Early last year, the Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) commissioner Tom Sharpe announced their push for big changes based on the 2014-2018 GSA Strategic Plan. He is utilizing a number of programs in his strategy to more than double GSA’s market share of government spending from 14 to 33 percent by the end of fiscal year 2016.
Some of the most drastic changes to GSA operations, as we continue to see, include the expansion of the FSSI program, the consolidation of multiple GSA schedules under Sharpe’s “hallways initiative,” and the growing use of online forums to connect with GSA stakeholders. Each of these programs is driven by the three strategic goals outlined in the GSA Strategic Plan.
Strategic Goal 1: Provide savings to federal departments and agencies
In response to a push to reduce federal spending by $40 billion through the implementation of more efficient federal buying systems, GSA has put customer savings at the forefront of its new Strategic Plan.
As one of two Agency Priority Goals, generating savings through the Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative (FSSI) has been receiving strong emphasis in Sharpe’s campaign to offer more cost-effective solutions.
Though GSA expects FSSIs to make acquisitions easier, increase efficiencies, reduce redundancies, and decrease administrative costs, small businesses may struggle to compete for new schedules. The rigorous, price-driven application process may make it unprofitable for small, minority, and new businesses to participate in FSSI contracts.
GSA Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) are still open, however, there is a definite trend that on some schedules, procurement is moving towards FSSIs. Joseph Jordan, the lead administrator of the FSSI program for the Office of Procurement Policy (OFPP), is outspoken in his support for these initiatives. “Mandatory is what we’re moving toward,” Jordan said. “There will be winners and losers, and not all who want to sell to the government can sell to the government.”
The FSSI may be the new face of GSA procurement, but this doesn’t mean the end of government contracting for small businesses. Other options like local and state contracts can be an effective alternative to FSSIs.
Strategic Goal 2: Improve the efficiency of operations and service delivery
Greater efficiency within GSA helps the agency and its stakeholders save money during the procurement process. Many contractors currently possess more than one GSA schedule.
For example, 527 GSA Schedule holders, have more than one professional service schedules. Each one must be independently negotiated, managed, and audited. By combining schedules under one, contractors can save time, manpower, and money managing these contracts.
At this time, Sharpe’s “hallways initiative” will address these inefficiencies by consolidating eight of GSA’s professional services acquisition schedules (Consolidated, MOBIS, PES, FABS, AIMS, LOGWORLD, Environmental and Language) into one encompassing schedule by November 2015.
These hallways could increase the use of GSA schedules, and thus potentially bring more business to contractors.
Strategic Goal 3: Deliver excellent customer service
GSA is intent on improving its customer service for federal agencies and departments by making it easier to meet real estate, acquisition, and technology needs. One of the biggest ways the agency is attempting to meet this goal is by offering online solutions.
GSA developed the Acquisition Gateway (AG), a recently launched one-stop acquisition shop and category management platform hosting all acquisition categories.
GSA is also using social media and web-based forums to reach more potential customers and win their business. The agency has now established a presence on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and other popular social media platforms.
Stakeholders can also engage in discussions, learn more about procurement options, and reach out to industry experts and policymakers at GSA Interact, an open, collaborative community site hosted by GSA.
Though the 2014-2018 GSA Strategic Plan briefly addresses the needs of small and disadvantaged businesses under its priorities and performance goals, most of the plan’s emphasis is on reducing prices, streamlining the acquisition process, and drawing in more business. Sharpe’s vision and the three strategic goals outlined in the plan will continue to shape GSA policies and the landscape of government procurement.
For over 20 years, Coley GCS has helped companies worldwide successfully win and manage more than $3 Billion in Government Contracts. We specialize in GSA Schedules but support any contracting vehicle. We build long term relationships with clients –many who have put their trust in our advice for over two decades.