The Coalition for Government Procurement

 

On March 23rd, GSA issued a post on GSA Interact seeking “feedback on Cloud ConFIG’s (Cloud Contract Fostering Innovation in Government) Scope Statement.”  GSA’s most recent post on market research is its latest communication regarding the possible creation of a separate cloud IDIQ GWAC, a draft RFP which is expected sometime in Fiscal 2016.  The proposed Cloud ConFIG GWAC represents GSA’s “next generation cloud vehicle” that would expand GSA’s current information technology (IT) contract portfolio. That portfolio already includes, or will include, cloud services:

  • IT Schedule 70 (scope includes cloud added April 2015)
  • Alliant and Alliant SB GWACs
  • The follow-on Alliant 2 and Alliant 2 SB (release of the two solicitations is anticipated this June),
  • 8(a) Stars II set aside GWAC
  • VETS II set aside GWAC for SDVOSB
  • Networx, GSA’s government-wide telecommunications contract vehicle
  • Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) (the follow-on to Networx; offers have been received by GSA)
  • EaaS Blanket Purchase Agreement

The scope of each of these government-wide IT vehicles includes comprehensive cloud services or a subset of cloud services. In light of the depth and breadth of cloud capabilities already offered through GSA vehicles, the proposed Cloud ConFIG GWAC prompts questions in some quarters, and among Coalition members, about contract duplication and the impact of that duplication on operational costs and market competition for government and industry.

Creating a new government-wide IT contract vehicle can be resource-intensive; indeed, it takes a lot of time and costs a lot of money.  It will require significant government resources in conducting a business case review to receive an executive agent designation from OMB for the new IT GWAC for cloud.  In response to the Cloud ConFIG, industry also will spend significant time and tens of millions of dollars in administrative and bid and proposal costs in pursuit of that vehicle.  Thus, before undertaking this effort, GSA may wish to consider studying alternative approaches to understand whether administrative and cost efficiencies might be available. For instance, it could assess whether the Alliant 2 procurements and/or enhancing IT Schedule 70 might provide a cost-effective approach for GSA, customer agencies, and industry, especially in light of the fact that these two strategic contracting programs already include cloud services.  Such an assessment would enable GSA to know conclusively whether these current, multi-year, government-wide contract vehicles would provide savings in cost and administrative burden over a newly created contract vehicle, affording the agency the ability to reduce cost and other burdens in a time of budget austerity.

With regard to Alliant 2 and Alliant 2 SB, small, medium, and large IT business across the federal market have been gearing up for the impending competitions. Indeed, industry already has made significant investments/expenditures on the Alliant 2 program (e.g., pulling together and maintaining proposal teams, responding to RFIs and draft RFPs, and participating in public meetings/industry days) leading up to the targeted June release of the formal RFP.

The scope of Alliant 2 and Alliant 2 SB includes cloud services. Coalition members appreciate the open, Myth-Busters dialogue throughout the Alliant 2 planning process.  This dialogue plays a vital role in ensuring that the Alliant 2 program meets customer needs while providing sound business opportunities. Thus, we anticipate that the flexible, innovative, and comprehensive scope of Alliant 2 and Alliant 2 SB will provide a sound and powerful contract vehicle for cloud services.

Alliant 2 and Alliant 2 SB’s flexibility means that GSA, customer agencies, and contractors have worked, and will continue to work, together to develop a tailored approach to cloud, thereby ensuring that cross-cutting, leading-edge cloud services are available to meet mission needs.  Alliant 2 also provides an evolving scope and capability, meaning it will stay abreast of technical, security, and IT compliance requirements from all customer agencies, including DoD.

The scope of IT Schedule 70 includes cloud services.  A year ago, GSA added Cloud Special Item Number (SIN) 132-40 to IT Schedule 70.  A May 2015 GSA blog post entitled, “Schedule 70 Cloud Special Item Number (SIN) the Cloud One-Stop Shop,” provides a powerful statement endorsing the new SIN and IT Schedule 70 as a cost effective, comprehensive tool to acquire commercial cloud services.  As the blog observes, the cloud SIN provides a clear roadmap/structure for customer agency cloud needs, rather than distributing them across multiple SINs.  The cloud SIN also allows customer agencies to create custom cloud BPAs easily and bring new technologies to contract.  Moreover, with continuous open seasons, new contractors and cloud offerings can be added to SIN 132-40 at any time.

The Coalition and its members share GSA’s fundamental belief in Alliant 2 and IT Schedule 70 as important channels available to GSA’s customers to meet their IT needs.  Because those needs include the use of cloud services, the utility of those channels needs to be explored and understood completely in order to promote contracting efficiency and to reduce duplicative contracting.  The Coalition and its members are pleased to offer GSA any assistance we can in this endeavor.

 

 

Advisory panels and acquisition executives from across Government and industry, for years, have recognized that a critical component of acquisition reform is a commitment to the professional development of the acquisition workforce.  This week, our community witnessed a significant demonstration of that support by GSA.

On Monday, I joined hundreds of other acquisition professionals in Huntsville, Alabama for GSA’s first-ever Federal Acquisition Training Symposium.  This Symposium brought together 15 agencies, including the Army, NASA, CDC, Corps of Engineers, Air Force, and FEMA, and over 1400 attendees (including approximately 200 from industry) for two days of training.  It was clear that GSA put in a significant amount of thought and effort to this event.

Specifically, GSA worked with the military and civilian federal leadership to develop a broad, meaningful curriculum for the Symposium.  In all, there were 64 training sessions covering a host of topics related to GSA programs, DoD-specific themes, and sessions tailored for industry attendees.  Presenters included personnel from the Federal Acquisition Institute (FAI), the Defense Acquisition University (DAU), Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy (DPAP) and GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service (FAS).  Having attended a number of these sessions, I can attest to the fact that they were very informative, and the rooms were packed!!!

Events, like GSA’s Federal Acquisition Training Symposium, are vital to the acquisition workforce and our community at large.  They bring government (civilian and military) and industry acquisition professionals together to learn, discuss, connect, and collaborate, all with an eye toward improving the system.  As much as one can learn from the classroom, engagement across the community is also a powerful accelerator for professional development.  When acquisition professionals from across the community come together in one location to share information, experiences, and lessons learned, the acquisition system, customer agencies, and the American people benefit in a way that virtual outreach cannot duplicate.  It has a profound impact on improving the effectiveness of the procurement system because it provides a key to “busting myths,” i.e., knowledge.

Congratulations to the Huntsville Federal procurement community and GSA.  We strongly support future training opportunities that, as FAS Commissioner Tom Sharpe noted in his welcome letter, provide a wonderful opportunity to “Learn, Discuss, Connect and Interact” across the procurement community.

 

This week, Administrator Denise Turner Roth announced the creation of a third service, the Technology Transformation Service (TTS), joining GSA’s other two services, the Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) and the Public Building Service (PBS).  The new service combines GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies, the Presidential Innovation Fellows, and 18F.

According to Administrator Roth, the “new service will provide the foundation for our government’s digital transformation and also partner with other agencies to assist them in their own attempts to transform.  . . . Creating the Technology Transformation Service builds a great foundation for the federal government’s modernization efforts.”  GSA sees the new service as an opportunity to “better deliver on our mission to provide the best value in real estate, acquisitions[,] and technology to government and the American people.”

GSA’s industry partners share GSA’s goal of delivering best value in real estate, products, services, and solutions to government customers and the American people.  Coalition members look forward to hearing more about TTS, in particular, its role in delivering best value to customer agencies, the metrics against which that value will be measured, as well as the organization’s vision for engagement with commercial technology firms, its philosophy regarding technology standards, and commitment to commercial practices and market competition.  It is only through such engagement and dialogue between GSA, TTS, and industry that we can work together effectively and efficiently in delivering best value to customer agencies and the American people.

To this end, the critical first priority for the TTS in supporting digital modernization government-wide should be a comprehensive data management modernization that facilitates the efforts of customer agencies to aggregate, manage, and analyze internally their respective transactional data.  A TTS-led “Transactional Data Transformation Project” (TDTP) first could focus on the transactional data elements that management believes may assist in improving acquisition planning and underlying requirements development.  Aside from accelerating the government’s effort to organize and understand the data it already possesses to improve decision-making, internally identifying, compiling, and managing each agency’s transactional data will assist the government’s implementation of Category Management without imposing on businesses of all sizes onerous, cost-intensive, non-commercial barriers to market participation.

The TDTP has the potential to be an investment in good government for all and is worthy of exploration.  Coalition members look forward to a dialogue on this fundamental digital modernization opportunity for GSA, OMB, customer agencies, industry, and the American people.

 

 

The General Services Administration’s (GSA’s) Multiple Awards Schedule (MAS) program is positioned uniquely to provide streamlined government access to the commercial marketplace on behalf of customer agencies. By doing so, it enhances value for taxpayers and helps improve service to the citizen.

The MAS program operates pursuant to a separate authorizing statute that provides the GSA Administrator with the management authority for the program.  In addition, the law expressly recognizes that it operates competitively.  Specifically, the Competition in Contracting Act (CICA) defines “competitive procedures” as including MAS program procedures so long as (1) participation in the program is open to all responsible sources, and (2) orders and contracts under the MAS procedures result in the lowest overall cost alternative to meet the government’s needs. Here is the CICA language: the term competitive procedures means procedures under which an executive agency enters into a contract pursuant to full and open competition.  The term also includes—. . . . . (3) the procedures established by the Administrator of General Services for the multiple awards schedule program of the General Services Administration if—(A) participation in the program has been open to all responsible sources, and (B) orders and contracts under those procedures result in the lowest overall cost alternative to meet the needs of the Federal Government See 41 U.S.C. 152(3); cj. 10 U.S.C 2302(2)(C).

This language is powerful, if not visionary, because, under the aforementioned conditions, it vests GSA with the authority to establish separate and distinct policies and processes to manage the MAS program and promote streamlined acquisition.  Citing this provision of CICA, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) affirmed that the procedures established for the award of schedule contracts, and orders under those contracts, satisfy these two statutory conditions.  See Affirmative Solutions, LLC, B-402996, Sept. 8, 2010, 2010 CPD ¶ 212 at 1 (citing Sales Res. Consultants, Inc., B-284943 et al., June 9, 2000, 2000 CPD ¶ 102 at 3.).  Moreover, the Court of Federal Claims rejected the argument that the requirements of FAR Part 15 apply to the Schedule program.  See Cybertech Grp., Inc. v. United States, 48 Fed. Cl. 638, 647 (2001) (“FSS procurements are not subject to the requirements of FAR Part 15 and . . . Part 8 [of the FAR] governs agency acquisitions made pursuant to the FSS program.’”) (citing Ellsworth Assoc., Inc. v. United States, 45 Fed. Cl. 388, 393-94 (1999)).

In plain language, GSA has the authority to update its MAS policies and procedures to increase efficiency, enhance competition, further access to commercial innovation, and achieve cost effective, best value solutions for customer agencies.  Specifically, GSA can establish a new “Comprehensive, Competitive Services Schedule (CCSS)” for IT and professional services.  Here’s how.

Under this new CCSS, GSA and offerors would negotiate basic agreements establishing key terms and conditions (e.g. the Industrial Funding Fee, the Commercial Supplier Agreement, small business subcontracting plans and other applicable commercial and/or government-unique terms) that would govern at the subsequent task order competition.  The CCSS would allow for Other Direct Costs (ODCs) at the order level, consistent with FAR 52.212-4.  Offerors would be required to post their hourly rates via GSA Advantage, and the Price Reduction Clause and the Commercial Sales Practices Format would be eliminated.

Entering into the agreement, itself, would be a condition for participating/competing at the task order level.  Further, audits under this MAS would mirror standard commercial practice.  Specifically, they could be performed focusing on task order performance of the service requirement.

Too often, as seen here, we in procurement appear to take a restrictive view of our authority.  It is at moments, like these, that it might be useful to turn the guiding principles for the federal acquisition system set forth in the FAR.  FAR 1.102 states:

The vision for the Federal Acquisition System is to deliver on a timely basis the best value product or service to the customer, while maintaining the public’s trust and fulfilling public policy objectives. Participants in the acquisition process should work together as a team and should be empowered to make decisions within their area of responsibility.

In exercising initiative, Government members of the Acquisition Team may assume if a specific strategy, practice, policy or procedure is in the best interests of the Government and is not addressed in the FAR, nor prohibited by law (statute or case law), Executive order or other regulation, that the strategy, practice, policy or procedure is a permissible exercise of authority.

The new CCSS will “make it easier” for customer agencies, GSA and commercial firms competing in the federal market place by streamlining the initial entry point to the MAS program.  As a result, competition will be enhanced, transactional/administrative/compliance costs will be reduced, and access to commercial innovation and best value solutions will be increased.

It is not too hard to “make it easier;” in fact, GSA has taken this approach in the past, as evidenced by its exercise of authority for Blanket Purchase Agreements under the MAS program.  The key tool in GSA’s toolbox is its statutory authority to manage the MAS program.  The Coalition supports GSA’s use of this tool as the agency seeks to deliver best value to customer agencies and the American people.

 

On April 6th, GSA Administrator Denise Turner Roth launched the ”Making it Easier” (MIE) campaign,  a series of new contracting initiatives designed to streamline and simply the Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) proposal submission and evaluation process. In particular, MIE focuses on making “it easier for new and innovative companies to [join those existing innovative firms that] do business with the government.” MIE’s current initiatives include:

  • FASt Lane which seeks to cut from 110 days to 45 days the time it takes for new vendors to be placed on the FSS schedule and reduce the time to modify existing contracts to one or two business days.
  • IT Schedule 70 Startup Springboard to provide an alternative to the 2-year corporate experience requirement for qualified new businesses.
  • Schedule 70 Plain Language Roadmap which is a new site that provides a clear and concise path to help users navigate the offer submission process.
  • MAS Welcome Package to greet new vendors with clear information regarding the FSS contracts/program, eliminating inconsistent messaging and outdated guidance.

These four initiatives reflect a renewed focus on streamlining and simplifying the FSS contracting process.  The Coalition welcomes and supports such common sense efforts to improve the FSS program experience, and it applauds the Administrator’s efforts.  In the spirit of the MIE campaign, just this week, the Coalition issued a MAS Checkup Survey to our members seeking an updated feedback/assessment of the processes, procedures, and regulations governing the FSS program.  For example, among its survey questions are:

  • What are the top 3 government-unique regulations that increase costs for your company?
  • Have the GSA schedules become more or less similar to the commercial market over the last five years, and why?

Consistent with its commitment to serve the contracting community, the Coalition intends to share the results of this survey with key stakeholders across the federal procurement system.

MIE is a positive step in recognizing, addressing, and implementing common sense FSS reforms, and the Coalition looks forward to working with GSA as the implementation of the forgoing initiatives continues.  At the same time, a significant opportunity remains for GSA to reform the FSS program and enhance the delivery of best value commercial products, services, and solutions to customer agencies and the American people.  The long-standing consensus among stakeholders is that the FSS program needs to address its outdated contract pricing policies, eliminate the Price Reduction Clause (PRC), and include “Other Direct Costs”(ODCs) in FSS contracts.  These reforms will have a profound, positive impact, improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the FSS program.  Just as importantly, these reforms will reduce costly administrative and compliance burdens, while promoting the implementation of innovative, commercial solutions across the FSS program.

With regard to FSS’s pricing policies, this week GSA issued a second public notice in which it solicited additional comments on the burdens of the” Federal Supply Schedule Pricing Disclosures.”  Essentially, the public notice seeks information regarding the paperwork burdens associated with the Commercial Sales Practices (CSP) Format and the PRC, and it is especially significant to the Coalition because it is based on the Coalition’s January 2016 comments on the FSS Pricing Disclosures.   The due date for comments is May 11th, and the Coalition looks forward to member feedback as it prepares its response.

Submitting comments to GSA makes a difference!

In a 2011 public notice, GSA estimated the total annual burden of the PRC to be 9,000 hours for the entire MAS program. In response to comments the Coalition submitted, that estimate was revised to 868,920 hours, an increase of over 9,000 percent.  GSA also noted in its public notice that the Coalition’s comments were “insightful and provid[ed] a foundation on which to counter-estimate annual burden hours.” As a result of these comments, stakeholders across the procurement community received an enhanced substantive understanding of the burdens associated with the current FSS pricing disclosures, and the case for reform of the FSS pricing policies was strengthened.  The Coalition appreciates the continuing opportunity to work with GSA on MIE to reform the FSS pricing policies, align the program with the commercial market, and deliver best value for customer agencies and the American people.

A final thought on ODCs

It is important to remember that GSA has both the authority and the channel through which to incorporate ODC capability into FSS contracts.  Specifically, GSA’s governing statutes provide it with the authority to establish policies and procedures for the FSS program.  Further, to the extent that GSA believes regulatory adjustments are the way forward for ODCs, the General Services Acquisition Regulation (GSAR) provides a platform for implementation.  As always, the Coalition stands ready to work with GSA on this effort.

Next week, FAR and Beyond will provide more thoughts on FSS reform—what ever happened to the “unpriced” Schedule concept?

 

In just two short weeks, the Coalition is excited to be hosting its annual Spring Training Conference, Outlook into 2017: What Transition Means for Your Federal Business Opportunities. The conference will bring together many of the prominent leaders in procurement policy from government and industry for a day of myth-busters dialogues, panel discussions, and breakout sessions focused on:

  • The Future of Commercial Item Contracting in DoD Acquisition
  • A “To Do” List for Acquisition Reform
  • Significant Legal Cases and New Regulations
  • A “Show Me the Money” Panel Addressing the Budget
  • Competing in the New Federal Market, How to Succeed
  • Category Management

Although I promised in last week’s FAR and Beyond blog to provide members with more information regarding the unique opportunities available through the FSS program, now seemed like the opportune moment to highlight a recent article written by David Shields, Managing Director for Procurement Transformation and Category Management at ASI Government. Mr. Shields is the former Managing Director of the U.K. Government Procurement Service, where he oversaw the implementation of Category Management. Mr. Shields will be a panelist at the Spring Conference. Below is Mr. Shield’s article from Bloomberg Government’s blog on March 21.

Category management will transform government’s buying behavior

The program to transform the federal marketplace and implement category management government-wide already has brought changes in the way government interacts with companies.

For example, the Office of Federal Procurement in 2014 launched an online national dialogue with industry designed to gather input on improving how agencies interact with their suppliers.  Last year, it led to a new contractor and bidder feedback process called Acquisition 360, including a “Rate the Agency” survey.

The General Services Administration has reduced the time it takes a company to get registered on GSA’s government-wide contracts. GSA also has pledged to reduce burdens on companies selling commercial items valued at $150,000 or less.

In the United Kingdom, we’re 11 years into a procurement transformation using category management, so I have a good idea of how much uncertainty companies selling to government feel when facing a category management regime.

Merely by enacting the view that government should “buy as one,” rather than dozens of disparate and separate entities, OFPP, GSA and the U.S. Chief Information Officer are setting off a sea change in government buying.

Most companies are not accustomed to being measured on the totality of their business across government. Where before, companies treated each government department as an individual customer, under category management, the government as a whole becomes the client.

Opportunity or Threat

This has consequences for government suppliers. It creates opportunities for companies to show off how effectively they collect and analyze federal client data and how closely they manage their own supply chains to drive improved outcomes, efficiency and savings to pass on to customers. However, it also threatens to expose inefficiency, poor supply chain management, poor performance and lack of data analysis.

One of the first things we did in the U.K. to enable government to buy as one was to determine how much we were spending with which companies, on which contracts, in which departments and on what so we could begin to get our spending under management, aggregate it, and leverage it for improved outcomes, better prices, terms, conditions, quality and performance.

Until 2010, when we were able to calculate that central agencies including local governments and the National Health Service bought goods and services totaling $220 billion British pounds, estimates of government spending had been unreliable and misleading.

We found out the true number by uploading accounts payable data from every department into a central, commercial-off-the-shelf ecommerce system, correcting and cleaning it and augmenting it with other data feeds and on-line tools. This gave us a holistic view of supplier performance, financial strengths, number of contracts and compliance with specific government policies.

Pointed Questions

Having that data meant we could start asking our suppliers a host of pointed questions about what we actually were paying for, why and whether we were being appropriately charged within categories of common expenditure.

Managing categories of spending helped us develop intelligence about everything from price differentials and profit margins to supply chains and logistics in different goods and services markets.

For example, we drilled into the information technology hardware subcategory, where OFPP Administrator Anne Rung has noted a 300 percent differential in prices different U.S. agencies paid for the same laptop. Our analytics and intel let us dig into similar differentials in the U.K. and enabled us to establish a broader strategic approach to this market. We found that some of our biggest hardware providers didn’t even analyze their own data on total government sales.

In the case of computers, we were buying through hundreds of suppliers and in excess of 20 large resellers and systems integrators and we were paying huge price differentials agency to agency and in comparison with commercial buyers. We needed to understand why.

The answers were surprising, at first.

We had assumed, for example, that our suppliers were getting their stock from the original equipment manufacturers. Instead, we found some were buying from other resellers or wholesalers, adding an additional mark-up for shipping and handling and additional profit to the prices we were charged. Further, we found the resellers weren’t aggregating their purchases to get lower prices or negotiating volume rebates.

But then we realized that these practices weren’t so surprising, since we weren’t incentivizing the companies to aggregate government orders, reduce the number of transactions with us or seek efficiency savings in their own supply chains. Once we understood this, we changed our behavior and the way contracts were constructed.

For example, we sought to negotiate prices with OEMs based on government volume and have resellers agree to charge us accordingly for those brands. We negotiated prices for standard specifications using the most optimal supply route—piggybacking on the distribution deals struck by OEMs.

Charting Performance

Category management enabled us to find out whether our contractors were producing, distributing and selling efficiently. We established some simple standard metrics and enhanced them by adopting suppliers’ performance metrics and methods, simply asking them for information from their own systems. Most complied because we weren’t creating a new reporting burden, but rather harvesting the standard information they collect.

This enabled us to chart performance month by month and write improvement expectations into contracts. Instead of reporting on contract compliance, we began getting specific quality reports.

From office supply firms, for example, we could see the number of orders filled on time and at the right quantity, the number of returns, average value of an order, ordering patterns from departments and specific offices and all our invoices. From call centers we learned the number of calls answered within the specified time, customer satisfaction levels, and even the rate of hang-ups before representatives finished their scripted answers.

Having and using this kind of information led us to change our contracts. It likely will in the United States as well. For example, we began to include more flexibility, enabling us to change service level agreements and build in continuous improvements in quality and pricing. We also made provision of performance information a contractual requirement.

Effective commercial management of government suppliers brings transparent commercial management of the whole supply chain including managing performance, risk, government policy and value.

Suppliers that are driving great value with strong analytics and close control of their supply chains should do well in a category management environment. If they can demonstrate they are delivering better value than government can get elsewhere, then they likely will prosper.

But greater scrutiny and transparency also can turn up evidence of any inefficiency, waste, supply chain weakness and poor management and performance. So now is the time for government suppliers to review their systems, contracts, performance records and suppliers and clean house if necessary.

As we approach the Spring Conference’s myth-busters dialogue on Category Management, the Coalition encourages members to reflect on this article, as well as their own experiences with the Category Management initiative to date. Next week, as promised, I will provide members with more information on the unique acquisition reform opportunities available through the FSS program.

Click here to view the article on BGOV.com!

 

One of the key goals of Category Management is to reduce unnecessary contract duplication.  In this respect, Category Management builds on former OFPP Administrator Dan Gordon’s September 29, 2011 memorandum establishing a development, review and approval process for business cases associated with certain interagency and agency specific acquisitions.  The September 2011 memorandum was a positive first step towards addressing the proliferation of contracts for the same or similar services and products—one that the Coalition strongly supported.  The Coalition demonstrated this support through a survey of our members regarding the costs associated with contract duplication which the Coalition shared across the federal procurement community.

OFPP Administrator Anne Rung’s December 4, 2014 memorandum, “Transforming the Marketplace: Simplifying Federal Procurement to Improve Performance, Drive Innovation and Increase Savings” makes a strong statement regarding the impact of unnecessary contract duplication on customer agencies, contractors and the American people.  It cites unnecessary contract duplication as imposing “significant costs on contractors and agencies,” noting that “[c]ontractors must absorb increased proposal preparation costs and administrative expenses which disproportionately affects small businesses, and agencies cannot take advantage of potential savings, or leverage their acquisition workforce to support more complex, higher-risk requirements.”  With regard to OFPP’s 2011 business case review process, the 2014 memorandum announced that OFPP and OMB would review and update the business case guidance for new inter- and intraagency contract vehicles, as necessary. The Coalition believes that the time is right for the review and update of the business case guidance.

The new Category Management Centers of Excellence and Category Managers can also play a pivotal role in reducing contract duplication.  Today, they are highlighting already existing government-wide contract vehicles available to Federal customers through the Acquisition Gateway.  They can also identify key best practices, flexibilities and contract structures to enhance and improve existing contract programs and provide improved service to customer agencies.

For example, GSA’s Alliant 2 solicitation could include pricing flexibilities and functional capabilities to enhance the delivery of cloud services to customer agencies.  Moreover, IT Schedule 70’s solicitation could be amended and current contracts modified to take advantage of the latest commercial best practices for cloud pricing and functionality.  The adjustments to these two key contract vehicles to enhance and leverage commercial best practices for cloud could be driven through the IT Category Center of Excellence.  These two GSA contract vehicles, along with NASA SEWP and CIO-CS, CIO-SP3, and CIO-SP3 Small Business, can provide a robust set of cloud services thereby leveraging government requirements and reducing unnecessary contract duplication.

Finally, GSA’s Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) program (also referred to as the Multiple Award Schedule program) is a great accelerator for the goals of Category Management!  Transforming the FSS program through updated pricing policies and ordering procedures, streamlined contract structures, and reduced government unique requirements will drive access to commercial innovation, solutions and competition across all 10 categories.  Customer agencies win, contractors win, and most importantly the American people win.  The Coalition looks forward to working with GSA and OMB on such an effort.  Next week more on the unique opportunities available via the FSS program.

The cherry blossoms are blooming in Washington, DC this week—it’s the sign of a new season and the coming of the Coalition’s Spring Training Conference!  The theme of this year’s conference is Outlook into 2017: What Transition Means for Your Federal Business Opportunities.  It will be held on Thursday, April 28th at the Fairview Park Marriott in Falls Church, VA.

The conference agenda is full of not-to-miss updates and information for the procurement community, both inside and outside government.agenda3agenda4

We hope that you can join our 2016 Spring Training Conference! Please register by clicking here. Additionally, we encourage you to review all of our Spring Conference sponsorship opportunities here. For assistance with registration or to discuss sponsorship opportunities, please contact Matt Cahill at mcahill@thecgp.org or 202-315-1054.

 

Category Management Addressing Contract Duplication Best Commercial Practices and Total Acquisition Cost (TAC).

With the naming of the 10 Category Managers, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has taken a step forward in realigning procurement operations across the federal enterprise. Category Management’s goals include:

  1. Reducing contract duplication
  2. Adopting commercial best practices, and
  3. Leveraging opportunities to increase value and reduce costs.

This blog marks the beginning of a series of blogs focusing on the opportunities of Category Management to meet these goals.

Reducing Contract Duplication

Along with others in the procurement community, the Coalition recognizes that, reducing duplication is a positive goal. However, given the immense size and breadth of government, the fulfillment of unique agency missions may make contract duplication inevitable in some cases. For this reason, acquisition policy needs to allow for agency flexibility in those circumstances. Still, with regard to contract duplication, there are legitimate concerns that the government may not be capitalizing on opportunities to improve efficiency by reducing unnecessary contract duplication.

In particular, the number of multiple award IDIQ contracts for IT and professional services continues to grow. In 2011, OFPP issued guidance for the review and approval of business cases for certain interagency and agency-specific acquisitions. This guidance was the first policy step toward addressing contract duplication and moving to a holistic approach to shared services contracting platforms. More recently, OFPP Administrator Anne Rung indicated that this guidance will be updated in terms of review and approval criteria. The Coalition welcomes this focus on addressing contract duplication and looks forward to working with OFPP on this common area of concern. More on contract duplication in the April 1st FAR & Beyond blog.

Adopting Commercial Best Practices

With regard to commercial best practices, the Category Management Initiative’s focus on Myth-Busting the misconceived restrictions on communications with commercial firms is vital to identifying and incorporating commercial best practices. The Coalition looks forward to working with the Category Managers in identifying key opportunities and strategies to reduce barriers to entry and to maximize access to the commercial market. One major opportunity to enhance access to the commercial marketplace is through the untapped potential of GSA’s Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) program. As the largest commercial item contracting program in government, the FSS program can play a leading role in adopting commercial best practices that deliver increased innovation, value, and savings to customer agencies. GSA’s unique statutory authority for the management and operation of the FSS program provides the potential launching pad for a 21st century, government-wide commercial item contracting program. The April 8th FAR & Beyond blog will lay out the case for lift off!

Leveraging Opportunities to Increase Value and Reduce Costs

With regard to cost savings/reductions, the Category Management Initaitive should develop a program performance methodology that focuses on Total Acquisition Cost (TAC). Past blogs have discussed the importance of measuring TAC in identifying key procurement practices that increase efficiency, effectiveness, and value to the government customer and contractor base. Fundamentally, TAC includes price and the cost of all other factors incurred in the acquisition process, including the government’s administrative costs for planning and conducting an acquisition. Critical to cost assessment is the recognition that price is just one element of TAC. There may be instances where overall TAC increases, even though the price paid decreases. Thus, understanding TAC provides a data-driven opportunity to streamline acquisition processes and procedures.

Finally, the Coalition is dedicating a significant portion of our April 28th Spring Training Conference to the Category Management Initiative. We appreciate the positive response to date from the Category Managers and procurement leaders across government with regard to participation in this conference, as we believe that, for the noble goals of this effort to be realized, all stakeholders need to be engaged. The Coalition looks forward to a cross-cutting Myth-Busters dialogue regarding the strategic goals and operational dynamics of Category Management, and we hope to see you there.

 

 

Please join the Coalition for Government Procurement at our annual Spring Training Conference where this year’s theme will be Outlook into 2017: What Transition Means For Your Federal Business Opportunities.  This year’s event will be held on Thursday, April 28th at the Fairview Park Marriott in Falls Church, VA. Registration and a networking breakfast will begin at 7:15AM and we will conclude the day will a networking reception starting at 5:00PM.

Roger Waldron, President of the Coalition, will kick off the morning sessions at 8:15AM and we have invited Frank Kendall, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition Technology & Logistics (AT&L), to provide the Keynote.  We hope to have Mr. Kendall discuss The Future of Commercial Item Contracting in DOD Acquisition.  Afterwards, we will discuss The “To Do” List for Acquisition Reform during a Congressional Panel that will include Former Congressman James P. Moran, Senior Legislative Advisor, McDermott Will & Emery and Emily Murphy, Policy Director & Senior Counsel with the House Small Business Committee (invited), among others.

After a short break we will dive right into our Legal Panel that will be discussing “The Rogers” – Annual Awards for Significant Government Contracts Legal Cases, Bid Protests and New Regulations.  This panel will be led by three outstanding, knowledgeable and entertaining lawyers, including Jonathan Aronie, Partner, Sheppard Mullin; Jason Workmaster, Counsel, Covington Burling; and David Dowd, Partner, Mayer Brown.  A Budget Panel will follow, titled Show Me The Money!  You will get to hear from and ask questions to the budget masters, Ray Bjorklund, Birchgrove Consulting; Brian Friel, One Nation Analytics; and Cameron Leuthy, Bloomberg Government.

The learning doesn’t stop at lunch!  This year’s lunchtime education session will be led by Bob Lohfeld, CEO of Lohfeld Consulting, who will be discussing Competing in the New Federal Market.  At the conclusion of lunch we will hold one more joint session by way of a Category Management Panel.  This panel will be moderated by Anne Rung, Administrator OFFP and will include Kevin Youel Page, Deputy Commissioner FAS, GSA; David Shields, Former Managing Director UK Government Procurement Service; and Dr. Jonathan Woodson, Medical Category Manager, Assistant Secretary for Defense, DOD (invited).

Lastly, we will have Category Management Breakout sessions in the afternoon which will allow you the opportunity to choose between five unique sessions, including:

  • IT Category with Kim Luke, IT Category Manager (invited);
  • Professional Services Categories with Tiffany Hixson, FAS Regional Commissioner (Region 10), Professional Services Category Manager; Rob Briede, Acting Training Management Assistance Program Manager Human Capital Products and Services Category Manager, OPM; Gerri Watson, Deputy Regional Commissioner, GSA; and Kenneth Brennan, Deputy Director Services Acquisition, DPAP;
  • Industrial Products & Services and Facilities & Construction Categories with George Prochaska, FAS Regional Commissioner (Region 7), Industrial Products and Services Category Manager; Mary Ruwwe, FAS Regional Commissioner (Region 6), Facilities and Construction Category Manager; Jill Laduca, Director Greater Southwest Acquisition Center; and Teresa McCarthy, Director, Integrated Facilities Management & Industrial Products Solution Center;
  • Medical Category with Craig Robinson, Associate Deputy Assistant Secretary, National Acquisition Center, VA (invited); Phyllis Bower, Associate Executive Director, Strategic Acquisition Center, VA (invited);
  • Office Management Category with Greg Hammond, Office Management Category Manager, FAS Region 2 Commissioner; Brian Knapp, Integrated Workplace Acquisition Center Director; and  Peter Han, Director, National Administrative Services and Office Supplies Acquisition Center

Please register for our Spring Training Conference by clicking HERE!  Additionally, we encourage you to review all of our Spring Training Conference sponsorship opportunities and benefits by clicking HERE!  For assistance with registration or to discuss sponsorship opportunities and commitments, please contact Matt Cahill at mcahill@thecgp.org or 202-315-1054.

***The agenda is subject to change without notice; for the full agenda of invited and confirmed speakers, please click here.

Subscribe to Our Blog

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Recent Posts

Categories

Archives

© Copyright 2005-2011| 1990 M Street NW, Ste 450 | Washington, DC 20036 | 202.331.0975
Site by Web Weaving.
Linked InFollow Us on FacebookJoin Us on TwitterView Our Flickr Pics!Subscribe to Our RSS Feed