Washington Management Group

New GSA Schedule Ordering Procedures

Practical Advice on GSA Schedule Contracting
By: Carolyn Alston, General Counsel, Washington Management Group

May 2011

Next week expect to see changes in GSA Schedule ordering procedures. A new Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) interim rule will require that agencies seek more competition when placing an order against the GSA Schedule. The instructions are directed to federal buying activities; however, the impact may be to your bottom line.

Note the change is an interim rule - that means it will go into effect quickly (May 16th) and ultimately may change based on the public comments received.

In some respects the FAR will make the rules that now apply to DOD also apply to civilian agencies. No competition is required for orders up to the micro-purchase threshold ($3,000). Between the micro purchase threshold and the simplified acquisition threshold ($150,000), an agency has to review product price lists or request quotations, in the case of services, from three GSA Schedule contractors. Additional competition is required over the simplified acquisition threshold and for Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs).

Here’s how your business is likely to be affected:

  1. The new procedures are intended to create more competition and more requests for price reductions at the task order level, possibly driving up your bid and proposal costs.

    Over the simplified acquisition threshold, an ordering activity must provide requests for quotations (RFQs) to as many GSA Schedule contractors as practicable, to ensure that it receives three quotes from contractors that can fulfill the requirement. This means that schedule contractors should see more RFQs for products, a procedure that is more common in ordering services. Schedule contractors will also see competition at significantly lower levels than under current procedures where additional competition is required at the maximum order threshold.
  2. The new procedures encourage the use of GSA Advantage!

    If an agency does not receive three Contractor responses it must document its files to explain the efforts made to obtain quotes from at least three GSA SCHEDULE contractors that can fulfill the requirement. This documentation is not required if the buyer uses GSA Advantage! and GSA e-Buy.
  3. The new procedures require additional competition when an agency establishes or orders from a BPA.

    The rule provides a preference for multiple rather than single BPAs. When ordering from multiple BPAs an agency must replicate the competition requirement (i.e., get three quotes from schedule holders). In summary, the new rule could result in the government conducting at least three levels of competition for the same requirement –award of the schedule contract, establishment of the BPA, issuance of the order.
  4. The new procedures may well affect the prices that you can negotiate on your GSA Schedule contract.

    On a completely different front, some GSA acquisition centers, particularly those acquiring professional services, are using a Commercial Sales Practices format that requires disclosure of a company’s Most Favored Federal customer. Will GSA attempt to negotiate for prices on the underlying contract that a Schedule vendor offers at the task order level? We don’t know yet.

My advice?

Read the rule here, and get a better understanding of what is new.
Analyze the impact of the rule on your business, and submit a comment on the rule.

Take advantage of opportunities that the rule will offer. Make sure your GSA Advantage! files are up to date, and immediately establish a process to monitor an expected increase in e-Buy for opportunities and leads on what agencies are buying under the schedule.

Do you have a government contracting question? Please email it to me at CarolynsCorner@washmg.com.

About Carolyn:

Carolyn Alston is General Counsel of Washington Management Group. She provides legal counsel to WMG's federal acquisition consulting operation, focusing on Multiple Award Schedule contract award, compliance, and audit procedures.

Prior to joining WMG, Carolyn had a distinguished career with the U.S. General Services Administration. Her experience as a senior attorney in the GSA's Office of General Counsel led to her role as the lead in developing and writing GSA's Multiple Award Schedule policy. Her GSA career culminated in running the agency's successful GSA Schedule program as Assistant Commissioner for Acquisition at GSA.

Carolyn holds a BA from Cornell University and a JD from Georgetown Law Center. Carolyn is a member of the bar in Maryland and the District of Columbia.



DISCLAIMER

WMG offers the information provided on this web site for informational purposes only.

WMG is a well recognized expert in GSA Schedule contracting, with more than 30 years of corporate experience. The information provided on this site is based on our substantial acquisition expertise, particularly with respect to commercial item contracting. Nothing on this site should be interpreted as legal advice.

As you recognize, most decisions regarding your GSA Schedule contract are highly dependent upon the facts of your particular circumstances. You should not rely on this site to make specific decisions about your contract. If you are considering taking specific actions on a matter affecting your GSA Schedule contract, we highly recommend that you contact WMG regarding a proposal for individual acquisition consulting services or that you seek advice from legal counsel with expertise in GSA Schedule contracting.

   

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