THREE RECOMMENDATIONS FOR GSA ADMINISTRATOR MURPHY:
1. Remember that GSA Competes Against Others: While the agency is the government’s largest central buyer, every other agency has its own contracts, often with the same companies. Contractors and customers both have choices and will go to the vehicles that serve them best. This means that the agency must strike a balance between providing agencies with tools like spend analysis, while keeping contractor workloads reasonable. Specifically, we recommend scrapping the GSA TDR pilot and eliminating the draconian pricing rules on Schedule 75. Each only serve to confuse contractors, CO’s and customers. Reducing the strictures on the Schedules program, instead, will likely spur competition, lowering prices much more than any artificial construct could achieve.
2. Embrace E-commerce: The agency is already at work on implementing Congress’ mandate to use commercial e-commerce platforms for commercial item acquisition. GSA has the opportunity to greatly improve upon its outdated Advantage platform and provide platforms that both meet government requirements and improve acquisition. Early signs here are positive as the agency seems to understand that technology is a tool to assist in acquisition and not a replacement strategy for all types of government contracting.
3. Get Out, Meet, and Train Your Customers: It’s time bring back the GSA Expo. While webinars and smaller gatherings are helpful, any company will tell you that there is no substitute for getting all of your customers together to train them, show them your latest solutions, deepen relationships, and improve business. Every large company has at least one annual “users conference”. GSA must follow suit. There is nothing like the Expo for training so many people in a short period of time, while being able to demonstrate the latest solutions from partners and have GSA people meet those with whom they do business. Old problems with large GSA meetings are just that. Old. Let’s also remember that it wasn’t the Expo that caused the meeting kerfuffle in the first place. The training events the agency held the past two years were sold out affairs, indicating that customers want and need to understand what the agency has to offer that can make their missions easier to accomplish.
Murphy has a tremendous opportunity to move GSA forward by embracing market-based solutions such as these. They can remove misperceptions about the agency, attract innovative suppliers, and make GSA a “must have” partner for any federal customer.