In November of 2014, GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini caused many in the industry to sit up and take notice with a provocative suggestion that the future of the GSA Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) Program could come under increasing scrutiny.  In his words, he stated that “everything should be on the table” when addressing the future of the MAS program.  Tangherlini has already shown his willingness to affect change on multiple layers of the beleaguered Agency following the fall from grace that accompanied the notorious Western Region Conference scandal that rocked GSA in the spring of 2012.  However, some critics are hesitant to endorse Tangherlini for all of his initiatives, suggesting that perhaps he is affecting change for the sake of change; a political appointee taking more drastic measures than necessary to erase the GSA’s dubious recent history.   It’s even been suggested that in some of his goals, he is setting impossible expectations that are setting GSA up for failure and advocating a new era of GSA monopoly.    

The undercurrent of resistance against Tangherlini’s push to reassess the MAS seems to originate from a “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” perspective.  Tangherlini feels that the current state of government contracting is not a sustainable model.  Many of Tangherlini’s most recent detractors do not begrudge this point, in fact most or all favor a GSA Advantage makeover and agree that efficiency can still be increased.  It is the suggestion of large scale overhaul that has critics less than enthusiastic about Tangherlini’s ambitions.

These critics tend to focus not on Schedules shortcomings, but proven strengths.  With an annual revenue of over $30 billion per year, GSA Schedules can hardly be described as a phenomenon in crisis.  Tangherlini’s insinuation that other government procurement programs are more technologically advanced is a point worth exploring, however the critics caution that a large-scale overhaul is unwarranted.  Indeed, such critics may have reason to be worried about an over-response, in light of Tangherlini’s maverick changes and extreme goals in other areas of GSA involvement.

Small businesses are likely to constitute a large contingent of Tangherlini’s potential critics due to the explicit benefits they receive from the existing Schedules program.  The Schedules program allots up to 30% of all dollars into small businesses and their subcontractors, allowing them to compete in the government marketplace.  Small businesses are already likely to be more reactionary, as thousands have been targeted by the controversial Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiatives (FSSI) that continue to roll out.  These affected Schedule holders already feel as though they are being excluded in the FSSI business plan.  In this environment of volatile uncertainty, many will undoubtedly be hypersensitive to any additional veiled hints of change that might impact their businesses; especially when these hints are suggested by the GSA Administrator himself.

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