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FCW Insider: Waxman questions the MAS Panel



Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, sent a letter to GSA Acting Administrator David Bibb today asking if the Multiple Award Schedule Panel is necessary.

In a letter sent to Bibb dated July 24 [.pdf], Waxman says:


According to the documents you provided to the Committee, no officials inside or outside the government - other than former AdministratorLurita Doan - expressed the view that this Advisory Panel was necessary. It would make little sense to continue with this initiative if there is no need for the advisory panel.


The letter goes on to say:


On April 18, 2008, I wrote to Administrator Doan to request information about communications she or others at GSA had received from industry partners regarding the Advisory Panel. Specifically, I asked: "What individuals or companies outside GSA communicated with you or other GSA officials concerning the need for a GSA Multiple Award Schedule Advisory Panel?

In response, you wrote to the Committee on May 9, 2008. Notwithstanding Administrator Doan's contention about "growing frustration among our industry partners," you stated in your letter that "[n]o official or company outside of GSA expressed a need for this panel to me." 4 You also stated: "I am also not aware of an instance where the idea of the panel was discussed with any other GSA official."

In your letter, you stated that GSA has a duty "to improve our service, products, and offerings to customers so that we provide taxpayers with the best value for their money. I share your conviction. It is unclear, however, how the advisory panel will accomplish this goal. For these reasons, I request that you consider whether it makes sense to continue to expend
taxpayer funds on this initiative, which you have confirmed was neither called for by industry nor discussed among anyone at GSA other than former AdministratorDoan.


It's interesting because the committee has expressed some frustration that people don't seem to be all that interested in the committee's work. In fact, they have all-but come out and asked for people to offer their critiques of the schedule program.

I have said that the schedule contracts can be one of the best ways to elicit broad competition in the government market. They are relatively easy to use and, for many companies, they are the entry point to the government market. The fiasco with SunMicrosystems to me highlights that there are issues, particularly with some of the pricing provisions. Procurement attorney Roger Waldron, in a FCW column ... and this one, said flat out that it is an important time to focus on the schedule contracts.

So this advisory committee seems like it could play an important role.

I'm curious about what people think -- is it important to have an advisory panel to assess the overall effectiveness of the GSA schedule contracts? Why have people generally seemed totally disinterested?

Posted by Christopher J. Dorobek on Jul 24, 2008 at 12:17 PM


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