With regard to contract duplication, last week’s post highlighted the Air Force’s recently issued RFP IDIQ for multiple award contracts for commercial office furniture.  By its own terms, the Air Force’s acquisition strategy as articulated in its draft RFP duplicates current GSA schedule contracts for commercial office furniture.  In fact, the RFP instructs offerors to submit their GSA schedule pricing as part of the pricing proposals!  Rather than creating a new set of standalone IDIQ contracts with furniture companies, these same companies already hold GSA schedule contracts which the Air Force could use immediately to conduct streamlined competitions for orders or BPAs under the GSA schedules program.  At a time when Secretary of Defense Leona Panetta is asking DoD to do more without more through the Better Buying Power initiative, the Air Force’s current approach unnecessarily increases overhead and other costs for itself and industry.  The increased transactional costs associated with the Air Force’s acquisition strategy are not in the interests of the government, industry and most importantly the American taxpayer.   

With regard to small business goals, this week we saw the introduction of legislation to increase small business goals from 23 percent to 25 percent.   At a time when the focus seems to be on creating employment opportunities for small business concerns, the GSA schedules remain the most effective small business contracting program in the federal government.  Over the last decade over 30 percent of the dollar value of orders under the GSA schedules have gone to small business prime contractors, exceeding the government-wide goal of 23 percent.  And that does not include small business subcontracting revenue under GSA schedule contracts with large businesses.   As currently structured, the GSA schedules streamlined ordering procedures provide the flexibility and discretion for contracting officers to utilize small businesses in an efficient and effective manner.  Agencies get credit towards their socio-economic goals for orders placed with small businesses. 

It is a testament to GSA and its management of the program that they continue to expand so much opportunity for small, medium and large businesses across the commercial marketplace.  It would be unfortunate and counterproductive if in an effort to support small businesses, new burdensome regulations that reduce flexibility and limit agency discretion are proposed.  Such an approach would further divide the market, increase contract duplication and ultimately reduce opportunities to increase employment for small businesses. 

So what do Contract Duplication, Small Business Goals and Saving Taxpayer Dollars have in common?  The flexibility, competition and efficiency of the GSA schedules program, as currently structured, can address these issues.   The depth and breadth of commercial services and products on the GSA schedule means that agencies can compete and place schedule orders or establish BPAs rather than create new, duplicative IDIQ contracts.  The GSA schedule’s flexible, streamlined ordering procedures and corresponding access to small business contractors means that agencies can effectively use the program to achieve their small business goals without resorting to mandatory set-asides.  The GSA schedule commercial market place is positioned to meet these very important initiatives!