GSA keeps pushing for better schedule contracts

Wednesday - 11/19/2008, 7:32am EST

By Jason Miller
Executive Editor
FederalNewsRadio

Agencies in fiscal 2007 spent more than $38 billion with the General Services Administration's schedule contracts. That was a 3 percent increase over 2006 and schedules continued its growth of the past five years.

But that doesn't mean everything is perfect with the contracts that include more than 18,000 vendors.

Steve Kempf, acting deputy commissioner of GSA's Federal Acquisition Service, says more agencies could use the schedules, and vendors could find it easier to change and renew their contracts.

"We are looking at internal and external systems and looking at their processes," Kempf says. "We are looking for ways to deliver products and create efficiencies in the way we deliver them."

Kempf says the Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) Program Office, created in July, will oversee this effort.

Robin Bourne, the MAS Program Office director, will develop the strategy and objectives for the organization with input from other agencies, including the Veterans Affairs Department, which runs the medical schedules.

The first meeting is scheduled for this month, Kempf says.

"This MAS program office will develop a coherent strategy and developed a unified program guide," he says. "The most important thing we can do is bring to the program consistency across all schedules."

The program office is focusing on three external areas.

One is the contract modification process, which vendors have said takes too long and can be arduous.

"We are establishing a central intake desk for each schedule," Kempf says. "We will track the time it takes to get modifications done and gain some insight into what is going on with the process and manage our work load better."

The second one is a Lean Six Sigma effort to figure out how to process modifications more rapidly, particularly when vendors are just updating a product.

"We will have a Web tool to bring those modifications in and process them quickly," he says.

The final effort, which just got under way in October, is improving the process for renewing evergreen contracts. Kempf says the renewal process of these 20-year contracts takes too long.

GSA also sees opportunities to do a lot more work with several agencies, including VA, the Defense Department and its services and the Homeland Security Department.

"Our customer research organization is targeting strategic accounts to increase sales," Kempf says. "One of the things we have done this year is create virtual stores for some customers. For VA, we've gone a step further to connect the e-Buy system that allows VA contracting officers to access e-Buy from their own contract writing system."

For DoD, Kempf believes GSA can help them with the base realignment and closure work.

GSA also may get a boost because Congress expanded the rule of three governmentwide starting next summer. The rule of three requires agencies to get at least three bids when buying something from a multiple award schedule.

Kempf says he believes more agencies will use the e-Buy tool to meet this requirement. Last year, agencies posted more than 61,000 request for quotes worth more than $6.6 billion on e-Buy.

"We are in a great position to assist everyone in doing their acquisitions and being successful," Kempf says.

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On the Web:

FederalNewsRadio - GSA creates new MAS to help agencies go green

FederalNewsRadio - All about the acting commissioner of FAS

FederalNewsRadio - GSA Looking for Advice

GSA - MAS Program Office (press release)

GSA - Schedules

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