Note: Opinion Expressed by The Coalition for Government Procurement
Stay with me now, I know this is a long blog! It provides a perspective through an industry lens regarding its partnership with government.
As a best practice, commercial firms leverage their buying power when acquiring supplies and services to support business operations. They develop acquisition strategies, sources, and contract structures responsive to their operational needs and market conditions. Similarly, GSA focuses on leveraging the government’s buying power to deliver best value mission support for customer agencies.
GSA is to be commended for the strategic investments in, and reforms to, the Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) program. Over the years, these investments and reforms have focused on leveraging agency specific requirements through competition at the task order level. The evolution of the MAS program is reflective of the increasing scope, complexity, depth, and breadth of the federal market and commercial markets. The federal market includes thousands of organizations with distinct missions and tens of thousands of contracting personnel transacting business on behalf of the American people. In turn, technology and the internet have profoundly changed the vast, dynamic commercial market, enhancing transparency, competition, choice, and value.
Our December 16th blog outlined the evolution of the MAS program over the last 30 years. In reviewing that history, the key MAS reforms and investments that today drive competition and value at the order level for customer agency requirements fall into four categories: (1) Contract Structure; (2) e-tools; (3) Ordering procedures; and (4) Training and Outreach.
- Mandatory to Non-mandatory: The MAS program started out as a mandatory program whereby all the government’s requirements for certain supplies had to be ordered from MAS contracts. Subsequently, GSA converted these original “requirements contracts” to IDIQ contracts with a guaranteed minimum ($2500) as the foundational step in bringing choice and competition at the order level for customer agencies. GSA complemented this step by establishing continuous open seasons for receipt of offers, expanding access to new offers from 1-2 months a year to 12 months a year. This fundamentally expanded access to the commercial market.
- Reform of the Price Reduction Clause (PRC): GSA modified the PRC to allow MAS contractors to offer price reductions/discounts from their MAS contract-level pricing in response to customer agency order level requirements. Along with the conversion of the contracts from mandatory to optional use, this reform of the PRC jump-started competition and value at the order level for customer agencies.
- More recently, GSA addressed Order Level Materials and implemented Schedules Consolidation. These two reforms enhance choice, transparency, and competition at the order level. Through these changes, GSA has further empowered customer agencies to leverage their requirements to acquire best value, cost effective solutions to meet mission needs.