At least 10 firms filed Government Accountability Office (GAO) bid protests this week against the six month extension of the strategic sourcing Office Supply (OS2) Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs). GSA had extended the OS2 BPAs for a six month term beyond the original five year period. The intent of the extension was to provide BPA coverage until the OS3 IDIQ contracts are awarded this fall. Under the bid protest rules, OS2 BPA performance must be suspended pending resolution of the bid protests unless the government makes a written determination to continue performance. As a result, there is currently no Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative (FSSI) vehicle in place for office supplies. Office supplies are available through the GSA Schedules program.
The office supply strategic sourcing initiative is the canary in the coal mine. It highlights the distortion of the federal market place being wrought by FSSI. Perhaps it is time for a “pause and reflect” regarding the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB’s) cross-cutting, top down, centralized approach to strategic sourcing. With that in mind, some reflections on the federal market and strategic sourcing:
- Effective accomplishment of critical agency missions must be the government’s first priority.
- One size does not fit all. Department and agencies have varying missions. The variety of roles and functions across government translate into different mission support needs, funding profiles, technical requirements, governing regulations and cultures. There are good reasons why agencies buy differently—their organizational circumstances are unique to their mission.
- Strategic acquisitions must consider total cost. Award price alone is incomplete data. Price as a primary measure of success ignores the costs associated with creating and managing the FSSI infrastructure across the federal enterprise. It also ignores contract terms that drive pricing.
- Clear requirements and volume commitments are the keys to increasing best value outcomes for customer agencies. The closer the procurement is to the requirements, the better chance for a sound outcome. That is why the Coalition has consistently supported the use of agency specific BPAs as a strategic acquisition approach. Agency specific BPAs provide a sound platform for volume commitments and clear statements of work.
- The federal market is large and significant, however, the federal government is not always the “largest buyer”. In reality, for traditional commercial firms the federal government may account for only a fraction of a percent of total sales. As such, the Government can increase efficiency and reduce costs by reducing the number of Government unique requirements in its FSSI.
- Reducing the contractor base can cause real harm to the long term health of the federal market. For example, FSSI has closed the office supply market to small businesses. Large businesses are not immune. For example, the current strategy for the follow on OS3 procurement is to award to only one large business. It is not in the interests of a strong, vibrant supply chain to limit the federal office supply market to one large business and a limited number of small businesses.
- There are some commercial markets where centralized strategic sourcing may make sense. GSA has had success with its overnight delivery strategic sourcing initiative. Similarly, GSA’s FSSI Wireless BPAs have seen positive results. What do these programs have in common? First, each has a limited number of competitors in the commercial market. Second, all the key competitors received an award and the subsequent opportunity to compete for task orders. Third, GSA has developed a set of best practices and tools to assist agencies in managing requirements. GSA is on the right track in areas where it is developing best practices guides and providing acquisition support for customers of it GSA Schedules and GWAC programs.
It is time for a “pause and reflect.” Government and its private sector stakeholders have an opportunity to structure strategic acquisition reform that focuses on agency specific requirements, enhances competition, creates opportunities, supports innovation, and maintains a healthy vibrant commercial supply chain. It is time for a Myth-Busters dialogue on FSSI with OMB and the Strategic Sourcing Leadership Council.
Today marks the 70th Anniversary of D-Day—the day when the Allies launched Operation Overlord, the campaign to liberate Europe. Democracy, liberty and the fate of Western Civilization hung in the balance. Here is Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s message to the soldiers, sailors and airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force:
Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!
You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have
striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The
hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.
In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on
other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war
machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of
Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.
Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well
equipped and battle hardened. He will fight savagely.
But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of
1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats,
in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their
strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home
Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions
of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men.
The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to
I have full confidence in your courage and devotion to duty and skill in
battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!
Good luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great
and noble undertaking.
SIGNED: Dwight D. Eisenhower
Please take a moment today to remember those who made the supreme sacrifice for us. Take a moment to remember, appreciate and thank the Veterans of D-Day; the Veterans of World War II. They saved the world.