Over the past six months, FAS Leadership has spent a great deal of time talking with our customers and industry partners. One thing has been made very clear to me through these meetings and discussions: there is a substantial need and desire for FAS to work in collaboration with our stakeholders to continue making improvements to the Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) Program.
Today, MAS is the largest and most successful buying program in the federal government — over $40 billion flows through it annually. MAS delivers to our federal customers a much faster acquisition process, excellent access to small businesses, and easy compliance with the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR).
But we can do better. We can do better by reducing burdensome regulations and processes for industry and reducing price variability at the contract level to benefit all stakeholders.
Earlier this year, the Office of Management and Budget engaged industry in the first-ever, online “National Dialogue” to identify ways to improve federal procurement and reduce burden. With more than 500 participants, the engagement was wide-reaching and the ideas were rich. Most recently, the Office of Federal Procurement Policy released a memorandum that, among other things, further solidified the need to take a look at outdated regulations and unduly restrictive internal policies that are bogging down the acquisition process or otherwise prohibiting entrants to the federal market.
In response, GSA is taking action. In January, we’ll be asking our stakeholders for ideas on how to improve the FAR and the General Services Acquisition Regulation. We’re also looking at business processes specific to MAS. This year we will automate more of our modifications, reduce the time it takes to review End User License Agreements (EULAs), and make opportunities posted in eBuy visible to all Schedule contractors. This will mean that vendors will be able to have better information on what the government needs and can offer their solutions to the government quicker. You can read more about some of these in our response here.
FAS also remains committed to addressing the issue of price variability on our contracts. Although prices at the contract level are determined to be fair and reasonable, contracting officers at the order level should be doing price analysis based on the specifics of each requirement, seeking additional discounts and ensuring that there is adequate competition.
Competition and further price reductions at the order level are essential to ensure that we are being good stewards of taxpayer funds.
Nevertheless, GSA also has a responsibility to manage its contracts to benefit all stakeholders. To that end, we have started implementing a lot of great changes to the MAS program that will improve pricing and access to purchasing data.
FAS is moving to a “Horizontal Pricing” model. In the past, offerors’ prices were analyzed based solely on commercial market prices. Horizontal price analysis means GSA will be moving toward a new model that analyzes prices in comparison to market prices, including Schedule prices, for the same items. We’ll be looking at pricing on current contracts as well as new offerors with the pre-award automation of pricing data. In an effort to help suppliers be as competitive as possible, GSA will be sharing information with them on how their prices compare with other vendors offering the same items. Vendors can take this information into consideration in setting or adjusting prices.
Through collaboration and honest discussions we can work together to make important changes to MAS that not only respond to customer needs and industry concerns, but also address the changing dynamics across the federal market for commercial products and services.
I want to close by saying that my job, and the job of FAS, is not only to serve the taxpayer but also serve the government-wide acquisition workforce. We must do all we can to make their job easier. This includes addressing pricing issues to the best of our ability, implementing changes to policy, terms and conditions, and using all the tools at our disposal to support the continued use of MAS as the vehicle of choice for the federal government.
I look forward to publishing monthly blogs on our progress.