On Wednesday, October 18, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Government Affairs held a hearing regarding the nominations of several officials. Included among those officials was Ms. Emily Murphy, nominated to serve as the next Administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA). The Coalition has expressed its support of Ms. Murphy’s nomination in several mediums, including this blog and a letter submitted to the Chairmen and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee. In addition, the Coalition attended the nomination hearing.
During her testimony, Ms. Murphy described several critical areas of priority that, if confirmed as Administrator, she would focus on at GSA. In particular, she highlighted her desire for ensuring ethical leadership, increasing competition, streamlining processes, and enhancing transparency at GSA. Based on Ms. Murphy’s substantive public service background serving as an appointee for the Small Business Administration and GSA, and as a professional staff member on the Hill, we believe her domain expertise in acquisition policy and knowledge of the agency will be a significant asset as she works toward these stated objectives.
One natural place to consider first would be the MAS program. As we have discussed in the past, the inclusion of “Other Direct Costs” (ODCs) or “Order Level Materials” (OLMs) on MAS service contracts and task orders would be an important reform to increase opportunities for customer agencies to acquire, and industry partners to provide, best value, comprehensive services solutions. The FAR already authorizes a contract mechanism for competing, acquiring, and reimbursing contractors, at the order level, for ODCs, materials, and indirect clauses. In addition, GSA published a proposed rule in 2016 to create a new GSAR clause to govern the acquisition of OLMs/ODCs at the task and delivery order level by including in the definition of ODCs/OLMs supplies and/or services acquired in direct support of an individual task or delivery order placed against a MAS contract or BPA. All GSA has to do here is issue the final rule.
In addition, the Coalition believes that Ms. Murphy’s leadership and expertise will be critical in addressing the following:
- Investment in customer facing contracting systems, in particular, GSA Advantage! and eBuy, to address usability and functionality. By enhancing the usability of these systems, the Coalition believes that GSA could considerably enhance competition and transparency in the procurement process.
- Streamlining and reducing government-unique requirements, specifically the Price Reductions Clause (PRC), the Commercial Sales Practice (CSP) Format, and Transactional Data Reporting (TDR). The inclusion of government unique compliance and data reporting mechanisms cause significant burdens for Schedules contractors, both in terms of time spent on compliance activities and the costs of those activities. These costs are inevitably passed on to customer agencies in the form of higher pricing for services and products offered under GSA and VA Schedules.
- Adopting a “best value” contracting philosophy to drive the procurement process. In the past, the focus on driving down pricing at the contract level through horizontal pricing has created disincentives to participation in the Federal marketplace. Moving forward, it is critical to recognize the individual value-added abilities of Federal contractors.
- Investing in the acquisition workforce to ensure greater understanding of customer requirements and industry’s solutions.
There is much to do, and for this reason, the Coalition urges the swift confirmation of Ms. Murphy to lead GSA at this important time.