GSA SCHEDULES PROGRAM SHOWS HOPE AND CHALLENGES
GSA officials have increased industry outreach and customer training on the Schedules front in recent months. The Professional Services Schedule is working well and the agency is poised to re-open Schedule 75, the only Schedule closed to new offers. On the other hand, the agency’s relentless insistence on lower prices has, in some areas, turned into an unrealistic obsession that threatens the ability of the program to retain key contractors and, as a result, undermine GSA’s own efforts to more firmly establish itself as the go-to central agency for acquisition. Still looming, too, is the ill-advised Transactional Data Reporting rule, a project that will create a massive expense on industry and, ultimately, be of little practical utility to federal buyers. This dichotomy points to what is, in reality, a struggle for the future of the Multiple Award Schedule program with divergent views even inside the agency. On one hand are those with acquisition management principles who believe that GSA is successful only if it fosters a positive business environment for contractors and federal customers. On the other are those who feel that industry cannot inherently be trusted, but whose pliability to mandates is nevertheless limitless. Key decisions before the agency right now, especially on whether to proceed with the Transactional Data rule in its current form, will determine whether the Schedules, and to a larger extent the agency itself, remain relevant, or whether it moves to the sidelines of government acquisition. With industry and customer relationships hanging in the balance, agency leaders must move in a deliberative manner with a full understanding of the import of each action.