OMB WALKS FINE LINE ON REQUIRING USE OF SPECIFIC CONTRACTS
Contractors and acquisition policy leaders have argued for years that there are “too many” Multiple Award Contracts (MAC’s). The cost of bidding, managing, and maintaining overlapping contract vehicles weighed contractors, and several government agencies, down. Everyone welcomed a move toward trimming vehicles.
Now that we have it, however, via OMB’s Best-in-Class initiative, not everyone is singing the same song. Industry, correctly, points out there appears to be little objective reasoning on what constitutes a BIC vehicle, save for low prices. That’s hardly the sole factor to rely upon, as recent lessons with LPTA acquisition proved. Popular contracts at the VA and Army have been consolidated or are being phased out in favor of BIC’s. The idea of consolidation is always easy to support until it’s your pet vehicle on the chopping block.
OMB could help here simply by better and more consistent communication. There’s nothing inherently wrong with eliminating duplicative contracts, but the agency would do well to have a more thorough basis on which such decisions are made. It would also help immensely to remember how well “mandatory” contract vehicles have worked at the federal level. In short, they haven’t. Individual CO’s who feel that they’ve been pushed to use vehicles they don’t like inevitably either set up their own vehicles or find other ways to acquire things. That could be especially troubling today when both DOD and GSA are already working on non-FAR based “innovative” acquisition methods. Trim and mandate too much and OMB may find that some acquisitions have gone “off the grid”, or that CO’s prefer stand-alone procurements that take time that agencies don’t have.