Nick Economou, a former colleague at the Federal Supply Service, often used quotes to make a point. One quote that I recall Nick being particularly fond of was from General George S. Patton. The General once said “If you tell people where to go, but not how to get there, you’ll be amazed at the results.” The point I believe the General was making is that when you set goals for an organization the best way to achieve them is to give people the discretion to figure it out. The successful performance of the Multiple Award Schedule (“MAS”) program in providing opportunities for small businesses is a prime example of the General’s statement. Each year over the last decade approximately 30-35 percent of the dollar value of all orders placed under the MAS program has gone to small business contractors, exceeding the government wide small business goal of 23 percent.
The success of the MAS program in providing opportunities for small businesses is built upon the flexible, streamlined ordering procedures. These procedures provide ordering activities with the discretion and the infrastructure to effectively place orders with small business contractors. There are three key features of the program. First, agencies can get credit towards their socio-economic goals when placing orders with MAS small business contractors. See FAR 8.405-5(a). Second, FAR 8.405-5(b) provides ordering activities with the discretion to consider socio-economic status when identifying contractors for consideration or competition for award of an order or BPA. Third, using GSA’s electronic tools, eLibrary and eBuy, ordering activities can efficiently search for and contact MAS small business contractors for orders. It is a framework that empowers agencies to achieve their small business goals. It is not a framework that relies on mandates. Fundamentally, that is the secret of the MAS program’s success—it provides agencies with the flexibility and discretion to achieve amazing results.