GSA trying to reduce contracting complexities

Monday - 9/5/2011, 8:13am EDT

Jason Miller, executive editor, Federal News Radio

Click here to listen to the interview with GSA's Houston Taylor.

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By Jason Miller
Executive Editor
Federal News Radio

The General Services Administration is heeding the recommendations of its agency customers and providing an easier way to do more complex procurements.

GSA is preparing a new governmentwide contract, called Integrations, to simplify how agencies buy and vendors provide professional services and technology components under the same contract.

"If you move away from the schedules world, it creates a governmentwide vehicle that will provide complex integrated professional services," said Houston Taylor, GSA's assistant commissioner for acquisition management in the Federal Acquisition Service, in an interview with Federal News Radio. "[It is a] cost-type environment that would allow us to incorporate 'other direct costs' or ODCs, something that is currently not available on the schedule."

According to the Federal Acquisition Regulations, other direct costs (ODCs) are "costs not previously identified as a direct material cost, direct labor cost, or indirect cost." These are costs that can be identified specifically with a final cost objective that the offeror does not treat as a direct material cost or a direct labor cost, including things such as special tooling and test equipment, computer services consultant services, travel or preproduction costs.

Taylor said because the schedules don't allow ODCs, agencies have been developing their own contracts that let vendors charge other direct costs. He said the lack of flexibility of the schedules has, in part, led the proliferation of multiple-award contracts across the government.

Taylor said Integrations would help stop the need for new multiple-award contracts and is part of the way GSA is responding to agency needs.

"Integrations will allow us to facilitate us to manage high risk contracts, encourage performance based contracting, leveraging transparency, data analysis and streamline the acquisition process and maximize opportunities for small businesses," he said. "We see integrations as a tool that gives that flexibility to agencies and allows them to focus on their core mission."

GSA held an industry day July 13 and posted responses to questions Aug. 29. GSA expects to issue a draft request for proposals in winter or spring 2012 and a final RFP next summer.

In responses to vendor questions, GSA said it has completed an internal business case and plans to submit it to the Office of Management and Budget

"If we were trying to do an integrated professional services requirement under the multi-award schedule as an agency, as a supplier, you would probably have to look at teaming arrangements, multiple schedules would have to be used and multiple suppliers would have to be used in the teaming arrangements. This moves all of that off the table," Taylor said. "And by the way, even if I'm a supplier and I have four or five schedules, I don't have to use that anymore. That's the complexity and ease of use we are looking for."

Taylor said that going through multiple schedule contracts becomes too complicated for agencies, and that is something GSA is trying to avoid.

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