Editor's Note: This blog post was first published at gsa.gov.
Jeffrey Koses is senior procurement executive in GSA's Office of Government-wide Policy.
GSA is transforming the Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) Program to deliver better value to government, industry, and the American taxpayer. This transformation will include reducing price variability, minimizing burdensome regulations and processes, and introducing additional flexibilities.
For the past 60 years, the MAS Program's success and growth over time have dramatically increased the variety and volume of choices available to federal buyers. The $33 billion program now demands transformation in order to maintain its status as a best acquisition solution in a fast-changing marketplace.
Below is a summary of the transformations GSA has proposed to date.
Transactional Data Reporting Rule
GSA has issued a proposed rule to capture transactional data on procurements across all of its government-wide acquisition vehicles, which includes the MAS Program. The proposed Transactional Data Reporting Rule would require vendors to electronically report the price the federal government paid for an item or service bought through GSA acquisition vehicles, producing market intelligence that GSA and its partner agencies can use to make cost-effective acquisition decisions and save even more taxpayer dollars.
If the proposed rule becomes final, GSA would begin collecting transactional data immediately on all newly awarded government-wide acquisition contracts and multi-agency contracts. For the MAS Program, GSA would introduce the transactional data reporting requirement in phases, beginning with a pilot of select products and commoditized services. As a part of this pilot, GSA would remove burdensome tracking and reporting requirements from the price reduction clause to evaluate the impact of providing such relief on a more permanent basis. GSA would more than offset the new reporting requirement with the removal of these more burdensome reporting requirements.
Class Deviation — Commercial Supplier Agreement
GSA is currently requesting comments on a proposed class deviation to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and the General Services Acquisition Regulation (GSAR) to address 15 common Commercial Supplier Agreement terms and conditions that are inconsistent with or create ambiguity with federal law. If the proposed class deviation becomes final, it would primarily affect the MAS's IT Schedule 70, which provides federal agencies with innovative information technology products, services, and solutions and is the largest, most widely used acquisition vehicle in federal government. It would also affect contracts for hardware that include software components.
Commercial Supplier Agreements — also known as User Agreements — include terms and conditions that end users must agree to before they can start using a software program. These terms and conditions are often inconsistent with or create ambiguity with federal law. For example, Commercial Supplier Agreements that include automatic renewal clauses are inconsistent with federal laws that prevent government agencies from making purchases before they receive appropriations. These clauses and others (i.e. payment and invoicing, and unilateral modifications) have to be reviewed and negotiated — making it harder for IT vendors to get products on Schedule, and harder for customer agencies to do business with GSA.
GSA intends to issue the class deviation on May 1, 2015 after considering comments received. After the class deviation is issued, GSA and industry won't have to spend significant time resolving these terms and conditions on a case-by-case basis.
New FAR Cases
Order-Level Materials — 2015-023
This case will make it faster and easier for agencies to add order-level materials, including supplies and services, to their MAS orders, because they will no longer have to enter into a separate contract. For example, if a government agency places a task order to fix a 30-year old chiller, and the vendor fixing the chiller knows what needs to be done, but won't know all the tools needed until the chiller is examined, this case, when finalized, would allow the customer agency to add order-level materials to the task order without having to enter into a new contract, as long as the materials fall within a certain a category and don't exceed a certain amount. This flexibility aims to streamline the use of the MAS Program and encourage agencies to use the largest acquisition vehicle program in government rather than writing a new contract.
Fair and Reasonable Pricing — 2015-021
Last year, the Department of Defense (DoD) and NASA issued class deviations to the FAR instructing their contract officers to establish fair and reasonable prices before placing orders under the MAS program. This case, when finalized, would incorporate this language for all contracting officers — not just those at DoD and NASA — into the FAR. This is an important step to clarifying the responsibilities for contracting officers placing orders against the MAS program.