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Are GWACs dead or not? Readers sound off

Nick Wakeman, editor in chief of Washington Technology, is getting an earful from readers about a recent blog entry he posted about the fate of governmentwide acquisition contracts.

Wakeman’s objective was simple: To defend an article he wrote (specifically, a headline) from a speech by GSA’s Ed O’Hare.

In the speech, O’Hare noted that GSA planned to focus its energies on two primary GWACs, Alliant and Alliant Small Business, as well as some smaller ones aimed at specific socioeconomic categories. O’Hare also noted that GSA’s GWAC business might eventually be merged with its Schedules business.

The team here judged that speech newsworthy, so Nick filed his story for Washington Technology, with the headline “GSA to phase out GWAC program” (while FCW picked it up, using the headline “GSA may end GWAC era”).

GSA took issue with the articles, and especially with the headlines, saying we misconstrued what O’Hare said. Fair enough (although it was strange they complained to other publications, not to editors here).

So Nick asked Wash Tech readers: What do you think? Here are excerpts from their comments. You can read the full blog post and its comments here.

* After reading your story, perhaps a more accurate title would have been “GSA to phase out some older GWAC programs" or "GSA to consolidate GWAC programs." If a reader, who was not at the event, and who is not knowledgeable about the topic, only read the headline, he or she might inadvertently infer that all GWACs were being phased out.

* The reduction in the number of GSA’s IT GWACs is not new news. Since 2004 numerous specialty GWACs were sun-setted. The current group of GSA GWACs is quite small compared to nine years ago. Interestingly, over the same time period, more other-agency-managed GWACs and MACs have been awarded. GSA is managing overlap among its IT acquisition programs, but no one is managing overlap and duplication across government.

* GSA began using more GWAC's when it was criticized for using commercial items procedures before FAR Part 12 allowed T&M for commercial items. GSA would have never had so many GWAC's if not for that fact.

* GSA has got too many contracts that do the same thing. Alliant ain’t no better than bidding something on the schedules, 'cepting you have to let 60 vendors throw they hat in the ring.

* I think every small business needs to carefully follow this and thus benefit from the real value proposition for the GSA Schedules alternative as a GWAC.

* Shakespeare wrote a play, "Much Ado About Nothing": It seems appropriate to the circumstance. The end of the era started 4 years ago when Alliant was but a hoped-for award. There may have been a delay but the end game was never in doubt.

* GWAC era ending? Yeah, in ten years when GSA "lets Alliant expire."

* Consolidation of GSA contracts, including GWACs, is appropriate portfolio management. But that don't get headlines.

* I was there. I heard what Mr. O'Hare said and I think Nick reported accurately. I think it is positive that we in industry will not have to pursue many GSA offered GWACs just not to be left out.

* Mr Wakeman, you appear to be trying to generate controversy out of your own spin. Here are some facts: The Department of Homeland Security, NASA, and CECOM are not funded by the taxpayer to buy services for the Department of Agriculture or the Bureau of Indian Affairs. It is not their mission. So why waste resources there? GSA is funded to support the entire federal government. It is their mission. Any federal contracting officer can use Alliant to buy IT Solutions. The vehicle is not GSA's, it's the federal government's. It's better than [its] predecessor contracts from a government and taxpayer point of view. This is a very positive story. Why not report it?

Posted by John Stein Monroe on Jun 30, 2009 at 12:14 PM


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