As promised, some thoughts on “Evergreen” contracting. The original concept behind “Evergreen” contracting at GSA was to establish Multiple Award Schedule contracts that were not limited by a contract term. Rather, the contracts included a base period of five years followed by subsequent five year option periods with no outer contract period limit. The theory was that such an approach would reduce administrative costs for GSA, customer agencies and industry while ensuring long term stability and access to the commercial marketplace. “Evergreen” contracting as described above is still an idea worth exploring with GSA. At the same time, there are other challenges relating to the contract term and impending expiration of current schedule contracts. We will include these additional challenges as part of our “Evergreen” Working Group’s agenda.
As you know, the current term of GSA Schedule contracts is set at 20 years—structured as four five year option periods. The 20 year contract term was implemented in the mid to late 1990’s and as such, we are now seeing GSA Schedule contracts reaching their end date. The cost, time and uncertainty associated with the closeout of one or several GSA schedule contracts and submission of new offers is a challenge for both GSA and its schedule contractors. There is a significant risk that delays in negotiating new contracts to replace expiring ones will create gaps and limit access to best value solutions for customer agencies. To date, GSA has not adequately addressed the status of pre-existing orders and Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) under GSA schedule contracts that are approaching their expiration date. Customer agencies and contractors in a procurement limbo—can they continue to utilize BPAS and task orders or must they re-compete?
The Coalition’s Evergreen Working Group will be examining these issues and identifying potential strategies, procedures and best practices to smooth the transition to new contracts for customer agencies, GSA and schedule contractors. At a fundamental level, to the extent a BPA or order has been effectively competed and awarded under a schedule contract—it should remain in place for the effective period of the BPA or task order. In our view such an approach is consistent with and honors the underlying competition that resulted in the BPA or task order. Moreover, it makes good business sense for customer agencies and the American taxpayer.
With regard the submission of new offers by schedule contractors whose current contracts are set to expire, the Coalition strongly believes that the evaluation and negotiation process should take into consideration a contractor’s successful performance of its schedule contracts over the previous 20 year life. The Competition in Contracting Act, (CICA) does not require that each offeror be treated equally regardless of circumstances. Rather, all contractors must be treated fairly—depending on the circumstances surrounding each offer. Consideration of successful past performance over a 20 year period should count for something. GSA should consider a streamlined evaluation process for such schedule contractors. Finally, the Coalition Evergreen Working Group will also address true Evergreen Contracting that will ensure the issues described above are resolved for all time.
If you are interested in participating in our Evergreen Working Group please contact Roy Dicharry at (202) 331-0975 or firstname.lastname@example.org. See the Evergreen Working Group article below for information about our first meeting next week.