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The GSA Schedules Program, the Keystone to Agile Acquisition  

On January 7th, GSA’s 18F organization issued a Request for Information (RFI) seeking information about the agile delivery capabilities of vendors under the GSA IT Schedule 70 SIN 132-51.  According to the RFI, the information gathered will assist GSA with developing an acquisition strategy for a potential “Multiple Award Blanket Purchase Agreement under FAR 8.4.”  The RFI can be found here.

18F’s use of Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) under the GSA Schedules program is just the latest example of a government organization turning to the program to accomplish key mission objectives.  Time and time again across multiple Administrations, key procurement programs have been launched, nurtured, and implemented through the GSA Schedules program. BPAs have been used to support government financial asset management in the wake of the Great Recession.  BPAs are now being used by DHS to support cyber security efforts.  Here is just a partial list of governmentwide BPAs that are supporting agency missions:

  • Domestic Delivery BPAs
  • SmartBuy Software BPAs
  • Wireless BPAs
  • Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation BPAs
  • Cloud Services BPAs
    • EaaS
    • IaaS
  • Strategic Sourcing BPAs
    • Office Supplies
    • JAN/SAN
    • MRO
    • Managed Print Services
    • Numerous Agency Specific BPAs
  • Pharmaceutical BPAs

This partial list does not include the thousands of GSA Schedule BPAs that have been established by customer agencies.   The procurement community may have concerns with the unintended consequences of some of these initiatives (e.g., see strategic sourcing) but one cannot realistically argue that GSA Schedule BPAs are not a leading procurement tool to meet key program objectives including agency strategic sourcing.   The inherent flexibility and streamlined nature of the competitive BPA process saves time and money for both government and industry.  At the same time, it is important to remember that regardless of the procurement tool—sound requirements development and communication between government and industry are critical to success.  BPAs under the GSA Schedules Program provide a “Keystone” framework where agencies can focus on requirements rather than burdensome contracting processes.  FAR Part 15 does not apply!  BPAs provide the overall flexibility and efficiencies of which deliver significant operational benefits for agencies seeking mission support through the GSA Schedules program.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery—and we see it with the IT GWACs seeking to use BPAs under their contract programs as well as the OASIS program using GSA Interact to craft a message that you can structure orders in a manner similar to a Schedule BPA.  What greater endorsement of GSA Schedule BPAs than these efforts to embrace similar tools.  BPAs are a “best value” operational feature of the GSA Schedules Program.

BPAs are a vital tool in the GSA Schedule toolbox—at the same time there is always room for improvement on behalf of agency customers and the American people.   GSA is to be commended for conducting a study (headed up by MITRE Corporation) of the GSA Schedule Program.  The Coalition is very appreciative of the dialogue/engagement with MITRE regarding the study.  As part of this study, MITRE is conducting a survey of Schedule contractors, the Coalition urges each member to respond to the survey and address the vital role of BPAs and areas where the BPA process can be improved to further increase access to the commercial marketplace and innovation.

As you know, the Coalition has provided a series of analyses, white papers and comments that include recommendations for improving the GSA Schedules program.  Given the vital role that the program plays in satisfying mission critical requirements, we believe it is important to continue the dialogue with GSA.

Roger Waldron


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