The long-standing debate over whether prices on the General Services Administration Schedule contract are “fair and reasonable” reached a new level of discord.
GSA’s inspector general makes what some may say are a shocking series of recommendations about schedule prices in a new report. Auditors told GSA to cancel the six-year-old Transactional Data Reporting (TDR) program. The IG also told GSA to tell its agency customers to make their own price reasonableness determinations because they cannot trust that they are getting the lowest prices through the schedule.
And GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service responds with contempt for those suggestions, calling TDR valuable, schedule prices more than reasonable and compliant with the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act and the Competition in Contracting Act (CICA).
The latest episode in this long-running squabble over schedule prices is an unfortunate and predictable escalation.
Industry experts called the IG’s report more than just another shot across the TDR bow, but an attempt to sink the ship.
“The OIG recommending that agencies should perform independent price determinations feels like a significant escalation in the battle between GSA OIG and GSA over the effectiveness of TDR,” said Leo Alvarez, a principal in the government contractor solutions practice of Baker Tilly, in an email to Federal News Network. “In essence, the OIG is saying they have lost confidence in the GSA schedules program to achieve reasonable prices. A proverbial ‘buyer beware’ sign is on the program.”
Alan Chvotkin, a partner with the law firm Nichols Liu, said the IG has never liked the TDR program since its inception.
“The GSA IG opposed the TDR pilot from the outset because both the commercial services practices (CSP) and the price reduction clause (PRC) would be/are inapplicable to firms participating in the TDR pilot,” Chvotkin said in an email. “The IG has also opposed almost every effort to adjust or eliminate the CSP and the PRC, such as recommended by the GSA MAS Advisory Panel. I served on that panel and supported the recommendation to eliminate the CSP and the PRC under certain circumstances. Yet both of these elements have been consistently identified by ‘commercial item’ providers as barriers to their willingness to participate in GSA’s schedules market.”