This week I am off to Boy Scout Camp with our son. It is his first time attending. It should be a lot of fun—at least for him. Personally, having not camped out for years, I confess I am a bit nervous about it. To relieve my nerves I started thinking about the calendar. June marks the end of the school year and the start of summer activities like Boy Scout Camp. The end of June marks the half way point of the Coalition calendar year. It also marks the beginning of the fourth quarter of the Government’s fiscal year. As we move into this busy time of year, the Coalition will be focusing on several key issues.

First, the Coalition will continue our work regarding Other Direct Costs (ODCs). Currently, a white paper is in development that will lay out an accountable and flexible approach to including ODCs on service task orders under the Multiple Award Schedule program. We plan on sharing our white paper with GSA, continuing a positive dialogue on the issue that began with Houston Taylor’s first briefing to the IT and Services Committees.

Second, the Coalition will develop a set of best practices for MAS Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs). A set of best practices that enhances outcomes for both Government and contractors will result in better value for the taxpayer. We will share the best practices white paper with GSA as well.

Third, the Coalition will continue to raise concerns regarding contract duplication. Contract duplication increases costs for Government and contractors. Duplicative bid and proposal, contract administration and other overhead costs unnecessarily increase taxpayer costs. Contracting officers should be required to look first to pre-existing contracts before creating new contracts. In particular, the MAS program should be the priority source for commercial solutions. Fourth, in light of the new FAR 8.4 MAS ordering procedures, the Coalition will continue to raise the issue of Price Reduction Clause (PRC) reform.

Finally, as the fourth quarter of the Government fiscal year begins, interagency contracts like the MAS program are more important than ever. This fiscal year has seen a series of Continuing Resolutions leading to the passage of the budget in April. As a result of the very late budget, the compression of the acquisition period is unprecedented and the stress on the acquisition system is significant. In this environment, the MAS program can play a leading role in assisting agencies in effectively and efficiently acquiring mission critical services and products. The streamlined competitive order procedures save time and money. As an example, E-buy, GSA’s electronic RFQ tool, provides speed, transparency and enhances competition for agencies using the MAS program. BPAs based on MAS contracts provide an effective tool for quickly leveraging requirements and placing competitive orders. In sum, the MAS program should be the critical, go-to program for agencies seeking commercial solutions. Shortly we will be announcing an event that will focus on sharing best practices and acquisition strategies for effectively and efficiently using GSA’s programs (MAS, GWACs and Assisted Services) to meet customer needs.

Have a great Independence Day! See you in the second half of the year—and the fourth quarter.