Two key events this week represent opportunities for improving the GSA Schedules program that are not being leveraged.
First, today, November 21, 2014, is the due date for comments on GSAR Case 2013-G502. Among other things, this GSAR case includes 35 clauses that are being added to the GSAR—clauses that were previously implemented through internal Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) guidance. In addition, the prescriptions for seven clauses are being updated and six clauses previously removed from the GSAR are being reinstated.
The GSAR case could be an opportunity to reduce regulation by engaging in a Myth-Busters dialogue with MAS contractors regarding the costs and benefits of various FAS provisions. That dialogue has not occurred. Although GSA’s effort to increase transparency regarding the use of FAS clauses is laudable, thus far, from an industry perspective the work product is disappointing. The Federal Register states that the proposed changes are not significant. Further, the annual reporting burden for the information collection requirements contained in the proposed clauses are significantly understated—again reflecting GSA’s view that these changes are purely administrative in nature. Many of these clauses, however, include very significant provisions that should be subject to greater explanation and disclosure by GSA before being incorporated into regulation—even if the proposed clauses have been previously used by GSA pursuant to internal guidance. We urge GSA to engage in a dialogue with industry to assess the impact of the proposed rule on the MAS schedule program and how the rule could be used to enhance MAS contracting. We further suggest that GSA reissue the proposed rule in smaller, more discrete segments to facilitate the transparency that the agency seeks and ultimately result in a more effective, streamlined commercial acquisition process. The GSAR case could be a model for actually reducing regulation in partnership with industry. The Coalition looks forward to working with GSA to achieve that objective.
The second event that took place this week was the IT Schedule Industry Day focusing on cloud computing and the proposed new Cloud SIN for IT Schedule 70. Industry truly appreciates the transparency and engagement displayed by the IT Center and its leadership. Industry also appreciates and supports the efforts to create a “Cloud SIN.” This approach has great potential for improving government-wide acquisition of cloud services through IT Schedule 70. IT Schedule 70’s issuance of a draft terms and conditions for the new SIN is also a positive step towards working with industry to improve cloud service offerings through the MAS program.
At the same time, it appears that the current pricing policies and Price Reduction Clause (PRC) will apply to the cloud offerings. Variable, dynamic pricing models associated with Cloud offerings are difficult to reconcile with a static oversight tool like the PRC. This issue is broader than IT Schedule 70. Much public comment has been made regarding the government’s goal of increasing access to commercial innovation—especially in information technology. Cloud services provide such an opportunity—it will be an opportunity missed if GSA continues to apply outdated pricing policies to a 21st century commercial marketplace. The Coalition will be commenting on the draft terms and conditions for the cloud SIN.