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FAS’s Briefing on its Multiple Award Schedule Competitive Pricing Initiative

This week GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) invited the Coalition to a briefing on its Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) Competitive Pricing Initiative.  The Competitive Pricing Initiative (CPI) will be launched in May and is focused on reducing “price variability” for identical items offered/listed on various MAS contracts. The CPI will include all product-based schedules and 4.5 million items have been identified for review.

Under CPI offered prices will be compared to other awarded schedule prices for the exact same item.  FAS indicated at the meeting that it recognizes that both price and non-price relate factors (such as contract terms, warranties, etc.) will play an important role in the determination of competitive pricing for all items, including identical items on schedule.  CPI’s goal is to reduce price variability for identical items on schedule by bringing outlier pricing into an acceptable range of overall pricing for the specific item.

There is a long standing focus in GSA on addressing MAS pricing for identical items under identical terms and conditions.  In fact, throughout the 1990’s into the early 2000’s GSA had internal MAS policy addressing pricing of identical items under identical terms to ensure pricing for such items on contracts was within an acceptable range.  CPI re-energizes that policy. Significantly, CPI is also based on using data that FAS already has in its possession.

This initiative is a common sense approach to addressing pricing for identical items under identical terms and conditions.  In fact, at the April 17th public meeting on GSA’s proposed Transactional Date Reporting rule, the Coalition specifically proposed that FAS address/reduce price variability for identical items as one of a series of alternatives to the transactional data pilot.  From a membership perspective, it is extremely significant that CPI is based on FAS using information that is already in its possession! Moreover, given that one of the major goals of the data reporting rule is to reduce price variability among identical items, perhaps GSA should take a step back and assess the results of CPI before embarking on a costly and burdensome contractor data reporting regime!

At the same time, the Coalition maintains its firm belief that competition at the order level for agency specific requirements drives price and value for customer agencies.  More still needs to be done across government to train contracting officers on how to effectively utilize the program.  Training on the MAS program can have an immediate return on investment by increasing best value outcomes for customer agencies using the program.  In the long term, training can reduce costs by addressing contract duplication—the more contracting officers understand and are comfortable with MAS’s streamlined, competitive ordering procedures the lower the demand/desire for duplicative agency specific contract vehicles.

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