A modular approach to Strategic Sourcing or “one size does not fit all.”
The Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative (“FSSI”) is now over five years old having begun in 2005 as procurement partnership between the General Services Administration (“GSA”) and the Department of Treasury (“Treasury”). GSA and Treasury were responding to the Office of Management and Budget’s (“OMB’s”) and Office of Federal Procurement Policy (“OFPP’s”) directive that agencies identify commodities that could be purchased more efficiently through strategic sourcing.
Since its inception FSSI’s acquisition strategy has focused on leveraging requirements across government through multiple award Blanket Purchase Agreements (“BPA”) under GSA’s Multiple Award Schedule (“MAS”) program. The current Administration has embraced FSSI as a tool to obtain savings.
At the same time, the Administration’s focus on FSSI provides an opportunity for a more flexible acquisition strategy. As a threshold matter, the MAS program is the most cost-effective platform for FSSI. It provides a streamlined access to the commercial market place for millions of products and services. However, the use of multiple award government wide BPAs should depend on the facts and circumstances surrounding the market for each commodity falling under the FSSI. In some instances it may make procurement sense to establish a set of government wide BPAs. In other cases the product or service may be so customer centric that it makes more sense to compete an agency wide order. Call it a modular approach to FSSI. Bigger is not always better.
For example, print management services are highly dependent on the customer’s printing practices. MAS contractors craft solutions, including usage protocols, after assessing a customer’s copying and printing patterns, usage levels and number of device locations. It is an integrated assessment that results in a management solution designed to maximize savings while delivering print services. This can be effectively accomplished through direct competition for agency wide orders under the MAS program rather than establishing a set of government wide BPAs and then competing agency wide requirements under those BPAs. The two step process—(1) compete and establish government wide BPAs and (2) compete task orders under those BPAs—takes more time and increases costs for both government and industry. Direct FSSI orders for agency wide requirements will increase competition, save time and facilitate savings based on each agency’s unique requirements. 17
OMB, OFPP and GSA could continue focusing on assisting agencies through the development of FSSI requirements templates, supplemental order guides, management guidelines and tracking tools for measuring savings. In turn, agencies would track and report savings to OMB. This FSSI approach meets the Administration’s objective of a more cost-effective government in a shorter period.