potentially be over 100 solicitations and a dozen contract awards before the March deadline.
One milestone vendors hit: all nine contractors selected to provide service on EIS obtained authorities to operate allowing them to work on telecommunications task orders.
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.
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